Financial Aid Policies Financial Aid Policies

Financial Aid Policies

There are many different requirements to receive and maintain financial aid eligibility for Federal Student Aid (FSA) and most types of state financial aid. Please use the information below as a guide, but remember, the staff in the Financial Aid Office are available to answer questions.


Courses Not Used (CNU)

CNUs are courses that are not needed to complete your declared major. Federal Student Aid (FSA) and most types of state financial aid cannot be awarded to pay for CNUs.


Courses Not Used

Awards and Receiving Aid

Interested in financial aid processing, including disbursements and refunds, or learning more about financial aid-related policies?





Calculating Eligibility

Are you curious about the difference between Cost of Attendance (COA) at FCC versus what is actually owed to the College? Are you unsure of what your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) means?



Maintaining Eligibility

In order to continue receiving financial aid throughout your program, you must maintain eligibility requirements such as Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). There are also some federal aid programs that have a cap on the amount you can receive



General Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility Requirements for Federal Student Aid

In order to be eligible for financial aid you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Have a valid high school diploma or GED, or complete state approved home schooling
  • Have demonstrated financial need by completing the FAFSA
  • Be admitted into an approved degree or certificate program at FCC
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
  • Not be in default on a loan at any school
  • Not owe a refund on a grant at any school
  • Be registered with Selective Service, if required
  • Be enrolled for at least six (6) credit hours (not including audited courses). Some students enrolled for fewer than six credit hours may be eligible for the Pell Grant.
  • Attend courses - attendance must be confirmed before Federal Student Aid is disbursed
  • Students are only eligible for up to 30 credit hours of developmental coursework


Eligibility requirements for state financial aid from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) varies depending on the program. More information about state grants and scholarships can be reviewed here.

Citizenship Requirements

In order to be eligible for Federal Student Aid (FSA), the student must be one of the following:

  • A U.S. citizen or national (by birth or naturalization)
  • A U.S. permanent resident
  • Citizens of the Freely Associated States: the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands
  • Other eligible noncitizens

Am I a U.S. citizen (U.S. National)?

A U.S. citizen (or U.S. national) is a person who was born in the United States or became a citizen by naturalization.

  • Persons (except for the children of foreign diplomatic staff) who are born in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in most cases, Puerto Rico (PR), the U.S. Virgin Islands (VI), Guam (GU), and the Northern Marianna Islands (MP) are U.S. citizens, as are most persons born abroad to parents (or a parent) who are citizens.
  • All U.S. citizens are considered to be U.S. nationals, but not all nationals are citizens:
    • Natives of American Samoa and Swain’s Island (AS) are not U.S. citizens but are nationals.

Am I an eligible non-citizen?

Generally, you are an eligible non-citizen if you are one of the following:

  • U.S. permanent resident, with a Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as an Alien Registration Receipt Card or "Green Card”)
  • Conditional permanent resident (I-551C)
  • Other eligible non-citizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: “Refugee,” “Asylum Granted,” “Indefinite Parole,” “Humanitarian Parole,” or “Cuban-Haitian Entrant”
  • A citizen of the Republic of Palau (PW), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH), or the Federated States of Micronesia (FM).

You can receive federal student aid if you are an eligible noncitizen. You must enter your eight or nine-digit Alien Registration Number (ARN) on the FAFSA.

If your citizenship status has changed from an eligible noncitizen to a U.S. citizen, you should contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to update your citizenship status. If you do not update your citizenship status with the SSA, it could delay processing your student financial aid. To contact the SSA call 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security Administration's website at

What if I am not a citizen or an eligible non-citizen?

You are considered neither citizen nor eligible non-citizen if you are in the U.S. and have:

  • Been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • A F1 or F2 student visa
  • A J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa
  • A G series visa (pertaining to international organizations)
  • Other categories not included under U.S. citizen and eligible noncitizen

If you are neither a citizen nor an eligible noncitizen, you are not eligible for federal student aid. If you have a Social Security Number but are not a citizen or an eligible noncitizen, including if you have been granted DACA, you should still complete the FAFSA because you may be eligible for state aid.

Do I need to provide proof of my citizenship status?

To qualify for federal student aid, certain eligible noncitizens must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that they are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

What is acceptable documentation of my citizenship status

To view examples of acceptable documentation based on your specific citizenship status, please click here

Courses Not Used (CNU)

Courses Not Used (CNU) are courses that are not needed to complete your declared major. Federal Student Aid (FSA) and most types of state financial aid cannot be awarded to pay for CNUs. Taking courses that are not a part of your program of study could result in receiving less federal financial aid and potentially having to pay for courses out-of-pocket. 

