Frequently Asked Questions 

NOTE:  Lawson State would like to thank and credit the support of Troy University for its assistance and cooperation in the development of the information contained in the Financial Aid section of this website.

1.Can I get an estimate of the financial aid I might receive?
2.How do I apply for financial aid?
3.When can I file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
4.Do I need to have completed the admissions process before I can apply for financial aid?
5.Can I receive financial aid at Lawson State as a transient student?
6.Can I receive financial aid at Lawson State as a student in a certificate program?
7.Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
8.Should I apply for aid even if I don't think I would qualify?
9.What is a SAR, and how do I read it?
10.How is my aid determined?
11.My parents are separated or divorced. Which parent is responsible for filling out the FAFSA?
12.My parents are divorced, and the parent I'm living with has remarried. Does my stepparent have to report his or her income and assets on the FAFSA?
13.Why am I considered dependent?
14.I was told I cannot receive an award notification because I do not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). I have a 3.0; how can I not be meeting academic standards?
15.What is a Pell Grant?
16.Can I use my Pell Grant at two schools for the same semester?
17.What is SEOG?
18.Where can I find scholarships?
19.If I get an outside scholarship, should I report that to my financial aid office?
20.If you are in the National Guard or are an Active Duty military member, are you considered a veteran?
21.If you (the student) are separated but filed a joint tax return, how is the information reported?
22.When will financial aid be placed on my student account?
23.What does a date have to do with my financial aid?
24.Can you give me an example?
25.What happens if I drop courses?
26.I owe a balance from a prior term/semester and financial aid credited to current charges providing a refund but I still owe for a prior term/semester; why were the earlier charges not deducted?


Additional Questions

Can I get an estimate of the financial aid I might receive?

Yes. If you want an estimate of financial aid prior to applying for either admission or financial aid, you may use an expected family contribution (EFC) financial aid calculator. You will need to provide information on your household size, number of household members attending college, and income and asset information for yourself, and if you’re filing as a dependent student, for your parents as well. 

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2.How do I apply for financial aid?

All students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The fastest way to get you application processed is to apply over the internet. To apply online, go to 

http://www.pin.ed.gov

. Web site and apply for a Personal Identification Number (PIN). A PIN allows you to electronically sign and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) without having to print, sign, and mail a signature page to the processing center. A PIN saves time and mistakes. If you prefer to file via a paper application, you can pick one up from the financial aid office.

To complete the FAFSA, you will need to provide information on your household size, number of household members attending college, and income and asset information for yourself, and if you’re filing as a dependent student, for your parents as well. Be sure to follow the directions carefully because making corrections is a time consuming process. 

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3.When can I file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?  

You can file the FAFSA anytime after January 1st of the year that you plan on attending or returning to college. For example if you plan to attend in Fall 2014, Spring 2015, or Summer 2015, you would complete the 2014-2015 FAFSA. If you don’t have your tax returns completed, please wait until all the information is completed before completing the FAFSA. 

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4.Do I need to have completed the admission process before I can apply for financial aid?

No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1st of the year in which you will need funding. However, to actually have your aid processed you must be admitted in a degree program.

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5.Can I receive financial aid at Lawson State as a transient student?

No, Lawson State only administers financial aid for students who are seeking a degree through Lawson State for courses at Lawson State. 

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6.Can I receive financial aid at Lawson State as a student in a certificate program?

Yes, as a College accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, we can provide financial aid for Lawson State students seeking the associate's degree and certificates. We are authorized by the US Department of Education to provide funding for degrees and certificates. 

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7.Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

Yes. You must complete a FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA for each year you attend school. Renewal of your financial aid package NEVER happens automatically. It depends on factors including academic progress, income, number of members of your family in college, and changes in your family’s financial status. 

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8.Should I apply for aid even if I don’t think I would qualify? 

