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FAFSA Process

Applying for financial aid at St. Thomas Aquinas College only requires the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The FAFSA process provides the College with the results in the calculation of your EFC (Expected Family Contribution).  Your EFC is the amount of money that the federal government believes your family can contribute to your education. Make sure you include our school code on your FAFSA application 002832. 


Many families are under the impression that they shouldn’t bother filing the FAFSA form because their income is too high and they won’t receive any financial aid.  This is a common misconception for two reasons:

1. When the federal government calculates your ability to pay (EFC), it considers factors other than just your income.  For example, considerations include how many children are in your family, how many people in your household are in college and how close your parents are to retirement.


2. All students can be eligible for financial aid, but some forms, like loans, are paid back. Low interest student loans, work study jobs, and college awards are all keyed to the completion of the FAFSA. It is extremely important to file the FAFSA form as early as possible.


Next Steps

File the FAFSA form online at FAFSA. You and one parent should first apply for the FSA ID here. If you need assistance completing the form, you may also call the FAFSA helpline at 800-4FED-AID (800-433-3243). Submit this form as soon as possible after October 1, 2018.  St. Thomas recommends that you complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st to receive maximum consideration for aid.  Please keep in mind that in you can file your FAFSA with your prior year's tax returns. For example, for 2019-20 FAFSA, you can use your completed 2017 Tax Returns. 


2-3 weeks after you file the FAFSA form electronically The federal government will send you a form called the Student Aid Report (SAR). It will also be sent electronically to St. Thomas Aquinas College. The SAR will indicate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) -- that is how much money they feel your family can contribute to the total cost of your education.

We have found that students who file the FAFSA form are more likely to complete their education and graduate than students who do not file since there is a financial safety net available.

Review Your Student Aid Report

It is important that you review your SAR very carefully; often the federal government will notify you of missing or inaccurate information that is needed to fully process your FAFSA.  Please read through the SAR completely to ensure that no additional information is being requested.

Your Financial Aid Package

St. Thomas Aquinas will take the results of your processed FAFSA and put together a financial aid package for you.  Financial aid packages are sent to students starting in March.  Please note that notification of many merit-based scholarships may occur prior to this time; usually these notifications are sent out a few days after notification of admission.  Learn more about your Financial Aid Award Package.

Financial aid exists to fill the gap between what the federal government has determined your family can pay (EFC) and what it costs to attend a College. We look at your total costs and subtract your merit aid, federal aid, state aid, and any other aid you will receive and work with you to close the gap -- after all resources are looked at we look at the lowest loan opportunities for you and your family.


Verification

Some students who file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) will be randomly selected for review in a process called verification. These students and their families are selected by the federal government but it does not mean they suspect any wrong doing. They simply utilize this process as a means for maintaining a system of checks and balances.  Learn more about the Vertification Process.


Extenuating Circumstances

Based on extraordinary and special circumstances, and in a specific and limited way, the Department of Education gives authority to a school's financial aid administrator to make adjustments to the data elements on the FAFSA and to override a student's dependency status. The school does not have the authority to change the need analysis formula itself or to make direct adjustments to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Instead, the school may make adjustments to the inputs to the formula. 

The changes to the inputs are dictated by the impact of the special circumstances on the family's income and assets. The standard formula is then applied to the new data elements, yielding a new EFC figure. The reason for the adjustment must be documented (by a third party if possible) in the student’s file, and it must relate to the special circumstances that differentiate him or her —not to conditions that exist for a whole class of students.

These Professional Judgement and/or Dependency override situations are reviewed on a case by case basis at the request of the student via an email to the Office of Financial Aid. Further information.

For more information on being considered for a Professional Judgement or Dependency override, please view the procedures and requirements on our Extenuating Circumstances page