FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the Department of Education's official application for federal student aid programs.
The amount the student is expected to pay, referred to as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), is determined by the information submitted on the FAFSA. As a graduate/professional student, you are considered an independent student, and only your information is included in the EFC calculation.
When a student submits a FAFSA, the information is sent to the Department of Education's Central Processing System (CPS). CPS generates two reports, a Student Aid Report (SAR) and an Institutional Student Information Report (ISIR). The SAR is sent to the student, and the ISIR is sent to institutions selected by the student on the FAFSA. ACOM then uses the ISIR to determine a student's eligibility for various financial aid programs.
Title IV Eligibility Requirements
In order to qualify for federal student aid, students are required to meet certain federal requirements which include but are not limited to the following:
Drug Convictions & Title IV Eligibility
Students convicted of a federal or state offense of selling or possessing illegal drugs may not be eligible for federal student aid (grants, loans, and work-study). Students who answer "Yes" to the drug conviction question on the FAFSA will be sent a worksheet by the federal processing center to determine if the conviction affects eligibility for aid. In addition, if the Financial Aid Office is notified that a student has been convicted of possession or sale of illegal drugs during the academic year, all federal student aid will be suspended immediately.
If a conviction was reversed, set aside, or removed from the student's record, it does not count. Convictions occurring during periods of non-enrollment do not count. In addition, any conviction received as a juvenile does not count, unless they were tried as an adult.
The chart below illustrates the period of ineligibility for federal student aid funds, depending on whether the conviction was for sale or possession and whether the student had previous offenses. (A conviction for the sale of drugs includes convictions for conspiring to sell drugs.)
|Possession of Illegal Drugs||Sale of Illegal Drugs|
|1st Offense||1 year from date of conviction||2 years from date of conviction|
|2nd Offense||2 years from date of conviction||Indefinite period|
|3rd Offense||Indefinite period|
Students regain eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when they successfully complete a qualified drug rehabilitation program. Further drug convictions will make them ineligible again. Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain it only after successfully completing a rehabilitation program or if a conviction is reversed, set aside, or removed for the student's record so that fewer than two convictions for sale or three convictions for possession remain on the record. In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility.
It is the student's responsibility to certify to the Financial Aid Office the date of the conviction and if (s)he has completed a drug rehabilitation program.
Verification is the process by which the Office of Financial Aid checks the accuracy of information submitted by the student on his or her FAFSA. It is intended to reduce errors in the financial information that students submit so that eligible applicants can receive the correct amount of financial assistance.
When a student submits the FAFSA to CPS, CPS determines whether the school will be required to verify the application. CPS sends verification instructions to ACOM via the student's ISIR. ACOM will review all applications which are required to be verified. Students who are selected for verification will be contacted via email and required to submit additional documentation to the Office of Financial Aid, including an IRS tax return transcript and an Independent Verification Worksheet. If selected, financial aid will not be awarded until the verification process is complete.
Cost of Attendance Determination
The Cost of Attendance (COA) is defined as an estimate of a student's educational expenses for a period of enrollment and is determined annually by the Director of Financial Aid. The COA for a given award year indicates the annual limit for a student's total financial aid package. Every effort is made to ensure that allowances in each category are realistic and fair. Currently, expense levels in many cost categories are based upon data made available by the IRS.
Need is defined as Cost of Attendance (COA) minus a student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by the FAFSA. EFC is defined as a measure of how much the student and his or her family can be expected to contribute to the cost of the student's education for the year.
Financial need is a prerequisite for the awarding of some sources of financial aid, and assistance may be limited by need. Although every effort is made to meet a student's financial need, financial assistance is not an entitlement and, in some instances, not all of a student's need will be met.
A Financial Aid Administrator may exercise professional judgment to assist students that have extenuating circumstances which warrant a reevaluation of their eligibility for financial aid. Examples of possible extenuating circumstances include but are not limited to:
Students who wish to make a request for professional judgment will be required to submit a Professional Judgment Request form and documentation to support the evaluation. Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and required documenation will vary among students. For more information, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.
Overview of the Financial Aid Process