Yes. While many people hate the paperwork involved, you really should file a FAFSA even if you don’t think you’re eligible for federal assistance. Why? Because the FAFSA is also used to find out if you qualify for federal loans. Applying for Federal Student Aid Programs Using the FAFSA is free, so there is no good excuse for not applying. Unfortunately the belief that their own family is not eligible stops many parents and students from applying early - resulting in a late application after families are requested to write a check for tuition. Apply early and know for sure about your eligibility - then you will be in position to know all of your financing options when faced with the tuition bill. 

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9.What is a SAR, and how do I read it?

The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a detailed explanation of the information you supplied on you FAFSA. You will receive your SAR anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks after completing your FAFSA (The shorter time period is for those who file their FAFSA online. The paper version takes six weeks).

The SAR is used for three purposes. First, it is a means of conveying important information about your application for federal aid. Second, it tells you your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). Finally, it can be used to make changes to your application information.

Read Part 1 of your SAR carefully. It will tell you whether or not you may be eligible for the Pell grant, or whether you will be required to submit additional documentation to your financial aid office (this is usually worded as “you have been selected for a process called verification”). This portion is difficult to read but is considered the first notification of additional documents needed to complete your file. Until the financial aid office receives this information they do not know all that may be needed to complete your file.

Part 1 also contains a listing of all the information you supplied on your FAFSA. Go through each item carefully to ensure that it is correct. While the process used to scan and interpret your form is very good, it is not error-proof, so sometimes, even if you filled out the FAFSA correctly, you may find errors. If you need to make corrections, do so on Part 2 of your SAR.

Part 2 of your SAR lists your information under two columns. The first column reports what your FAFSA currently shows, and the second column provides a space to make corrections. After making your corrections, copy Part 2, and then mail Part 2 only back to the address indicated on the SAR. The address is printed close to where you must sign Part 2. You can also go on line and correct your FAFSA information using your PIN.

Notice the 5 digit number on the middle to upper right hand side of the first page of the SAR. That number is your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the calculation arrived at by processing your FAFSA information. The EFC is the amount of money the Department of Education thinks your family can afford given your household size, state of residence, income, and assets. 

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10.How is my aid determined?

The EFC (Expected Family Contribution) on your SAR (Student Aid Report) is a measure of your family’s ability to pay for college. The financial aid office establishes a Cost of Attendance (COA). The COA includes tuition, fees, estimated living expenses, and books and supplies. Financial need is an official term for how much need-based financial aid you’re eligible for. Your financial need is calculated by subtracting the EFC from COA.

To put it simply, the equation is used is:

COA – EFC = Financial Need

In order for you to receive need-based aid, your Cost of Attendance must be greater than your Expected Family Contribution. 

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11.My parents are separated or divorced. Which parent is responsible for filling out the FAFSA? 

If your parents are separated or divorced, the custodial parent is responsible for filling out the FAFSA. The custodial parent is the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, the parent who provided you with the most financial support should fill out the FAFSA. This is probably the parent who claimed you as a dependent on his or her tax return. If you have not received any support from either parent during the past 12 months, use the most recent calendar year for which you received some support from a parent or lived with either parent. Note, however, that any child support and/or alimony received from the non-custodial parent must be included on the FAFSA. 

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12.My Parents are divorced, and the parent I’m living with has remarried. Does my step-parent have to report his or her income and assets on the FAFSA?

Yes. If you parent and stepparent are married at the time you fill out the FAFSA, they must report their income and assets even if they were not married in the previous year. 

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13.Why am I considered dependent?

Many students ask, “Why am I considered dependent, even when I live on my own, my parents don’t support me and do not claim me as a dependent on their tax returns.” The answer to this question is somewhat involved. Basically, in order to be considered independent by the government, your must be able to answer “YES” to a least ONE of the following questions:

Are you 24?

Are you married?

Are you a veteran of the US Armed Forces?

Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you?

Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?

Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?

Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?

Are you an orphan or ward of the court?

Are you homeless which would be determined by a school district homeless liaison, director of an emergency shelter funded by HUD, or by a director of homeless youth basic center?

