Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply for aid?
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in getting aid for college. Apply online at https://fafsa.gov/. You will need to create an FSA ID and password to complete the FAFSA. You will be prompted to create an FSA ID or you can go to http://fsaid.ed.gov/.
I set up a FSA ID and/or password and forgot them or they are not working correctly. What do I do?
Go to http://fsaid.ed.gov/ and click on Edit My FSA ID.
Try entering your FSA ID or email address. If you do not remember your FSA ID or email address, or they are not working, click Forgot My Username. You can answer the challenge questions or request that a code is sent to the email address associated with your FSA ID. If you answer the challenge questions correctly or get the secure code from your email and enter it correctly you will be able to view your FSA ID on the screen.
If you and your parent both used the same email address when creating an FSA ID the FSA ID will not work correctly. You will need to use your username (instead of an email address) to log in. Once you are logged in, you will need to edit the FSA ID so that the same email address is not used on both accounts. You can use your Richland email or a personal email address for the FSA ID. Before you change the email address on your FSA ID you need to make sure that you can log in to your email. You will be emailed a secure code to enter on the FSA ID webpage. If you cannot remember the password to your email address you will not be able to access that code. If you and/or your parent do not have an email address that you want to use for the FSA ID you can leave the email address (and confirm email address) fields blank.
Once you have your FSA ID you can try entering your password. If you cannot remember your password, or it is not working, click Forgot My Password. You can have a secure code emailed to you or answer the challenge questions. Once you have answered the challenge questions or entered the secure code you will be able to change your password.
Once you are logged in, review the information you used to create the FSA ID by clicking Edit My FSA ID. Update any information that is not correct and click continue. If you change your email address you will be emailed a secure code that you will need to enter. If you had trouble answering your challenge questions you can click Edit My Challenge Questions to change the questions and answers.
For more assistance with the FSA ID there is a help link on the top right side of the screen or you can contact the Financial Aid office.
Can I make an FSA ID for someone else or have someone make an FSA ID for me?
No. Only the owner of the FSA ID should create and use their account. The FSA ID serves as a legal signature and should not be shared with anyone. You are much more likely to lose access to your FSA ID if someone else creates it for you. To use your FSA ID, you need to know the username, password and answers to challenge questions. Plus, you need access to the email account associated with the FSA ID. Without these, you can easily lose access to your FSA ID and be unable to log in to the FAFSA and other Federal Student Aid websites.
Can my parents and I use the same email address to create our FSA ID’s?
No. An email address cannot be used with more than one FSA ID because you can use email to unlock an FSA ID, retrieve a forgotten username or reset a password. For security reasons, only the FSA ID owner should have these capabilities.
If you created an FSA ID using the same email address as another person you will need to go to http://fsaid.ed.gov/, and log in using your username (instead of your email address). Once you are logged in click Edit My FSA ID and change or delete the email address on your FSA ID. Before you change the email address on your FSA ID you need to make sure that you can log in to your email. You will be emailed a secure code to enter on the FSA ID webpage. If you cannot remember the password to your email address you will not be able to access that code. If you and/or your parent do not have an email address that you want to use for the FSA ID you can leave the email address (and confirm email address) fields blank.
What do I need to complete the FAFSA?
- Your Social Security number
- Your parents’ Social Security number and date of birth if you are a dependent student
- Your tax returns and W-2s (and for your spouse, if you are married)
- Your parents tax returns and W-2s if you are a dependent student
- Records of your (and your spouse if you are married) untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits and records of your parents untaxed income if you are a dependent student
- Checking and savings account balances; investment values, including stocks and bonds and real estate (not including the home you live in); and business and farm assets for you (and your spouse if you are married) and for your parents if you are a dependent student.
What do I do if I did not keep a copy of my tax return or W-2?
If a copy of the W-2 is needed, a form called the Wage and Income Transcript can be obtained from the IRS by calling 1-800-908-9946 to order a transcript via mail, or by calling 844-545-5640 to set up an appointment to get a Transcript from the local IRS office located in Decatur at 306 W. Eldorado. Other IRS office locations are listed online at https://www.irs.gov/.
If a copy of a tax return is needed, a form called a Tax Return Transcript can be obtained from the IRS one of three ways:
Request Online: Visit https://www.irs.gov/. Under “Tools” click “Get a Tax Transcript”, then click “Get a Tax Transcript by Mail”. Enter SSN, Date of Birth, Street Address (use the address that was listed on the tax return), and Zip Code. Under “Type of Transcript” select “RETURN TRANSCRIPT” and select the correct tax year. If successfully validated, you can expect to receive a Tax Return Transcript at the address included in the request within 5 to 10 days.
Request by Phone: Call the IRS Transcript Order Line at 1-800-908-9946 (7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.).
Request in Person: Call 844-545-5640 for an appointment with the local IRS office in Decatur located at 306 W. Eldorado or visit an IRS office located near you. Locations are listed online at https://www.irs.gov/.
Do I need to include parent information on the FAFSA?
The FAFSA asks questions that determine whether you are a dependent or independent student for the purposes of applying for federal student aid. Dependent students must report parent information on the FASFA. Information on how dependency is determined is available at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/dependency#dependent-or-independent.
I submitted my FAFSA. What happens next?
