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Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for Financial Assistance

What forms are needed to apply for Financial Assistance?

For federal student aid (Pell Grant, Federal Direct Loans, and Work-Study), one must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. The FASFA is also used to apply for state financial aid (NJ Tuition Aid Grant and Educational Opportunity Grant).

When do I apply for financial assistance?

You must file every year if you expect to receive financial assistance. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Renewal FAFSA can be completed after December 31st. The FAFSA/RFAFSA must be received by the federal processor by March 1st in order to assure that the student is given “Priority Application” consideration. While the amount of aid may not differ, the type of aid may be enhanced for a “Priority Application.”

What types of financial assistance are covered by this application?

All forms of federal aid, including Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Direct Loan, and Work-Study, are covered. In addition, the state of New Jersey uses the FAFSA as a means of applying for two state grants; the Tuition Aid Grant and the Educational Opportunity Fund Grant.

What do I do with a Student Aid Report (SAR) or Electronic Student Aid Report (ESAR)?

Keep your SAR or ESAR for your records. Please read and review it.  If you listed The College of New Jersey (Title IV code # 002642) on your FAFSA, the Office of Student Financial Assistance at TCNJ will receive your application information electronically.

Am I eligible for some type of federal assistance if I apply?

Yes, with disclaimers. Most students are eligible to receive federal assistance in the form of student loans. The Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Programs are the largest form of assistance awarded to TCNJ students.  Exceptions to this statement are those students who do not meet eligibility requirements of citizenship, matriculation, or default/repayment.

How do I apply for the Federal Work-Study Program?

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and answer yes to the questions, “Are you interested in being considered for work-study?”

Is there an income level cutoff above which certain families are not eligible for financial assistance?

Aid eligibility depends upon the household’s income, size of household, number in college, assets of household, and cost of attendance. Depending upon the combination of these factors, income level may not have the greatest impact on determining aid eligibility. Additionally, no-need households are eligible for unsubsidized loan options and must go through the formal FAFSA/Renewal FAFSA application process.

Is a student applying for financial assistance required to submit federal income tax forms?

No. Only students selected for institutional, state, or federal verification are required to submit additional documentation. TCNJ will notify students regarding the type of additional documentation required to complete their file. Some programs (such as EOF) have standard documentation requirements which supersede other verification categories.

Can students receive institutional, state, or federal assistance in excess of the Cost of Attendance (COA)?

Regulations associated with institutional, state, and federal assistance programs prohibit students from exceeding the Cost of Attendance while still receiving either of these three assistance resources. Students may exceed the Cost of Attendance, however, while not receiving either of these assistance types.

Does the United States Department of Education use a standard formula established by Congress to determine a family’s ability to contribute to a student’s education? Does this Expected Family Contribution (EFC) remain constant regardless of the institution the student attends?

Yes. While the student’s eligibility for assistance may vary from institution to institution as tied to cost or other factors, the ability of the family to contribute to the education remains constant.

At what point should I begin to look into what financial assistance is available to me?

Students should begin researching financial assistance sources as early as possible. They may start filling out applications in their senior year in high school. There are many places where the search can be made: high school guidance offices; libraries; bookstores; college financial assistance offices; and the Internet.

Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial assistance at a particular university?

No. You may apply for financial assistance any time after October 1.  To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted and enrolled at the college.

Do I send our income tax information with the FAFSA or send them to you?

Never send anything with the FAFSA. If the Office of Student Financial Assistance requires a copy of your IRS Income Tax Transcript, it will be requested at a later date.

Does TCNJ have an institutional form for the Office of Student Financial Assistance?


Can I get help filling out my FAFSA?

You should complete the form on your own as much as possible. The Office of Student Financial Assistance will gladly check the form for accuracy if you bring it to our office along with copies of your IRS Income Tax Transcript.

What is the Financial Assistance Title IV College Code for TCNJ?

The College Code is 002642.

How does TCNJ receive my FAFSA information?

If you have received a Student Aid Report (SAR) with our college code listed (002642), you may be reasonably sure that the college has received your information electronically. You are encouraged to verify this with the Office of Student Financial Assistance.

Types of Financial Assistance

What other sources of assistance are available?

There are many local, state, and national organizations which grant scholarship funds. Financial Assistance has a database of outside sources now available to students. The Financial Aid Information Page (, a site developed by Mark Kantrowitz for the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators, is a comprehensive guide to all aspects of financial assistance.  Also known as the FinAidPage, this resource includes an estimator of family contributions and needs, a free scholarship search service called Fast Web, a loan repayment calculator, and many other items of interest.

Which of the following resources: Grants, Scholarships, Loans, and Work are considered “financial assistance”?

All of the above resources are considered to be “financial assistance.”  Grants, scholarships, and loans are considered financial assistance resources whether they originate from institutional, state, federal, or external sources.