It is very important for students to meet with their academic advisor prior to registering for courses each semester to ensure students are only enrolling in courses that lead to degree completion. Students can review their degree requirements in PeopleSoft by selecting the Academic Records tile. The My Academic Requirements page will show all of the courses needed to complete a major. The CNU section will be at the very bottom of the My Academic Requirements page.

The Financial Aid Office will notify students of their CNUs and any required action needed by the student via the student’s myFCC email account. Students are encouraged to check their myFCC email frequently.



Awards and Receiving Aid

Students may review their financial aid award letter by logging into PeopleSoft and following the steps listed below:

  • Select “Student Center”
  • Select “View Financial Aid” under the “Finances” section
  • Select the correct aid year (ex: if you are interested in reviewing your awards for the 2022-2023 academic year, you would select 2023).”

Students will be able to see their estimated annual awards, estimated awards based on each semester, and the award letter from this screen. Please keep in mind that all awards are based on full-time enrollment. Awards may be prorated for students who are not enrolled full-time.

The Financial Aid Office reserves the right to modify financial aid awards at any time due to changes on your financial aid application, in your financial eligibility, program terms, the amount of available funding, and/or due to coordination with other resources you receive.

Application process for students who are eligible to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available for U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, U.S. Permanent Residents, individuals who have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94)*, hold a T nonimmigrant status, or are a battered immigrant-qualified alien.

The FAFSA should be completed annually by Maryland’s priority deadline of March 1. Students can submit a FAFSA after March 1, but they may not be considered for state aid programs offered by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC).

*Only those with “Refugee,” “Asylum Granted,” “Indefinite Parole,” and/or “Humanitarian Parole,” or “Cuban/Haitian Entrant” on their I-94 are eligible to complete the FAFSA.

2021-2022 FAFSA (Priority deadline: March 1, 2021) - available 10/1/2020
Covers fall 2021, spring 2022, and summer 2022
Uses 2019 income tax and wage information

2022-2023 FAFSA (Priority deadline: March 1, 2022) - available 10/1/2021
Covers fall 2022, spring 2023, and summer 2023
Uses 2020 income tax and wage information

Application Process for Students that are eligible to complete the FAFSA

  1. If you are a new student, complete the FCC Admissions Application.  In order to receive financial aid, you must be pursuing an approved academic degree or certificate program at FCC.  More information about the admissions process can be found here.
  2. Complete the FAFSA for the school year you are planning to attend. Learn more about the FAFSA. 
  3. If you are a new student, complete the FCC Admissions Application.  In order to receive financial aid, you must be pursuing an approved academic degree or certificate program at FCC.  More information about the admissions process can be found here.
  4. Your FAFSA will be processed in approximately one week (if you apply online) and you will receive a Student Aid Report. If you listed FCC in Step 6 of the FAFSA, we will receive your information electronically. Please contact the Financial Aid Office if you receive any emails indicating that your FAFSA could not be processed.
  5. A separate application must be completed if you want to apply for Federal Work Study and/or Student Assistant employment. 
  6. Students wishing to receive Federal Direct Loans must accept their offered student loan amounts in PeopleSoft by selecting the “Financial Account” tile and navigating to “Accept/Decline.” Keep in mind that loans must be repaid with interest, so you should limit your borrowing when possible. More information about loans can be found here.
  7. All FCC students should consider applying for the FCC Foundation Scholarships.

Application process for students who are eligible to complete the Maryland State Financial Aid Application (MSFAA)

The MSFAA is available for students who are undocumented and qualify for in-state tuition under §15–106.8 of the MD Education Article

2021-2022 MSFAA (Priority deadline: March 1, 2021)- available as of November 2020
Covers fall 2021, spring 2022, and summer 2022
Uses 2019 income tax and wage information

2022-2023 MSFAA (Priority deadline: March 1, 2022)- available as of October 2021
Covers fall 2022, spring 2023, and summer 2023
Uses 2020 income tax and wage information

Application Process for Students that are eligible to complete the MSFAA:

  1. If you are a new student, complete the FCC Admissions Application. In order to receive financial aid, you must be pursuing an approved academic degree or certificate program at FCC.  More information about the admissions process can be found here.
  2. To complete the MSFAA, you must start by creating an account for the Maryland College Aid Processing System (MDCAPS). PLEASE NOTE: if you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), you will enter nine zeros. You will need specific income information, such as completed tax forms, to complete the MSFAA. If you have questions or need assistance, contact the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) at 410.767.3300 or FCC Financial Aid Office at 301.846.2620 (option 1). If you are a dependent student you will need to print the signature card after submitting your MSFAA, have your parent sign it, and then you can upload the signed signature card using the Electronic File Upload Tool within MDCAPS. The signature card can be downloaded from MDCAPS 24-48 hours after the MSFAA is submitted. The link to download the signature card will be under the “Check Your Application Status” option.
  3. Students who are eligible to complete the MSFAA must also apply for the Dream Act.
  4. MHEC will notify applicants via email if they are awarded. Upon receiving the award notification, applicants will be required to log into MDCAPS to accept their award within six weeks of the date of the award notification. Failure to accept the award within the six-week timeframe provided by MHEC will result in cancellation of the award(s).
  5. All FCC students should consider applying for the FCC Foundation Scholarships

