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 Frequently Asked Questions

What is Financial Aid?

How do I apply?

When should I apply?

Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?

How long does it take?

What is a PIN# and how do I get one?


I had a PIN but I forgot it.  What do I do?

Am I dependent or independent for 2012-2013?

What happens if I purposely provide inaccurate information?

What if I don't have a Social Security number or don't want to report it on the FAFSA?

What if my parents don't have a valid social security number?

How do I make corrections?

Must I be accepted for admissions before I apply for Financial Aid?

I'm planning on going on to a University should I save my FAFSA and use it then?


Is Financial Aid available only to low income students?

If I am enrolled at two colleges, can I receive aid at both colleges?

How do I know if I am eligible?  What types of aid will I get?

How do I check my status?

I turned in unsatisfied documents into the Financial Aid Office and now it shows N status, what does that mean?

My neighbor and I both applied for financial aid at the same college.  Why did she get more aid than I did when they've got a bigger house than ours and their parents make more money than mine?

Do my grades matter?

What are grants?

What is Federal Work Study?

What is a BOGW and how can I get one?

If I receive a fee waiver after I pay for my classes, what do I do?

How can I get a student loan?

How do I accept my awards?

Okay! Now, tht I have completed my FAFSA, turned in all requested documents, and accepted my Terms and Conditions, how do I receive my funds?

When do I get my money?

Why did I receive less money than is listed on my award letter?

Why did I only receive one disbursement when students are supposed to receive two per semester?

If I add late-start classes or add a class after the first day of the semester, will I still receive a disbursement for that class?


 

Q: What is Financial Aid?

A:  A number of programs designed to help students with limited resources meet their educational expenses that are administered by the Financial Aid Office.  Programs include enrollment fee waivers, grants, federal work study, scholarships and loans. 

Q:  How do I Apply?

A:  To apply, complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The FAFSA is available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.  Be sure to include Rio Hondo College’s school code 001269 so that your FAFSA information is sent to us electronically by the Department of Education.  Also, in order for us to receive your information, be sure that your social security number, name and birthdate are accurate when completing the FAFSA and they match exactly with the information you provided on your admissions application to Rio Hondo College.   

Q:  When should I apply?

A:  The ideal time to apply is between January 1 and March 2 to assure your application is processed in time for fall and that all available aid is offered to you.  The priority deadline to apply is March 2.  If you miss this date, you can still apply.  Keep in mind, the longer you take to apply, the longer you will have to wait to be processed.

Q: Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?

A: Yes.  Your financial situation must be reassessed each year.

Q:  How long does it take?

A:
 Electronically after completion, the FAFSA is processed between 48-72 hours as long as all sections are complete with student (and parent, if necessary) signatures, you will receive a confirmation email from the Department of Education.  After the FAFSA has been processed by the Department of Education, Rio Hondo College will receive the electronic results of the FAFSA within approximately 7-10 business days as long as the student has already completed their application for admission to the college.  At which time, your financial aid assistant will begin reviewing your application. This process should take 8-10 weeks from the date the last requested document is received. Please make sure that Rio Hondo’s school code (001269) is on the FAFSA application.

Q:  What is a PIN# and how do I get one?

A:
 A PIN is your Personal Identification Number, which is how you sign your FAFSA application electronically. If you are a dependent, you will also need a separate pin for your parent.  Both pin#'s are necessary to process application. Once you receive a pin number, this is the number you will use every year you apply for FAFSA. A  PIN# is the quickest and easiest way to sign your FAFSA application… And it’s FREE!  Visit http://www.pin.ed.gov to apply. 

Q: I had a PIN but I forgot it.  What do I do?

A: Don’t worry just go to the PIN Site (located at the FAFSA website) and request a Duplicate Pin. You will be asked your security question.  Answer it correctly and when asked, select Display Now and you will be able to view your existing PIN.  If you fail to answer the question after three attempts, request a new Pin.

Q:  Am I Dependent or Independent for 2012-2013?

A:
 Can you answer “YES” to any one of the following questions?:

  • Where you born before January 1st, 1989?
  • At the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program?
  • As of today, are you married?
  • Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30th, 2013?
  • Are (a) both of your parents deceased, or (b) are you (or were you until age 18) a ward/dependent of the court?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?

** ADDITIONAL DEPENDENCY STATUS QUESTIONS FOR 2012-2013**
Please note: Official documentation will be required to determine eligibility for any dependency situations listed below.

  • Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence? 
  • Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence? 
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2011, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2011, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2011, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are considered an Independent student.  If you answered “no” to all of these questions, regardless of your living situation, you are considered a Dependent student for all Federal Funding purposes.

Q: What happens if I purposely provide inaccurate information? 

A: If you use the FAFSA to apply for Federal student aid funds, and provide false information, you are subject to fines and/or imprisonment under the U.S. Criminal Code.  State and local laws may also apply in such cases.

Q: What if I don't have a Social Security number or don't want to report it on the FAFSA?

A: It is necessary to provide your Social Security number on the FAFSA. If you do not yet have a number, you should contact your Social Security Administration office to obtain one. It is required before you can be considered for any Federal student aid program. The FAFSA will be returned unprocessed if the student’s Social Security number is blank.

Q: What if my parents don't have a valid social security number?

A: You can still fill out the FAFSA. When you are asked for their social security number, fill in 0’s and print, sign and mail a signature page.

Q: How to I make corrections?

A: Return to the FAFSA website and make corrections to your FAFSA application. Check with the college before you make corrections to confirm this is the action they recommend. Many colleges can process corrections for the students electronically.

Q: Must I be accepted for admission before I apply for Financial Aid?

A: You may apply for financial aid at the same time you apply for admission. However, you must actually enroll in college before you receive any funds.  Your FAFSA application will not be received into our system until AFTER you complete your admissions application

Q: I’m planning on going on to a  University should I save my FAFSA and use it then?

A: Life time limit for the Pell Grant has been changed from 18 full time semesters to 12 full time semesters.  We recommend you meet with an Academic Counselor to make sure your educational goal is met in a timely manner.

Q:  Is Financial Aid available only to low income students?

A: No. Financial Aid is intended to remove financial barriers for families who cannot afford the cost of an education beyond high school and to fill the gap for families who can afford only part of the cost. Some loans and scholarships are available regardless of “need”. Leave eligibility up to the Department of Education and the Financial Aid Office to determine. Just apply. Many students are eligible for some type of

Q: If I am enrolled at two colleges, can I receive aid at both colleges?

A: No, you cannot receive aid at more than one college for the same enrollment period. Exception to this rule is the BOG (Board of Governor’s) fee waiver. A student, if eligible, may receive a BOG fee waiver at multiple schools for the same term concurrently.

Q:  How do I know if I am eligible? What types of aid will I get?

A:  Once your file has been reviewed, you will be receiving an email to your RIOMail account, and you will be asked to view your award and accept your Terms and Conditions in your AccessRIO Portal. The type of aid you are qualified for, will be listed under your Award section in your AccessRIO Portal.

Q:  How do I check my status?

A: Financial aid status is checked through AccessRIO Portal.  Log on to your AccessRIO Portal to see if you have any unsatisfied student requirements listed. If you have any unsatisfied student requirements you must submit these documents to the financial aid office before we can continue processing your file.  If you do not have any unsatisfied student requirements, your file is complete and you are waiting for the Award Notification email.  Remember to check your RIOMail periodically as this is where we communicate with our students.

Q: I turned in unsatisfied documents into the Financial Aid Office and now it shows N status, what does that mean?

A: When students turn in documents to the financial aid office we assign that document a status. It is important that you continue to log into your portal, because the status may change. Please see below for status codes.


B-
SAP Appeal Denied. This means that your SAP Appeal was denied. Check your RIOMail for decision letter

C-SAP Appeal Approved. This means your appeal was approved. Check your RIOMail for your probation contract which is your conditions of approval.

D-Discrepancies with Information. This means your advisor has reviewed your document and has found discrepancies that need to be cleared up before they can continue to process. Check your RIOmail or visit the Financial Aid Office

E-Loan Cancelled. This means your loan was cancelled for a variety of reasons. Check your RIOmail for letter of cancellation.

I-
Incomplete-Missing Information. This means the document you submitted has incomplete information. Check your RIOmail for reason or visit the Financial Aid Office for details.

L-
Ineligible. This means you are ineligible for aid, for a variety of reasons.

M-Missing Signature. This means the document you turned in is missing a signature. Visit the Financial Aid Office to complete.

N-
Received-Processing. This means that financial aid received your document and is currently processing the document. IF YOU SHOW AN “N” YOUR FILE IS NOT COMPLETED. IT IS STILL PROCESSING. Processing can take 8-12 weeks to complete.

R-
Required. This means that this document is required and we cannot continue with the processing of your file until financial aid receives document(s).

S-
Satisfied. This means that this document has been reviewed and completed by your Advisor and the document has been satisfied.

