Financial Aid FAQ

What is an academic year?
The academic year is defined as fall and spring semesters, with an optional summer. Fall semester begins in August and ends in December, spring semester begins in January and ends in May, and summer school starts in May and ends in July.

How do I apply for financial aid?
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or, if you are a continuing student, the Renewal Free Application for Federal Student Aid (RFAFSA). Either of these can be submitted between the October prior to the beginning of the academic year and the June of the summer session following the academic year. For example, for the 2017-2018 academic year, you may apply between October 2016 and June 2018.

Do I have to apply every year? If so, when should I apply?
Yes.The best time to apply is immediately after completing your tax return for the prior-prior calendar year. No earlier than October of the prior year.

Do I have to attend full-time to qualify for financial aid?
You are not required to attend full-time to receive financial aid. The amount that you are awarded is prorated according to the number of credit hours for which you enroll.

I live on my own and support myself. Why does my award have to be based on my parents' income?
Financial aid is based on the principle that it is the responsibility of the student and his or her parents to pay for the student's education. The Pell Grant is a federal government program for funding education. The federal regulations clearly state that, if you are under 24, not married or supporting a dependent, you must use your parents’ income.

What if my income is significantly less now than it was last year?
You must use your prior-prior tax return for your initial application regardless of current income. However, after the Department of Education sends us your Student Aid Report, you may file a Special and Unusual Financial Circumstances Form. You must provide proof of current income with this request. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for additional information at 919-209-2036.

If I have money left from my award and don't attend during the summer, does that money carry over to the next fall?
No. The award is for the academic year that you applied for only. If you do not use it all during that year, you never get the unused portion.

How does FA work for summer?

Students enrolled full-time (12 hrs) Fall and Spring will not have any Pell funds remaining for Summer unless they enrolled at least half-time (6 hrs) for summer then they may be eligible for additional Year-Round Pell depending on their EFC score and other eligibility requirements. 

What does Satisfactory Academic Progress mean?
Please see the JCC catalog or pick up the Satisfactory Academic Progress information sheet in the Financial Aid Office. There are three rules that affect your compliance with Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Can I apply for financial aid if I haven't applied for admission to the college?
Yes, but your application processing cannot be completed, or an award made, until you have been accepted in an approved program of study.

Can I receive financial aid to take Continuing Education (non-credit) courses?
Students in these courses are not eligible for the Pell Grant or the North Carolina State Grants. The only financial aid available for them is a JCC Foundation Scholarship.

How does withdrawing from classes affect my financial aid?
Government regulations require that students receiving financial aid maintain satisfactory academic progress. One such requirement is that you maintain a 2.0 grade point average. Another is that you must pass a minimum of two-thirds of the total cumulative credit hours attempted. This means that failing grades and withdrawals will count against you.

Do I have to repay any financial aid funds?
Generally, grants and scholarships do not have to be repaid. Student loans will have to be repaid after you are no longer enrolled. You may be required to repay a portion of any Pell Grant and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) funds you received if you withdraw from school completely on or before the 60% point of the semester.

What does Cost of Attendance mean?
Cost of attendance includes tuition, fees, books, and supplies as well as some basic living expenses such as housing, food, transportation, and personal items. Averages are used for each of these expenses rather than exact costs of the individual student.

How much does it cost to attend Johnston Community College?
Each year the Financial Aid Office establishes student educational budgets for use in determining the student's need. These budgets, although modest, are seen as adequate for the typical student. Where you live, whether you buy new or used books, and your general spending habits will determine what your actual expenses will be. A copy of the current year's budget may be obtained from the Financial Aid Office.

How is my Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculated?
The Department of Education applies a formula created by Congress to the information on your FAFSA. It considers the total taxable and nontaxable income, the family's assets, the number of people in the household, the number of college students, and the age and marital status of the parents.

What will qualify me as an independent student?
Generally, you must be able to answer 'yes' to at least one of the questions in the student status section of the FAFSA to be considered independent. If you have extenuating circumstances that you feel should qualify you as independent, you may contact the Financial Aid Office for consideration of those circumstances. However, federal regulations clearly state that the following do not qualify you to be classified as independent:

  • you do not live with your parents
  • your parents are financially unable to pay for your college education
  • your parents refuse to pay for your college education
  • you do not want your parents' help

What is verification?
Verification is a process by which the accuracy of the information on your FAFSA is confirmed by the Financial Aid Office. If your application is selected for verification, the Financial Aid Office will contact you for additional information, including copies of your federal tax return (and your parent's if you are a dependent student). You will not be awarded any financial aid until all requested documents are completed and returned to the Financial Aid Office. In addition to the applicants selected by the Department of Education, the school is also required to verify applications that seem to have conflicting information.