It typically takes 3-5 business days for your FAFSA to be processed and received by the Financial Aid office. Once your FAFSA is received you will receive an email (to both your Richland email address and the email address you listed on the FAFSA) asking you to log in to http://my.richland.edu/, click on the My Student Info tab, click on My Financial Aid and click on Financial Aid Document Tracking. Any forms or items that are listed as “awaiting” needed to be completed.
If you did not put an email address on the FAFSA a letter will be mailed to you with instructions.
If you are not eligible for aid you will receive an email (or letter if no email address was provided) with information that explains your ineligibility for aid.
I have turned in all of the financial aid documents that were requested. How can I tell what my aid is?
Once aid has been awarded, you will receive an email to your Richland (Zimbra) email account to notify you that your award can be viewed in myRichland. To view your award, go to http://my.richland.edu/, click on My Student Info, click on My Financial Aid, then click on Financial Aid Awards. Read the award notification and then click Proceed to Financial Aid Awards.
Any time your financial aid award is updated you will receive email notification. Please check your Richland email regularly!
Do I need to complete the FAFSA every year?
Yes. When you fill out the FAFSA you are applying for aid for a specific academic year (Fall, Spring, Summer). You will need to submit the next year’s FAFSA in order to continue receiving aid.
Eligibility for aid can change from year-to-year based on the income reported on the FAFSA, credit hours enrolled, and the formula the Department of Education uses to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
How do I maintain eligibility for aid?
Students can lose eligibility for aid if they go into default on a federal student loan or do not maintain satisfactory academic progress. Every student applying for aid is asked to sign a Financial Aid Policies and Procedures Statement that explains satisfactory academic progress requirements. Information on satisfactory academic progress is also available in the College Catalog and Handbook.
Do I need to complete the FAFSA to receive a federal student loan?
Yes. Completing the FAFSA is the first step in applying for a loan. After your FAFSA is received by the financial aid office you will get an email with instructions on completing financial aid forms. Students requesting a student loan will need to complete some additional items as well.
How can I avoid going into default on a student loan?
There are several steps students can take to avoid going into default on a student loan.
- Understand the loan and the loan agreement. It is important to understand what type of loan you are receiving, the interest rate, and the repayment terms for the loan.
- Manage your borrowing. You are encouraged to create a budget to determine how much you really need to borrow.
- Track your loans online. You can keep track of your loan records at https://www.nslds.ed.gov or https://studentaid.ed.gov. You can log in to both of these websites using the FSA ID.
- Keep good records. You are encouraged to keep an organized file of all of your loan documents. These documents include: financial aid award letters, loan counseling materials, amounts of all loans borrowed, account numbers, loan servicer contact information, loan disclosures, payment schedules, record of monthly payments, etc.
- Keep your lender updated. You should notify your loan servicer/lender if you need help making monthly payments; if you graduate; if you withdraw from school or drop below half-time enrollment status (6 credit hours); if you change your name, address, or social security number; if you transfer to another school; and/or if you experience a life changing event that would impact loan payments.
In addition to those steps, Richland Community College has partnered with Inceptia. Inceptia is a nonprofit organization that provides free assistance to students in understanding information, tools and resources about student loans. Inceptia may contact you to communicate the tools and resources available to manage your loan as you graduate, drop below half-time enrollment status (6 credit hours), and/or withdraw from school.
It is important as you leave Richland Community College that you provide updated contact information, so that the Financial Aid Office can provide Inceptia with accurate information as they begin their process to educate you on your student loans. If your address, phone number or email address has changed please contact Student Success at 217-875-7211 ext. 267 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to update your information.
Helpful links with more information are: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/default/avoid and/or https://www.inceptia.org/resources.
What do I do if I am in default on a student loan?
Your first step would be to obtain the contact information for your loan servicer/lender. This information can be found on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) website at https://www.nslds.ed.gov. Log in to that site using your FSA ID. The Financial Aid Office has access to this website as well and can help if there are any issues. NSLDS will provide the following information: name of loan servicer/lender, contact information, dollar amount of loans received, status of loan, and when loan disbursements were paid.
Once you have the name and contact information for your lender, contact them and ask for an explanation of the default to fully understand the situation, what options are available to get out of default, and for the loan servicer/lender to work with you while you try to resolve the situation.
Students have several options to get a loan out of default such as repayment of loan in full, loan rehabilitation, or loan consolidation. Your loan servicer/lender will give you information on the options available to you.
Once the loan is no longer in a default status, you can ask your loan servicer/lender for a letter that indicates your loans’ updated status. The letter is required in the Financial Aid Office before you can regain Federal Student Aid eligibility and your loan services/lender will send the letter to the school.
Helpful links with more information are: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/default and/or https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/default/get-out.
Can I receive financial aid at two schools for the same semester?
No. Aid is only available at one school.
Can I receive aid for more than one degree?
Financial aid will only cover classes that count toward one degree at a time.
Can I receive financial aid if I am in default on a federal student loan?
No, although once you have resolved your loan default you may be eligible to continue receiving financial aid. Please contact your lender for information on how to resolve your default. For contact information for your lender, please go to https://www.nslds.ed.gov.
I am currently working on a degree at another school but plan to take a class at Richland. Can I receive aid at Richland?
You are only eligible to receive aid at Richland if you are working towards an eligible certificate or degree at Richland.