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Financial Aid FAQs

What is the FAFSA?

To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easier than ever, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school.

In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid. (

Many students mistakenly believe they don't qualify for aid, preventing themselves from receiving aid for which they may be eligible simply because they fail to apply. Completing the FAFSA is free and does not obligate the student or the parent in any way. There is no reason not to apply!

Students should apply to VHCC to be considered for financial aid. If you submit your FAFSA, and have not applied, your FAFSA does not have a student account to link to. Make sure to include your Social Security Number on your application.


To complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will need:

  • Your Social Security Number
  •  Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Your 2020 federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned.(Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)' An FSA ID (username and password) to sign electronically.
    **If you are a dependent student, then you will also need most of the above information for your parent(s).

An FSA ID is made up of a username and password and can be used to log into the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA') form. The FSA ID is your legal signature and shouldn't be created or used by anyone other than you. You will use your FSA ID every year you fill out a FAFSA.
While you aren't required to have an FSA ID to complete and submit a FAFSA form, it's the fastest way to sign your application and have it processed. It's also the only way to access or correct your information online, or to prefill an online FAFSA form with information from your previous year's FAFSA form.

As a student, it is recommended that you have your own FSA ID to complete, sign, and submit the FAFSA.
If you need to provide parent information on your FAFSA, one of your parents will need an FSA ID to sign the form. Your parent can create an FSA ID and then sign the FAFSA form electronically using that FSA ID.
Parents: If you previously created an FSA ID when you were a student, you don't need to create another one. You can only have one FSA ID linked to your Social Security Number.

If your parent does not have an SSN, they must enter 000-00-0000 when the FAFSA asks for it.

Note: Your parent won't be able to create an FSA ID, and therefore won't be able to sign your FAFSA electronically. Please see (Signature Page Instructions) if you have any questions on signing the FAFSA by mail.

If you don't already have an FSA ID, you can create an FSA ID on the FAFSA website.
To create an FSA ID, you will need your Social Security Number, your full legal name, and date of birth. You'll also need to create a memorable username and password, and complete the challenge questions and answers so you can retrieve your account information if you forget it.
You're also required to provide either your email address or your mobile phone number when creating your FSA ID. Providing a mobile phone number and/or email address that you have access to will allow additional account recovery options.
Parents: If you previously created an FSA ID when you were a student, you don't need to create another one. You can only have one FSA ID linked to your Social Security Number.
Important: A Social Security Number, email address, and mobile phone number can only be associated with one FSA ID. If you share an email address with someone else, then only one of you will be able to use that email address to create an FSA ID.

If you have an FSA ID but do not remember your username, select Forgot Username.
Note: If you verified your email address or mobile phone number during account creation, you can enter your email address or mobile phone number instead of your username.
If you have an FSA ID but do not remember your password, select Forgot Password.

Please reach out to the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243. You (the student) can only get your account changed. You cannot change someone's account information on their behalf. You will likely need to provide FSAIC with your Social Security Number, email address, and other personal identifiers.
The hours of operation are as follows:
Monday-Friday 8:00AM-11:00PM
Saturday & Sunday: 11:00AM-5:00PM

For Summer 2022, Fall 2022, and Spring 2023, you should submit the 2022-2023 FAFSA using 2020 tax information.

Near the beginning of the application, you'll create a 'save key' ' a temporary password you'll use when working on your FAFSA. If you need to stop and save your work, the save key allows you to return to the application at a later time from the point you left off.

You will need to report your intended degree or certificate of study. The Department of Education wants to know what area of study you intend to undertake while receiving federal funding. Here at VHCC, you will either be seeking an Associate degree (occupation or technical program), Associate degree (general education/transfer program), Certificate/diploma (occupation/technical/education program of less than 2 years), or Certificate/diploma (occupation/technical/education program of at least 2 years).

