Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I start the financial aid process?
A. The first step to receiving financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Q. Our family probably makes too much money to be eligible for financial aid. Should I fill out a FAFSA anyway?
A. ABSOLUTELY! It is a common misperception that a family with moderate to high income will not be eligible for aid. There are many factors involved in determining your eligibility and many people mistakenly give up aid for which they are eligible because they fail to file a FAFSA. Additionally, you are eligible for at least PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans regardless of your calculated need.

Q. When should I file my FAFSA?
A. Ideally you should file your FAFSA form right after filing your Federal Taxes. You can file a FAFSA prior to completing your tax return, but your estimates should be as accurate as possible as you will be required to update your FAFSA upon filing your return. In some cases there may be state aid available to residents attending school within their state (such as the California Grant Program). You must file your FAFSA prior to the date specified by the state to be considered for state aid. The earlier you are able to file your FAFSA, the sooner your financial aid will be finalized.

Q. What is a Federal School Code and what is its purpose?
A. A Federal School Code is a number designated to a specific school of higher education. When entered onto your FAFSA, it instructs the US Department of Education to send the results of your processed FAFSA to the school(s) you plan on attending. Please select the following school code ‘when completing your FAFSA application:

CAMPUS School Code
PCTI 040823

Q. What is PIN and how can I get one?
A. PIN is an acronym that stands for Personal Identification Number. This unique number will be assigned to you by the Department of Education to serve as a legal electronic signature you can use to “sign” your FAFSA form online. It will also be needed if you must make corrections to your FAFSA form online.
Don’t remember your PIN or want to apply for one? Upon logging in, select the PIN task from your checklist page and follow the instructions to the appropriate link.

IMPORTANT: Your PIN is an important piece of private information. You should keep it safe and private. No one else, including Financial Aid Advisors, should ever need to know your PIN. Safeguard it as you safeguard all of your private financial information.

Q. Why must I complete a FAFSA every year?
A. The Department of Education has determined that the best indicator of your financial need is your tax return from the previous year. In order to make sure that you are receiving everything for which you are eligible we must have the most recent information possible. A new FAFSA is required for each new award year (July 1st through June 30th.)

Q. What is an EFC?
A. EFC stands for Estimated Family ContribPCTIon. This figure is calculated by the Department of Education from the information provided on your FAFSA. It represents the amount of money that the Department of Education determined you and your family can put towards your Cost of Education per academic year. The Total Cost of Education includes your tuition, fees, program costs, and estimated cost of living while attending school.

Q. How do I apply for a Pell Grant?
A. All you need to do is file a FAFSA form with the Department of Education. Our Financial Aid Department will package everything for which you are eligible.

Q. I have been selected for Verification. What does this mean?
A. Verification is one of the processes by which the Department of Education audits the Federal Student Aid Program. At least 30% of the students who file a FAFSA form are randomly selected by the Department of Education for verification. If you are selected for verification, the Department of Education has authorized the Financial Aid Department to collect copies of your Federal Tax Return information and information regarding your household to ensure the information provided on your FAFSA form is accurate.

Q. I have received a copy of my Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education, but I have not received an Award Notification from the school yet. Why not?
A. Verification is one of the processes by which the Department of Education audits the Federal Student Aid Program. A. There may be a couple of reasons for this. If the Department of Education is requesting additional documentation to verify and/or clarify information you provided on the FAFSA, the financial aid office will contact you to request these documents. We will not be able to provide an Award Notification until all required documents have been received. So be sure to follow through on providing any additional documentation as soon as possible.

A delay in our Award Notification can also occur if your FAFSA form is missing the correct Federal School Code for the campus you plan to attend. Check the School Code section of the report to make sure that the correct school code is on your FAFSA. For a list of our school codes, please refer to the question above entitled, “What is a Federal School Code and what is its purpose?”

Q. I was not approved for a PLUS Loan. What options do I have?
A. You should contact the lender to determine if there is an opportunity to reverse the decision. Sometimes providing the lender a verbal explanation or written documentation regarding a specific credit situation may result in a loan approval. Additionally, you can reapply with a co-borrower. If neither of those are feasible options for you, there are other private funding options available. Please contact the Financial Aid Department and we will assist you.

Q. I was not approved for a PLUS Loan. What options do I have?
A. You should contact the lender to determine if there is an opportunity to reverse the decision. Sometimes providing the lender a verbal explanation or written documentation regarding a specific credit situation may result in a loan approval. Additionally, you can reapply with a co-borrower. If neither of those are feasible options for you, there are other private funding options available. Please contact the Financial Aid Department and we will assist you.

Q. I have received a scholarship. What should I do?
A. Please send proof of your scholarship (award certificate and congratulatory letter) to the Financial Aid Department. It may be mailed or faxed. Please contact the Financial Aid Department for the correct number to which it should be faxed. We will revise your package to reflect your scholarship.

Q. I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I still get financial aid?
A. Many resident non-citizens are eligible to receive Federal Student Aid. Please contact the Financial Aid Department so we may assess your eligibility. NOTE: International students in this country on an I-20 Visa are not eligible for federal.