Financial Aid Eligibility

To be eligible to receive Federal Financial Aid, you must meet each of the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen with a valid Social Security number.
  • Have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of student from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau).
  • Be enrolled as a credit student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program.
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
  • Have a high school diploma or GED (a modified diploma does not qualify for federal funding).
  • Be registered with Selective Service if you are required to do so.
  • Not be in default on a student loan or owe an overpayment or repayment to a financial aid program. 
  • If you have ever been convicted of sale or possession of illegal drugs while you were receiving Federal student aid you must meet additional eligibility requirements and submit the Question 23 Worksheet (or in Spanish).

Determining Financial Need

Related: Cost of Attendance

One of the first and most important steps in establishing eligibility for financial aid is determining how much you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) are expected to contribute towards your education. This is done by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) uses the federal methodology established by the U.S. Department of Education to determine student eligibility for federal and state programs. The information you report on the FAFSA is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a measure of you and your family’s financial strength and is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Your financial need is the cost of attendance minus your EFC.

Details regarding the EFC and worksheets that explain how the EFC is calculated can be downloaded from the Federal Student Aid website. Be sure to select the appropriate award year under the EFC formula.

Receive an early estimate of your EFC using FAFSA4caster. When you are ready to apply for aid, you can easily transition from FAFSA4caster to FAFSA on the Web application. Much of the information you provide on FAFSA4caster will populate your FAFSA on the Web application, making the application process easier.

Admissions and Enrollment

To be eligible to receive Federal Financial Aid you must fill out a CGCC Admissions form and must be working towards a degree or certificate. If you have not attended CGCC, or if it has been one year or more since you last attended, you will need to complete a new Admissions form. Registration does not require a financial aid award letter in place at the time students register. Students may mark “Pay later” on the screen which asks if they are paying for classes at the time they register.

If the financial aid process is not completed, or the student is not awarded funds, the student is responsible for full payment.

Students who have received their award letter and are enrolled in credit classes will be paid at the level they are enrolled in at the time of enrollment freeze. Enrollment freeze is a snapshot of the number of eligible credit hours registered for at 12:00 midnight on the first Friday of the term.

Enrollment Level

  • Full Time: 12+ credits
  • ¾ Time: 9-11 credits
  • ½ Time: 6-8 credits
  • Less Than ½ Time: 1-5 credits

It is important to make sure your enrollment is correct. Funding will not be increased to adjust for any shortfall in the financial aid award due to failure to register by the enrollment freeze deadline. Audited courses are not included in the enrollment freeze and are not eligible for financial aid funding.

Dual Enrollment

Students receiving their aid from CGCC must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours at CGCC at the time that they submit their Dual Enrollment Agreement form.

Federal regulations restrict the receipt of financial aid funds to attendance at one college. Under certain conditions, students may be concurrently enrolled at two or more colleges, but may only receive aid at one. This is an individual agreement between one student and more than one college, allowing CGCC to combine enrollment from multiple colleges and have one college pay financial aid based on the combined enrollment. The first consideration should be to determine the “Home” college. The Home college is the college at which the student will be receiving all of their aid for a given term. The other college is referred to as the “Host” college.

Most colleges (as does CGCC) require that a student be enrolled for at least 6 credits before they will allow the student to declare it as a Home college. If for example, a student is enrolled at CGCC for 6 credits and 3 credits at another college, by completing a CGCC Consortium Agreement for that term, CGCC will consider the student to be enrolled for 9 credits. This will allow the student to be paid at the 3/4 time aid level rather than the 1/2 time level. The same could apply in reverse. A student taking 6 credits at another Home college, and 3 credits at CGCC, the Host college and be considered 3/4 time at the other college.

Complete the following steps

  • Complete a separate Consortium Agreement for each term of concurrent enrollment.
  • Obtain the Consortium Agreement Form from the college that will serve as the Home college.
  • Sign. The Consortium Agreement Form must be signed by the Host financial aid office prior to being submitted to the Home college.
  • Submit. At the end of each term, student must submit official transcripts with updated grades to the Home college from the Host college to determine that the student has maintained Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
  • Allow 7 – 10 business days for processing. Agreements cannot be processed the same day submitted.

Dependent vs Independent

When you apply for federal student aid, it must be determined if you are considered a dependent or independent student. The U.S. Department of Education has specific criteria to determine your status.

Dependent Student

If it is determined that you are a dependent student, you must report parent(s) income and assets as well as your own.

Federal aid programs are based on the concept that a dependent student’s parent(s) have the primary responsibility for their children’s education. If you do not meet the independent student criteria, parent information is required.

If your parent(s) refuse to fill out the FAFSA form, we encourage you to explain that your ability to receive aid is being harmed by their refusal to fill out this form. You might also assure them that providing parental information and signing the FAFSA does not make them responsible for any loans you may borrow.

Independent Student

If it is determined you are an independent student, you are required to report only your income and assets (and your spouse’s, if applicable).

Dependency Override

The federal government’s regulations on dependency overrides are strict; however, there may be extenuating circumstances when a student should be considered independent. Extenuating circumstances are situations of an abusive home environment or abandonment. These situations are considered on a case-by-case basis and must be documented. If you have extenuating circumstances that apply to you, contact the Financial Aid Office for further information.

Dependency overrides are not considered for the following reasons

  • Parents refusal to contribute to student’s education
  • Parents unwillingness to provide information
  • Parents do not claim the student for income tax purposes
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency