Frequently Asked Questions
Applying for Financial Aid
Q: How do I apply for aid at BPC?
A: The first step is to be admitted into a degree-seeking program. Next, you must file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which you can find at http://fafsa.ed.gov. Certain types of aid, usually loans, do require additional paperwork AFTER you have been awarded, but only the FAFSA is required to determine your eligibility.
Q: What records will I need to complete the FAFSA?
A: You will need the following documents to complete the FAFSA:
- Your Federal tax return and all W-2 forms for the year prior to the upcoming school year.
- Your spouse's Federal tax return and all W-2 forms (if applicable).
- Your parent's Federal tax return and all W-2 forms (if you are dependent).
- Bank statements for checking, savings, and investment accounts.
- Business and farm financial records (if applicable).
Q: What is the deadline for submitting my FAFSA?
A: We suggest that you submit your FAFSA by February of the year you are planning on attending. This will leave plenty of time for your application to be received by the federal aid processor.
Q: What is BPC's Title IV Code?
A: SMWC Title IV Code is: 002122. This code is required on the FAFSA.
About Our Office
Q: What are your office hours?
A: The Office of Student Financial Services is open from 8:00 - 5:30, Monday thru Friday. We are also open Wednesday evenings until 6:30 and most Saturdays from 8:30 to 2:00. Our office is located on the first floor of the Annex building.
Q: What are your phone and fax numbers?
A: Our phone number is 413. 565.1261 or 413. 565.1177. Our fax number is 413.565.1101.
Tax Information/Parental Income
Q: Should I send in my tax forms and other paperwork before you ask for it?
A: No, you should not submit tax forms unless we specifically ask for them. Paperwork that is not required causes us to take time away from reviewing information that WAS requested.
Q: Must my parents and I complete our federal tax forms before filing the FAFSA?
A: No, the FAFSA allows estimates for income and tax information if the applicant and/or applicant's parents have not yet completed federal tax forms. On the FAFSA, just select "Will file". If you do estimate, keep in mind that you must correct your FAFSA later with the actual tax figures, since you are obligated by law to report an accurate picture of your family's finances. We prefer that you file the FAFSA with estimates instead of waiting for a completed federal tax return, if waiting for your tax return will prevent you from meeting our priority-processing deadline.
Q: If my parents are divorced or separated, do I include both parents' income information on the FAFSA, even though they no longer live together?
A: The FAFSA instructions give the following explanation:
"If your parents are divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent you lived with more during the past 12 months. (If you did not live with one parent more than the other, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the last 12 months, or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent.)". If this parent is remarried as of today, answer the questions on the rest of the FAFSA about that parent and the person whom your parent married (your stepparent).
Q: If my parents are divorced, and either my mother or father remarries, do I have to include my stepparent's income information on the FAFSA, even though that person does not provide any financial support for me?
A: Yes, you do. Federal financial aid law states that if your biological parents are divorced, and you live with the parent who has remarried, you must include the stepparent's income information on the FAFSA, since you are considered part of that person's household. This is the case even if your parent and your stepparent file separate federal tax returns. You complete the FAFSA by adding the amounts from both of the tax returns together.
Q: Why does Financial Aid need copies of my taxes and my W-2s?
A: The Department of Education selects, at random, students for verification. Verification means that our office will compare the tax information that the student has submitted and the same information on the tax documents. We will make the corrections as necessary. Students could be picked each year so please keep copies of all forms for completing your FAFSA.
Q: How do I receive a loan?
A: The first step in receiving a loan is to go online to www.amsa.com/direct and fill out an application. There are three types of loans: the Stafford (both Subsidized and Unsubsidized) and the PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students). Once you have filled out the application for the loan and been approved, the application will come to the school and we will certify based on your award letter. All loan processing is electronic, there is no paperwork to complete. More information can be found on our Federal Loans page.
Q: How are the funds from the loan disbursed to me?
A: Once our office has certified the loan for the amount you are eligible for (or, if the number is less, the amount you requested), the lender will send the loan money electronically to BPC. When your account is paid in full and there is a credit balance remaining, the Business Office (not Student Financial Services) will send you a refund for the difference.
Q: How much can I get in loans?
A: This topic is discussed on the various loan pages on this site. Please visit the Federal Loans page, and the Perkins Loans page for more details.
Q: My parents were denied a PLUS loan. What do I do?
A: Should your parents be denied a PLUS loan, the Office of Student Financial Services can award you additional Unsubsidized Stafford loans. The amount will vary depending on your grade level and need. If additional Stafford loans do not cover your expenses, you may consider taking out a Private Alternative student loan (applicants with limited credit will need a credit-worthy cosigner). To initiate this process, please contact Student Financial Services.
Q: I still do not have enough funds to cover my expenses! What now?
A: The Office of Student Financial Services recommends you continue to search and apply for scholarships. Resources such as FastWeb or FinAid.org can help you find outside scholarships to help cover the costs of your education. The staff in Student Financial Services will work with students and families one-on-one to reconcile tuition accounts with all resources available.