Frequently Asked Questions
What types of federal financial aid are available?
There are two types of federal financial aid available at College of the Desert: grants and work-study. A grant (Pell or SEOG) is money that does not need to be paid back. Federal Work-Study consists of a part-time job on or off-campus that provides income to help students pay for educational expenses.
What is a BOG?
A “BOG” is an enrollment fee waiver provided by the state of California to California and AB 540 residents attending a California community college. This state fee waiver was designed to provide educational assistance for eligible students by waiving the enrollment fees. Students can apply by completing the BOG Enrollment Fee Waiver application form and/or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or DREAM ACT(AB 540 Only). Students may qualify for the BOG based on the receipt of certain forms of public assistance, by meeting specific income standards or by completing the FAFSA/Dream Act and having "financial need". This is the most accessible form of all financial aid programs offered at College of the Desert.
How do I apply for federal financial aid?
You must complete and submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to the federal processor. You can do this electronically at www.fafsa.gov and you will receive confirmation. Do not forget to list College of the Desert (COD) on your FAFSA so that the College will receive your information electronically. COD’s Title IV School Code is 001182.
Is there anything else that I have to submit to the COD Financial Office?
After the Financial Aid Office receives an electronic version of your financial aid application, the office will send you a missing information email notification for any additional documents (or information) that are needed to help complete your financial aid file. If you receive no email notifications requesting additional information or if no required documents are listed on WebAdvisor, then please allow 2-4 weeks for the Financial Aid Office to process your information and award your financial aid. You are encouraged to regularly check WebAdvisor for updates.
What is Verification?
Verification is proving that the information you reported on the FAFSA is correct. The Dept. of Education notifies the Financial Aid Office which files to audit. Usually, verification begins by submitting a photocopy of your and your parent's federal tax return transcripts and a verification worksheet. Additional information may be requested to resolve missing or conflicting information which will most likely delay the completion of your file.
Do I have to go to school full-time in order to receive financial aid?
No. You may be eligible for most federal and state financial aid if you attend school at least half-time (6 units or more), although the amount of financial aid received may be prorated according to the number of units a student is enrolled in at the time of the disbursement of aid.
If I am eligible for financial aid, how often will I receive money?
Generally, Pell Grant recipients receive two direct deposits or checks each semester. One deposit or check comes at the beginning of the term and one approximately half-way through the term. Other grant aid is disbursed once each semester. Work-Study students are paid once a month via a paycheck. For more information on disbursements please go to the Disbursement Information page of the Financial Aid Office website.
How much money can I get if I apply for financial aid?
It depends upon your family's income, assets and other information supplied on the FAFSA. The maximum Pell Grant for 2015-2016 is $5,775 and Work-Study awards are generally $4000 per year.
If I am living away from my parents am I considered to be "independent"?
Not necessarily. Applicants who apply for Federal financial aid and who are under the age of 24 when they complete the FAFSA, are considered to be dependent; unless the student:
- is married at the time of application for federal student aid funds.
- is a graduate or professional student.
- has legal dependents (other than a spouse). This is defined as any children who get more than half of their support from the student. It also includes other people who live with the student and get more than half of their support from the student, and will continue to get that support during the upcoming school year.
- is a veteran and has been engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard) or are a National Guard or Reserve enlistee who was called to active duty for other than state or training purposes, or were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies, and were released under a condition other than dishonorable.
- is a ward of the court or both parents are deceased.
- is an emancipated minor as determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence.
- has been determined to be an unaccompanied youth who is homeless.
After the beginning of the semester, how long does it take from the time I submit my FAFSA to when I can expect to receive my first check?
Usually 2-4 weeks depending if additional information is needed to complete your file, such as federal tax return transcripts.
Why does it take so long to receive the money?
It takes a long time because many students attending College of the Desert are applying for financial aid. But, here is a rough breakdown of the steps and the approximate timeframe for each: For you to receive your SAR (after you have submitted the FAFSA) and then bring the requested documents to the Financial Aid Office: 2-4 weeks. For the Financial Aid Office to process your paperwork and then mail an award letter: 4-6 weeks. For your financial aid check to be processed: 2 weeks.
I did not get a response from the U.S. Department of Education after submitting my FAFSA. Is there a number I can call to find out what happened?
(800) 4 FED AID / (800) 433-3243 Note: If you provided an e-mail address, your SAR will be sent to you electronically.
I have a job that allows me to pay my bills but does not offer much upward mobility. I want to go back to school, full time, and then transfer to a four-year university. Can I afford to quit my job and go to school?
We do not recommend that you quit your job unless you truly feel that you cannot work and go to college at the same time. Financial aid is meant to supplement, not supplant, a student’s income. You may also be eligible for scholarships or a work-study job.
Do I have to pay a student loan back?
Yes. Payments for student loans begin once a student leaves school for six months (or falls below half-time enrollment for six months).
Is there a deadline for applying for Federal financial aid?
Yes. Students may submit a FAFSA application as early as January for the academic year that begins in the following fall semester. Students that apply by March 2 may qualify for a Cal Grant and may receive priority consideration for several types of Federal financial aid. Students should apply for assistance as early as possible.
Do I have to "do well" in school to receive Federal financial aid?
Yes. Students applying for financial aid and receiving federal financial aid need to complete a certain number of units and have a minimum GPA of at least 2.0 each semester. In addition, students need to maintain an overall completion rate of at least 67% and an overall GPA of at least 2.0. This is called maintaining "satisfactory academic progress" (SAP) at College of the Desert.
How long can I receive Federal financial aid at College of the Desert?
Provided that you maintain satisfactory academic progress, you may receive Federal financial aid until you exceed 150% of the published length of an eligible program in which the student is enrolled. Students in 60-unit AA/AS programs or planning to transfer to 4-year schools will need to complete their studies by the time they earn 90 units.
Do I have to re-apply for Federal financial aid every year?
Can I attend COD and another community college and get financial aid from COD for my enrollment at both schools?
No. COD no longer participates in Financial Aid Consortium Agreements with other community colleges. Students cannot receive federal financial aid at two different colleges at the same time.
When will my grant check be distributed?
After a student receives a Financial Aid Award Notification Letter from the COD Financial Aid Office and classes have begun for that term, the student can expect to receive his/her financial aid funds in the form of a check that is mailed to the student’s home address on file with the Admissions and Records Office. Students must be sure to keep their home address current and accurate. Payments will be issued in accordance with the schedule listed on the COD website under Financial Aid/Disbursement dates after school has begun.
If I drop a class, does my financial aid award amount change?
Yes, the amount of financial aid will be decreased accordingly.