Financial Aid FAQ

View the most commonly asked financial aid questions.

Still have questions? Contact a knowledgeable member of our financial aid staff.

How do I apply for financial aid?

You should obtain a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after January 1 each year or apply over the Internet at The award year includes fall, spring and summer. For example, in the 2007-2008 award year the FAFSA application will cover fall 2007, spring 2008 and summer 2008. A separate institutional Summer Request for will also be required. This Institutional form is usually available in March of each year at the campus information office.

What is a SAR?

SAR stands for Student Aid Report. A SAR is the paper report that you will receive after having filed the paper Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is a summary of the information that you (and your family) provided on the FASFA. This form is also used to make any corrections to the data that you initially provided that has you have determined to be incorrect. It is not necessary for you to provide this report to the College Financial Aid Office unless you make corrections. It is important the office be aware of any corrections that might need to be made, as they will be able to make these corrections electronically.

What is the difference between a Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Stafford loan?

If you have subsidized loans you will not be charged interest while you are enrolled in school at least part time, during a grace period, or during authorized periods of deferent. Interest will begin to accrue when you enter repayment. Repayment usually begins within six months after you graduate, leave school or do not enroll at least part time, which is six semester credits. You must demonstrate financial need for this type of loan. If you have unsubsidized loans, you will be charged interest from the day the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full, including in-school, grace and deferment periods. You may chose to pay the interest during these periods or it can be capitalized – that is, the interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan and additional interest will be based on the higher amount. This type of loan is not awarded on the basis of need.

If I’m not a U.S. citizen, am I eligible for federal and state financial aid?

Possibly! A question on the FAFSA asks whether or not you are a U.S. citizen. The answer choices are: (1) Yes; (2) No, but I am an eligible noncitizen; or (3) No, I am not a citizen or eligible noncitizen. Eligible noncitizens are required to provide their eight- or nine-digit Alien Registration Number. Generally, you are an eligible noncitizen if you are: (1) A U.S. permanent resident and you have an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-551); (2) A conditional permanent resident (I-551C); or (3) An other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service showing any one of the following designations: "Refugee," "Asylum Granted," "Indefinite Parole," "Humanitarian Parole," or "Cuban-Haitian Entrant." If you are in the U.S. on an F1 or F2 student visa, or a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa or a G series visa (pertaining to international organizations), you would not be eligible to receive federal and state financial aid. In other words, if you are neither a citizen nor an eligible noncitizen, you are not eligible for federal student aid or state aid in Virginia.

If I’m in the National Guard or an active duty military member, am I considered a veteran for purposes of completing the FAFSA?

If you were a member of the National Guard or were a Reservist called to active duty for purposes other than training and you were released under a condition other than dishonorable, you are considered a veteran for financial aid purposes. If you are on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard but, you will be a veteran by June 30, 2003, you are considered a veteran for financial aid purposes. If your active duty will continue past June 30, 2003, however, you are not considered a veteran for financial aid purposes.

I’m a veteran and I’m interested in seeing if I would qualify for veteran educational benefits. What do I do?

Each campus has a veteran’s advisor who can explain the benefits and procedures. In addition, you can find valuable information from the College’s Web page on veterans programs at

What should I do if my family has special circumstances that aren’t mentioned on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

If your family (parent, spouse, student) has experienced a loss of income since you completed the FAFSA, complete and submit an Appeal for an Income Reduction. Independent or Dependent Student versions are available. Be sure to attach supporting documentation and complete the entire form. Loss of income may be the result of a loss employment, income benefits, death of a parent or spouse, divorce or separation. Send the completed appeal form and supporting documentation to the College Financial Aid Office.

What is the six-digit code for Northern Virginia Community College?

The six-digit identification code for Northern Virginia Community College is 003727. This code must be included on the FAFSA in order for the application data to be released to the College. Failure to include the code on the FAFSA on the Web application or the paper version of the FAFSA may delay the processing of your application.

How can I determine my application status?

Once you have filed your FAFSA, identified NOVA as an institution to receive the results of your application and received your Student Aid Report (SAR), you can check the status of your application on the NOVA Financial Aid website at Once you have logged on to the NOVA Financial Aid website you can follow the links to determine the current status of your application.
Check via NOVAConnect, the student information system at SA Self Service > Learner Services > My Financial Aid Award 2007. If no award appears, review your To Do List under SA Self Service > Personal Portfolio > Tasks > To Do List. 

What is Federal Work-Study?

The Federal Work-Study program provides part-time jobs for students with financial need. To qualify you must complete the FAFSA and demonstrate financial need. Jobs may be on-campus or off-campus community service positions.

I received "F" and "W" grades this semester. Will this affect my financial aid eligibility?

"F" and "W" grades count in the calculation of your satisfactory academic progress for financial aid. If you have too many "F" or "W" grades you may fail these standards. Although you may submit an appeal, your circumstances must be very unusual and have prevented you from completing your course. We recommend that you talk with your instructor before withdrawing from a course to see if you may be able to complete it. Also, it is a good idea to meet with a counselor if you are uncertain if you are prepared to take a course rather than withdraw or fail it.

I don’t get along with my parents and live independently -- I pay my own rent and other bills. Can I apply without my parent’s income?

If you do not meet the criteria to automatically be considered independent and unusual circumstances exist in your relationship with your parents, you may complete the Appeal for a Dependency Override. This form is available at the College Financial Aid Office or from the forms section of the Financial Aid Web page at You must document your situation carefully and completely. If you believe you may qualify for a dependency override, you should complete and submit the FAFSA. Include only your income information. It will be rejected when processed. However, if your appeal is approved, your financial aid application will be submitted electronically by the College Financial Aid Office. It takes approximately three weeks to determine your qualifications for a dependency override.

My parents are divorced. Whose information do I need for the FAFSA?

The parent with whom you lived with the most during the past year should complete the FAFSA. It makes no difference which parent claims you as a dependent for tax purposes. If you did not live with either parent or lived equally with each parent, the parent who provided you with the most financial support must complete the financial aid form.

What is a PIN for financial aid?

You and your parents (if you are dependent for financial aid purposes) may obtain a PIN. With a PIN you may complete the FAFSA on the Web without submitting a signed signature page. The PIN is your electronic signature. Allow 7 to 10 days to obtain a PIN. It will be sent to you and your parents under separate letters. Be sure to keep it because you can use it to check on the status of processing your FAFSA and make corrections on the Web. To obtain a PIN, go to

What happens if I want to DROP a course before the last day of add/drop?

You must be sure to drop your course over NOVAnet or in person at the Registrar’s office. Otherwise, financial aid will hold your course and you will be charged the tuition and fees.