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What is Financial Aid?

Financial Aid consists of Need-Based Aid and Merit-Based Aid.

Need-Based Aid consists of grants, work study, student loans and some scholarships. It is awarded to students who have a need as determined by a formula.

Merit-Based Aid is generally given in the form of scholarships. Awards are determined by a student’s grade point average (GPA) and/or involvement in athletics or extra-curricular activities.

What is included in the Cost of Attendance (COA)?

A student’s COA consists of tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board, some transportation expenses, and an allowance for personal items. A student’s COA is based on their dependency status, living arrangements, and/or program of study. For example, the COA of a dependent student living at home with his or her parents would not be as high as that of an independent student living on his or her own.

How is my dependency status determined for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

Unless a student meets at least one of the following criteria, they are considered a dependent student for the FAFSA, regardless of self-sufficiency:

  • Was born before January 1, 1990
  • Is married
  • Will be working on a master’s or doctorate program
  • Serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces
  • A veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Has children and provides more than half of their own support
  • Since turning age 13, both parents were deceased
  • Was in foster care since turning age 13
  • Has dependents (other than children or spouse) who live with the student and receive more than half of their support from that student
  • Was a dependent or ward of the court since turning age 13
  • Is currently or was an emancipated minor
  • Is currently or was in a legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
  • Is homeless or at risk of being homeless

Students who have extenuating circumstances and can provide documentation regarding their situation should contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

My family’s income has changed significantly since I submitted the information requested on FAFSA. What should I do?

First, complete the FAFSA as requested. After you have received your Student Aid Report (SAR), you may complete the Special Conditions Request forms. The College will then consider your request.

I find the financial aid application processes confusing. Should I pay someone to assist me?

We do not recommend that students pay outside advisors for assistance with financial aid forms and applications. The FAFSA is free to file at .(The first “F” stands for FREE. Please be aware that a student should never be asked to pay for financial aid information, including FAFSA completion or scholarship information.). Students who are experiencing trouble with a question should contact our office at (575) 461-4413, extension 136, or after hours at (800) 433-3243 for help.


AGI – Adjusted Gross Income

CAG – College Affordability Grant

COA – Cost of Attendance

ED – U.S. Department of Education

EFC – Expected Family Contribution – provided by the FAFSA

FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid, go to

FSEOG – Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant

FWS – Federal Work-Study

GPA – Grade Point Average

IRS – Internal Revenue Service

ISIR – Institutional Student Information Record – the report that the College receives when a student lists the Mesalands Community College code (032063) on their FAFSA

Merit Based Aid is determined by qualifications such as GPA and/or specific activities

Need Based Aid is only available to a qualified student who has remaining need. COA – EFC = Need

PIN – Personal Identification Number – unique number to allow students and/or parents to electronically sign certain documents, i.e. FAFSA.

R2T4 – Return to Title IV – please see policies for more information.

SAP – Satisfactory Academic Progress – please see policies for more information

SAR – Student Aid Report

SSIG – State Student Incentive Grant

SSN – Social Security Number

SSS – Selective Service System

SWS – State Work-Study