W-
Waived. This means that a document was required but the Financial Aid office has determined that we do not need this document to process file.

Q: My neighbor and I both applied for financial aid at the same college. Why did she get more aid than I did when they’ve got a bigger house than ours and their parents make more money than mine.

A: The circumstances in your neighbor’s family may be different than they appear, and home equity is not used to determine eligibility for Federal Aid. What doesn’t necessarily show are other factors, such as AGI, household size, or number in college, which affects the computation of the family contribution
 

Q:  Do my grades matter?

A: Yes. All students who apply for Financial Aid will have their academics reviewed to verify that they are making "SAP" or Satisfactory Academic Progress. Maintaining this academic progress means that students refrain from receiving grades such as "W's", "F's", "IP's" or "NC's" on their academic transcripts. Students must also keep their GPA above 2.0 and cannot exceed the allowable degree applicable units to complete an A.A., A.S., Vocational Certificate or Transfer program. Please see our SAP Policy

Q:  What are grants?

A: The greatest source of grant funds is the Federal Pell Grant which is federal money awarded to students based on financial need (determined by your FAFSA information) and in most cases, does not have to be paid back. Cal Grants are also available which are state funds awarded in addition to the Federal Pell Grant.

For federal grants, students must be enrolled in a eligible Title IV degree, certificate, or transfer program; have a high school diploma or GED or pass high school proficient exam; demonstrate financial need (determined by completing a FAFSA); maintain satisfactory academic progress; and be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
 
For state grants such as Cal Grants, students must be a California resident, meet requirements for the federal grants, and submit a GPA Verification form to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) in addition to completing the FAFSA by March 2. Cal Grant recipients are selected by CSAC. Community College students will be given a second opportunity to submit GPA Verification, if funds are remaining on September 2. If a student has more than 16 or more degree applicable units with Rio Hondo and you meet the qualifications, we will automatically submit the information for you. Please check with our office if you are not sure. You will be contacted by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) once your eligibility is determined. Visit the CSAC website at www.csac.ca.gov and create an account to track your Cal Grant application.
 

 Q:  What is Federal Work Study?

A:  Students may be eligible for part-time employment through the Federal Work Study (FWS) program. Students may work up to 20 hours per week and earn a monthly paycheck. Federal Work Study awards are determined by financial need (by completing the FAFSA) and if they indicated on their FAFSA application that they were interested in work study. Work study is available to eligible students enrolled in six (6) or more units per semester. Refer to your award notification to see if you qualified for work study. If you do, please follow directions on our Federal Work Study page .

Q:  What is a BOG and how can I get one?

A:  The BOGW program is for eligible California residents to help pay for tuition. The BOGW is processed electronically between the Financial Aid Office and the Cashier’s Office, which will waive the enrollment per unit cost (whether it be 1 unit or 21 units). The BOGW is not cash money received; the following fees are waived: Per unit cost of tuition, student rep fee, and a portion of your parking permit for Fall and Spring semesters. The BOGW does not have to be paid back. You may be eligible for a BOGW even if you are not eligible for other types of aid. BOGW does not cover class material fees or the college services fee. Students are responsible for making sure all fees have been paid. If you must pay for your enrollment fees before your BOGW is awarded, your tuition cost will be refunded to you once your fee waiver is processed as long as your fee waiver is awarded during that same semester. No exceptions
Eligibility for the BOGW will automatically be determined once the Financial Aid Office receives the results of your FAFSA electronically. You will be able to view this on your Award section in your AccessRIO Portal. Students who are currently receiving benefits from TANF/Cal Works, SSI/SSP, General Relief, or a certified veteran dependent by California Department of Veteran Affairs are eligible for a BOGW as long as they are California residents. Just bring current proof of benefits (dated within the last 30 days) to the Financial Aid Office. You will still need to complete the FAFSA to apply for other types of financial aid. Your BOGW eligibility is determined first before any other aid.
 

Q:  If I receive a fee waiver after I pay for my classes, what do I do?

A: Check your AccessRIO Student Account Summery in your AccessRIO Portal. You should see the BOGW posted in this area. The Accounting office will automatically issue you a refund in 8-10 weeks. A check will be mailed to the address that was listed on your Admissions and Records application. Questions regarding the status of your BOGW refund can be directed to the Accounting Office.

Q:  How can I get a student loan?