What are the common mistakes people make in applying for financial aid?

  • Failing to read the FAFSA instructions - they tell you how to correctly complete it
  • Filing late - you should file at least two months before you plan to register
  • Leaving blank lines
  • Writing or typing incorrect social security numbers
  • Failure to sign all the forms submitted to the Financial Aid Office (especially the tax return copies)

What if my parents refuse to give me their financial information?
If you are classified as a dependent student (under 24 and not married or supporting a dependent), you are ineligible for financial aid without this information.

What happens after I file my FAFSA?
In about two to four weeks, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education. Your report is also sent to each school that you listed in Section VI on the FAFSA. Review the SAR, make any necessary corrections, and return the correct copy to the Department of Education. If all the information is correct, do nothing. You will hear from the financial aid offices of the schools you listed. They will either ask for more information or notify you of the amount of financial aid you are eligible for.

What is Johnston Community College's Title IV school code?
It is 009336.

What is work-study?
It is a federal job program. Eligible students work a maximum of 20-hours per week on campus and receive a monthly paycheck for the time they work. To be eligible, you must have a completed financial aid file that demonstrates financial need, be enrolled in school, and maintain satisfactory academic progress toward your degree.

How can I get a work-study job?
You must complete a work-study application. If you are approved for work-study, you will be notified.

Are there any scholarships available?
The Johnston Community College Foundation sponsors numerous scholarships for students each year. You must apply for them by June 1 for the upcoming school year. For your application to be considered for any need-based scholarships, you must have a completed financial aid file.

If I am not eligible for the Pell grant, can I still qualify for a state grant?
Yes. Actually, students who don't get the Pell grant, or get only a small amount through Pell, are more likely to get either the North Carolina Community College Grant or the North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarship. Students do nothing additional to apply for these. The FAFSA is the application for both of the state grants, the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.

Do I have to be a high school graduate or have a GED to be eligible for financial aid?

Can I submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online?
Yes. You can go to and complete the electronic version of the FAFSA. If you submit your application online, please be sure you have a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. The FSA ID will serve as your electronic signature. If you do not have a FSA ID, you will need to print a signature page and mail it. A signature page should be printed at the time you complete your application and should be mailed as quickly as possible.

What is a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID?
A FSA ID is your personal identification number. It allows you to enter many of the U.S. Department of Education's Web sites and view the personal information maintained about your accounts. The FSA ID will also serve as an electronic signature for various documents maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. Your FSA ID is normally issued once your first FAFSA has been processed or you can go to to request a new FSA ID or a replacement FSA ID.

Why do I have to provide tax transcripts and W-2's to the Financial Aid Office?
The U.S. Department of Education randomly selects at least 30% of applications for a process called verification unless you used the IRS Data Retrieval tool. If you are selected, you must provide tax transcripts and W-2's so the income data on your application can be verified as being correct. There are also occasions when data on the application does not appear to be correct, and the tax transcripts and W-2's are requested to ensure correct information has been provided.

Can I receive the Pell Grant at two different schools at the same time?
No. You may receive a Pell Grant at only one school at a time. For example, if a student is taking classes at college A and college B at the same time, he or she can receive the Pell Grant at either college A or college B, but not both at the same time.

How is eligibility determined?
Financial aid eligibility is determined by several factors. When you complete a FAFSA, the first thing that occurs is your data is run through Congressional Methodology. Simply put, this is a formula that uses the data on the FAFSA to come up with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The formula takes into consideration such items as income, assets, number of family members, number in college, etc. Your EFC determines the amount of aid you are eligible to receive.

Are all programs of study eligible for financial aid?
No. A program must be at least 16 total credit hours in length, or at least 600 clock hours, and must lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate in order to be eligible for financial aid. If you are considering a diploma or certificate program, please contact the Financial Aid Office to determine eligibility. Special credit and undecided students are not eligible for financial aid.

What if I change my program of study after I have been awarded Financial Aid?
You may not be eligible for financial aid depending on your new program of study. Please check with the Financial Aid Office to make sure your new program is still eligible for federal aid. If your new program is not eligible for federal aid, you will be responsible for paying back the amount you have charged against your financial aid account and/or receive in the form of a check.

Why do I have courses not counting in my program?
Any courses that do not count toward a student’s current program of study will not be used to determine enrollment status for Financial Aid and/or VA unless they are eligible remedial courses.  Also, Fast Track courses must be registered for by the 10% point of the semester to be included in enrollment hours for financial aid purposes.

Can I receive Federal Student Aid (FSA) while participating in a study abroad program?
You can find information regarding FSA eligibility in study abroad programs from the chapter on Written Agreements Between Schools in the most current FSA Handbook at