How Aid Works

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the most important application to complete for almost all types of financial aid. It is used to determine eligibility for grants and scholarships. The FAFSA is available October 1 for the upcoming award year.

Student with Financial Aid staff memberCompleting the FAFSA

The FAFSA asks for information about you and your financial situation.  If you’re considered a dependent student, you will need your parents’ information, too.  In general, most students under the age of 24 are considered dependent.

You will need these items to complete your FAFSA:

  • A Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID (username & password) Go to fsaid.ed.gov to create your FSA ID.
  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license number
    (optional)
  • Alien registration number,
    if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • W-2 Forms
  • Federal income tax return
    (1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ)
  • Records of untaxed income received, including workers’ compensation, child support, payments to tax-deferred pension, savings plans, etc.
  • Current bank statements and
    records of stocks, bonds, 529 plans,
    and other investments
  • Letters of disability, SSI, unemployment benefits
  • Veteran's benefits

Calculating Financial Need

Once you complete the FAFSA, the Financial Aid office will provide a
financial aid package. A financial aid package is a list of the amounts and types of aid that you may receive from various financial aid programs.

Student files are reviewed upon receipt of the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid is determined using the following formula:

Cost of Attendance 

-     Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

=      Financial Need   

Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance is created for each student’s initial financial aid award using a default full-time budget for living off-campus or with parents. These budget components include the student’s tuition & fee expenses, books and supplies, transportation, room & board and personal expenses for a single academic year.

Expected Family Contribution 

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is determined as a result of the FAFSA.  The FAFSA collects income information and asset information. Other information that is important in determining your EFC are household size and number of children in college.

Academic Year

Westmoreland County Community College’s academic year begins with Fall semester and ends with the Summer Semester. Academic years are usually referred to with two years in their name, because they start in one year and end in the next, but their duration is only 12 months. For example, the 2018-2019 academic year begins with July 2018 and ends July 1, 2019.

Eligibility

To receive federal aid, the general eligibility requirements state that you must:

  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau)
  • Be registered with Selective Service, if you’re a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25)
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program
  • Be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for the FSEOG or Direct Loan Program funds
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Sign the certification statement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) stating that:
    • You are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant and
    • You will use federal student aid only for educational purposes; and
  • Show you’re qualified to pursue college education by:
    • Having a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate;
    • Completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law (or—if state law does not require a homeschooled student to obtain a completion credential—completing a high school education in a homeschool setting that qualifies as an exemption from compulsory attendance requirements under state law); or
    • If you were enrolled in college or career school prior to July 1, 2012, or if you are currently enrolled in an eligible career pathway program*, you may show you're qualified to obtain a higher education by
  • Passing an approved ability-to-benefit test* (if you don’t have a diploma or GED, a college can administer a test to determine whether you can benefit from the education offered at that school) or
  • Completing six credit hours or equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate (you may not receive aid while earning the six credit hours).