Financial Aid Process
A Summary of the Financial Aid Process...
1. After you have been accepted to Bluefield College, you should receive a packet of financial aid information and materials.
2. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at www.fafsa.gov. You must electronically sign your FAFSA using a PIN number, which can be obtained at www.pin.ed.gov. You will need your PIN in order to begin completing your FAFSA. Our college code is 003703.
3. You will need the information from your 2011 federal income tax forms, W-2's, and statements of assets to complete the FAFSA. To simplify the process, you may wait 2 weeks after electronically filing your tax returns (or 6 weeks filed through the mail) and then select the "IRS Data Retrieval" option when you file your FAFSA. This will automatically pull your 2011 tax return data over into the FAFSA.
4. If you are selected for verification by the Dept. of Education, you will be asked to submit certain documents to the Financial Aid Office. If selected, and you did not ( or could not) use the IRS Data Retrieval option, you will be asked to obtain an IRS tax transcript so that your income information can be verified according to the federal regulations. See our page "Requesting an IRS Tax Transcript" for information and instructions.
5. The processed results of the FAFSA, called a Student Aid Report (SAR) will be mailed or emailed to you and electronically transmitted to us. We are unable to fully process aid for you until we receive these results. Please read your SAR carefully and resolve any errors or problems right away.
6. Virginia residents should complete the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (VTAG) application and return it to the financial aid office by July 31 to be considered on-time and ensure you receive these funds. Click here for your VTAG Application.
7. After you have been accepted as a degree-seeking student at Bluefield College, and we receive your FAFSA results, we will begin to examine your eligibility for financial aid. We may request additional documents, but will send you an award letter as soon as we possibly can. We may also request that you complete other forms that are required to complete your financial aid file. Please return them to our office as quickly as possible.
8. The award letter will list your awards and will contain additional instructions, forms, and requirements. Please read your award letter carefully and contact your financial aid counselor if you have any questions. If you wish to accept the aid listed, you don't need to do anything. If you wish to decline any part of your financial aid, simply notify the Financial Aid Staff, specifying the awards or loans you wish to decline.
9. As a part of your award package, we may recommend loans for you in order to cover the balance of your charges. If you would like to receive a Federal Direct Loan, complete the Loan Request Form and return it to the Financial Aid Office. Refer to your award letter for the recommended loan amount; you may select this amount or a lesser amount if you wish. We generally list an award for the maximum amount that you may be eligible to receive, so you may wish to borrow only what you need to cover your charges and books, to prevent over-borrowing.
10. Direct Loan borrowers are required to complete entrance counseling in order to be approved for a loan. You will also be required to sign a Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) to receive your loan. Both these steps may also be completed online at www.studentloans.gov. You will need your FAFSA PIN number in order to complete these steps. Please note that loan processing may take 3 to 5 weeks.
12. Notify the Financial Aid Office of any outside scholarships or other financial assistance you receive, in order to prevent a federal overpayment condition. Include church and community scholarships, employer pay and employer reimbursement, rehabilitative services benefits, military benefits, etc. This notification is very important because an overpayment may affect whether you are eligible to receive certain grants and loans in the future.
13. Your aid will be credited to your student account according to your enrolled semesters and their prescribed disbursement dates. Your aid will not be credited to your account until all required documents have been received and all required processes have been completed. Our institutional policy is to credit the account roughly two weeks after the start of classes for all students whose paperwork and processing are complete.
14. If you are a first time Federal Direct Loan borrower, we may exercise our option to wait at least 30 days after the start of classes to receive the first disbursement from your student loan. This delay may make it necessary for you to purchase books, pay for travel, and cover off-campus living expenses for several weeks before any credit balance check is available.
15. If your financial aid payments create a credit balance on your student account, the Business Office will send you a refund check within two weeks of when the aid is recorded on your student account. Please contact the Business Office for complete details on this procedure.
16. It is important to remember that the paperwork you complete is for one school year only. You will need to complete a FAFSA renewal and other documents each year for which you wish to obtain financial aid. The FAFSA may be completed on or after January 1 of the year preceding the school year. Also note that our school year includes 3 semesters (Fall, Spring, and Summer). So as early as January 1 of 2012, you may complete the 12-13 FAFSA to cover your 12-13 semesters which include Fall 2012, Spring 2013, and Summer 2013.
17. As stated, the financial aid year at Bluefield College consists of Fall, Spring and Summer (as a trailer). If you have used all of your financial aid eligibility during the Fall and Spring, you may not have any aid eligibility for summer. Also note that these semesters do not always line up with the semesters for Community College classes or the calendar of other colleges or universities, so it is possible that some or all of your grant and loan eligibility could have been used up before you join our inSpire program.
18. Keep in mind that the state's VTAG award is only available for full-time semesters, and is never available in the summer.
19. Financial aid processing is very time-sensitive. Certain items must be completed during your period of enrollment. Do not delay! Submit your paperwork as soon as possible. Also be sure to read all e-mail and mail correspondence from us.
20. Financial aid awards will be posted to accounts as early as the second week after the semester begins, following verification of your attendance/participation by your professors. Please allow additional time for the Business Office to process any credit balance checks.
21. The 8-week term structure can be confusing for determining your aid eligibility. Keep in mind that you must be enrolled in both halves of a semester in order to receive any financial aid for that period. We cannot process aid for you for a half semester (8 week term).
22. There are a significant number of eligibility criteria, limits, maximums, and restrictions regarding financial aid. We ask that you complete paperwork as quickly as possible to give us the greatest amount of time to get your financial awards in order. We also ask that you work with us patiently as your aid is processed, and as we respond to your calls and emails. At peak processing times, there may be a delay in our customer service response time.
23. Do contact us if you ever have a question or are not clear on something related to your financial aid. We are happy to explain and discuss your specific circumstances, and look forward to assisting you as you pursue your education at Bluefield College!