Your student grade level is the grade level for which you are applying for financial aid, which is the upcoming academic year. When filling out your FAFSA, your grade level does not mean how many years you've attending school/college, but rather the status of your progress within your degree or certificate program. For example, if you just completed your '1st year/Freshman year' in full, you will select '2nd year/Sophomore year' in the drop box.

Work-study is a part-time employment program for U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are at least half-time students in a degree program and demonstrate financial need by filing the FAFSA each year. The program offers students an opportunity to earn a portion of their college cost. Students have an opportunity to integrate their classroom education with actual work experience and hopefully develop the skills and attitudes they will need to succeed in future employment positions.

For this question, you have the option to enter your driver's license number. This information is not required to complete the FAFSA. Providing this information allows for further confirmation of your identity to the Department of Education; it does not imply that the Department of Education or college of choice will be reviewing your driving record.

Most high schools are contained within the FAFSA database. If you can't find your school, double-check your spelling of the city and school name, and try your search again. Also, consider alternate names or cities that may be used. If after trying various possibilities you still cannot find your school, you may still continue forward by clicking 'next'. Even with being unable to find your school, the information you type in will be captured and recorded.

To send your FAFSA to Virginia Highlands Community College, you will need to enter our Federal School Code: 007099.
If you wish to add other colleges to your school selection, you may add up to 10 institutions.

The FAFSA will ask two questions regarding legal dependents.
Question 1:
Select 'Yes' if you have children and they're receiving more than half of their support from you.
Select 'Yes' if you're expecting a child who will be born before or during the academic award year and you will provide more than half of the child's support.
Select 'No' if you don't have children or if your children aren't receiving more than half of their support from you.

Question 2:
Select 'Yes' if other people (other than children and spouse) live with you and receive more than half of their support from you.
Select 'No' if you don't have dependents (other than children or spouse) or if you have dependents, but they aren't receiving more than half of their support from you.

A ward of the court is a minor child for whom the court is responsible. If the parental rights are terminated and a guardian is appointed through a court proceeding, the minor becomes a ward of the court and is placed in foster care or adopted. For financial aid purposes, if you were in foster care or your guardian was appointed by a judge because your parents' right was terminated, then you can be considered a ward of the court ' and an independent student. The most important aspect is who had legal custody of you. If it was still your parents, then you are not a true ward of the court. If the court had custody, then you can claim that status.

An emancipated minor is someone who has been legally deemed an adult by a court in his or her state of residency. If you are an emancipated minor, you are considered an independent student and are not required to provide parent information on your FAFSA.

An independent student is one of the following:

  • At least 24 years old;
  • Married;
  • A graduate or professional student;
  •  A veteran,
  • A member of the armed forces;
  • An orphan;
  • A ward of the court;
  • Someone with legal dependents other than a spouse;
  • An emancipated minor; or
  • Someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
  • If you do not meet any of the criteria listed above, you are considered a dependent student.?

You still must answer the questions about your parents if you're considered a dependent student.

If you are considered a dependent student based on the FAFSA, and your parents refuse to give you their information, please contact the Financial Aid Office at (276) 739-2411 for further guidance.

If you are considered a dependent student based on the FAFSA, and you have no contact with your parents, please contact the Financial Aid Office at (276) 739-2411.

The parent you lived with more during the past 12 months. If you did not live with either parent or if you lived with each parent an equal amount of time, provide information for the parent who provided the most financial support to you during the last 12 months or during the most recent calendar year that you actually received support from a parent. If this parent is remarried as of the date you are filing the FAFSA, provide information on the FAFSA about that parent and the person whom that parent married (your stepparent).

To determine household size, include:

  • Yourself (and if married, your spouse);
  • The number of children (even if they don't live with you) who will receive more than half of their support from you (or parent). You can include any unborn children if they will be born during the award year; and
  • The number of people (not children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you (or parent).

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) allows students and parents who filed a U.S. tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA') form and to transfer the data directly into their FAFSA form. If you're eligible to use the IRS DRT, we highly recommend using the tool for several reasons:

  • It's the easiest way to provide your tax return information.
  • It's the best way of ensuring that your FAFSA form has accurate tax information.
  • You won't need to provide a copy of your or your parents' tax returns to your college.

For your protection, the answer to each question is replaced with 'Transferred from the IRS. We recommend that if you are given the option to use IRS, do so!

  • Click Link to IRS
  • Enter your FSA ID (Note: The person whose tax information is being transferred should enter his or her own FSA ID.)
  • Your FAFSA will be saved and you will be transferred to the IRS website.
  • On the IRS website, enter the requested information exactly as it appears on your tax return. If you get an error that there's no match, double-check your information, including the exact mailing address on your return.
  • 5. Once authenticated with the IRS, you will be provided with information surrounding your IRS tax information. To transfer your information from the IRS to the FAFSA, click 'Transfer Now'.

Students or parents who are married and filed as 'Married Filing Separately,' are married and filed as 'Head of Household,' or filed a Puerto Rican, foreign tax return, or an IRS Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ aren't eligible to use the IRS DRT and will need to enter their tax return information manually. Form 1040X amended tax return information will not transfer by using the IRS DRT.

Assets include:

  • Money in cash, savings, and checking accounts;
  • Businesses
  • Investment farms; and
  • Other investments, such as real estate (other than the home in which you or your parents live), Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA), and Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts for which your parents are the owner, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, etc.
  • Assets don't include:
    • The home in which you or your parents live;'
    • UGMA and UTMA accounts for which your parents are the custodian, but not the owner;
    • The value of life insurance;
    • ABLE accounts; and
    • Retirement plans (401K plans, pension funds, annuities, non education IRAs, Keogh plans, etc.)

A preparer is anyone who charges a fee for helping you fill out your FAFSA. If you're a student filling out your own FAFSA form or a relative or friend helping a student complete their form for free, you're NOT a preparer.

If you have an FSA ID, then you should use your FSA ID to sign your application electronically. When you sign your application electronically using your FSA ID, your application is processed within 3-5 days.

  • To sign your application electronically, click the Log In button on the FAFSA homepage to log in, and then click the 'Provide Signatures' button.
  • Alternatively, you can print a signature page, sign it, and mail it to the address listed on the bottom of the page. Your application will be processed once your signature is received (roughly 7-12 days).
  • Note: if you are a dependent student, your parent must also sign your FAFSA using their FSA ID or by signing the signature page.

Yes, you can edit or correct the FAFSA after you submit. In fact, you're required to do so if there's a change in your dependency status, in the number of your family members or in the number of people in your household who are in college. You can also fix mistakes you made when filling out the form. To make corrections to the FAFSA, log in to your account and click on 'Make FAFSA Corrections.' Enter your FSA ID, make any updates and then resubmit. You can correct any field with the exception of your Social Security Number. If you entered an incorrect Social Security number, contact the financial aid office for further assistance.

Please contact the Financial Aid Office at (276) 739-2411 for further information.

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is assigned to you after you submit the FAFSA. The information you report on your FAFSA, including specific tax information and family income, is used to calculate your EFC. Your EFC is an index number than tells us the types of aid for which you are eligible. The EFC is not the amount you are expected to pay, but it allows us to see what aid we can offer you based on federal regulations and our policies.

The U.S. Department of Education randomly selects FAFSAs for a review process called 'verification'. This means VHCC must compare the information from your FAFSA with documentation that you must provide to our office. To see if you have been selected for verification, follow this navigation: MyVHCC > SIS > Student Center > To-Do List.

Students should not send any financial documentation unless requested to do so. VHCC only verifies the FAFSA information of selected students or in special cases when inconsistent information is found. However, the Financial Aid Office must review all information in its possession, even for students not selected for verification. Sending in information that is not required could result in unnecessary delays in the disbursement of your financial aid.

Only the classes that are in your program of study are eligible for financial aid. If you are interested in taking a course that is outside of your program requirements, you will need to pay for that course out-of-pocket.