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Students receiving federal aid need to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to continue receiving Federal Student Aid (FSA) and most types of state financial aid. Students should familiarize themselves with FCC’s SAP policy.

There are three measurements of SAP:

  1. grade point average (GPA)
  2. completion rate (hours attempted vs. hours successfully completed), and
  3. maximum timeframe.

Use our SAP GPA and Completion Rate Calculator to explore different what-if scenarios for your current semester.

If you are suspended from financial aid and you have a documentable extenuating circumstance, you have the right to initiate an SAP appeal.

Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4)

If you withdraw from FCC and have received financial aid, any refundable amount of your institutional charges (tuition and fees and/or university housing costs) may be returned to the appropriate financial aid sources. You may be expected to repay the “unearned” portion of your financial aid if you withdraw from school or receive any combination of non-passing grades (F, N, W, or X) in all courses in a particular term. Direct Loan borrowers are also required to complete exit counseling.

Your withdrawal date is the date that you officially inform FCC by completing the withdrawal process that you will be withdrawing from the College. This date is stored with the Office of the University Registrar and used to recalculate financial aid eligibility.

Financial aid is returned in the following order:

  • Unsubsidized Direct Stafford loans (other than PLUS loans)
  • Subsidized Direct Stafford loans
  • Direct PLUS loans
  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
  • Federal SEOG
  • Federal TEACH Grants

Disbursements and Refunds

Awards are adjusted each semester after enrollment is locked, which happens around the second week of the semester. Aid cannot be awarded to students who do not attend or perform academic activity for their classes. Students who are enrolled in late start courses will likely receive multiple disbursements of financial aid throughout the semester as attendance is verified in each session. Students who are unsure of when to expect a disbursement or refund should contact the Financial Aid Office for details.

All financial aid awards, including student loans, will be credited directly to your student account. The awards will be used to pay all outstanding balances owed to the College for the semester. If you have a credit balance after all outstanding obligations have been met, you will be issued a refund via BankMobile Disbursements. The amount of Federal Student Aid (FSA) that you are eligible for is determined by your enrollment at the beginning of the semester. Refunds will be available within 14 days of the aid disbursement date that caused the student refund.

State aid from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) is disbursed when the 100% refund period has passed for each course a student is enrolled in as long as all other eligibility requirements are met for that particular award.

Students are encouraged to monitor their myFCC email account for updates as the Financial Aid Office will send an email at the beginning of the semester that will cover specific processing and deadline information for that semester.

Frederick Community College delivers your refund with BankMobile Disbursements, a technology solution, powered by BMTX, Inc. Visit this link for more information:

Calculating Eligibility

Eligibility for Federal Student Aid (FSA) and most types of state financial aid from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) is based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Other factors that impact eligibility include a student’s year in school (based on credit hours earned), enrollment status (ex: full-time, part-time, etc.), and the Cost of Attendance (COA).

The following equation is used to determine a student’s eligibility:
Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC) equals Financial Need.

What is Cost of Attendance (COA)?

The COA is comprised of both direct costs (those billed directly by the College) and indirect costs (possible costs incurred by a student while attending school, but not billed by the College). 

The COA is also based on an academic year, your housing status, and your anticipated enrollment status.  The total COA is not the amount due to the College. Please refer to your student account invoice for actual charges. Student account invoices are emailed to the student’s myFCC email account. Our Student Accounts staff can also provide students with a copy of their invoice. Student Accounts is available via email at [email protected] or via phone by dialing (301) 846-2620 (option 2).

Your COA is the estimate of:

  • tuition and fees;
  • the cost of room and board (this is included in the COA even though FCC does not offer on campus housing because students still have expenses associated with room and board); 
  • the cost of books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and miscellaneous educational expenses (ex: personal computer)
The COA​ is unique to each school to which you apply and is determined by each individual college or university. This is one reason you may be eligible for more financial aid at one school than another; it may cost more to attend the other school.

What is an Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

The EFC is not the amount of money a student’s family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid a student will receive. Instead, it is a number calculated by all of the data included on a student’s FAFSA. The EFC is used by the Financial Aid Office to determine how much financial aid a student is eligible to receive. The EFC number is based on the information reported on the FAFSA and is calculated according to a formula established by law.