Are you a graduate or professional student?

Do you have legal dependents other that a spouse?

If you can answer yes to any one of the above questions, then you are independent and it is not necessary to provide your parent’s information on the FAFSA. If you cannot answer yes to any of the above questions then, you are dependent. Therefore, you must provide parental information on the FAFSA.

Last, but not least: It is a common misconception that if you are not claimed as a dependent on your parents’ federal income tax return, then you can be considered independent for the purposes of financial aid. In fact, your status on your parents’ tax return has no bearing whatsoever on your dependency status for financial aid! 

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14.I was told I cannot receive an award letter because I do not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). I have a 3.0; how can I not be meeting academic standards?

Federal regulations require that financial aid recipients show satisfactory academic progress toware their degree objective.  In order to complete a program in the maximum time frame, a student must earn 2/3 of the hours he attempts.  Those who do not will be terminated from aid.  Programs governed by the satisfactory academic progress policy include the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and the Federal Work Study Program.  Academic progress will be monitored for all periods of enrollment, whether or not the student received financial aid during those periods.  Academic progress is based upon oroginal enrollment at Lawson State; therefore, withdrawals, incompletes, and failures are considered hours attempted but not earned.  When academic progress is measures, all work attempted at Lawson State and all transferred in credit hours from other institutions will be considered.

A student who has been terminated due to satisfactory academic progress may be reinstated if he earns the 2/3 cumulative hours needed and has a cumulative 2.0 GPA.  When the student attends at his own expense to qualify for reinstatement, he must enroll in courses which are required for his degree or certificate and he may not repeat courses which he has already passed.  Lawson State's Office of Student Financial Services allows a student two terms of attendance before he will be dropped from aid for failure to make academic progress.

A student whose financial aid is terminated because he fails to make satisfactory academic progress may appeal.  Appeals must be made in writing to the Director of Student Financial Services and must indicate why the student believes he should not be terminated from financial aid.  Appeal applications are located on the LSCC webpage, financial aid section, then Satisfactory Academic Progress.  Located on the form is the deadline for each semester as to when the appeal is due.

If you have over 32 attempted hours and your Grade Point Average is below a 2.0, you will not be eligible to receive aid until your GPA is a 2.0 or higher.  Students cannot appeal to receive aid if their GPA is below a 2.0, and they have attempted 32 hours at Lawson State or had hours transferred in from a former school.

The maximum time frame for completing a program of study is 1.5 times the required length of the student's specific program.  This maximum includes all developmental work taken.  A student is no longer eligible for financial aid when he has attempted 1.5 times the number of hours for his degree or certificate.

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15.What is a Pell Grant?

A Pell Grant is gift aid that you do not have to repay. Pell Grants help undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or higher degree pay for their higher education. The U.S. Department of Education determines who is eligible by using a formula established by Congress and the information provided by the applicant on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will produce an expected family contribution (EFC) number. The amount the applicant receives depends on the EFC, cost of attendance, enrollment status (full-time or part-time), and length of enrollment. Only full-time students may receive the full Pell Grant amount. The grant is prorated for three-quarter, half-time or less-than-half-time enrollment. 

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16.Can I use my Pell Grant at two schools for the same semester?

No, a student who is attending two different postsecondary schools during the same enrollment period cannot receive Pell Grant funds at both. The Parent school will administer the funds only for the hours enrolled at their school. The second school will not receive any funds and the student will be responsible for paying their tuition. It is the student's responsibility to notify the financial aid office at both schools. 

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17.What is SEOG?

A Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) is a federal grant given to the neediest students. 

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18.Where can I find scholarships?
Finding scholarships is a challenging, time consuming, but very worthwhile and potentially rewarding task. Some scholarships are site specific - You can view available scholarships by going to the Types of Financial Aid-Scholarship section on this website . Outside scholarship searches can be completed at 

www.fastweb.com

and 

www.finanid.org.

