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Frequently Asked Questions
What is Financial Aid? Financial aid consists of scholarships, awards, grants, loans and student employment and is available through Vermont Tech, the state, and the federal government. Merit-based financial aid is based on your academic credentials like SAT and ACT scores and grade point averages; need-based aid takes into account your financial need, which is the difference between the cost of a Vermont Tech education and your expected family contribution, or EFC. Various factors affect the EFC, including the size of your family's income, and the number of family members currently enrolled in college.
What is the difference between gift and self-help aid? Gift aid includes scholarships, awards, and grants that do not have to be repaid. Self-help aid includes loans and student employment for which the student is held financially responsible for the funds received.
How do I apply for financial aid? To determine the amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive, you must first file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after January 1. You automatically apply for financial aid eligibility when you submit the FAFSA. Vermont Tech's FAFSA code is 003698. Although you don't have to be accepted at Vermont Tech before applying for financial aid, you do have to be admitted to Vermont Tech before any financial aid can be awarded.
It will be necessary for you to file a FAFSA each year you are a student at Vermont Tech in order to reapply for financial aid. Even if you are certain you wont qualify for need-based assistance, it's a good idea to file the FAFSA so that you may be able to qualify for aid if your financial situation changes.
IRS Data RetrievalIRS Data Retrieval - New federal regulations for the 2012-2013 academic year state that financial aid offices will no longer be able to accept signed copies of federal tax returns from students and parents for FAFSA verification purposes. All need-based aid recipients selected for verification will have two options to provide tax return documentation:
Option 1: Use the IRS Data Retrieval Process when completing the FAFSA online. FAFSA provides instructions to link to the IRS while completing the FAFSA. Certain data elements such as AGI and taxes paid will be populated for you on the FAFSA. Because this data comes directly from the tax return you filed with the IRS, the data is considered “verified” for FAFSA purposes. Keep in mind:
- The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will be available February 1, 2012 for 2012-2013 applicants.
- The Federal Tax Return must be filed at least two weeks (if filing electronically) prior to using FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval to allow the IRS time to process the return. If filing a paper return you should be able to use IRS Data Retrieval 6-8 weeks from the time you mailed your return.
- Schools will still collect additional documentation to verify data not provided by the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Process such as copies of W2 forms and an institutional verification form for such items as household size, number in college, and untaxed income.
- The IRS Data Retrieval Process does not have to be used on the initial FAFSA filing if your tax returns have not been processed by the IRS. You may submit a correction to the FAFSA and use the Retrieval Process at that time.
Option 2: Request a Federal Tax Return Transcript be mailed from the IRS directly to the Financial Aid Office.
- An official tax transcript will be required for tax filers not able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Process (I.e. recently widowed, separated, or divorced parent that was required to file a joint return or a 1040X filer).
- Schools will still collect additional documentation to verify data not provided by the verification form for such items as household size, number in college, and untaxed income.
Please note that the IRS Data Retrieval Process cannot be used in these circumstances:
- Student and parents completing a paper FAFSA
- Parents of a dependent student who filed separate federal income tax returns
- Parents who had a change in marital status after the end of the tax year
- Situations in which an amended federal income tax return was filed
How do I apply for outside scholarships, and how do they affect my financial aid award? Fastweb, a free Internet scholarship search service (www.studentservices.com/fastweb), will help you locate scholarship sources beyond Vermont Tech. Also, Vermont students can ask the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation for a copy of their scholarship directory, and students form others states should see if their state produces a similar resource. Outside scholarships are also made available through professional and civic organizations like the Rotary, the FFA, or the American Association or University Women.
You must notify Vermont Tech of all outside scholarship aid received so that aid can be applied toward meeting your financial need at Vermont Tech. If a reduction in the amount of aid awarded is necessitated by federal law, the financial aid office will first try to reduce self-help aid. Rarely is gift aid reduced as a result of outside scholarships received.
What if my financial situation changes? It isn't necessary to file another FAFSA. Send a letter explaining these changes to the director of financial aid at Vermont Tech. You or your parents' financial situation, and thus the amount of expected family contribution, is reviewed annually, and at any time upon request.
After I am notified of my financial aid package, when will I receive the money? After you complete the appropriate forms, funds generally will be credited to your Vermont Tech student account at the beginning of each semester.
What can I do if my parents are unable to help pay for my education? The federal and state governments expect parents to assist their children when it comes to financing a college education. If there is a gap between the expected family contribution, as determined by the FAFSA, and the actual contribution, contact the financial aid office to find out about alternative loans or financing programs.
How do I know whether I am a dependent student or an independent one? Generally, if you are 24, or will be 24 by then end of the calendar year, you are considered an independent student. If you are younger than 24 but are a veteran, have dependents, are married, are an orphan or were a ward of the court, you are also considered an independent student. If you can document unusual circumstances, you may be eligible to apply for independent status.
What is the difference between a part-time student and a full-time student? The number of credit hours. If you carry less than 12 credits a semester, you will be considered part time. You must be enrolled at least 6 credits in a degree program to receive aid.
Part-time status will result in a reduction of federal and state grant funds for our grant eligible students.
What is a degree student? Any student who has been accepted into a degree program. This requires filing out an application for admission.
I already have a bachelor's degree and would like an associate's degree in a different discipline. How will this affect my financial aid? You will be excluded from Federal (Pell) grants ant state grants, but can still apply for loans, work study, and institutional support.
Once my financial aid has been deducted, how do I pay the rest of my tuition and fees? You can pay by check or cash or use a major credit or debit card. Vermont Tech also offers an in-house payment plan. Authorized users may sign-up each semester for the VSC Bill Payment plan at http://portal.vsc.edu. This plan has a $30 per semester sign-up fee and no interest charge. To find our more, call the Vermont Tech Business Office at (800) 600-9830 or 802-728-1301. Parents of dependent students may also apply for a parent loan. (VAST students are not eligible for this loan. VSAC has a special loan for VAST students needing loans for room and board). Students may also apply for private loans with a co-signer.