Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if school starts and my financial aid award is not ready yet?
Financial aid refunds begin the second Friday of each term. After this point, if you have not been awarded, a late fee will be added to your account but removed once your award letter is processed. Any credit balance remaining on your account (after tuition, fees and books are deducted) will be refunded to you.
Are there any tax credits to help pay higher education costs?
Yes, there are a variety of tax credits, deductions and savings plans available to taxpayers to assist with the expense of higher education.
- A tax credit reduces the amount of income tax you may have to pay.
- A deduction reduces the amount of your income that is subject to tax, thus generally reducing the amount of tax you may have to pay.
- Certain savings plans allow the accumulated interest to grow tax-free until money is taken out (known as a distribution), or allow the distribution to be tax-free, or both.
- An exclusion from income means that you won't have to pay income tax on the benefit you're receiving, but you also won't be able to use that same tax-free benefit for a deduction or credit.
Education credits are claimed on Form 8863, Education Credits (Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits). For details on these and other education-related tax breaks, see IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits of Education.
Do I have to wait until I file taxes to file the FAFSA?
No, you should file the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 each year. You may use estimated tax figures by indicating on the FAFSA that you 'Will File', but have not yet done so. Remember, some financial aid funds are quite limited and are awarded to eligible students on a first come, first served basis.
How are refunds processed?
The Business Office issues refunds to students as follows:
- Refunds from tuition, fees and bookstore charges are first applied to outstanding charges on your account.
- If the credit is the result of a payment by check or cash, a check is issued in the student's name.
- If the credit is the result of a bank card payment, the refund will be applied to the original bank card.
- Refunds resulting from check over payment are held two weeks from the date of the original payment.
Drop by the following dates for full refund:
- 8-12 week classes: drop by the end of the first Friday of the term
- 2-7 week classes: drop by the end of the first day of class
- Less than 2 week classes: drop before the first day the class meets
Adult Continuing Education
Students are entitled to a 100% refund when a course is dropped before these deadlines:
- Class that meets 1-2 weeeks: drop prior to the first session
- Class that meets 3 or more weeks: drop prior to the second session
No refunds will be given after the deadline.
How can I find out about scholarships?
The Columbia Gorge Community College Foundation average annually award is over $80,000 in scholarships to students each year in both full year and quarterly scholarships as well as full year scholarships for graduating high school seniors. Also, research private scholarship opportunities through web-based scholarship search services such as fastweb and GetCollegeFunds as well as local organizations and libraries.
How can I get Federal Work Study (FWS)?
A CGCC student must indicate an interest on the work study question on the FAFSA. If eligible, you will be notified through your student email then you must contact the Financial Aid Office for next steps.
CGCC has a limited number of work study positions each year. An email will be sent to interested students at the beginning of summer term and fall term giving further directions on how to receive a Federal Work Study position.
How can I pay in installments?
An installment plan allows you to pay half of your tuition and fees by the first Friday of the term, and defer the balance until the sixth Friday of the term. The following requirements must be met:
- Valid social security number
- Satisfactory payment history
- Zero account balance
|Spring Term 2014||Summer Term 2014||Fall Term 2014||Winter Term 2015||Spring Term 2015||Summer Term 2015|
|April 4, 2014||June 27, 2014||Sept 26, 2014||Jan 9, 2015||April 3, 2015||June 26, 2015|
|May 09, 2014||Aug 01, 2014||Oct 31, 2014||Feb 13, 2015||May 8, 2015||July 31, 2015|
Apply in person or phone
CGCC may deny or rescind an Installment Plan Agreement if you miss the required payment due dates, provide inaccurate or incomplete information, have a poor credit history with the college, or do not meet the eligibility requirements.
How do I edit/correct a mistake on my FAFSA?
If you find incorrect information on your FAFSA or you originally used estimated information and need to report actual figures, changes can be made online. If the information is found to be incorrect after you have been awarded, you will need to contact the Financial Aid Office for further instructions.
How do I get my refund?
Refund checks (if a balance remains after all charges are applied to your aid) are mailed to students beginning the second Friday of each term.
How do I pay with my financial aid award?
If your award is not enough to cover all term charges, you must pay the difference by the first Friday of the term. If your aid is delayed, you will need to pay by this date. Any excess payment will be refunded after the award has been posted to your account.