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19.If I get an outside scholarship, should I report that to my financial aid office?

Yes. Any kind of financial aid from outside sources must be reported to your financial aid office. You agree to do this when you complete the FAFSA. 

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20.If you are in the National Guard or are an Active Duty military member, are you considered a veteran?

No. You are a veteran only if you have been discharged from Active Duty honorably. 

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21.If you (the student) are separated but filed a joint tax return, how is the information reported?

You should complete the FAFSA according to your situation at that time. You should give only your portion of the exemptions, income, and taxes paid if you are separated or divorced at the time of application. Use your W-2’s to separate the income and tax information. If you become separated or divorced after completing the FAFSA, you should contact us - we will help you divide the income and assets appropriately. If you have any questions, please contact your financial aid office for help - Bessemer or Birmingham. (check under Contact Us at the bottom of the page) If your next years FAFSA information again reports you as separated, we will request documentation. 

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22.When will financial aid be placed on my student account?

Financial aid for students who have accepted and returned their award letters is placed on student accounts by the Business Office within 10 days of receipt of the award letter but no sooner than the end the free drop/add period or Census Date. Remember if you adjust your course load up or down after the end of the drop/add period, your site should contact the financial aid office indicating the change in credit load. The financial aid office will be disbursing aid based on the number of credit hours you have at the end of the free drop/add period or Census Date. 

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23.What does a date have to do with my financial aid?

Your enrollment status for financial aid eligibility is directly related to the number of credits for which you are enrolled at the end of the free drop/add period; this is also called the Census Date. The financial aid shown on your Award Notification is based on the assumption that you will be enrolled full-time. The aid you receive (in check, payment of fees, direct deposit, or payment to residence halls) is based upon the number of credits for which you were enrolled at the end of the free drop/add period. Credits added after the Census Date - after the last day of free drop/add are not seen by the system; students should have their site notify financial aid when classes are added after the Census Date.

Federal and state regulations require that certain portions of your award be reduced if you are enrolled less than full-time. If you are enrolled for 6 credits or less after drop/add, your cost of education is reduced to reflect the fact that you pay part-time fees. A reduction in your cost of education may mean that you are eligible for less aid. 

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24.Can you give me an example?

Pell Grant is one of the aid programs that must be reduced for students enrolled less than full-time. In this example, the student, Mary B., was awarded a full-time Pell grant of $1,000 for the spring term. When the term began, he was enrolled in 12 credits; however, because of the demands of his part-time job, Mary decided to drop one class and was enrolled in only 9 credits after the free drop/add period. As a student enrolled three-quarter-time, Jamie is eligible for only $750 in Pell Grant, so his award was reduced and he was sent a bill for the amount owed. If Mary were to enroll in an accelerated term and for an additional 3 credits, he would have the $250 placed on his account. If Mary added any credits after the end of free drop/add for the term, his site should notify the financial aid office. 

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25.What happens if I drop courses?

If you drop prior the end of free drop/add, you are paid for the number of credits remaining after the end of free drop/add. However, the action taken for a drop after the end of free drop/add depends on whether Lawson State adjusts your charges when you drop. If your charges do not change, then your financial aid does not change. While your financial aid may not change for that term, you may have a problem with future financial aid due to the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirement if you do not complete 80% of the courses attempted at Lawson State. If you are granted an administrative drop so that charges are reversed when you drop, then your financial aid is adjusted according to the number of credits for which you are actually charged (if your charges are reversed due to the drop, then some of your financial aid may be reversed and you would be responsible for the difference). 

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26.I owe a balance from a prior term/semester and financial aid credited to current charges providing a refund but I still owe for a prior term/semester; why were the earlier charges not deducted?

In the event of an unpaid balance of any nature on a student's account (including any unpaid check returned by a bank), the following services will be withheld until the balance is paid in full:

Enrollment for subsequent terms/semesters
Transcripts
Diploma

Please contact the Office of Student Financial Service should you have any questions concerning any unpaid balance. 

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