Frequently Asked Questions

How much Pell grant am I eligible for?
The maximum Pell grant for 2019-2020 award year is $6,195. Eligibility is based on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is a number used to determine your or your family's ability to pay. The formula for your EFC takes into consideration your earnings and savings, parental income, nonretirement assets, taxes paid, family size, number in college, and nondiscretionary expenses. Your enrollment status may also affect your award amount.

My parents are divorced. Whose income do I provide on the FAFSA?
If your parents are divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent you lived with more during the past 12 months. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months, or during the more recent year that you actually received support from a parent. If this parent is remarried as of today, answer questions about that parent and your stepparent.

What is verification?
Verification is a federally mandated process. Students selected for verification must provide documentation of the information provided on the FAFSA. Documentation consists of verification worksheet, IRS tax return transcript, and for Illinois residents, proof of Illinois residency. If you or your parent used the IRS Data Retrieval on the FAFSA, you will not have to submit copies of your IRS tax return transcript. Students (and parents) are highly encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to help expedite the financial aid and verification process. Financial aid is not confirmed until all requested documents have been submitted to and processed by the Financial Aid Office.

My financial situation has changed since last year. Can I appeal my financial aid?
Yes. If your (or your parents') 2017 income does not adequately reflect your current income, you may qualify for a special circumstance. If you or your family has had a change in income or assets, loss of employment, or unusually high medical expenses, you may be eligible for a special circumstance. For more information or apply, please contact the Financial Aid Office. Special circumstances are determined on case by case basis.

How do I purchase my books and supplies if I have financial aid?
If your financial aid exceeds your tuition and fees, you may receive a book voucher to purchase your books, supplies, meal cards, and RIDES bus pass at the SIC Bookstore. The book voucher is limited to the amount of excess financial aid. Approximately ten days before classes begin, you may use your book voucher. Book vouchers are valid only through the full refund period.

When will I receive my refund check?
If your financial aid exceeds your tuition, fees, and bookstore charges, you may receive a refund check to help pay for other education-related expenses. Refund checks are mailed approximately six weeks after classes begin. Students may not make arrangements to pick up their refund check.

I need to drop all my courses. How will this affect my financial aid?
If you need to drop all your courses and receive the Federal Pell grant, you may required to pay a portion of your Pell grant back. Your financial aid will be prorated based on the number of days you actually completed. Please see our Withdrawal Policy for more information.

I did poorly in my classes this past semester. Am I still eligible for financial aid?
Students who do not meet the minimum Standards of Academic Progress will be places on warning. The warning period allows students to receive financial aid while they improve their Grade Point Average (GPA) or completion rate (hours earned/hours attempted). If a student does not show improvement during the warning period, the student may have their financial aid suspended. Students may appeal their suspension status by completing a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form. Please see the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for the complete policy for the Standards of Academic Progress and appeal process.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
Yes, students must complete a FAFSA every year after October 1 to be considered for federal and state aid. Students wishing to receive scholarships should complete the Southeastern Scholarship Application every year as well. The scholarship deadline is February 28 every year.

What is FERPA and how does it affect me?
FERPA is a Federal law that is administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office (Office) in the U.S. Department of Education (Department). 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99. Once a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a postsecondary institution, he or she becomes an "eligible student," and all rights formerly given to parents under FERPA transfer to the student. The eligible student has the right to have access to his or her education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, the right to have control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the records (except in certain circumstances specified in the FERPA regulations), and the right to file a complaint with the Department. FERPA generally prohibits the improper disclosure of personally identifiable information derived from education records.

Common Myths

Myth #1: There is no point in completing the FAFSA because my parents make too much money.
False. The FAFSA application is not solely based on income alone. Determination for eligibility in financial aid is also based on household size, number in college, type of tax return filed, assets, and other financial information. Even if you do not qualify for grants, you must complete a FAFSA to qualify for other types of financial assistance such as work-study and some scholarships.

Myth #2: The FAFSA application is too long and complicated.
False. The FAFSA application now has an IRS Data Retrieval Tool. The IRS Date Retrieval Tool allows students and parents to link to the IRS and automatically populate your FAFSA. The SIC Financial Aid Office also assists students and their families with completing the FAFSA. SIC financial aid representatives visit most of the area high schools providing assistance with completing the application as well.

Myth #3: I’m waiting to complete the FAFSA until I decide if and where I will attend.
False. You may list up to ten schools on your FAFSA. If you have not decided what college you want to go to, list all your options. Even if you are undecided about going to college or going back to college, you should complete your FAFSA early. The earlier you apply, the more funding you are more likely to receive.

Myth #4: I am not going to school full-time so I cannot receive financial aid.
False. You do not have to be enrolled full time to receive financial aid. However, if you are only eligible for the minimum Pell grant, you may not qualify for Pell if you go less than half-time or half-time in few cases.

Myth #5: I receive a scholarship so I am not eligible for grants.
False. Students who receive scholarships may also receive federal and state grants. Even if your scholarship covers all your tuition and fees, the Pell grant is a refundable grant to help meet other expenses incurred while attending college.