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Financial Aid - How It Works

Financial Aid page

    Your first step to any Financial Aid is to create an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID).

    You can create an ID at

    The following YouTube video will walk you thru how to create an FSA ID.

    Students must apply for all forms of federal, state, and institutional aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students are greatly encouraged to fill out the application online at The FAFSA serves as the universal application for initiating all financial aid at MCC.

    If you require any assistance in completing the FAFSA, please contact the financial aid office at Miles Community College at 1-800-541-9281, (406) 874-6182, or (406) 874-6208.

    Be sure to use our School Code 002528

    First time applicants and returning students, need to file a FAFSA each year that they are seeking aid. The FAFSA is available starting October 1st, for the upcoming academic year, with a priority deadline of December 1st for submitting the FAFSA. Early application is greatly encouraged to ensure that students have full access to all available financial aid programs. Some of the financial aid funds are limited and will be awarded first to students who submit the FAFSA by the December 1st priority date.

    When completing the 2019/2020 FAFSA, please remember that 2017 is the tax year information. For the 2020/2021 FAFSA, use the 2018 tax year information, and so on.

    When a completed FAFSA is received by the United States Department of Education, a formula mandated by Congress called "Federal Methodology" is used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Students will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) and the school whose code is listed on the FAFSA will receive an Institutional Student Information Report (ISIR). The SAR/ISIR will contain the EFC, which is used to determine eligibility for financial aid. The financial aid office uses the estimated Cost of Attendance (COA) (tuition, fees, books, room, board, and other related expenses) less the EFC to determine the student's financial need. See yearly college costs for an average breakdown of COA Figures.

    Students applying for financial aid are considered for all programs for which they request aid and are eligible, contingent upon the availability of funds. The amount of financial aid awarded is generally a combination of grants, work-study, and loans and is based on the remaining need of a student (COA-EFC = Need).

    Aid is disbursed to student accounts in the Business Office once each semester. Please check your account balance and disbursements through your Banner Self-Service access.

    Initial disbursement is made two weeks after classes start for the term.

    If the disbursement of your aid was enough to pay your balance, any remaining funds will be refunded to you. This will be in the form of a paper check. Checks are available on fee payment day. To pick up your refund, bring photo id to the Business Office. Distance Education students will need to contact the Business Office to make arrangements for your check to be mailed.

    The Higher Education Act of 1992 allows financial aid administrators to make professional judgement decisions for special or unusual family or student circumstances. These circumstances must be documented and reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

    Typically, this authority is used to do one of the following:

    • Adjust figures on the FAFSA to reflect changes to income or resources
    • Declare a student independent for purposes of FAFSA completion
    • Adjust the Cost of Attendance (COA) to include non-standard education expenses

    Students need to complete the Request for Special Circumstances/Judgement form and submit along with all requested documents.

    Any adjustment to Cost of Attendance is only helpful to students that are already fully funded.

    An increase to the Cost of Attendance can be done for childcare expenses, purchase of a computer, and for special equipment or supplies needed for a degree program.

    The FAFSA makes the assumption that the best estimate of a family's current financial resources is the income and resources they had in the prior year. Due to extenuating circumstances, this may not actually be the case.

    If the income information reported on the FAFSA does not adequately reflect a family's financial situation, MCC's financial aid staff has the authority to make adjustments to the FAFSA data that may result in a change to a student's aid eligibility.

    Adjustments are not made for such things like regional differences in cost of living, the purchase of a new or used vehicle or an accounting of personal income against monthly bills. All adjustments are made at the discretion of staff in the financial aid office.

    If a parent, student, or student's spouse has lost a job, retired, or otherwise had a substantial loss of income, adjustments can be made to the income figures reported on the FAFSA.

    In such a case, the student should submit an estimate of income for the academic year (July 1 through the following June 30). The estimate should include itemized amounts of unemployment benefits, severance pay, worker's compensation and any other taxable or untaxed income reported on the FAFSA.
    If a family has paid a substantial amount toward medical bills in the prior or current year, an adjustment may be made to account for this unusual expense.

    Adjustments can only be made for payments actually made by the family for after-tax expenses. It can include anything that the IRS allows to be claimed, such as doctors bills, the cost of prescriptions, medical supplies and insurance premiums paid with after-tax funds.

    It does not include bills paid by an insurance company, over the counter medication, or health insurance paid with pretax dollars (since they are already removed from income figures).
    The following situations may result in a drastic change in a family's financial strength for which the financial aid staff may make changes to the FAFSA data:

    • Dependent student's parents separate or divorce
    • Student's parent or spouse dies
    • Student separates or divorces

    If one of these situations occurs, a student should write a letter with the effective date, supporting documentation (e.g. death certificate), and an accounting of which income and resources are attributed to each individual.

    If a dependent student marries after filing the FAFSA they may request reclassification to independent student status. To do so, they must be married, request the change, and have it approved before the end of the first term they receive aid in the academic year. Students who make this request will be required to provide a copy of the marriage certificate and a copy of spouse tax transcript for the year being reported on the FAFSA.

    Students who cannot answer yes to any of the dependency questions on the FAFSA can submit an appeal to the financial aid office requesting that they be declared independent. If granted, eligibility for federal aid is then based solely on the student's income.

    To have an appeal approved, there must be extenuating circumstances which prevent the student from providing parental information on the FAFSA. To have the independent status carried forward into subsequent academic years, the student must submit a letter requesting that it be renewed.

    Appeals granted to students by other colleges do not apply to MCC. The student must go through MCC's appeal process to be granted independence at MCC.

    Dependency overrides can only be granted if an extenuating circumstance exists.

    In reviewing appeals, the committee is looking for evidence that it is not reasonable to expect the student to seek out information from their parents because it would be unsafe, unhealthy, or the parents are inaccessible.

    Examples of extenuating circumstances include:

    • Physical or sexual abuse
    • Abandonment by both parents
    • History of neglect due to parental alcohol or drug abuse
    • Incarceration of the custodial parent
    • Other circumstances which prevent the student from having contact with the parents

    A parent's refusal to provide information on the FAFSA, or the fact that a student is self-supporting, in and of themselves, are not reasons for which a dependency override can be granted.
    A student will need to complete the FAFSA online. When asked if you would like to provide parental information, they should say they are unable to do so. This will leave the FAFSA incomplete, pending the approval of the dependency status change.

    The student will need to submit the Request for Special Circumstance/Judgement form to the financial aid office. Along with the form, at least two sources of written documentation of support need to be submitted.

    Official notification from the Director of Financial Aid with a decision will be sent within 30 days.
    An approved dependency change is for one academic year at a time. If a student has been changed to Independent for the current year, the student will need to submit a letter requesting that the dependency change be renewed. The letter should be a confirmation that the situation that was originally documented remains unchanged.
    If a student request for dependency change is denied, the Parent Refusal to Complete FAFSA Affidavit form is the next course of action. Students can either update their FAFSA to include parental information, or have their parent complete the affidavit.

    Submitting the affidavit limits students to receiving only the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan in the amount for which dependent students are eligible.

    30% of all students that complete a FAFSA are selected for verification. Selection is made by the US Department of Education (ED) and can occur in multiple years if an applicant meets ED's criteria. If a student is selected, the student will need to provide the required verification documents to the financial aid office before an award offer can be made.

    The financial aid office is required to ask for additional documentation if, while reviewing a student's file, there appears to be conflicting information.

    Documents required are listed on both the initial letter sent to students via US mail and the Financial Aid tab in Banner Self-Service. Links to the necessary forms are provided in the Forms & Policies section of the Financial Aid webpage.

    Additional Verification Information

    As part of the verification process, students and parents may be required to submit their federal income tax return data to the financial aid office. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows users to transfer tax information directly from the IRS to the FAFSA. This information is then forwarded to the schools listed on the FAFSA, which in turn satisfies the requirement to provide tax data.

    Note: If after using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool a family will not see the numbers imported from the IRS. You will see Transferred from the IRS. If any information is altered after the transfer, an IRS Tax Return Transcript will be required.

    Not everyone is able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. The alternate way of providing the required data is to submit an IRS tax return transcript.
    If unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, a copy of your IRS Tax Return Transcript will be required. A tax return transcript is a record of the tax data that is in the IRS database. For verification purposes, photocopies of the 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ are not allowed.

    For information on requesting a return transcript, refer to the IRS Retrieval and Tax Transcript Instructions.
    To satisfy verification requirements, some students are required to confirm their identity. Students can do this by bringing current government issued photo ID, in person to the financial aid office.

    For online students and those that wish to complete before coming to campus, can do so by completing the Identity Statement of Education Purpose form. This form must be completed in front of a notary public and the original document, along with a copy of the ID presented to the notary, must be sent in the mail to the financial aid office. This form cannot be accepted via fax or scanned.