What is financial aid and how do I apply?
Financial Aid Programs
Financial aid consists of grants, scholarships, loans and work study opportunities for students. A full listing of programs is available here.
How to apply information
Click here for the four steps to apply for financial aid.
Note that tax return information is needed to complete the FAFSA and the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is the preferred method for providing that information.
Data Retrieval Tool (instead of tax returns)
The Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is an option available to you while completing your FAFSA. The DRT allows federal tax return information to be retrieved electronically from the IRS and transferred to your FAFSA application. This is the preferred method to obtain tax return information. The DRT is available usually two weeks after electronically filing the tax return or eight weeks after mailing the tax return to the IRS. If the DRT is not available when you are completing your FAFSA, you can use your own paper copy of the tax return as an aid in completing the FAFSA. Then, once the tax return is filed, you can return to the FAFSA online and make corrections using the DRT. The benefit of using the DRT is that the information will be correct and, if no changes are made, you will not be required to submit any further tax documents to the school. If you do not use or you are unable to use the DRT, you may be required to submit an official IRS Tax Return Transcript to the school.
NEW. Due to a change in federal guidelines affecting applications beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the Financial Aid Office will no longer accept a paper copy of the federal tax return to verify information on your FAFSA. Please note the distinction that a paper copy of the tax return can be used as an aid to completing the FAFSA, but cannot be used as the document to verify tax return information. The options to verify tax return information are:
- Return to your FAFSA online and make corrections using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), or
- Request a free Tax Return Transcript from the IRS
- Click here for step-by-step directions on using the DRT or requesting the Tax Return Transcript
Keep processing time in mind when trying to meet the financial aid deadlines. Once the tax returns are submitted, wait the appropriate length of time (two weeks if filed electronically and eight weeks if by mail), and then you can obtain your tax information by either the DRT or a request to the IRS. Tax Return transcripts are usually sent to you within fourteen days after your request. Submit the tax return transcript to the Financial Aid Office.
Amended Tax Returns
If an amended tax return was filed, you will need to submit the signed paper copy of the forms you submitted to the IRS: IRS Form 1040 and IRS Form 1040X
Identify Theft Determined by IRS
If the IRS has determined that you are a victim of identity theft, the IRS will not allow you to obtain tax information until the matter has been resolved. In this case, you must provide the Financial Aid Office with a signed paper copy of the forms you submitted to the IRS: IRS Form 1040 and IRS Form 14039 Identify Theft Affidavit.
Financial Aid Deadlines
Applications are accepted year-round; however, because of limited funding, students are urged to apply early. Priority is given to students who complete their file by May 1. On-time applicants have a better chance of receiving aid beyond the Pell Grant and/or loans. In addition, on-time applicants receive notification of award eligibility prior to the tuition due date and are considered for the book advance program. Late applicants, on the other hand, may be expected to pay their tuition and book charges on their own and be reimbursed at a later date if eligible for financial aid. BCC has a priority deadline of May 1 for the Fall semester and November 1 for the Spring semester. In order to meet this deadline you must have a complete financial aid file. Since the FAFSA can take up to three weeks to process, you should submit this form no later than April 10 for the Fall semester and October 10 for the Spring Semester. The FAFSA results and all requested documentation, must be received in the Financial Aid Office by the end of the academic year or the last date of attendance, whichever comes first.
Set up your accessBCC Account
Most communications will be sent to your accessBCC email account. It's important that you set this up and check frequently.
Check your Financial Aid File Status
You can check if you have missing documents or your award status through your accessBCC account.
Re-apply for Financial Aid
Your eligibility for financial aid must be reestablished each academic year. That means that you should complete the financial aid forms every Spring for the coming school year. The priority deadline is May 1 for classes that begin the following September. In addition to completing the financial aid application process, you need to continue to meet the minimum requirements.
Workshops and Weekly Walk-in Hours
If you plan to attend BCC, help with the financial aid process is available through walk-in workshops and evening workshops. The workshops will assist you with completing the FAFSA and then submitting the form on-line in a computer lab with assistance from financial aid staff.
For help with:
2013-14 Bring your 2012 federal tax return; if you are a dependent applicant, bring your parent's 2012 tax return also.
2014-15 Bring your 2013 federal tax return; if you are a dependent applicant, bring your parent's 2013 tax return also.
Note that your copy of the tax return can be used as an aid to completing the FAFSA but is not acceptable documentation to verify information.
Income or Family Situation has Changed
When you complete the FAFSA you will be asked about your income for the prior year. If there has been a significant change in your family situation or if your current income is less than the income reported on the FAFSA, you can request re-evaluation. You will need to submit supporting documentation with the request. It may be possible to have your eligibility re-calculated using the most up-to-date information. Click here for the Re-evaluation Request Form.
Dependent or Independent Applicant Status
An independent applicants meets one of the conditions listed below and parental information is not needed:
- age 24 as defined by the FAFSA
- has dependent children (provides more than one-half annual support)
- has other legal dependents (provides more than one-half annual support)
- veteran of U. S. Armed Forces
- has a Bachelor's Degree
All other applicants are considered to be dependent and parental information is needed. Click here for the U. S. Department of Education definition of a parent. There are certain situations in which an applicant may be considered independent based on circumstances such as Unaccompanied Youth status, homelessness, emancipated minor, legal guardianship, foster care, or ward of the state. Click here for more information.
Also, in extreme and documented circumstances, such as estrangement or abuse, the college can waive the parental information requirement through the dependency override process. Conditions that do not qualify for a dependency override would include parents who are unwilling to contribute or provide information, do not claim student as a tax dependent, or live in another country. A student who does not qualify for a dependency override but cannot obtain parental information should complete the Parent Refuse form and would be considered for Unsubsidized Direct Loans only. The Dependency Override and Parent Refuse forms are available on the forms page.
PIN – Personal Identification Number
You should apply for a PIN to complete your FAFSA on line. If parent information is provided on the FAFSA, at least one parent should also obtain a PIN. Applying on-line with the PIN will expedite the processing of your FAFSA. You and/or your parent can apply for a PIN while completing the FAFSA on the Web. In most cases, a PIN will be assigned immediately. The PIN can be used to electronically sign your FAFSA, check the status of your application, obtain application results more quickly, complete the renewal forms in future years, and check your student loan history through the National Student Loan Data System. This PIN is not the same as your accessBCC PIN.
Send your FAFSA results to BCC
If you did not list BCC to receive a copy of your FAFSA results, you can add BCC after your FAFSA is processed. There are three ways to do this:
- If you have a PIN, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to make a correction and add another school.
- If you do not have a PIN, wait until you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) either by e-mail or postal mail (If you misplaced your SAR, call 1 800 433 3243 and request that a duplicate SAR be sent to you.) Look for the four-digit DRN on the first page of your SAR and then call 1 800 433 3243. Follow the prompts to add BCC to the list (BCC code is 002176).
- If you have your DRN, the BCC Financial Aid Office can add the school for you. Provide BCC Financial Aid Office with your DRN, social security number, full name, and date of birth.
The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) will notify you directly of your MASSGrant eligibility. Letters received from OSFA refer to MASSGrant funding only and will not affect other assistance offered by BCC. For example, if you receive a notice from OSFA that your application is "Denied Based on Financial Aid Need Criteria" or "Denied Based on Late Application" or any other ineligible condition, the denial is for MASSGrant award only and will not affect any financial aid offer (Pell Grant, Direct Loan, ...) made to you by BCC. For more information on MASSGrant program guidelines, click here.
File Complete, Now What?
Once all requested documents have been received by the Financial Aid Office, the documents are scanned and indexed into an electronic file. Within two weeks, the file will be reviewed by a counselor and you will be notified that either additional documentation is needed or that an award decision has been made.
Your bill will be cleared and you will receive consideration for a book advance once ALL of the following conditions are met:
- an award decision has been made by the BCC Financial Aid Office
- no additional documents are needed
- revised FAFSA results have been received by the Financial Aid Office (if corrections were needed)
- you are admitted and registered in an eligible program
- you are enrolled at the level indicated on your award letter
- you are making satisfactory academic progress
- if a loan was offered, you have accepted the loan and then followed up with the entrance counseling and promissory note requirements
The funds are paid out according to the published schedule.
Things No One Ever Told Me
You need to apply for financial aid every year.
You may be responsible for some of your own costs.
If you have a Pell Grant and don't use it all during the Fall and Spring, you may be eligible to use if for summer classes.
You don't have to be full time to receive most types of financial aid.
If you don't complete your financial aid file, you can't receive financial aid; you will be fully responsible for your charges.
If you drop out of classes, you may be required to repay some of the financial aid.
If your enrollment level changes, your financial aid will too.
If your bill is due soon and you haven't completed your financial aid file and/or don't have a financial aid decision yet, you will need to make other payment arrangements.
10 Minimum Requirements for Financial Aid Eligibility
1. Complete a FAFSA
2. Have a valid social security number
3. Have a high school diploma, High School Equivalency Certificate, or home-schooled documentation
4. Be accepted and enrolled in a eligible degree or certificate program
5. Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
6. Do not owe a refund on any federal/state educational grant nor be in default of any previous education loans.
7. Be a U. S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
8. Submit all the required and requested documents to the Financial Aid Office.
9. Register with Selective Service, if required.
10. Resolve any drug conviction issues.
Aid Suspension Due to Drug Conviction
The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, suspends aid eligibility for students who have been convicted under federal or state law of the sale or possession of drugs, if the offense occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving federal student aid. If you have convictions for these offenses, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1 800 433 3243 or go to the FAFSA on the Web site, click on "Before Beginning a FAFSA" in the left column, then click on Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet to find out how this law applies to you. If you have lost federal student aid eligibility due to a drug conviction, you can regain eligibility if you pass two unannounced drug tests conducted by a drug rehabilitation program that complies with criteria established by the U. S. Department of Education.