Parents' Most Frequently Asked Questions
What is expected family contribution (EFC)?
The FAFSA collects household and student financial information and determines a dollar amount called the EFC that is used to determine federal student aid eligibility. The formula used to calculate the EFC is established by law and measures a family’s comparative financial strength on the basis of income, assets, and family size.
If I am divorced, what information should my student report on the FAFSA?
All parental information should be correct as of the date the FAFSA is completed and signed.
When parents are divorced or separated:
- The student should answer the parental information questions about the parent they lived with more during the past 12 months.
- If the student did not live with one parent more than the other, the answers should be about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months.
- If the parent for whom the student should provide information is remarried as of the FAFSA filing date, the answers must include stepparent information, including income and assets.
Tip: Read Who is considered a parent?, which is part of the FAFSA directions.
Can I talk to your office about my student’s financial aid?
Federal law protects the privacy of student education records. For students 18 or older, the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office must have written permission from the student to release any information about their financial aid file. When parent contact is necessary, we have a downloadable form called Authorization to Release Information. When submitted by the student, the form allows our staff to speak directly to a parent about their student's financial aid file. This procedure assures compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Are there tax benefits related to my student’s education?
There may be tax benefits for educational expenses that could help you. See IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education for specific tax benefits. Also view the Education Tax Benefits guide prepared by Finaid, a public service Web site that provides comprehensive financial aid information.
Can parents take out federal loans for their student’s education?
PLUS Loans (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students) are federal direct Stafford loans that help parent borrowers pay college expenses for dependent students. Parents may borrow up to the cost of education, minus any other aid received by the student, including Unsubsidized Stafford Loan.
Are there scholarships my student can apply for?
CSU, Chico Scholarships
Chico State provides scholarship awards to eligible students, and students are encouraged to apply. To be considered for a CSU, Chico Scholarship, students apply online through the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office Web site. The online application is available from January 2 through February 15 each year, for all university scholarships to be awarded for the next academic year.
Many students and their families are not aware of the breadth of private scholarships funded from a variety of non-university sources, including community organizations, local and national foundations, state and federal government agencies, and private donors. Students may research these sources in a variety of ways: bulletin boards on campus, books on scholarships available in all libraries, and private scholarship databases available on the Internet. Our Web site gives hints on how to best use these scholarship sites, as well as tips on avoiding scholarship scams.
How else can parents help?
It’s hard for students who are living away from home for the first time to know how to manage their funds wisely. Making their money last for a semester is a new challenge, regardless if the source of their funds is largely financial aid or family assistance. See our Web section on Money Matters for some hints on how you can help them.