A:  Loans should be considered only when other sources of aid are unavailable or insufficient. Loans are only to be used for educational purposes; they must be repaid with interest. Students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress to be considered for a loan. Students who request loans may be denied. Students cannot exceed their loan aggregate. To apply for a loan, students are to have completed a FAFSA and have their awards posted and file completed by the Financial Aid Office. Please click on loan information on the sidebar for loan instructions. Rio Hondo College only participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. We do not certify private loans.

Q: How do I accept my awards?

A: Visit your AccessRIO Portal periodically to check on your award status. Once you have received your award notification email, you will be instructed to logon to your AccessRIO Portal to view and accept your Terms and Conditions. The only awards that need to be accepted/declined are Federal Work Study (FWS) and Cal Grants. Then proceed to read and accept your terms and conditions.

Q: Okay! Now, that I have completed my FAFSA, turned in all requested documents, and accepted my Terms and Conditions, how do I receive my funds?

A: All financial aid disbursements will be transmitted electronically through Higher One, a financial services company. Once you we have your FAFSA application and you have enrolled in classes, a Higher One debit card will automatically be mailed to you. It is critical that all students have a correct permanent address on file with Rio Hondo’s Admission and Records department. Your permanent address can be confirmed/updated your AccessRIO Portal. Just because you received your card DOES NOT mean you have money in the account or that you are eligible for financial aid. If you haven’t received your myRHCcard you can check your card status by visiting www.myrhccard.com , click on the picture of the card, and at the top left click “Where is my Card?”

Q:  When do I get my money?

A:  Once you receive your Disbursement Notification email, you will check the Disbursement schedule link for the next disbursement date. This schedule is always updated if the dates change. If you missed the 1st Pell Disbursement, you will receive your money on one of the make-up dates. Once you have received your first disbursement, you are on schedule for the 2nd Pell Disbursement unless your enrollment status changes.
The Financial Aid Office will disburse aid in two payments per semester. Students enrolled in less than full-time units will receive an adjusted amount based on their enrollment status. Students enrolled in less than six (6) units, and if eligible at "less-than half-time status", will receive a prorated amount of their disbursement funds. Normally, state grants (Cal Grants) are disbursed after a student receives their federal aid.
.

 

Q:  Why did I receive less money than is listed on my award letter?

A:  Your Financial Aid award amounts are based on full-time enrollment, as well as all of your classes starting at the beginning of the school term. If you are enrolled in less than full-time units, you may still be eligible for a disbursement of funding - however, the amount will be based on the number of units of enrollment. The break-up of funding percentages is as follows:

12 or more units = full-time enrollment (100% of offered funding for term)
9.0 - 11.5 units = 3/4-time enrollment (75% of offered funding for term)
6.0 - 8.5 units = 1/2-time enrollment (50% of offered funding for term) 5.5 or less units = less than half-time enrollment (please visit Financial Aid Office for inquiries of less than half-time enrollment disbursement criteria)

All students are paid on attending units which means payment is received for the classes you are currently enrolled in and attending. Once the late start classes begin, those units will be paid at that later time.

*Please note: Classes that do not start the first week of the term/semester may be considered "late start classes". Funding for such classes may not be available for the first disbursement of the semester. For further information regarding late-start classes, please contact the Financial Aid Office.*

Q: Why did I only receive one disbursement when students are supposed to receive two per semester?


A: There are a couple of reasons you may only receive one disbursement per semester.
• If your file was completed past the last make-up disbursement date, financial aid office will pay you the full grant amount on the second disbursement date for that semester rather than divide it into two disbursements.
• Another reason may be that you have withdrawn from classes after we paid you the first Pell disbursement or dropped units which changed your enrollment status.
An example would be:


A student enrolls in 12 units at the beginning of the semester and financial aid pays him half of the grant on the first disbursement date. When financial aid disburses the second disbursement, it shows that the student has dropped his classes and is now taking 6 units. Student is considered half-time enrollment and financial aid should have only paid student half of his grant. Financial aid calculates what portion of the grant student was entitled to, minus what we already paid. If there is a balance, this is what the student receives; in most cases a student is no longer eligible to receive additional disbursements that semester. More often, we have paid what student was entitled to on the first disbursement. Conversely, if student adds units after we have paid him the first disbursement, we will adjust our calculations and pay any additional grant that was entitled to on the next make-up date.

 

Q:  If I add late-start classes or add a class after the first day of the semester, will I still receive a disbursement for that class?

A: If you add a class that starts late, meaning it does not start the first week of school additional units will be accounted for on the next Make-Up Disbursement schedule. If we have paid you for a certain number of units and then you add another class, we will make up the difference on the next disbursement date.




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