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Financial Aid FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Aid

Visit the FAFSA website and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Yes. The FAFSA is available online beginning Oct. 1 for the upcoming academic year.
The FSA ID — a username and password — has replaced the Federal Student Aid personal identification number (FSA PIN) and must be used to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID confirms your identity when you access your financial aid information and electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents. You and your parents (if you are dependent for financial aid purposes) must obtain an FSA ID at FSAID.
A Student Aid Report (SAR) is a summary of the information that you and your family provided on the FAFSA. The Department of Education will email the SAR to you after your FAFSA has been processed.
You’ll need to have a current admissions application to COA for your FAFSA information to be received by our school. Under the school selection tab of the FAFSA, please add COA by searching for schools in Elizabeth City or by adding our school code (002917).
You were either randomly selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education, or selected by our office to provide reasonable documentation. It’s also possible to be selected for verification if you make a correction on your original FAFSA even though you may not have been selected for verification on the first FAFSA transaction.
If you’ve already completed and submitted your most recent IRS tax return, in most cases you’ll have the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer your tax return information to your FAFSA.

How to correct your FAFSA to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool:

  1. Go to the FAFSA website
  2. Log in using your FSA identification and password
  3. Choose your FAFSA. Directly below the Current Application Status, select “Make FAFSA Corrections”
  4. Create a “Save Key” (or enter your previous Save Key) to view your current FAFSA
  5. Using the navigation bar toward the top, choose Financial Information
  6. If you indicated that you “Will File” your latest taxes, update your answer to reflect “Already Completed”
  7. If you indicated that you recently filed your taxes, check “None of the Above” and view the option to link to IRS
  8. If you already checked “None of the Above,” then the option will be there already; Click the blue link to IRS
  9. Click “OK” to leave the FAFSA website; Click “OK” to enter the IRS website
  10. On the IRS website, indicate under which filing status you filed your most current taxes and enter your address as it appears on your tax return
  11. Click “Submit” and your tax information should populate
  12. At the bottom of the page, check the box saying you would like to transfer your IRS data to the FAFSA then click “Transfer Now”
  13. You will now be back on your FAFSA. Do not change any of the information that was transferred from the IRS. Click through to get to the “Sign and Submit” page
  14. Agree to the terms and conditions and submit your FAFSA corrections

If you’re unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you can order a tax return transcript by:

  1. Access the IRS website and click “Get Transcript of your Tax Records” under Tools or
  2. By calling 1-800-908-9946 and selecting “Option 2” and entering the year
  3. Be sure to order a Tax Return Transcript
If you answer “yes” to one or more of the questions listed below, you’re an independent student. If you answer “no” to all of the following questions, you’re a dependent student.

  • Were you born before January 1993?
  • Are you married?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Do you have children who’ll receive more than half of their support from you for the next academic year?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were your parents deceased, were you in fostercare or were you considered a ward of the court? A student is a ward of the court if a state or federal court has assumed legal custody, except through incarceration. 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, are you or were you an emancipated minor? Emancipated minors are released from control of their parent or guardian through a state court.
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2015, 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, 2015, 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, 2015, 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 self supporting and at risk of being homeless?
  • If your parents are living with each other, you’ll answer the questions about both of them.
  • If your parent is widowed or single, answer the questions about that parent. If your widowed parent is remarried, answer questions about that parent and the person whom your parent married (your stepparent).
  • If your parents are divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived with more during the past 12 months. If you lived the same amount of time with each parent, give the answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent. If this parent is remarried as of today, answer questions about that parent and the person whom your parent married (your stepparent).
  • Grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers and sisters, and uncles and aunts aren’t considered your parents unless they’ve legally adopted you. If you live with them and they’ve not legally adopted you, please contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss your options.
If you don’t know where your parents live, or you’ve left home due to an abusive situation, please fill out the student information section on the FAFSA and contact our office.
You’re still required to answer the questions about your parents and have a parent sign the FAFSA if you’re considered a dependent student.
You won’t be considered an independent student just because your parents refuse to help you with this process. If you don’t provide their information on the FAFSA, the application will be rejected and prevent awarding of financial aid.
If your financial situation has changed since you initially filed the FAFSA, you may complete an Appeal for Special Circumstances Income Adjustment form.
You’ll need to complete the FAFSA in order to determine eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant.
You’ll need to complete the FAFSA in order to determine eligibility for Federal Work-­Study. Visit COA’s Federal Work-­Study web page for more information.
The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds you may receive over your lifetime is limited to 12 full-time semesters (or its equivalent of 600 percent). To view your LEU percentage, visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and log in using your FSA ID.
If you’re interested in applying for scholarships through College of The Albemarle Foundation, please submit the online application by early March (late applications are accepted). Visit the COA Foundation scholarship listings web page for more information. Additional outside scholarships are posted throughout the year on COA’s additional scholarships web page. If you receive a private scholarship, please notify the Financial Aid Office.
No, COA doesn’t participate in the Federal Direct Loan programs.
Once you’ve received your award letter, you can register for classes. If you have sufficient financial aid, your tuition and fees will be taken from that balance automatically. If you have sufficient aid after your tuition and fees have been deducted, you’ll be able to apply it toward books at COA’s bookstore during certain times.
In accordance with federal regulations, each student who applies for aid is eligible for a certain amount of need-­based aid up to their financial need. If an outside scholarship results in you receiving more aid than your financial need, you may lose other aid. This will depend upon the type of aid you are receiving. Contact our office for answers to your specific situation.
You may use any financial aid remaining after tuition and fee charges are paid to pay for books at the bookstore.

How to order books online

Excess financial aid is disbursed based on confirmed attendance as your classes begin throughout the semester. If you have late starting classes, the excess aid will be distributed after attendance has been verified for those late starting classes. For specific information, please contact our office. Visit our list of payment dates.
Financial aid, whether the Federal Pell Grant or state grants, can sometimes be prorated based on the number of credit hours you’re currently enrolled in. To be considered currently enrolled for financial aid purposes, your attendance needs to be verified, including for internet and hybrid classes. If you have late starting classes, your enrollment may change throughout the semester and will be adjusted accordingly. If you have specific questions about your enrollment, please contact our office. Enrollment status definitions:

  • Full-time plus: 15 credit hours or more (North Carolina Community College Grant only)
  • Full-time: 12 credit hours or more
  • Three-quarter-time: nine to 11 credit hours
  • Half-time: six to eight credit hours
  • Less than half-time: five credit hours or less. State grants are not available to students at this enrollment status
Withdrawing, dropping a class or adding a class could cause a change in your award and/or refund. Please consult your advisor and the Financial Aid Office before withdrawing, dropping a class or adding a class, as it may impact your Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
The amount of money you’ll owe will depend on the date of your official withdrawal. Once you’ve officially withdrawn, we’ll begin the process of calculating the amount you may owe and will notify you in writing.
If you have remaining Federal Pell Grant or scholarship funds, you may be eligible to use it during the summer semester. If you were full time in both the fall and spring semesters and received your full award amount (regardless of what school you attended), you would not be eligible for Summer aid. For specific information, please contact our office.
No, you won’t have to pay back your Federal Pell Grant unless you have withdrawals subject to return calculations, in which case you’ll be notified by our office.
The SAP appeal is a process that allows students who’ve fallen below their SAP due to extraordinary circumstances to appeal for future financial aid eligibility. Visit our academic progress requirements web page for more information.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements

Your student identification number is a randomly assigned number given to each student. You can find your student identification number on your award letter, information letter, acceptance letter, web advisor’s “My Profile” and on your student identification card.
The cost of attendance is the average cost to attend college for one academic year (fall through spring). It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses. The cost of attendance is based on North Carolina residency as well as whether or not you live with your parents. Visit our cost of attendance web page for more details.
Incoming information becomes the property of COA and may not be released to third parties, including the applicant.