The amount of aid and type your student can receive depends on the cost of attendance at the school your student chooses, enrollment status (full-time or part-time student), plans to attend school for a full academic year or less, and the student’s financial need as determined by the FAFSA.
Contributions expected from the student and from his or her parents are considered in establishing financial need and determining eligibility for financial aid. The expected family contribution (EFC) is calculated using a mathematical formula established by Congress. This formula analyzes a number of factors to determine financial need, including the following:
- parents’ income and assets;
- the age of the oldest parent;
- the number in the household;
- the number attending college; and
- the student’s income and assets.
The expected family contribution is subtracted from the cost of attendance. The remaining figure is the student’s maximum eligibility for need-based federal student financial aid and other scholarships. However, federal student aid and institutional scholarships are limited, and students should not assume that their full need will be met. Parents should be aware that supplementary programs, such as the Parent PLUS Loan, may be a necessary part of funding their student’s education.
Click here to access the EFC Calculator to get an early look at what you can expect when you fill out the FAFSA. This is a tool that can be very helpful in getting a pre-FAFSA determination. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is how much you will be expected to contribute to college costs, and it helps determine how much financial need you have.
What is the Cost of Attendance?
Awards for most Federal Student Aid are based on some form of financial need, beginning with the cost of attendance. The Cost of Attendance for a student is an estimate of that student’s educational expenses for the period of enrollment and is used to determine the maximum amount of financial aid a student can receive for the academic year.
Used to award student financial aid, the Office of Financial Aid collects information to prepare standard costs on an annual basis. Costs are determined to reflect a modest, but adequate standard of living.
What does the Cost of Attendance include?
The most frequently asked question about the cost of attendance is, “Why is my cost of attendance so high?” Students should not be startled by the cost of attendance. It is not what is owed to the university. The cost of attendance is simply another name for the student’s living budget while in school. It includes costs for which students will be billed directly, such as tuition, mandatory fees, on-campus housing, and meal plan, if applicable. These are termed direct costs. It also includes costs for which a student is not billed directly, but which the student should consider when planning expenses for attending Heritage Christian University. These are termed indirect costs and can include books and supplies, transportation to and from campus, loan fees, and other personal expenses.
Cost of Attendance Determination
A standardized set of budgets is used as the basis for determining the cost of attendance at HCU. Components are gathered from several resources that include the USDA Food Plans, California Student Aid Commission’s most current Student Expenses and Resources Survey (SEARS), NASFAA’s Monograph for developing the cost of attendance, the current Department of Finance travel and mileage rates, local apartment.com websites, the HCU Business Office and other departments considering any changes in cost such as food and housing expenses or the increase in cost of textbooks, course materials, supplies, and equipment and/or fees. Cost of budgets vary depending on the student’s living arrangements while in school. A student’s cost of attendance is generally assigned based on the housing option selected on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) until the housing status is confirmed by the Office of Financial Aid.
Cost of Attendance Components
The components for a Cost of Attendance are defined for institutions of higher learning by the U.S. Department of Education. These expenses may vary based on the individual student’s lifestyle. The allowance is based on a reasonable estimate. The standard Cost of Attendance is:
Tuition and Fees
The tuition and fee amounts used in the cost of attendance budgets are based on full-time enrollment and include mandatory fees only.
Food and Housing
Food and housing (also known as room and board) allowance is based on the average expense a student may incur based on their living status. The cost associated with the student’s choice of housing, single or married on-campus housing, off-campus housing, or living with relatives may vary from budget estimates.
Books, Course Materials, Supplies, and Equipment
Books, course materials, supplies, and equipment are an estimate of costs for a full-time student for one academic year and an allowance to purchase a computer once during an academic career.
The transportation allowance is based on the average expense a student may incur based on their living status. Costs vary depending on factors such as length of commute to in-person classes, gas, minor maintenance, public transportation, and travel to home state during vacations and holidays.
Miscellaneous expenses include allowances for clothing, toiletries, and other living expenses. Students with dependent care expenses may submit a request to include them in their cost of attendance.
Professional Judgment Review
If a student has expenses that are beyond the allowances in the standard Cost of Attendance, they may request a professional judgment review by contacting the Office of Financial Aid. The Office of Financial Aid, specifically the Director of Financial Aid, may exercise professional judgment and change elements in the federal need analysis to account for circumstances that may have not been adequately considered in the original FAFSA. In such cases, the cost of attendance may be increased to account for extraordinary expenses a student might acquire while attending the University.
Parent PLUS Loan: What are the eligibility requirements?
To receive a parent PLUS loan, you must
- be the biological or adoptive parent (or, in some cases, the stepparent) of a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school. Generally, the student is considered dependent if he or she is under 24 years of age, has no dependents, and is not married, a veteran, a graduate or professional degree student, or a ward of the court.
- be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens.
- not be in default on any federal education loans or owe an overpayment on a federal education grant, and must meet other general eligibility requirements for the Federal Student Aid programs;
- not have an adverse credit history (a credit check will be done);
If the parent has an adverse credit history, they may still receive a parent PLUS loan through one of these two options:
- Obtaining an endorser/co-signer who does not have an adverse credit history. An endorser is someone who agrees to repay the parent PLUS loan if you do not repay it. The endorser cannot be the child on whose behalf you are borrowing.
- Documenting to the satisfaction of the U.S. Department of Education that there are extenuating circumstances relating to the adverse credit history.
With either option 1 or option 2, the parent also must complete credit counseling for parent PLUS loan borrowers. Additional information can be found here to learn more about what to do if a parent is denied a PLUS loan based on an adverse credit history.
How much can a parent borrow?
The maximum PLUS loan amount a parent can borrow is the cost of attendance at the school minus any other financial aid assistance received by the student. The Office of Financial Aid will help determine the actual amount a parent may borrow.
How to Apply for a Parent PLUS Loan
Parent borrowers must apply and qualify for the Parent PLUS loan annually.
Step 1. Your student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the Department of Education’s online application, which is required for anyone requesting federal financial aid. Once the student has completed this form, the information will be sent to the Office of Financial Aid.
Step 2. Determine the amount of loan debt the parent can afford. Use the Parent Loan Repayment Calculator to determine how much the loans will cost and what the monthly repayment amount will be.
Step 3. Use the Direct PLUS Loan Application to “Apply for a Parent PLUS Loan” option on the studentloans.gov website after June 1st.
Step 4. Complete the Parent PLUS Loan Application/ Master Promissory Note on the Department of Education’s website. Please be sure that the same parent who completes the Master Promissory Note is the same that completes the “Request a Parent PLUS Loan”. When you complete the Loan Application/Master Promissory Note, you will authorize the Department to conduct a credit check. If you are denied the Parent PLUS loan because of an adverse credit history, you may still be eligible to borrow a Parent PLUS loan with a co-signer. If you can’t find a co-signer, then your dependent student becomes eligible for additional unsubsidized Stafford loan funds.
Step 5. You will receive an email confirmation from HCU’s Office of Financial Aid. You must reply and confirm acceptance of your loan before your loan funds will be certified by the school.