What is financial aid?
Financial aid is a general term for different types of money designed to help students pay for their educational costs. There are grants, work-study, loans, scholarships, and the Board of Governor’s Fee Waiver (BOGW).
How do I apply for financial aid?
What is the EFC?
The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) comes from the information you provided on the FAFSA. It is the amount of money the student /family is responsible for contributing toward the student’s educational costs for one year. It is used by financial aid offices to help determine eligibility for financial aid.
What is Selective Service?
Registration is a way our government keeps a list of names of men from which to draw in case of a national emergency requiring rapid expansion of our Armed Forces. By registering all young men, the Selective Service ensures that a future draft will be fair and equitable. All male applicants for financial aid must register with the selective service between the ages of 18 and 25.
Where can I find a glossary of commonly used Financial Aid terms and acronyms?
How often do I have to apply for Financial Aid?
EVERY YEAR. The FAFSA or CA Dream Act application becomes available every October 1 for the next school year. Example: Apply October 1, 2018 if you want to go to college anytime between July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019.
When is the deadline for the FAFSA?
Students should submit their FAFSA within the October 1 - March 2 priority filing dates to be considered for Cal Grant; however, we will accept applications throughout the year.
Do I qualify for the CA Dream Act?
To qualify you must have AB540 status. Assembly Bill (AB) 540 qualifications:
- Attend a California high school for a minimum of three years or a total of three or more years attendance in CA elementary or secondary schools (or a combination of those schools)
- Graduate from a California high school or pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE)
- Enroll in an accredited and qualified California community college or university
- Fill out an affidavit stating your intent to legalize immigration status as soon as eligible
How do I apply for Cal Grant?
The deadline to apply for Cal Grant is March 2. You must submit two forms: a complete FAFSA or CA Dream Act application and a GPA verification form [If you have attended West Valley College and completed a total of 16 units, your GPA gets automatically sent]. For more information, visit the California Student Aid Commission.
Where can I get help filling out the FAFSA/CA Dream Act Application?
You can get personal help by visiting our Financial Aid Office. Our staff can help you with specific questions or you may sign up for a workshop. You can sign up by calling us at 408-741-2024 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have applied for a FAFSA online. When will I receive my financial aid?
The FAFSA is just the first step. The financial aid office should receive your electronic FAFSA from the US Department of Education within two days. Log on to the WVCPortal and check your Financial Aid Status. The WVCPortal tells you what forms that you need to submit to our office.
If there are no forms listed as “Incomplete” then you must confirm with the financial aid office that your file is complete. Your funds will be transmitted to you on the scheduled disbursement dates. See the scheduled disbursement dates.
What is the status of my financial aid application?
How to locate the status of your financial aid application online:
- Go to http://westvalley.edu and click on WVCPortal. Follow the instructions on the screen to login to the secure site.
- Click on the Financial Aid link.
- Select “Financial Aid Status” and select the academic year you applied for. Complete all unsatisfied student requirements listed as “Incomplete”.
- Access the "Incomplete" documents. Submit ALL requested forms at one time to the Financial Aid office. Incomplete forms will not be accepted and will delay the completion of your file.
Will I be notified by mail about my financial aid?
No, everything is online. You must check your financial aid status frequently in WVCPortal at: www.westvalley.edu.
Is there an income limit required to get financial aid?
There is not a clear-cut income limit. The financial aid process looks at many different variables besides income to determine eligibility. The only way to know if you are eligible is to complete the FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application.
I didn't graduate from high school. Can I still get financial aid?
Effective July 1, 2012, new students who enroll in a program of study must have a high school diploma, GED or its equivalent in order to be eligible for financial aid. Students who completed a home schooling curriculum are considered to have received a high school diploma or its equivalent. Students no longer have the option of becoming eligible for federal student aid by passing an approved Ability to Benefit test or completing at least six credit hours of post-secondary education.
However, students who were enrolled in an eligible educational program of study or qualified for financial aid (prior to July 1, 2012) by passing the ATB test or completing 6 degree applicable credit hours will continue to be eligible for aid due to a grandfathering clause.
If a student did not receive a high school diploma or its equivalent, you can still be considered for the California College Promise Grant (formerly BOGW) and scholarships.
I just want to take some classes for job skills or to improve my language skills. Can I get financial aid?
We can consider you for the California College Promise Grant (formerly BOGW), but not for federal and other state aid. Federal and state aid is reserved for students who are pursuing a college degree or certificate.
Do I qualify for financial aid if I am an International Student?
International Students are not eligible for federal or state aid.
Do I qualify for financial aid if I have a bachelor’s degree?
You may be eligible for the California College Promise Grant (formerly BOGW), Federal Work Study (FWS) and/or a Student Loan. You will need to submit a Financial Aid Appeal in order to request FWS and/or Student Loans. Only one year of eligibility will be approved through the appeal process.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?
Students must meet the below requirements each semester.
