Frequently Asked Questions about Financial Aid


You have questions, we have answers! Financial aid can be a complicated process, so we’ve compiled the most common questions about the financial aid process for you, all in one place.

Q. How long will the process take?

A. If you filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (commonly known as the FAFSA)online you should receive an email notification from the processing center within 3-5 days with your Student Aid Report (SAR). If you completed the paper FAFSA and mailed it to the processing center, you should receive your SAR in about 4-6 weeks. The Financial Aid Office will begin working on your aid as soon as we receive the information from the processing center. We strive to get you the information in a timely manner, however, if corrections must be made or documentation is required, this process can take a few weeks. Please be patient and apply early!

Q. Why do I have to put my parents’ information on the application when they’re not helping me pay for college?

A. The federal government has established the criteria that determine if you must report parental information. These questions are found in the “Dependency Status” section of the web version and in Section 2 of the paper version. If you answer “no” to all of the questions, you must provide parental information. If you answer “yes” to at least one of these questions, you do not have to provide parental information.

Q. If I want a federal student loan, do I have to file the FAFSA?

A. Yes, you must complete the FAFSA if you are interested in the federal student loan program. The FAFSA is used to determine both grant and loan eligibility.

Q. Why did I not receive the full amount of student loan money that I requested?

A. Federal regulations require that all student loans must be disbursed to the school in two installments. If you are enrolled for both the fall and spring semesters, you will receive half of your loan amount in the fall and the other half in the spring. However, if you are only enrolled for one semester you will receive the first disbursement as soon as we can process your loan and the second disbursement will be received at the mid-point of the semester.

Q. Will there be grant money available if I apply late?

A. Federal grants, such as Pell grants and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), will be available as long as you meet eligibility criteria. State-funded financial aid has a FAFSA filing deadline of July 1st.

Q. Does financial aid cover the cost of books?

A. Financial aid can be used to purchase your books. If your billing statement shows that you have been awarded financial aid (grants, scholarships, and loans) and you have a credit balance on your statement then you can take the billing statement to the bookstore and they will let you charge books to your student account for the amount of your credit. If your billing statement does not show a credit balance then you will need to check with the financial aid office before you can charge books.

Q. Do I need to be enrolled full-time to receive federal financial aid?

A. Students must be enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours) to receive a student loan or at least three credits for Pell Grant. Half-time enrollment is not required to receive grants.

Q. What do I do if my financial aid is not processed before my tuition is due?

A. Contact the Finance Advisor/Cashier in Student Services and see what type of payment arrangements can be made for you.

Q. What is the deadline for applying for financial aid?

A. It is a good idea to complete your FAFSA as soon after January 1st as possible. Every year, after you have filed your income tax return from the previous year, you can start applying.

Q. Are there school-specific scholarships I can apply for?

A. Yes! To find these scholarship opportunities, contact the schools or school foundations. Both ECC and MCC have foundations that fund scholarships for students and are awarded on several factors. Consider outside scholarship sources as well.

Still have questions? Contact the financial aid teams at Ellsworth and Marshalltown Community College to learn more. We have dedicated financial aid specialists here to help!