Special Situations

Why did my financial need change?

Since need represents the difference between the total costs of attending TCNJ and the ability of you and your family to contribute, any change in your family’s situation or TCNJ’s charges may mean a change in need.

Are there alternatives for a student whose parents have been denied a Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)?

A student whose parents have been denied a PLUS may pursue alternatives such as additional student borrowing under the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan or various loan options through the New Jersey CLASS Loan Program.

If my parents are separated or divorced, whose income should be reported?

The student must report the income of the parent with whom he/she has resided the majority of the time over the past 12 months. If this is equal, the student should report the income of the parent who provided more than 50% of the support needed to maintain the student.

If I have a step-parent in the household, must their income be reported on the FAFSA?

Yes. Dependent students are required to provide step-parent income as the household upon which the student depends is maintained by the combined income of the natural parent and step-parent.

If I live off-campus, is my financial assistance affected?

Financial assistance is not cut when a student goes off campus to live.  Even though you will not be paying the college for your room, Financial Assistance recognizes that you will be paying a landlord for your room. The standard room and board amounts will be used by Financial Assistance when building a budget of annual costs for all students, regardless of whether they will live on campus or not. Financial assistance is awarded by taking the total annual budget (tuition, fees, standard room and board, personal, books, and travel) and deducting the family contribution from it. The remainder is called “need”. The need is filled with institutional scholarships, grants, outside scholarships, loans, and work-study.  If you live off campus and have only tuition and fee charges on your bill, it is possible that you will have a credit balance on your student account when your financial assistance has been credited. (Work-study does not appear as a credit on the TCNJ bill). You will receive a check from the College for the amount of the credit balance.

What financial assistance issues arise when taking time off from school?

There are several things to keep in mind if you are on financial assistance and want to take time off. Currently, the Stafford Loan grace period is six months.  This means that if you take six months off, your grace period is up, and your first loan payment will be due as soon as you graduate, withdraw, or drop below half-time enrollment. If you plan to take a year off, your grace period is up, and your first loan payment will be due in the middle of the year. The Perkins Loan has a grace period of 9 months and is handled similarly.

You may request that your grace period be extended, but it is important to take care of this before taking a leave of absence. A grace period can not be extended after it has expired.

How do I become an independent student for federal aid purposes?

Step Three of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) determines if you are classified as an independent student. If you answer yes to any question, you are considered an independent student. Step Three of the FAFSA has more detailed information regarding independent status.

If I take courses at a different institution during the summer, do I need a financial assistance transcript?


My dad lost his job within this past year. How should I fill out the FAFSA form for next year?

(First, include his earnings for this past year.) If he has been out of work for at least ten weeks and he is still unemployed, please visit the Special Circumstances webpage in order to complete the proper change of circumstance form.

Will my financial assistance accompany me if I transfer to another college?

If a current TCNJ student is transferring before the start of the academic year (i.e., the fall semester), the student must apply for financial assistance at the college to which they are transferring. The student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using the other institution’s school code.

Is financial assistance available for summer?

Yes, but only if a student is enrolled at least half-time and has not exhausted their grant and/or loan eligibility during the past academic year. All students who wish to receive financial assistance for the TCNJ Summer Session must file a TCNJ Summer Session Financial Aid Application (available March 1st via the Office of Student Financial Assistance website) in addition to having filed the FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA for the current academic year.

Can I get assistance to study abroad?

Yes. You must complete the FAFSA to determine your eligibility as usual.  However, if the study abroad program is not sanctioned by TCNJ, the student must obtain and return completed Consortium Agreement paperwork.

What are the requirements and/or standards of the Educational Opportunity Fund Program (EOF)?

The student must meet the EOF income eligibility that considers the number in household vs gross income and academic standards set forth by the Office of Admissions at TCNJ.

Do I need to submit a financial assistance transcript from my previous school, even if I did not receive any financial assistance?


If I have a degree and want to return to school to pursue a teacher’s certification, am I eligible for financial assistance?

A student who already has an undergraduate degree may only be eligible for the Stafford Loan program. He or she would only be eligible if they have not already exhausted their maximum eligibility as indicated below:

$31,000 as a dependent undergraduate student (only $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans).

$57,500 as an independent undergraduate student (only $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans).

$138,500 as a graduate or professional student. The graduate debt limit includes any Stafford Loans received for undergraduate study.

TCNJ Policies

What is the difference between the Office of Student Accounts and the Office of Student Financial Assistance?

These two offices are located in different places but are under the same administrative area. The Office of Student Financial Assistance processes scholarships, grants, loans, and Work-Study. The Office of Student Accounts processes tuition bills, collects payments, issues parking decals and ID cards, and handles inquiries regarding the third-party tuition payment plan.

What is “Estimated Financial Aid”?

