Rock Valley College
Rockford, Illinois

Financial Aid FAQs

Although the RVC Financial Aid Handbook contains most of the information a student needs to know to apply for financial assistance at RVC the following are some unique yet frequently asked questions pertaining to student financial assistance.

Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid at Rock Valley College?
No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1 of the school year you plan to attend. For example you must apply any time after January 1, 2012 for the academic year 2012-2013. However, you must be admitted to RVC before the financial aid office can receive and process your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from the Department of Education.To actually receive funds you must be enrolled and attending classes at RVC.

What is Rock Valley College's federal school code?
The 6 digit federal school code for RVC is 001747.

How do I apply for federal and state financial aid programs?
One form does it all! The form you need to complete is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and it can be completed online at This online version is also available in Spanish. To apply online, it is recommended that you (and your parent, if you are a dependent) first be assigned a Personal Identification Number (PIN) from the U.S. Department of Education. You can request a PIN at

What is the PIN?
The PIN (Personal Identification Number) serves as your identifier to let you access your personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems. It's like the Personal Identification Number you get from your bank that enables you to access your account. The PIN also allows you to sign your federal student aid application online and allows you to correct your application data online. You can apply for a PIN by going to 

How will my PIN be sent to me?
When requesting a PIN, you'll need to provide your name, Social Security Number, date of birth, and mailing address, and submit your request. After that information has been verified with the Social Security Administration's records, a PIN will be generated. If you provide an e-mail address, you'll get an e-mail response within 72 hours that contains a link to your PIN through the Internet. If you don't provide an e-mail address, you'll get your PIN in 7-10 days through regular mail.

What if I do not have access to a computer to file online? Where can I get a paper copy of the FAFSA?
If you do not have access to a computer elsewhere there are 3 computers available for your use to file FAFSA forms, conduct scholarship searches or gather information relating to financing your college education set up in the financial aid area of the Student Center. There is a printer set up to allow you to print necessary forms. The ERC and computer labs on campus can also be used for filing your FAFSA online. Paper FAFSA's are no longer made available to schools. Paper copies can still be printed by going to or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID. Forms are available in both English and Spanish.

Do I have to provide parent information on my FAFSA?

You must provide your parent's information on your FAFSA form unless you meet one of the following conditions:

  • You are 24 years of age or older
  • You will be working on a master's degree
  • You are married
  • You have children that receive more than half of their support from you
  • You have dependents other than your children or spouse that live with you and receive more than half of their support from you
  • Both of your parents are deceased or you are (or were until age 18) in foster care or a ward of the court
  • You are (or were until the age of 18) an emancipated minor
  • You are (or were until the age of 18) in legal guardianship
  • You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed forces for purposes other than training
  • You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.

If you do not meet one of these requirements, but consider yourself to have a special circumstance that makes you independent, you may contact the Financial Aid Office for further instructions. Please keep in mind that reasons the Financial Aid Office cannot consider you independent include:

  • total self-support,
  • your parents refusal to provide the information required to file the FAFSA form,
  • your parents refusal to sign FAFSA form, or
  • your parents refusal to contribute to the cost of your education.

Why do I have to provide my parents' information on the FAFSA?
When you apply for federal student aid, your answers to the questions in Step 3 of the paper FAFSA or the Dependency Status section of the online FAFSA will determine whether you're considered dependent on your parents or independent. If you're considered dependent, your parents' income and assets as well as your own must be reported on the FAFSA. Students are classified as dependent or independent because federal student aid programs are based on the principle that students (and their parents or spouse, if applicable) are considered the primary source of support for postsecondary education.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
Yes. After the first year you file a FAFSA you will receive an e-mail notification reminding you to re-file. You must renew on-line or complete a new paper FAFSA.

Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, depending on your circumstances and any regulatory changes. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA. (See the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy)

I sent in my FAFSA over four weeks ago but haven't heard anything. What should I do?
If you haven't received a Student Aid Report (SAR), call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 (toll free) or 1-319-337-5665. You must provide them with your Social Security number and date of birth as verification.

How long does it take to know if I am eligible for financial aid at Rock Valley College?
If you file your FAFSA electronically you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) in 1-3 weeks. At about the same time you receive your SAR if you listed RVC as one of your school choices on your FAFSA RVC should also be receiving your information to begin processing. You should then receive a communication from the RVC financial aid office explaining what documents are needed to process your aid at RVC. The entire process may take up to 4-6 weeks after you receive your SAR. When your file has been completed you will receive an award letter from the financial aid office indicating what kind of assistance you are eligible for and the amount.Your award letter is also available on your RVC online services account.

My aid is not processed yet but my tuition bill is due, what can I do?
While the financial aid office is completing your file you may pay your tuition and fees by cash, check, credit card or FACTS (a deferred payment plan.) To make a payment go to the Accounts Receivable office in the Student Center or go online to

I got an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the RVC financial aid office?
Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from private or government sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office. The financial aid office must add the scholarship to your award package and make adjustments to your financial aid package as necessary.

How do I receive my financial aid at RVC?
How you receive your aid varies by what financial aid program(s) you are eligible for. This information will be mailed to you upon completion of your financial aid file at RVC. In general,

  • if you are eligible for a loan, once your account has been paid in full the excess funds are mailed by check to you. This is done the first week of classes if you applied early enough for your loan or as soon as your loan funds are transmitted to the school if you applied later.

NOTE: Freshmen, first time borrowers, loan disbursements are made 30 days into the semester.

  • the state Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant can only be used for tuition and mandatory fees.
  • the federal PELL grant and state MAP grant are applied to a student's account approximately 6 weeks into the semester. Any excess funds are mailed to you after your account is paid in full.

I am in late starting classes- When will I receive my financial aid? 

Students who are registered in late starting classes and who are eligible for a Pell/MAP refund will not have funds disbursed for these classes until after the class has begun.

  • the federal SEOG grant is applied to eligible students accounts about 12 weeks into the semester with any excess funds being mailed to you at that time.
  • Scholarships are entered as pending aid until after the 100% tuition refund period and then are applied to a student's account if they have met all the scholarship criteria and are eligible for the funds.
  • College Work Study funds are paid bi-monthly by paycheck from the RVC payroll department for hours worked.

Pell/Loan eligible students may have eligibility for help with books one week before classes start. You must have a complete Financial Aid file and be enrolled in classes. Students without a complete file must cover their own book and supply cost. If you have extenuating circumstances that are preventing you from having funds available for books please see the financial aid office one week prior to the start of the term.

What is the process called verification and why am I being verified?
Because a significant number of errors can occur on a student's FAFSA they are sometimes selected by the CPS (Central Processing System) to be verified by Rock Valley College. The Department of Education only requires that a portion of the FAFSA filers at RVC be verified. If your financial aid application was selected for the verification process you will be required to submit a verification worksheet, a copy of your IRS Federal Tax transcript (and your parent's if you are a dependent student), and IL state residency verification for state aid. The RVC financial aid office will send a letter requesting this information and you will be given 30 days to return it to the office so we can continue to process the file. Sometimes errors are identified during verification that require corrections. The RVC financial aid office will submit any necessary corrections to the Department of Education. If no errors are discovered your file will be marked complete and an award letter will be sent identifying any aid you are eligible to receive.

IF YOU DO NOT use the IRS download option when filing the FAFSA and are selected for verification, you will be required to provide IRS tax transcripts; per federal regulations we are only able to accept tax transcript as tax documentation.

What does the Standards of Academic Progress policy mean to me and my financial aid?
Every student that applies for financial aid at RVC is asked to read and sign a copy of the Standards of Academic Progress policy. If you are not maintaining these minimum academic standards you will lose your financial aid for the future. If you encountered extenuating circumstances that prevented you from meeting these requirements you may file an appeal in the financial aid office. The appeal along with required documentation of your situation will be reviewed and if approved you may get your financial aid reinstated. If it is not approved this does not prevent you from taking courses at RVC but you will be responsible to pay for them by means other than financial aid until you have met the Standards of Academic Progress policy.

I don't live at home with my parents. Does this mean I am an independent student?
Not necessarily. You are independent only if you can answer yes to one or more of questions in the Dependency Status section of the FAFSA.

My father refuses to complete an application for aid at RVC. What should I do?
If you are a dependent student as defined by the FAFSA form, it is essential that your parents complete an application for aid with their financial information in order for you to be considered for aid. Explain this to your father. If all else fails, contact the financial aid office. Many times someone from the financial aid office can help explain to parents that this information is necessary and will be kept strictly confidential.

My friend got more financial aid than I did, and I don't understand why. Her parents make more money than my parents.
There are many reasons why your friend could have received more aid. For example, the college she is attending may have more aid to offer. There may be more family members in the household that her parents are supporting. She may have earned less money from working than you did. Her family might have experienced unusually high medical expenses. These and other differences in family situations could cause two students to receive different amounts of financial aid. Whatever the reason(s), keep in mind that each student's financial aid package is designed especially for that individual.

I live with my grandparents, who are my legal guardians. Should I use their income information on my financial aid application?
If you are under the legal guardianship of someone else you are considered an Independent student and will then provide only your income. Documentation proving guardianship may be required and requested by the Financial Aid Office.

My parents are divorced. I live with my mother, but my father claims me on his tax return. How do I apply for aid?
Complete an application for aid with your information and information 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 information about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent.)

NOTE:  The parent who claims you on their taxes in not always the parent information required on the FAFSA.

My parents are divorced. My mother is remarried and my stepfather hasn't adopted me. Is my stepfather required to supply his financial information when I apply for aid?
Yes. Your mother and stepfather must both supply financial information when you are applying for aid since all resources in the household must be considered.

What if my parent's taxes are not completed?
You may estimate the taxes to file your FAFSA with, however you will have to provide completed federal income tax information along with other verification documents before aid can be awarded.

Is financial aid available during the summer semesters?
Only students who have not received 100% of their Pell during the fall and spring terms will have eligibility for summer Pell. MAP funds are not available in summer semesters at this time.

How many credits do I need to be enrolled in to receive financial aid?

  • Stafford Loan: You must be enrolled and attending at least a half-time (6 credits)
  • MAP Grant: You must be enrolled and attending at least 3 credits (Not available during summer)
  • Pell Grant: If you are eligible for the maximum Pell grant award, you may be enrolled and attending as little as one credit and still receive a portion of the grant funds.If you are not eligible for the maximum award, check the bottom of your award letter for the chart of eligible credit calculations.
  • Scholarships: Determined by the scholarship donor.Contact the donor for details.

How many credits is full time status?

  • Full time: 12 or more credits
  • Three Quarter time: 9 – 11 credits
  • Half time: 6 – 8 credits
  • Less than Half time: 1 – 5 credits


**Full time for MAP grant: The MAP grant is based on 15 credits for full time.