The EFC Formula guide shows exactly how an EFC is calculated.

One common misconception people have about the EFC is that it is the amount of the outstanding balance to be paid to the College for the year.  The EFC is only used to determine amounts of eligibility for need-based and non-need-based financial aid programs.  It is NOT the amount a student or their family will pay the College for the year.  The outstanding balance of a student’s bill and the EFC will likely differ. Students are responsible for the outstanding balance.

What is need-based aid?

Need-based aid is financial aid that is based on financial need as determined by the FAFSA. Students cannot receive more need-based aid than the amount of their financial need. For example, if the COA is $16,000 and the EFC is $12,000, financial need is $4,000 (COA minus EFC). This means the student would only be able to receive $4,000 worth of need-based funding.

The following are the need-based federal student aid programs:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Direct Subsidized Loan
  • Federal Work Study

What is non-need-based aid?

Non-need-based aid is financial aid that is not based on a student’s EFC. For example, if the COA is $16,000 and need-based aid totals $4,000, up to $12,000 could be non-need-based aid.

The following are examples of non-need-based federal student aid programs:
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan
  • Federal PLUS Loan

Maintaining Eligibility

Students wishing to continue receiving aid must meet all eligibility criteria. The information below contains additional information about different factors that could impact a student’s eligibility.

150% Subsidized Usage Limits Apply (SULA)

For loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2013 and before July 1, 2021, the Department of Education placed a limit on the maximum period of time (measured in academic years) that a student can receive Direct Subsidized Loans. In general, a student may not receive Direct Subsidized Loans for more than 150% of the published length of their program within the aforementioned timeframe. This is called the "Maximum Eligibility Period (MEP)". You can usually find the published length of your program of study in your school's catalog. Learn More about (SULA) here.

Unusual Enrollment History

  • The U.S. Department of Education established new regulations to prevent fraud and abuse of the Federal Student Aid (FSA) programs (ex: Federal Pell Grant and Federal Direct Loans) by identifying students with unusual enrollment histories.
  • Some students who have an unusual enrollment history have legitimate reasons for their enrollment at multiple institutions. However, such an enrollment history requires the Financial Aid Office to review a student’s file in order to determine future eligibility.
  • If selected by the Department of Education (via the FAFSA), this must be resolved before a student can receive FSA. The Financial Aid Office will correspond with you if any information regarding unusual enrollment history is required.


Federal regulations require that students receiving Title IV aid, which includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loans, and Federal PLUS Loans must attend all classes and have verified attendance in order to receive financial aid funds. Attendance is taken throughout the term and students must be in continuous attendance for all class sessions. Students will only receive financial aid based on their enrollment status as determined by their documented class attendance. Students who decide they are not going to attend class must officially withdraw from the College.

Attendance is determined by a student’s academic engagement. Academic engagement: Active participation by a student in an instructional activity related to the student's course of study that –

  1. Is defined by the institution in accordance with any applicable requirements of its State or accrediting agency;
  2. Includes, but is not limited to:
    1. Attending a synchronous class, lecture, recitation, or field or laboratory activity, physically or online, where there is an opportunity for interaction between the instructor and students;
    2. Submitting an academic assignment;
    3. Taking an assessment or an exam;
    4. Participating in an interactive tutorial, webinar, or other interactive computer-assisted instruction;
    5. Participating in a study group, group project, or an online discussion that is assigned by the institution; or
    6. (Interacting with an instructor about academic matters; and
  3. Does not include, for example -
    1. Living in institutional housing;
    2. Participating in the institution's meal plan;
    3. Logging into an online class or tutorial without any further participation; or
    4. Participating in academic counseling or advisement.

Aggregate Lifetime Loan Limits

  • The federal Aggregate Lifetime Loan Limit puts a cap on the total amount of subsidized and/or unsubsidized loans that a student may borrow.
  • If the total loan amount a student receives over the course of their education reaches the aggregate loan limit, they’re not eligible to receive additional loans. However, if a student repays some of their loans to bring their outstanding loan debt below the aggregate loan limit, they could then borrow again, up to the amount of their remaining eligibility under the aggregate loan limit.


Repeated Coursework

Repeating courses for a better grade may affect a student’s eligibility to receive federal aid in future semesters depending on how many times the course is retaken and if the student passed or failed the course. Students wishing to retake a course should check in with the Financial Aid Office to determine how repeating the course may impact eligibility.
Contact Information

Phone Icon301.846.2620 (option 1)

Mail Icon[email protected]

Location IconJefferson Hall, 3rd floor

Office Hours

Monday: 8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday* 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

*January - July and August
Available until 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays