Below are some of the most common questions Student Financial Services receives about the FAFSA and the financial aid process. If you have questions not listed here, call 413.662.5219 or email FinAid@mcla.edu.
This FAQ section is specifically geared toward general financial aid questions. We also offer a student loan FAQ and a student accounts FAQ.
To apply for aid, you must complete the FAFSA. Additionally, if you are selected for verification by the Department of Education, you must submit any requested verification documents to Student Financial Services.
We recommend reviewing these instructions when applying for financial aid.
Yes. A new FAFSA must be completed for each academic year.
The FAFSA opens up on October 1 each year. The 2023-2024 FAFSA is available now.
We recommend completing the FAFSA and your financial aid file as soon as possible
after October 1. Applications completed by January 1 will have priority for the funds
Not necessarily. The FAFSA must be completed every year as soon after the October
1 date as possible. It may be possible to receive a comparable award if the family’s
financial situation has not changed from the prior year and all required paperwork
has been completed as soon as possible after October 1. Amounts of awards also hinge
on the level of funding MCLA receives for different aid programs.
The student and a parent need to complete the FAFSA. Both parties will need their
tax information and their FSA user ID and password.
In most cases for undergraduate students, yes. In the eyes of the FAFSA, you are considered either a dependent student or an independent student. The FAFSA asks you questions to preliminarily determine your status.
If you live on your own by choice, do not meet any of the independent questions on the FAFSA (24 years old, veteran, etc.) and maintain a relationship with your parents, you will have to include parental information.
If there has been a breakdown in the relationship with your parents, you can complete a written independence appeal directly through Student Financial Services. This consists of a written letter from you detailing your circumstances regarding your relationship with your parents, along with two supporting letters from “responsible adults” (e.g. therapist, school counselor, clergy.)
All students in a graduate program are considered independent students.
Both of their information is required on the FAFSA.
If you have a legal guardian that has been appointed by the courts, you will complete the FAFSA as an independent student and the guardian’s information is not required. The College may require a copy of the legal document.
If you live on your own by choice, do not meet any of the independent questions on
the FAFSA (24 years old, veteran, etc.) and maintain a relationship with your parents,
you will have to include parental information. If there has been a breakdown in the relationship with your parents, you can complete
a written independence appeal directly through Student Financial Services. This consists
of a written letter from you detailing your circumstances regarding your relationship
with your parents, along with two supporting letters from “responsible adults” (e.g.
therapist, school counselor, clergy.)
The Department of Education may randomly select you for verification after submitting your FAFSA. The verification process is a common extra step for many students.
If you are selected for verification, you will be notified by Student Financial Services.
(For new/prospective students, this will be in the form a letter to your address.
For returning students, this will be mailed to you.) Your correspondence will tell
you what forms are required to complete your financial aid file. This may include
a verification form and copies of yours and your parent’s tax return transcripts.
This does not mean copies of the tax returns.
If you're a first time borrower of the loan, you will need to complete the online entrance counseling and Master Promissory Note on www.studentaid.gov. These will be available once your student loan has been processed by the College's Financial Aid Office, beginning in June. You will receive an email when that process can be completed.
If you are a prior borrower at a different college, you may only need to complete
the online entrance counseling. The Master Promissory note is active for up to 10
There are several options available. You can apply for an alternative student loan, which is credit based and will require a credit-worthy cosigner. Additionally,
the balance can be financed through a monthly payment plan by Nelnet. You can choose to do any of these or a combination of them. Whatever works best
for you and your family.
Yes. Once you’re a student at MCLA, you can apply for scholarships during the spring semester. The application process usually happens in early March and the awards are paid against your tuition account in the upcoming fall semester. Students are notified when the scholarship applications are available.
There are merit scholarships available that are awarded by the Admissions Office to
incoming students upon acceptance. These are based on SAT scores, class rank and/or
GPA. There is no application process needed.
The cost of attendance is what it costs the student to live and go to school for 9 months. This not only includes the direct costs of tuition, fees, room and board, but also books, transportation, and personal expenses.
It's very important to note that the cost of attendance is not a bill. The cost of attendance is a larger figure used by Student Financial Services when
determining the amount of financial aid a student can receive.
Fall semester bills are mailed and eBilled in early July with an early August due date. Spring semester bills are due in mid-November with a mid-December due date.
Accepted aid will show as a credit on your bill. However, if you accepted federal
student loans and are a first time borrower, you will need to complete Entrance Counseling
and a Master Promissory Note. You will be notified by Student Financial Services when
you can complete this, but no federal loan will show on your bill until this is done.
Yes, if your financial aid exceeds your billed charges, you can request a ‘book advance’ from Student Financial Services. Book advances are available upon request only after you complete any required paperwork for your financial aid file. Whatever you request as a book advance would be deducted from your refund.
If you are interested in a book advance, email StudentAccounts@mcla.edu after the bills go out to be put on the list. You will be notified of the next steps.
If you weren't awarded workstudy but would like to be considered for workstudy funding should any become available, please email FinAid@mcla.edu your request. However, there's no guarantee that we will be able to get to the waitlist even if you qualify.
We strongly recommend that any student looking for an on-campus job visit the Student Employment page on the myMCLA portal. You would want to look for non-workstudy positions on