Financial aid applications are processed centrally by federal Central Processing Services (CPS). The processor does not award or deny funds. They assist in calculating financial need. Awards are based on the following:
Step 1: Completing Verification
If a student's financial aid application is selected for review by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships Quality Assurance Program, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships must receive all supporting documentation from applicant and parents (or spouse if married). This involves cross-checking information from all documentation (including the application) related to earned income, untaxed income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and household size. This process is called Verification.
Step 2: Establishing Cost of Attendance
A Standard Nine-Month Student Cost of Attendance (budget) which includes basic costs of tuition fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses is established for financial aid students.
Step 3: Calculating Family Contribution
The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships verifies parent and student contribution as calculated by the Federal need analysis formula. This family contribution is the amount which the family may reasonably be expected to contribute toward meeting the student's college expenses. Details about how the family contribution is calculated are located under the Eligibility section. The formula process is called need analysis. The theory of need analysis is based on the following assumptions:
- Students have primary responsibility to pay for their education.
- Parents, to the extent that they are able, have responsibility to pay for their children's education.
- Parents will contribute, as they are able, funds for their children's education.
- Families should be evaluated in a consistent and equitable manner while recognizing that special circumstances can alter a family's ability to contribute.
All students (dependent and independent) are expected to contribute toward their education. Your expected contribution is determined by adding together all resources which include:
- Earnings from employment;
- All other assistance such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Social Security and Veterans' Benefits;
- A percentage of assets such as savings and investments.
Step 4: Determining Financial Need
From the need analysis, we are able to determine the relative financial strength or ability of the student/applicant and/or their parent(s) to pay for postsecondary educational expenses. Financial need is determined by subtracting the amount of the expected contribution from the standard budget. The remainder equals financial aid eligibility or financial need.