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Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out if I am eligible for financial aid?

Complete the FAFSA and provide the required signatures. It will take 3-7 days for the U.S. Department of Education to process your electronic FAFSA and send your Student Aid Report (SAR) electronically to Richland. Your SAR will summarize the data you report on your FAFSA. Check the SAR carefully to make sure it is accurate. Keep a copy of your SAR. If your FAFSA information is complete, an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be printed in the upper right corner. Your EFC is based on the financial information you provide on the FAFSA. Your school will use your EFC to award your financial aid. Richland Community College will contact you once we receive your FAFSA and let you know what else we need from you to complete your file and to award aid.


Do I have to reapply every year?

Yes. If your financial circumstances change from year to year, you may receive more or less aid. After your first year you can complete a "Renewal Application" which provides information from the previous year's FAFSA. You will need your PIN to access your renewal option. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly from year to year, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.

What do I do if I did not keep a copy of taxes or W-2s?

You may request a copy from the IRS. They offer a free tax return transcript that shows most line items contained on the return as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules. In most cases, a tax return transcript will meet the requirements for your financial aid department. The transcript can be ordered by calling (800) 829-1040 and following the prompts in the recorded message. There is no charge for the transcript and you should receive it in 10 business days from the time we receive your request. Tax return transcripts are generally available for the current and past three years. You may also request a copy from the IRS office located at 306 W. Eldorado, Decatur.


What documents are required to fill out a FAFSA?

  • Social Security Number
  • Driver's license (if any)
  • W-2 Forms and other records of money earned
  • Individual (and spouse's, if you are married) Federal Income Tax Return - IRS Form 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ
  • Parents' Federal Income Tax Return (if you are a dependent student)
  • Untaxed income records - Social Security, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, welfare, or veterans benefits records
  • Most recent bank statements or account balances
  • Most recent business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond, and other investment records
  • Alien registration number or permanent residence card (if you are not a U.S. citizen)


How do I find out the status of my financial aid application?

You should wait three days after submitting your application before checking the status. Visit and follow these steps:

  • Select "Check status of a submitted FAFSA" from the FAFSA Follow-up section.
  • Enter Social Security Number, first and last name, date of birth, and the year of the application completed.
  • Select "Submit"
  • The application's status can be one of the following:
    • Received by the U.S. Department of Education
    • Your application is being processed by the U.S. Department of Education
    • Your application was processed at the U.S. Department of Education
    • Your application was processed at the U.S. Department of Education and contains a reject code
    • Your application has not been received by the U.S. Department of Education


What is a PIN? Why would I need one?

We encourage students and parents to apply for a PIN. The PIN allows you to complete electronic applications without having to submit a signature page. You are not required to have a PIN to complete a FAFSA, however, it is the fastest way to sign your application and have it processed. The PIN also allows access to your U.S. Department of Education information on the Internet.

  • If you do not have a PIN and you have a valid e-mail address, you can get a PIN electronically from the Department of Education's PIN Web site by selecting this link.
  • If you do not have an e-mail address, the Department of Education will mail you a PIN through regular postal mail, in approximately 7-10 days.


Do I have to apply for financial aid to receive a Direct Loan?

Yes. You need to complete a financial aid file and complete forms in Richland Community College's Financial Aid Office. You will also complete Loan Entrance counseling and a Master Promissory Note.

Why do I need my parent's income information? I don't live with them and they do not support me.

When you apply for federal student aid, your answers to the questions in Step 2 of the FAFSA will determine whether you are considered dependent or independent. If you are considered dependent, your parents' income and assets as well as your own must be reported on the FAFSA. Students are classified as dependent or independent because federal student aid programs are based on the principle that students (and their parents or spouse, if applicable) are considered the primary source of support for postsecondary education.

Source: Dept of Education

My parents refuse to give me their financial documents. What are my options?

Please visit the Financial Aid Office. We can assist you in explaining to your parents why their information is required and for what it will be used.

Can I receive financial aid at two schools at the same time?


Can I work on two degrees at the same time?

Yes; however, 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 student loan?

No; although, once you have resolved your loan default issue, you may then be eligible to receive financial aid.

I am currently working on a four-year degree at another school, but I need to take some classes at Richland. Can I have financial aid?

You are only eligible to receive Financial Aid at Richland Community College if you are working towards a certificate or degree at Richland Community College.

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