How do I remove tuition charges from my account?
If an extreme hardship prevented you from completing a course, and you could not drop during the refund period, you may request to have tuition charges removed from your account. Fees, especially any non-refundable lab fees may not be refunded. A form for requesting a refund can be obtained from the Student Services office in The Dalles or Hood River. You will be asked to provide documentation of your circumstances to support your claim. Your petition, and all accompanying documentation, must be received by the filing deadline to be considered. Please see the form for more details.
How do I request a tax return transcript from the IRS?
If you have been asked to provide a copy of you and/or your parents’ Tax Return Transcript, you are able to use FAFSA on the Web to electronically view your tax information by using the Link to IRS feature found on the FAFSA website (preferred method). With just a few simple steps, the tax information can also be securely transferred into the FAFSA, or request a tax return transcript from the IRS.
Be sure to request a Tax Return Transcript. Do not request a Tax Account Transcript or Record of Account because they cannot be used for financial aid verification purposes.
Other ways to order
- Telephone (800) 908-9946
- IRS Form 4506T-EZ
How does my company or agency pay for my classes?
Arrangements for payment by an agency or company must be approved by the college before the term starts. Once arrangements have been made, take your payment authorization to the Business Office, or fax it to (541) 506-6052 before the term begins.
The student is responsible to ensure that a payment authorization is on file by the payment due date, and for payment of any unpaid charges and late payment penalties.
How does the number of credits I am enrolled in affect my financial aid?
Your financial aid is based on the number of credits you take per term. For example, if you enroll for 12 or more credits (full-time enrollment) you will be eligible for 100% of funds available to you for that term as indicated in your award letter. However, if you enroll just for 6 to 8 credits (half-time enrollment) you will receive just 50% of the financial aid available to you.
Classes that are waitlisted do not count towards financial aid enrollement status.
How is financial need determined?
A student’s financial need is determined by using the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This number results from the financial information you provide in your FAFSA application. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR).
The EFC takes into account the number of people in the household, the number of people in college, the state the student and/or parent resides in, the age of the student and/or parents, as well as the student’s and/or parents’ income and assets. The Cost of Attendance (COA) is determined by the CGCC financial aid office each year in conjunction with federal guidelines and actual per credit tuition.
How long does the verification process take?
The total processing time is about 3 – 4 weeks. Processing time can be longer, particularly at the beginning of the school year or at the beginning or ending of a term when financial aid staff are busy with other financial aid processes.
How many credit hours do I need to take to be eligible for loans?
I am going to transfer to/from CGCC, what do I need to do?
If you wish to transfer to CGCC, you need to add CGCC’s school code (041519) to your FAFSA.
If you know your Data Release Number (DRN) which is located at the top of your Student Aid Report (SAR), you may call the Central Processing System (CPS) at (800) 433-3243 and add CGCC’s school code over the phone.
We cannot process your request for aid until we have received your FAFSA data. You must also release your aid from the school you are transferring from, please contact them directly.
If you are transferring from CGCC to another school, you should contact our office by using the Enrollment Change Form to insure that all remaining aid can be released allowing the other college to award you. It is also advised that you be familiar with and in contact with the financial aid office of the college you are transferring to.
I got a Pell Grant and/or Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG) last year, why did I not get the same thing this year? (Why is my aid different this year?)
Most likely your or your parents’ income increased. In some cases, the household size or number in college has changed reducing or eliminating eligibility.
Each year students must complete the FAFSA reflecting the prior year’s tax information. Your (and/or your parent’s) income and asset information may have changed since the prior year. Even small changes can affect certain eligibility for aid. Each year the federal government reviews and modifies the formulas used to calculate a family’s financial strength that is reflected in the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
I never received aid at CGCC and paid for classes on my own so why am I disqualified?
Under the federal laws regarding Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), all terms of a student’s college experience at CGCC must be reviewed. Non-aid recipients cannot be treated differently than aid recipients when assigning SAP status.
I received confirmation that my FAFSA was processed. What is the status of my financial aid application?
When you receive notification from the Department of Education that your FAFSA has been processed, CGCC will also receive a copy of your record and will begin processing your application for financial aid. CGCC has a two level review of all FAFSA applications.
- Initial Review - the first review to determine what documents are needed to make your file complete. We will notify you through your student email account of any additional documents needed to complete your file.
- Verification Review - the second review to ensure that your aid meets all of the federal laws related to financial aid eligibility. An award letter will be sent to your student email account once this review process has been completed.
You may obtain information about your financial aid status by logging in to your student account and selecting Check Financial Aid Status.
If I take two terms off from school, will I go into repayment?
Yes, you will be contacted by your loan processor to begin repayment. If you subsequently enroll in school, you can obtain an in-school deferment by providing enrollment information to your lender. You can determine your lender by logging into your account with the National Student Loan Data Service.
If I’m in default on my student loan, what can I do?
My friend applied the same time I did. He was awarded. Why has my award not come yet?
Awards are completed in the order the application is received. Some applications require much more review than others. Verification, for example, is required of about half of all applications. This involves collecting documents, reviewing and correcting any errors. Several other types of review can add some time to the review of a particular file.
My parents are separated or divorced, what financial information should I include on the FAFSA? Do my stepparents' income and assets have to be reported on the FAFSA?
The parent you lived with most during the last 12 months is the parent whose information you need to include on your FAFSA. If you didn’t live with either parent, or if you lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent who provided the most support to you during the last 12 months or during the most recent calendar year that you were actually supported by a parent.
If the parent whose information you are reporting on the FAFSA is married or remarried at the time you complete the FAFSA, you must include information about your stepparent even if they were not married the year previous to your applying.
My siblings attend another school, why is my aid different? Why is the aid offered by CGCC different than the aid I received at another college?
It is possible your sibling is eligible for different forms of aid. Universities often have institutional aid that a community college does not have. Direct Loan limits increase as a student moves to third and fourth year levels.
Your sibling may have a different EFC. This could be because they earned a different amount of income during the year than did you. Your aid may be different because, though there are federal guidelines for certain funds, each school must have a specific process for awarding these funds.
These school-specific practices are within the federal guidelines, but often differ from other college’s practices. Certain funds are quite limited. If a student is an early applicant at one school and the sibling is a later applicant at another school, award levels can be quite different.
Additionally, each school establishes a set of common student budgets based on actual and expected costs of going to school. This serves as somewhat of a ceiling to the total amount of aid a student may receive in a year of school. Elements of this budget can be quite different depending on the costs of the college each student is attending.
Financial aid offers can be different from one college to another for many reasons. Some types of financial aid are awarded based on criteria established by the institution. Though federal law assigns rules as to how aid should be distributed, the college is expected to maintain a more specific set of rules as to how limited funds are given to students.
Additionally, there are some types of funds that are quite limited and are awarded on a first come, first served basis to eligible students. Programs such as Federal Work Study (FWS) and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) are exceptionally limited. While you might receive them at one school, you may not receive them at another. Cost of attendance (COA) also varies from college to college and is a factor in how much aid you may receive. Some loan limits are higher at four year colleges as compared to community college.
What are allowed method of payments?
- Cash: U.S. funds only
- Credit Card: VISA, Mastercard and Discover via MyCGCC
- Check: Personal checks for the amount due only
- Make checks payable to CGCC. Two-party, post-dated and altered checks will not be accepted.
- A $25 returned check charge is assessed on any returned check used in payment of your account, whether written by you or another party.
What are my payment responsibilities?
You are responsible for full payment of all charges on your account by the payment due date, even if your account is being paid by another party. You are responsible for informing CGCC of any address and telephone changes.
Even if you are under 18 years of age, you will be held liable for any charges on your account under ORS 348.105.
When you register for a class, you are liable for payment of the charges on that class, whether or not you attend. To have the charges removed, you must personally drop the class by the drop deadline.
What does dependency status mean? How can I be considered independent?
You are not automatically independent for financial aid purposes simply because your parents stop claiming you as a tax exemption or refuse to give you support for your college education, or because you move away from home. Unwillingness or reluctance of parents to help pay for your educational costs, or becoming emancipated does not make you independent by federal law.
Except in very unusual and mitigating circumstances that can be documented, parents have the primary responsibility to financially assist in their dependent child’s education to the extent determined possible. In circumstances of abuse, or extreme estrangement or other extenuating circumstances, a student may obtain the Appeal to Apply without Parent Information form.
- At least 24 years of age by December 31 of the year prior to filing
- Married at the time of filing
- Have a child or other legal dependents for which you, personally, provide more than 50% of the support for that child or legal dependent and are able to document that support
- An orphan or ward of the court at any time since turning 13 (for reasons other than juvenile incarceration)
- Documented homeless youth
- Legally emancipated
- Earned a Bachelor’s Degree
- A veteran of the armed forces or currently on active duty in the armed force.
What happens if I don’t complete all credits I signed up for?
What happens if I need more money? If the financial aid I'm getting is not enough, are there other options?
A student’s budget or Cost of Attendance (COA) consists of standard costs for tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses. If a student incurs more costs in one particular area, it may be possible to increase the budget.
Some students may be able to borrow additional funds from alternative sources. If you are interested in an alternative loan, contact the Financial Aid Office to determine if you have eligibility to do so.
In no case will a student be able to borrow alternative loan funds until they have borrowed the maximum in Federal Direct Loan funds.
What happens if my account is past due?
A hold and late payment penalty of 10% of your account balance, up to $75, will be applied to your account seven (7) days after the due date, restricting future registration and transcript. End of term past due accounts are referred to the Oregon Department of Revenue and/or another outside collection agency.
The college reserves the right to institutionally withdraw you if your account becomes past due or has an unpaid balance from a prior term. Transcript requests will be delayed 15 days until payment is made.
What if I get a private scholarship from a source outside CGCC?
Scholarships from non-CGCC agencies are often disbursed based on the donor’s request. This often requires verification of enrollment. Usually outside funds are sent to the college to be posted as a credit to your student account.
If you receive a scholarship from an outside source that comes in the form of a check made out to you, and does not go through CGCC, you are obligated to notify the CGCC financial aid office that you have received it and the amount of the award. If you receive a scholarship your aid may be reduced, usually in the loan area to keep you within the limits of your Student Budget.
What if I have to withdraw from ALL my classes and I have already received my financial aid?
You will be subject to the policy on Return of Title IV Funds and may have to repay part of your aid. If this happens, the Director of Financial Aid reviews your last date of attendance and applies the regulations accordingly. To receive future aid at CGCC, you must successfully complete a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal.
What if my GPA is going to be below a 2.0 for the term?
What if my parents or I had an unusual drop in income or increase in expenses?
You may then contact the Financial Aid Office to obtain a copy of the Change in Financial Situation appeal. Once the appeal form is complete please return it to the Financial Aid Office. Parent and student request for reevaluation based on unusual changes in financial circumstances during the calendar year will be reviewed after the initial award letter. If it is determined that your financial need has increased, this increase could be funded with loans and possibly an increased Pell Grant.
Do not submit documentation of changes until after you receive your first official award notification.
What if my parents won’t provide their tax return information?
What is "untaxed income for financial aid purposes"?
Untaxed Income is income received that is not subject to U.S. income taxes and is required to be reported on the FAFSA. It includes Social Security, welfare, child support and untaxed pensions. Even if you filed a tax return, complete the untaxed income portion of the FAFSA and Verification Worksheet sent to your CGCC student email, if requested.
What is a Student Aid Report (SAR) and what do I do with it?
The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a report of the information you provided on the FAFSA. You should review this information carefully for accuracy and any special messages from the U.S. Department of Education. If you find incorrect information or you originally used estimated information and need to report actual figures, make your changes at FAFSA
What is an Award Letter and How Can I Access It?
An Award Letter is your notification of the different types of financial aid (grants, loans, work study and scholarships) that you’re eligible to receive for the academic year. You can access your Award Letter through your student account - selecting ‘Check Financial Aid Status’ then ‘What Has Been Awarded to Date?'
What is CGCC’s School Code?
The Federal School Code for Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) is 041519.
What is the EFC?
The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the calculation of the student’s ability to meet college expenses and serves as an indexing number to compare you and/or your family’s ability to meet expenses with every other student at college in the U.S. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR)
What is the IRS Form 1098T Tuition Statement?
A form 1098-T is mailed by January 31 each year to eligible students with a valid social security number who were billed during the prior tax year.
If you received more scholarships and/or grants than the amount of qualified tuition and fees billed, the College is not required to produce a1098-T. The form will indicate enrollment status and the total of all tuition and fees that may qualify for an educational tax credit.
The fees reported may not be eligible in your situation. To determine which fees are eligible for you, please consult a tax advisor.
What is the maximum income limit for financial aid?
CGCC’s financial aid office uses the results of the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for need-based federal and state aid. Although there is no maximum income limit for financial aid, students with a lower Expected Family Contribution (EFC) are typically eligible for more financial aid.
There are many factors besides income that determine the EFC such as the size of the student’s household, number of people in the household attending college, the age of those in the household and the state of residence.
Certain loans are available regardless of income.
What is the verification process and why must I complete it?
Verification is the process to ensure the accuracy of the information reported on the FAFSA. Approximately 50% of students are selected each year for verification. This process also helps to ensure the integrity of the federal student aid programs. Application information is compared with documents supplied to the financial aid office by the applicant and corrections are made, if necessary, to the student's FAFSA.
Requested documents often include tax returns as well as other verification documents. If you are selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education, complete and return all requested documents to CGCC’s financial aid office as soon as you can. We cannot determine your eligibility until the verification materials are received and processed.
When is payment due?
Upon registration, your account balance is shown on your schedule of classes, available online through your student account, MyCGCC. Once logged in, click on "Print Existing Schedule" on the MyCGCC Resources Menu.
Full payment or college approved financial arrangements must be in place by the first Friday of the term. If you enroll after that date, payment is due upon registration. If you have financial arrangements that will not cover the full term charges, you must pay the difference by the due date.
Adult Continuing Education Classes
When is the last date to apply for aid?
Technically, the deadline is at the end of each school year, but students may apply anytime during the year until that date. Earlier applications often receive consideration for certain limited funds. Pell Grants are always available to eligible students but Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans have term application deadlines.
When should I apply for financial aid?
You must apply for financial aid every year. The best time to apply is as soon as possible after January 1, prior to the school year for which you are applying.
If you apply prior to February 1st each year, you may be eligible for need-based grants such as, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and/or Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG).
Even if you apply after February 1st each year, you should still apply as soon as possible with the understanding that some programs have limited funds and are awarded to eligible students on a first-come, first-served basis.
When will I get an Award Letter?
You can anticipate receiving an award letter in 6 – 10 weeks from the date your application and file at CGCC are complete. This time certainly varies depending on the time of year and how early your application is received after January 1. All applicants completing the FAFSA and any additional requirements for financial aid at CGCC will be notified formally of eligibility through the student's college email account.
When will I get my money?
If your enrollment level (# of credits) for any term does not match your current award level, your funds may be delayed. Providing an Enrollment Change form to the financial aid office prior to the second week of each term can help you avoid delay.
Which classes are not eligible for financial aid?
Which grades count/don’t count toward satisfactory Academic Progress Standards?
Why do I have to provide parent information?
Parent information is used because the U.S. Congress has stated that families have the primary responsibility of funding a college education. Parent information is not necessary if you are independent.
Why has my aid been canceled and what can I do?
The main reason for aid being canceled is due to lack of enrollment prior to the beginning of the term. Aid will also be cancelled if the student is not making Satisfactory Academic Progress and has not successfully appealed. Loans must be cancelled if there is a period of non-enrollment (not counting summer). In each of these cases, aid can usually be reinstated by contacting the financial aid office and completing the required documentation.
Why haven’t I received my loans yet?
Your loan may not have disbursed for one or more of the following reasons:
- Prior to disbursement, your enrollment level dropped to less than half time making you ineligible for loan
- You have not submitted the Federal Direct Loan Revision/Request form
- You have not completed Entrance Counseling
- You have not signed the Master Promissory Note, if you are a first time borrower
- Your Loan Request form was submitted, but sent back to you because it is incomplete
- You are currently in “disqualification” status based on grades or non-completion of credits
- You are a first time borrower and are subject to a 30 delay in your first disbursement
- Your loan request has been received but your loan has not yet been certified
- Your loan has been certified by CGCC but electronic funds have not yet arrived
Will my award change if I drop my enrollment from full-time to part-time?
Yes, Pell grants are prorated to 3/4, 1/2 and 1/4 of full-time award. Oregon grants and SEOG are also affected by less than full-time enrollment and are not available to less than half-time eligible students. Federal Work Study and Stafford loans are not changed by enrollment changes but do require at least half-time enrollment.