Financial Aid Eligibility Requirements
To apply for federal student aid, a student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition, the College uses FAFSA data to determine eligibility for state and school aid.
Eligibility for federal student aid does not carry over from one academic year to the next. Therefore, students must reapply for financial aid each year.
For students who need help filling out the FAFSA, the online application has help text tools and a live chat option. Students also have the option to talk to someone by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243, TTY 1-800-730-8913).
The College will use the student information on the FAFSA to determine financial need and the different types of financial aid that a student may be eligible for. The Office of Financial Aid uses the following formula when awarding student aid:
Cost of Attendance (COA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need
One of the key factors, in addition to need, that determines the amount of aid that a student can receive is availability of funds. As a result, the total dollars awarded may fall short of the amount for which a student is eligible. Charter Oak State College, like most schools, is not able to meet full need as demonstrated by many financial aid applicants without self-help aid (i.e., student loans). Therefore it is very important to meet application priority dates to receive the maximum amount of grant aid available based on a student's eligibility.
FAFSA Application Priority Date
FAFSA Application Priority Date - April 1
To be given consideration for federal, state, and institutional aid, students must ensure that the College is in receipt of their FAFSA on or before April 1st. If the priority date is missed, students should apply as soon as possible to be considered for all types of available financial aid assistance (such as Pell Grants, loans, state and institutional aid).
Typically, the financial aid award process begins in May for the upcoming academic year and continues on an ongoing basis throughout the award year.
Taking the Next Steps in the FAFSA Process
Once a student has completed the FAFSA, they are not finished with the financial aid process.
- The U.S. Department of Education will send the student a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the FAFSA data submitted by the student. Students should review their SAR to make sure information is correct and to read and respond to comments when appropriate.
- If the student's FAFSA is selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education, or by Charter Oak State College, the student will be required to submit documentation to validate the data reported on the FAFSA.
Document Notification Letters
Once the result of the student's FAFSA is received by the College, the student will begin to receive document notification letters. Students will be instructed to log into their ACORN account, click on the "Financial Aid" tab and select the "My Financial Aid" link to view missing documents and/or messages.
Award Notification Letter
When a student's financial aid file is complete, the Office of Financial Aid will determine financial aid eligibility and issue an award notification letter. The student is required to log into ACORN, click on the "Financial Aid" tab and access "My Financial Aid." From here a student can read the terms and conditions of their financial aid award and either accept, reduce or decline the award(s) offered to them. Federal Direct Loan awards may be reduced through this process and the Office of Financial Aid encourages all students to borrow only what they need to cover tuition, fees, and books.
Please note that the Office of Financial Aid reserves the right to change, update or modify financial aid awards if circumstances warrant. Listed below are factors that often result in a modification of financial aid:
- Verification, updates or corrections to information reported on the FAFSA;
- Conflicting information from any source;
- Post-screening alerts from the National Student Loan Data System;
- Changes in enrollment status (i.e., full-time to part-time, withdrawing or dropping classes, and not attending or participating in classes);
- Satisfactory academic progress deficiencies;
- Return of Title IV Calculation (R2T4);
- Receipt of outside sources of financial assistance such as a scholarship or tuition assistance benefit.
Disbursement of Funds
Semester disbursement dates, and other important financial aid dates, announcements, and policies are available by accessing the student portal, ACORN, under the "Financial Aid" tab.
- Scheduled disbursement dates are always dependent on when a student begins his or her semester course work.
- Students must be academically engaged prior to the disbursement of federal, state, and/or institutional financial aid funds.
- Logging into an online course without active participation, or participating in academic advisement or counseling, is not considered attendance.
- Financial aid students who withdraw or stop attending classes may be required to return all or a portion of the financial aid that they have received. This is true even if a student receives a refund of financial aid dollars. This is because a student earns financial aid through attendance. The percentage of aid earned is equal to the percentage of the payment period that a student completes.