While this may sound like a financial aid issue, it is actually an issue with your enrollment. Either your class is outside of your program and your financial aid cannot cover it, or there is another error. For more information regarding ineligible courses, please contact Michael McBride at, or at (276) 739-2402.

You may check with VHCC's Foundation Office For Students for information regarding scholarships. You may speak with the Financial Aid Specialist, Julie Johnson, for more information on the types of loans we offer.

VHCC does not participate in Direct Lending through the Federal Student Aid Administration. We only accept private student loans. To get more information about loans, please contact Julie Johnson at, or at (276) 739-2463.

Only the financial aid office staff at VHCC has access to your confidential information.

To check your financial aid award:

  • Sign in to your MyVHCC using your username and password.
  • Select Student Information System (SIS).
  • Select Student Center.
  • Scroll down to Finances.
  • Click View Financial Aid.
  • Click on the aid year 2021. 
  • Note: The totals shown here are only based on full-time enrollment of 12+ credits.  Any fewer than 12 credits will cause your aid to prorate. 

Students at VHCC are not required to accept awards. Your financial aid will automatically be applied to your account.

The first place you want to look is right here at the VHCC Foundation Office.

If you have been asked to provide a copy of your and/or your parents' tax return transcript, you can request the tax transcript from the IRS by following these steps:

  • Go to
  •  Request a transcript online, if possible. If that does not work, request a transcript by mail.

    Please make sure to request the RETURN transcript. Do not request the 'account transcript'. If requested by mail, please allow 5-10 business days to receive the tax transcript.

The amount shown on your account is the amount you are eligible to receive based on your EFC. Financial aid prorates based on the amount of credits you are taking in that given semester. If you are full-time, you will receive 100% of the financial aid you are eligible for; if you are three-quarters-time, you will receive 75% of the aid; if you are half-time, you will receive 50% of the aid, and if you are less than half-time, you will receive 25% of the aid.

Full-time enrollment is 12 or more credit hours. Three-quarter enrollment is 9-11 credit hours. Half-time enrollment is 6-8 credit hours. Less than half-time is 1-5 credit hours.

Federal regulations require that a student receiving federal financial aid make satisfactory academic progress in accordance with the standards set by the College and the federal government. These limitations include all terms of enrollment, whether or not aid was awarded or received. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards also apply to state aid. Students who do not meet SAP may be considered for institutional and/or foundational funds on an individual basis. Progress is measured throughout the academic program by the student's cumulative grade point average (Qualitative) and by credits earned as a percentage of those attempted (Quantitative or Pace of Completion). In addition, students must complete their programs of study before attempting 150% of the credits required to complete the program.

Students who are receiving a financial aid refund will automatically get theirs sent to their mailing address that is listed in the system. If you need to change your mailing address, you will need to log in to MyVHCC > SIS > Campus and Personal Information > Addresses > Edit your Mailing Address. If you would like to sign up for direct deposit, you need to contact the Business Office for assistance.

Please reach out to the Business Office for assistance at (276)739-2501.

  • Visit and sign-in using your username and password.
  • Select SIS (Student Information System).
  • Select Student Center.
  • Review “To Do List” items. Check the list carefully & submit all requested info. (You cannot be awarded financial aid unless the “To Do List” items are completed.)
  • Select “Message Center and review any unread messages.

More than 75% of our students receive financial aid! To apply for financial aid, we encourage you to complete your FAFSA. Details to complete your FAFSA may be found here.

If you are eligible for a refund, you will likely receive it during the following times:

  • Spring: Middle to end of March
  • Summer: Middle to end of August
  • Fall: Middle to end of October
  • Refunds may come earlier, or they may be late depending on your enrollment during that semester. If the next semester has started, and you are expecting a refund but haven't gotten it, please contact the Financial Aid Office at (276) 739-2411 or the VHCC Business Office at (276)739-2501.
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