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FAFSA Process

 

The Department of Education may take up to six weeks to process your FAFSA application. You can check on the status of your application online on the www.fafsa.ed.gov. site and using a government-issued PIN identification.

When the application has been processed, you will receive via email or through the U.S. mail a Student Aid Report (SAR) with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. The EFC is used to determine your eligibility for grant, loan, and work study programs and be considered in the Financial Aid Package that the university gives you.

The federal government expects that families will be responsible for students expenses while in college to the extent of their abilities. The EFC is derived from a standard formula set by the Department of Education. Only very low income families will have a zero EFC, and most families will be expected to do what they can to help students, given their income, assets, and other means of support.

The Financial Aid Office will notify you about scholarship and financial aid awards beginning in April. The awards will proceed through the summer and into the fall, depending on when your application is received and completed and if students given early scholarship offers reject them. We make new offers to the eligible students on the scholarship waiting list and inform them at that time.

Also expect to hear from the Financial Aid Office after your SAR has been received. You may be asked to submit other items to verify information on the FAFSA. Submit materials promptly, keep the receipts, and always make copies of what you submit, including the date it was sent or received.

If your file is complete by April 15, you can expect to receive notification of awards in April and of your complete Financial Aid Package by June. There are a number of items that must be submitted in addition to the FAFSA and scholarship and loan applications. For instance, you must sign a Business Office Authorization Form to allow the financial aid to credit the aid you to your student account.

If you receive a tracking letter that asks you to submit items to complete your file, do so as soon as possible. Then if you do not receive an award letter, call to check the status of your file with a financial aid officer. Check the status of your Financial Aid information online here.

What is a Financial Aid Package?

A financial aid package is a possible combination of scholarships, grants, loans, and work study hours. Scholarships are awarded first in completing a financial aid package. If you do not have a calculated financial need (based upon your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) and the cost of attendance at Highlands), your scholarship support, loans, and possible work study assignment will constitute your financial aid package.

If you do have financial need as determined by your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC), you will receive support in this order:

  • Scholarship aid (for instance, for tuition expenses as in the New Mexico Lottery Success Scholarship, Pell Grant) supports the maximum amount you are eligible for given your EFC and your remaining cost of attendance after scholarship aid is subtracted.
  • FSEOG or SSIG grants, given your EFC and the remaining cost of attendance after Pell Grants are given.
  • Work-study allocations, if you have requested to be considered for these.
  • Loan eligibility, Perkins and Stafford the maximum amounts you can borrow, subtracting scholarships, grants, or work study awards from your total cost of attendance.
  • All students have a Highlands’ atudent account receivable (SAR) in the Business Office. Tuition, fees, bookstore charges, and on campus room and board are posted here. If you apply for financial aid by March 1 before the fall you will be entering or returning, your financial aid will be credited to your SAR to offset charges in the week before classes begin. You will be issued a reimbursement check at the cashier’s office on the Friday before classes start, if your credits are greater than your charges.

If your applications are submitted after March 1 or if scholarships and loans are awarded at a later date than normal, your financial aid will be posted to your SAR as soon as possible, and reimbursement checks will be ready either on a Wednesday or a Friday at the cashier’s office in the Business Office. Call to be sure a check is ready for you. Check the status of your financial aid online.

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