“Estimated Financial Aid” includes grants, scholarships, Federal Direct Loans (Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized), and/or private loans which has been awarded by the Office of Student Financial Assistance. You should refer to your most recent “Award Notification” to see the individual award funds, which comprise the total figure of “Estimated Financial Aid” appearing on your bill.

Additionally, Federal Nursing Loan awards are not included in “Estimated Financial Aid” unless the student has accepted this loan via PAWS.

“Estimated Financial Aid” will become “Actual” after the student’s enrollment status has been confirmed at the conclusion of the each semester’s Drop/Add Period. No additional action is required.

Are students eligible to be enrolled at least half-time at TCNJ eligible for financial assistance until degree requirements have been met?

Students must be matriculated (accepted into a degree-granting program).  One assistance program requires a minimum of quarter-time enrollment. All students are subject to the Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid Eligibility which provide specific time restraints for continued aid receipt.

How am I considered for a TCNJ scholarship?

You must complete an application to be considered for a TCNJ scholarship.

Is merit-based assistance at TCNJ administered by the Office of Student Financial Assistance?

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions determines eligibility for the merit-based awards available through TCNJ.

Does TCNJ award athletic grants or scholarships?

As a Division III NCAA institution, TCNJ may not award any assistance based on athletic performance to student athletes.

What are the minimum credits required to be eligible for graduate assistance?

A graduate student needs to be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Federal Stafford Loans.

Is there grant and scholarship assistance available for graduate students at TCNJ?

The OSFA presently has no institutional, state, or federal grant or scholarship programs available for graduate students.

Do I have to report an address change to the Office of Student Financial Assistance?

Yes. All changes made to your address or name need to be reported to the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Students must also report their address change to the Office of Records and Registration. Students may update their address online via the Records and Registration link from the TCNJ website.


How are loan proceeds paid?

Under Federal Direct Lending, they are paid directly to a student’s account by the semester. The first time you borrow a Federal Direct Loan from TCNJ, you must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Loan Counseling (ELC).

What if I have a credit balance on my student account?

Students receiving Federal Title IV financial aid (i.e., Federal Direct Loans and Pell Grants) will automatically receive a refund.

Students are advised to monitor their student accounts regarding the disbursement of their refund checks. Once the refund checks are posted on the account, students must present their College ID to the Office of Student Accounts to pick up their refund checks. Refund checks are issued on Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. After 1:00 p.m., refund checks are sent to the students’ permanent home address.

All questions regarding refunds should be directed to the Office of Student Accounts at (609) 771-2172.


Where do I apply for a Federal Direct Loan?

Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)/Renewal FAFSA to be considered for a Federal Direct Loan.

If I take a leave of absence, do I have to repay my loan right away?

You may enter a 6 or 9-month grace period, depending on the type of loan you have. At the end of that period, you will start to re-pay your loan.  When you re-enroll, you will be eligible to defer payments.

What are the interest rates on the Federal Direct Loan?

The interest rate is fixed at 6.533% for undergraduate students and 8.083% for graduate students.

What is the difference between a Subsidized Loan and an Unsubsidized Loan?

If you have a Subsidized Loan, you are eligible to have your interest paid by the Federal government while you are enrolled at least half-time. If you have an Unsubsidized Loan, you are responsible for the interest that accrues while you are enrolled. You may either pay the interest or let the interest capitalize and pay after you graduate, withdraw, or drop below half-time.

What is the interest rate for a PLUS loan, and when does it have to be repaid?

The interest rate is fixed at 9.083%. Repayment of the loan begins 60 days after disbursement.

What Federal Direct Loan amounts can I expect to receive as an undergraduate?

Freshman – $5,500 ($3,500 max Sub)

Sophomore – $6,500 ($4,500 max Sub)

Junior – $7,500 ($5,500 max Sub)

Senior – $7,500 ($5,500 max Sub)

How much can an independent undergraduate receive in loans?

Freshmen and Sophomores may receive an additional unsubsidized loan for $4,000. Juniors and Seniors may receive an additional unsubsidized loan for $5,000. None of these loans may exceed the student’s budget for that academic year.

Can I use the loan money for my off-campus living expenses, such as rent and food?

Yes. A student’s cost of attendance includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and personal miscellaneous expenses.

What is Entrance Loan Counseling?

Entrance Loan Counseling is a required counseling session for ALL first-time student loan borrowers. The counseling session requirement can be completed online at The session helps put student loan borrowing in perspective and helps determine a realistic amount to borrow. TCNJ is notified electronically when students complete the counseling.


How do I get a job on campus?

Please refer to our Federal Work-Study (FWS) webpage:


Office of Financial Aid
Green Hall, Room 101
The College of New Jersey
P.O. Box 7718
2000 Pennington Rd.
Ewing, NJ 08628
Tel. 609.771.2211
Fax. 609.637.5154

Office Hours: 8:30 A.M. – 4:30 P.M.
Monday through Friday

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