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How to apply for financial aid

How do I apply for financial aid?
It's a pretty simple process, really. To apply for financial aid, you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known the FAFSA. You can complete the FAFSA electronically by using FAFSA on the Web.

It's a good idea to simplify the process and get your affairs in order before filling out the FAFSA by...


    • Gathering the documents you need. 
      You will need such items as your Social Security Number, driver's license, income tax returns, bank statements, and investment records.

    • Determine whether you will apply as a dependent or independent.
      Answering a few simple questions will help determine if you need to provide parental information on the FAFSA.

    • Planning how to sign your FAFSA.
      You can sign your FAFSA electronically with a PIN or by mailing in a signature page.

    • Creating your FSA ID Create your FSA ID here
      Your FSA ID allows you to access and sign your FAFSA, Entrance Counseling, and MPN electronically. 
      Your parents will need to create one too.

    • Noting important deadlines.
      To meet the Federal Student Aid deadline, try to apply as early as possible beginning January 1st of each year.
    • Knowing our school code.
      The school code for Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is 011161.   

Filling out the FAFSA
Once you have made the above-noted preparations, you can begin to fill out the FAFSA.

Apply online using FAFSA on the Web
This is the preferred and quickest method of applying for financial aid. Some of the benefits of applying online are:

 

  • Processing of a FAFSA submitted electronically takes approximately 2-4 weeks.
  • Help is available for each page of the application. If you need help with a specific question, click on "NEED HELP?" located at the bottom of every FAFSA page. You can also get one-on-one help from a customer service representative by clicking on "Live Help" at the top of the FAFSA page.
  • You have access to worksheets that automatically calculate and enter information for you.
  • You can save your application at any time and return to it later.
  • You can use your PIN to electronically sign your FAFSA on the Web application.

NOTE: The official FAFSA is at www.FAFSA.ed.gov – not at a ".com" web site. If you go to a ".com" site, you will probably be asked to pay to submit the FAFSA. Remember, the first F in "FAFSA" stands for "free" – so use the official government site to submit your application.

My parents are separated/divorced. Which parent's information should I include on my FAFSA?
The parent whom you have lived with the longest period of time during the past 12 months is the parent whose information you will need to include on your FAFSA.

If you did not live with either parent, or lived with each parent for an equal number of days, you should include information on your FAFSA for the parent who provided the most financial support (i.e., housing, food, clothing, transportation, medical care, school) for you during the last 12 months.

Do I include my stepparent's information on my FAFSA, even if they claim no financial responsibility for my education?
You must include your stepparent's information on your FAFSA if:

  • You lived in your stepparent's household for six weeks (a period of 42 days) or more during the previous or current year, or
  • Your stepparent contributed more than $750 in financial support (i.e., housing, food, clothing, transportation, medical care, school) to you during the previous or current year

My parents did not claim me on their tax return - can I file my FAFSA as an independent student?
To determine whether you are eligible to file as a dependent, please see the Help Section of the FAFSA web site.

If you do not meet any of the criteria noted in their help section, but still feel that you should be considered as an independent student, you may submit a Petition for Independent Status to the Office of Student Financial Assistance.

2010-2011 Petition for Independent Status

Petition for Independent Status

This form is to be submitted by a student (with supporting documentation) who wishes to be considered for independent status on their FAFSA.

 

If I live with my grandparents, whose information should I include on my FAFSA?
Typically, you do not include your grandparents' information on your FAFSA, but it depends on the situation. If you are simply living apart from your parents, you should still include your parents' information on your FAFSA.

What if my FAFSA does not reflect my current situation?
Sometimes things happen that you cannot anticipate, like the loss of a job or the death of a parent or spouse. Whatever the reason, you may submit a Special Circumstances Form to the Office of Student Financial Assistance to reflect any sudden changes in your life that may impact your financial aid awards.

2010-2011 Special Circumstances Form

Special Circumstances Form

This form is to be used by a student to reflect any sudden life changes (loss of job, medical expenses, death of a family member, etc.) that may impact their financial aid awards.

Re-applying for financial aid
You must re-apply (using the FAFSA) every academic year that you wish to be considered for financial aid. To re-apply, you can either use a pre-filled FAFSA (online only) or you can submit a new FAFSA.

The pre-filled FAFSA is the same as a regular FAFSA, but it already contains most of the information you provided on your FAFSA last year. This allows you the speed and convenience of simply updating your information for the new school year. However, if you prefer to start fresh with a new FAFSA, you are free to do so.