How We Calculate Your Financial Aid

Your FAFSA is Key

In most cases, the information you provide on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA, dictates how much financial aid you receive. But you need to understand how the award process works to ensure you get all the money you deserve.

If you filed the FAFSA online and supplied an email address (both good ideas), within three to five days you’ll receive an email explaining how to access your Student Aid Report online. Read your SAR carefully.

It will have a critical number: your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. This is how much money a federal formula says you (and your family if applicable) can afford to pay for college. It isn’t necessarily what you will pay – just what the government says you can pay.

How We Use Your EFC

At OCC’s Financial Aid office, we subtract your EFC from the cost of attending OCC for a year. How much does it cost to attend OCC? That depends on factors like whether you qualify for in-district tuition and whether you live rent-free with family members or pay for your own apartment.

By subtracting your EFC – the amount the government says you can afford to pay – from the cost of attending OCC, we determine your financial need. This is the gap between what you can afford and what school costs.

We then do our very best to close the gap with a financial aid package that can include grants, scholarships, student loans, and work-study. You should receive an award offer from us about four weeks after you get your SAR.

Read it carefully. Grants and scholarships are straightforward – they’re money you don’t have to pay back. Work-study is clear, too – you get paid for working, either on or off campus. But student loans are trickier because you have to pay them back with interest.

Repaying loans after you graduate or otherwise leave school can be a big drain on your finances. Because of this, you should only borrow the amount of money you absolutely need. If your award offer from us includes a student loan, you can accept it, reject it, or request a smaller amount. If you don’t accept the full amount of the loan, you can increase the amount later.

If You’re Selected for Verification

Your federal Student Aid Report that lists your Expected Family Contribution also may have a note saying you’ve been selected for verification. OCC uses this process to confirm the accuracy of data on your FAFSA.

Being selected for verification isn’t an accusation you’ve done something wrong. Many people are chosen at random. About 12 percent of OCC students undergo verification each year.

If you’re selected, we’ll explain in an email what documentation you need to provide. Be sure to submit your documents by the deadline in the email to ensure you get your financial aid.

What If My Aid Isn’t Enough?

If you still need more money for school, you have a few options:

  • If you or your family have suffered a serious financial setback since you filed your FAFSA, we may be able to increase your aid. Collect any documentation you have and then contact us to discuss your situation.
  • You can apply for an additional Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan from the federal government by contacting the Financial Aid office. These do not require financial need.
  • Your parents can apply for a Direct Parent PLUS Loan from the federal government. If they have an adverse credit history, they must meet additional requirements to qualify for a loan. You also must complete the OCC PLUS Loan request form available from the Financial Aid office.
  • You can apply for a personal loan at a bank, credit union, or other financial institution. These loans typically have higher interest rates and less favorable repayment terms than federal student loans.

So how do you actually receive your financial aid? Find out in How We Deliver Your Financial Aid.