- Maintain a minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA and
- Complete at least 2/3 (67%) of units each term and
- Complete at least 2/3 (67%) of units overall and
- Complete program within the ‘Maximum Time Frame’ or 150% of the normal program length
Why am I on financial aid “Warning/Disqualification”?
You are on warning/disqualification because you failed to meet the Financial Aid’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements. The first time it occurs you will be placed on “Warning” status and the second consecutive semester that the SAP is not met, you would be “Disqualified” from receiving most types of Financial Aid. For more information, visit Satisfactory Academic Progress.
What happens if I drop my classes after receiving my Financial Aid award?
If you drop all of your units while receiving financial aid, you may be required to repay a portion of the funds. The repayment amount will be determined after the add/drop period has ended. Students should periodically view there WVC Portal for any payment notices. Visit the Financial Aid office to consult an Advisor on how this may affect your Financial Aid.
Can I change my major and still get financial aid?
Yes, you can change your major while receiving financial aid. However, students are required to declare a degree or certificate or transfer program with the Admissions & Records or Financial Aid office in person. Students must complete their educational objective (graduation, transfer, certificate, etc.) by the time they have attempted 90 units or 150% of the declared program of study. Consult a counselor or the Transfer Center to decide as early as possible on a major.
Is Financial Aid available for the winter/summer sessions?
Winter and Spring semester units are combined to determine Spring disbursements. Students may qualify for Financial Aid in the summer depending on the number of units and if they have any Financial Aid remaining from the preceding award year.
What is full-time during the Summer session?
Financial Aid considers “full-time” status as 12.0 units or more for all semesters (Fall, Spring & Summer).
Do I have to be a full-time student in order to receive financial aid?
You DO NOT have to be full-time student to receive Financial Aid, however, some financial aid programs have specific unit requirements. For more information, contact the Financial Aid office at: 408-741-2024 or email@example.com
What fees does the California College Promise Grant (formerly BOGW) cover? If I pay my fees before I qualify for the CCPG, do I get reimbursed?
The CCPG covers the $46 per unit enrollment fee and gives you a discount on the parking permit for the year that you apply. Yes, you will receive an automatic refund for your enrollment. Refunds are calculated and disbursed in approximately 2-4 weeks. See the Admissions & Records office for the parking fee reimbursement.
Can financial aid help me if I’m an out of state student?
Out of state residents may be eligible for Federal aid. Any aid that is received can be used toward the $250 per unit enrollment and tuition fees. For example, a student who is eligible for the maximum Pell Grant (EFC = 0) and enrolled for 12 units will receive four payments equaling to $6,195.
Why is my award is different this year?
This can be due to many variables: change in income, lower-unit enrollment, completion date of FAFSA or CA DREAM appl, etc. Visit our office for a more detailed explanation.
When and how do I get my money (disbursement schedule)?
You can view our regular disbursement schedule online. See the Financial Aid Calendar on our website. Pell Grant and Loans will be divided into four disbursements per year, two disbursements in the Fall semester in increments of 50% and two disbursements in the Spring semester in increments of 50%.
Your disbursement will be adjusted to reflect the number of units in which you are enrolled (75% for 3/4-time, 50% for half-time, and you may have eligibility for less than half-time). For example, if your award letter states your total Pell Grant award is $6,095 and you are a full time student then you can refer to the chart below.
Does my disbursement include “Waitlist” classes?
No, your disbursement will not reflect the waitlist classes. Your disbursement will only include the units you are currently enrolled in, however, if you are added to the class then your second disbursement will reflect the update.
Does my disbursement include “Late Start” classes?
Your second disbursement may reflect late start classes if enrolled and starts by specific dates.
May include payment for late start Fall classes if enrolled by October 23 and starts by November 2.
May include payment for late start Spring classes if enrolled by March 28 and starts by April 6.
Can I get financial aid if I’m in default on a student loan?
The only financial aid you can be considered for while in default on a student loan is the BOG Fee Waiver and scholarships.
How can I buy my books if I don’t get my financial aid until the first week of school?
- There is the option to apply for EOPS and if you are eligible they may potentially cover some of the cost for books.
- The library carries textbooks for most classes at the reserve desk, which you can check out for two hours for use in the library. The library also offers an exchange of 10 cans of food per textbook. For more information you may visit the library.
- The bookstore offers a rental system where at the end of the term you will be refunded, therefore, when you do get your disbursement it is almost as if you got the book for free.
- Emergency Book Loan program is offered by the Admissions & Records office during the first week of Fall and Spring semesters. The loan is available for up to $200.
Why did my friend and I get different financial aid awards?
Each student is considered for aid based upon their personal and financial information on the FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application.
Can I get financial aid at two colleges during the year?
Yes and No! If you are attending two California community colleges at the same time, you can receive a California College promise Grant (formerly BOGW) at both colleges but federal or state financial aid can only be received at one college for the same enrollment period. However, if you transfer from one college to another college during the year, you can add the new school to your FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application to be considered for additional aid. Students must notify the Financial Aid office of your transfer.
I’m taking classes at two colleges at a time. Can all those units be added together for financial aid?
Yes, students can be paid for the combined units if the classes are taken at West Valley College and Mission College. If you are attending another college different than Mission and West Valley College you must contact the financial aid office at the college where you are receiving your financial aid.
Do I have to report any grants, scholarships or fellowships to the IRS as income?
Grants and scholarships are generally not taxable if you are pursuing a degree at an eligible educational institution and the total does not exceed your expenses. Contact the Internal Revenue Service for more information or read IRS publication 970, click here to download and print the brochure.
Is my work-study income taxable?
Yes. Any money received as the result of work is considered taxable income. You will be asked to file a withholding form (W-4) and you will receive a statement of income and taxes withheld (W-2) each calendar year.
I am over 18 years old and my parents no longer claim me on their tax return. Do I still have to include my parent’s information?
Yes, you must include your parents’ income information until you turn 24 years old or based on how you answer the FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application questions.
I live on my own and pay bills, why am I considered "Dependent"?
The federal definition of an independent student is based on how you answer the FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application questions.
However, in unusual circumstances, a student may be considered independent if a compelling case can be made to override the dependent status. A Professional Judgment for Dependency Override must be completed and submitted for review. Please visit the Financial Aid office for more information.
I no longer communicate with my parents and it would be unhealthy for me to have contact with them. How can I complete the FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application?
In some unusual cases we can override the need for parents’ information. A Professional Judgment for Dependency Override must be completed and submitted for review. Please visit the Financial Aid office for more information.
My parents are separated or divorced and living separately. Who should fill out my FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application?
The parent you lived with most during the last year. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, then the parent who provided the most support in the last year or, the parent who most recently provided support.
My parents live in another country (or are not citizens) do I still have to report their information?
Yes, you still have to report their personal and financial information until you meet the federal criteria for an independent student. Please remember to convert their income information into U.S. dollars. If your parents do not have social security numbers enter all zeroes (000-00-0000) for that question on the FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application.
Can you give my parents information about me?
College student records are private and are protected by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). A “Consent of Release” form allows the Financial Aid office to disclose information to whomever you designate. The consent of release form is available upon request for students to sign and submit to the Financial Aid office in person.
I cannot fill out a FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application because I lost my tax information. What can I do?
If you paid to get your taxes done you can contact your tax preparer to obtain a duplicate copy or you may contact the IRS to get a free copy.
How do I use the IRS Data Retrieval?
Instructions to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool:
You may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer your tax information from the IRS to your FAFSA.
- Log into your FAFSA
- Click “Make FAFSA Correction”
- Proceed to “Student Financial Information” and/or “Parent Financial Information”
- You will see the following questions:
- Did you file an amended tax return?
- Did you file a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return?
- Did you file your taxes electronically in the last 3 weeks (or by mail in the last 11 weeks)?
- If you can answer ‘No’ to all of the above questions, “Link to IRS” will appear.
- Enter your FSA Username and Password. Click “Link to IRS”
- Click “OK” to be transferred to the IRS website. Type the name and address EXACTLY (capitalization, punctuation, and spelling must be the same) as it appears on the tax return.
- Click “Submit” for the tax information to appear
- Check the box and click “Transfer Now” for the tax information to be transferred to your FAFSA. Once the tax information is transferred successfully from the IRS to your FAFSA, do not change the information, otherwise it will be considered unverified.
Important Notice: If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and you are selected for verification, you will need to order an official tax return transcript from the IRS.
How can I request IRS Tax Transcripts?
- Go to Internal Revenue Service under the Tools section select Get Transcripts for Your Tax Records
- Select either Get Transcript ONLINE or Get Transcript by MAIL
- Create an account
- If you request for your transcript online, just download the PDF, print and attach to any documents we may need
- Mailing a transcript can take about 5-10 business days
I did not file a tax return because my income was low. Can I apply for financial aid using the FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application?
Yes. When filling out the FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application, please remember to indicate you will not file taxes and report your total earnings for the year. However, if you were required to file a tax return but didn’t, you will need to file it before your application can be completed.
What is a scholarship and how do I apply for one?
A scholarship is money donated from an individual or company designed to assist students in obtaining their education goals. Like a grant, scholarships do not require repayment. However, they often require a separate application. See scholarships available at West Valley College. Scholarships have various deadlines, so be sure to check frequently and be aware of when the applications are due.
Should I quit my job(s) if I receive financial aid?
No, the purpose of financial aid is to supplement your income for educational purposes.
For how long can I receive Pell Grant?
Undergraduate students are eligible to receive Pell Grant for up to 12 full time semesters or 600%. This applies to all students regardless of when they received their first Pell Grant. You can monitor your Lifetime Eligibility Used for the federal Pell Grant by going to the Web site www.nslds.ed.gov
For example, if your 2018-19 Pell Grant award was $6,095 and:
- enrolled in 12 units for both semesters means you have used 100% of your Pell Lifetime Eligibility.
- enrolled in 6 units for both semesters which means you have used 50% of your Pell Lifetime Eligibility.