To be eligible to receive Federal Financial Aid, students must meet each of the following requirements:

  • Qualify to obtain a college or career school education, either by having a high school diploma or equivalent, or by completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program.
  • Have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau).
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen (as defined on the FAFSA).

  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
  • Not be in default on a federal education loan or owe a repayment of a federal grant. 

Financial Need

Financial Need is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). While COA varies from school to school, your EFC does not change based on the school you attend.   

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) uses Federal Methodology to determine the kinds and amounts of federal and state financial aid for which you qualify. The information you report on the FAFSA is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). 

Cost of Attendance

COA is the amount it will cost a student to go to school. Most two-year and four-year colleges calculate their COA to show the total cost for the school year.

If you’re attending school at least half time, the COA is the estimate of

  • books, course materials, supplies, and equipment
  • cost of housing and food (or living expenses)
  • transportation expenses
  • loan fees (excluding any loan fees for non-federal student loans)
  • miscellaneous expenses (including a reasonable amount for the documented cost of a personal computer)
  • allowance for childcare or other dependent care

Click HERE to see the 2023-24 Cost of Attendance budgets.

Admissions and Enrollment

To be eligible to receive Federal Financial Aid you must APPLY to CGCC and be working towards an aid eligible degree or certificate.  Registration does not require a financial aid award letter in place at the time students register. 

If the financial aid process is not completed, or the student is not awarded funds, the student is responsible for full payment.

Enrollment Level

  • Full Time: 12+ credits
  • ¾ Time: 9-11 credits
  • ½ Time: 6-8 credits
  • Less Than ½ Time: 1-5 credits

It is important to make sure your enrollment is correct. Funding will not be increased to adjust for enrollment changes that occur after the enrollment freeze deadline. Audited courses are not included in the enrollment freeze and are not eligible for financial aid funding.

Dependent vs Independent

When you apply for federal student aid, it must be determined if you are considered a dependent or independent student. The U.S. Department of Education has specific criteria to determine your status.

Dependent Student

If you are considered a dependent student, you must report parent(s) income and assets as well as your own.  Click HERE for help defining which parent(s) to include on the FAFSA.

Federal aid program rules are based on the concept that a dependent student’s parent(s) have the primary responsibility for paying for their children’s education. If students do not meet the independent student criteria, parent information is required.

If your parent(s) refuse to fill out the FAFSA form, we encourage you to explain to them that their refusal harms your ability to receive financial aid. You might consider assuring them that providing parental information and signing the FAFSA does not make them responsible for any loans you may borrow.

Independent Student

If it is determined you are an independent student, you are required to report only your income and assets (and your spouse’s, if applicable).

Dependency Override

If you have extenuating circumstances that make it impossible for you to apply for financial aid as a dependent student, contact the Financial Aid Office at for assistance.  Such circumstances include an abusive home environment or abandonment by parents.  These circumstances are considered on a case-by-case basis and must be documented.

Please note that dependency overrides are not considered for:

  • Parents refusal to contribute to student’s education
  • Parents unwillingness to provide information
  • Parents do not claim the student for income tax purposes
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency