Frequently Asked Questions
We would like to tell you that getting financial aid is easy, but, the truth is, the FAFSA can be intimidating and difficult to decipher. We can, very honestly, tell you that we are here to help you figure it out.
We’ve compiled a few tips to help you through the process and we've created a FAFSA playlist to keep you going as you complete the FAFSA. You can also call our Office of Financial Assistance at 319.895.4216 if you have any questions.
What information should I have available before I file for federal student aid?
- An FSA ID for yourself, and if you are a dependent, another for a parent. Your FSA ID will act as your digital signature in order to submit the FAFSA. Keep this ID in a safe spot, you will use it for loan forms and in future years.
- Your tax information from two years prior to the year you start college.
- Your parents’ tax information from two years prior to the year you start college. (Not sure which parent to choose? See “What do I do if my parents are divorced or separated?” below.)
- Your Social Security number.
What is the FAFSA deadline?
The FAFSA priority deadline for Cornell College is March 1. Complete your FAFSA starting Oct. 1, and use your 2015 tax information to file the 2017-2018 FAFSA.
How do I make sure that Cornell receives my FAFSA?
Cornell College’s Title IV School Code is 001856. Be sure we are listed as one of your schools and we will receive the results electronically within three days after you submit your FAFSA.
Helpful hints on how to fill out the form
On this form, the words "you" and "your" always mean the student, even when the student is dependent on family for financial resources.
There are a series of questions on the FAFSA that determine your dependency status. If you think that you should be considered independent, check step three of the FAFSA application for the series of questions.
If your parents have divorced or separated, provide information about the parent you lived with the most during the past 12 months. “Marital status of parent” refers to the status of the parent you live with. This means that if you live with a biological parent and a stepparent, you need to include the information for the biological parent and stepparent with whom you live.
Do not leave the questions about parent name, Social Security Number, and date of birth blank. If this information is blank or incorrect, your FAFSA will be rejected at the federal level.
If you are dependent on your parents, household refers to anyone who depends on your parents (for separated parents, see question above). Include:
- Your parents
- Siblings who receive more than ½ of their support from your parents
- Include siblings under age 24 who live with your parents
- Include siblings under age 24 who will be attending college during the same year for which you are completing the FAFSA
- Other dependents who receive more than ½ of their support from your parents
If you are applying to more than one school, answer enrollment questions according to your plans for your first-choice college. Be sure to include the school code for all schools you would like to receive your FAFSA results. Cornell’s code is 001856.
- Full time: 12 hours or more
- Three-quarters time: 9-11 hours
- Half time: 6-8 hours
- Less than half-time: 1-5 hours
- Not enrolled: 0 hours
Most students at Cornell College are full-time students. Compare our One Course At A Time schedule with a semester plan.
Errors can delay the processing of your FAFSA, but once corrected, you can still be eligible for federal student aid.
One common error is giving the wrong social security information. Check and double check that you have entered your social security number correctly. It is also important that you use your proper name as it appears on your Social Security card.
Using your FSA ID, you can make changes online at the FAFSA government website. When the changes have been processed, you and the colleges you list will receive a corrected FAFSA.
You should be in touch with the Office of Financial Planning and Assistance right away so they can help you navigate the necessary forms that are needed to process any VA claims you are eligible for. Pam Perry is the VA certifying official and she will happily walk you through the process. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319.895.4216.
Please note that you should file the FAFSA no matter what benefits you anticipate so you receive all federal aid you are eligible for.
Please submit the special circumstances form.
Common financial questions
If there is a significant change in your family’s financial situation, you may submit a special circumstance form. The request must be in writing and should explain what changes have occurred. The form will explain the other documentation that is needed in order to verify the request.
Enter the total amount your parent paid to their (and, if married, their spouse’s) tax-deferred pension and retirement savings plans. These may be paid directly or withheld from earnings- check for both. These amounts are reported on the W-2 form in boxes 12a through 12d, codes D, E, F, G, H, and S. Don’t include amounts reported in code DD (employer contributions toward employee health benefits).
All income information must be completed. Use "0" for any items that do not apply to you.
Students or parents who file an amended return cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
Instead, you will need to provide the following documents:
- A signed copy of the IRS Form 1040X that was filed and
- A copy of the tax transcript from the IRS.
The federal processor selects students for verification randomly. You will be required to submit IRS tax transcripts for yourself and your parent. We also require the Federal Verification Worksheet, which you can acquire through our office. Your financial assistance counselor will compare these documents with the FAFSA you completed.
Interpreting the Student Assistance Report and my financial assistance award
No. It simply means you did not qualify for a high-need-based federal grant. You will still be considered for other types of assistance, including college grants.
No. The estimated family contribution (EFC) is only an estimate. Depending on the costs of your education and the amount of your financial assistance award, you could owe more or less than the calculated EFC.
The first thing to do is to contact us. The Financial Assistance staff will be able to tell you whether additional loans and/or scholarship opportunities are available.
We try to keep awards consistent from year to year. However, if there are significant changes to a family's resources, the award may be affected.
Private scholarships are excellent resources for students and can be found in a variety of places. We've done our best to compile and simplify scholarship information.
Other helpful resources
Federal Student Aid - information about different federal aid programs
The Office of Federal Student Aid - publications, fact sheets, online tools, and other resources to help you prepare and pay for college or career school.
FinAid.org - established in the fall of 1994 as a public service. This award-winning site has grown into a comprehensive source of student financial aid information, advice, and tools.
- FAFSA Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid - Complete the FAFSA early and without mistakes. Read through the FAFSA tips to help you avoid mistakes.
- FAFSA help