Financial Aid FAQ

How do I apply for financial aid?

  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at  You must be an admitted as a degree-seeking student at Helena College in order for any financial aid to be awarded.
  • The student (and parent, if dependent student) will need to create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) and Password at Two separate email accounts will need to be utilized to successfully create FSA IDs for both the student and parent.

How do I make sure Helena College gets my financial aid information?

  • On your FAFSA, include the Helena College school code, 007570.

Do I qualify for the Federal Student Loan Debt Relief?

  • Federal Student Aid and the Biden-Harris Administration have announced loan forgiveness plans of up to $20,000 for prior Pell-Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for all other loan borrowers. Please visit for the most up-to-date information. 

  • Just Announced: The student loan payment pause is extended until the U.S. Department of Education is permitted to implement the debt relief program or the litigation is resolved. Payments will restart 60 days later. If the debt relief program has not been implemented and the litigation has not been resolved by June 30, 2023 - payments will resume 60 days after that. We will notify borrowers before payments restart.

I completed my FAFSA online. Why haven’t I heard from Helena College?

  • The FAFSA is only step one of the financial aid process.
  • The Financial Aid Office will wait to complete an award until you are accepted as a degree-seeking student, and are in good academic standing.
  • Once your award has been created by the Financial Aid Office you will be notified via postcard that your aid is available on you MyHC account and is ready for you to accept or decline whatever amount of aid you need.  You should accept only the funds you need.  Accepting too much aid can result in unnecessary, long-term debt. Make sure to check the bottom of the 5th tab Accept Award to make sure the Financial Aid Office does not need you to complete any other forms.
  • The following document outlines how to accept you aid: How to Accept Aid

What are financial aid “filing dates”?

  • These are dates you need to have your file completed in order to get financial aid before the fee-payment deadline.
  • The priority date for Montana Colleges is December 1st, annually.
  • You can complete your 2019-2020 FAFSA starting October 1, 2018 using your 2017 tax information.
  • You can complete your 2020-2021 FAFSA starting October 1, 2019 using your 2018 tax information.

I missed the priority date; can I still apply for financial aid?

  • Yes, you can still apply and be considered for aid. However, you may need to make payment arrangements with the Business Office to keep your classes from being dropped. If you are eligible for aid, it will be processed once your file has been completed.

What if I missed the priority date and do not have the money to pay my tuition in full?

  • You may sign up for a Deferred Payment Plan through the Business Office. Of course, you will be expected to make the payments by certain dates until the tuition is covered, or until your financial aid has been processed.

What is the cut-off for filing my FAFSA if I intend to use financial aid to pay for my schooling?

  • If you would like financial aid funds to pay for and be in place prior to the start of the term, it is recommended you file your FAFSA at least one month prior to classes starting.  This is due to the processing time of the Department of Education and the institution to calculate how much aid you would be eligible for.
  • You will also need to respond to any documents requested from the Financial Aid Office, with completed verification information, in order to complete your file and allow the funds to be disbursed in a timely manner.

I have not lived with my parents for quite some time and I support myself, why is their information needed to apply for aid?

  • If you are under the age of 24 and do not meet any other requirements set forth by the Department of Education on the FAFSA form, you are deemed a dependent student and will need your parent’s tax information in order to apply for financial aid.
  • To be deemed independent you must:
    • Be at least 24 years old as of the date you filed your FAFSA, or
    • Be married, or
    • Have children or other legal dependents, or
    • Be an active duty member of the armed forces or a veteran.
  • There are only a few extraordinary circumstances that could possibly allow you to appeal for a dependency override.  Please see a Financial Aid Administrator for further information.

The school I attended last year granted me a dependency override, am I okay since they have already approved this?

  • No, an override or override paperwork will not carry over from one year to the next or one institution to the next. The Financial Aid Office must reaffirm the status each year.

The tax information I provided on my FAFSA does not reflect my current financial situation. Can my financial aid be re-evaluated?

  • For most students, the FAFSA does a good job of evaluating their family's financial strength. However, it does not do a good job of dealing with students who experience unusual circumstances. Recognizing that, Congress has given authority to financial aid administrators to use their professional judgement to account for conditions that are out of the norm.
  • Any adjustments made are at the discretion of the Director of Financial Aid and must be supported with documentation that can withstand an audit.
  • Professional judgements can be completed for Child/Elder Care Expenses, Income Reduction, Medical Expenses, Extended Family Expenses, or other reasons.

What is “Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)”?

SAP measures completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree. Federal regulations require us to monitor your progress. If you fall behind in coursework, or fail to achieve standards for GPA, and completion of classes, you
may lose eligibility for federal and state aid. What is required to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress?

  • Maintain the required 2.0 grade point average (GPA) for the number of hours you have attempted, and
  • Pass at least 70 percent of the credit hours attempted, and
  • Complete a degree or certificate program in no more than 150% of the number of credits required for the degree program.
  • Do not completely withdraw from classes, unless there are mitigating (unusual) circumstances. These must be documented and approved by the Financial Aid Office. The SAP regulations list the GPA and required pass percentage. See the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (PDF).

What is verification?

  • The Department of Education randomly selects and requires us to verify the accuracy of FAFSA data. We may ask you to submit documents, such as a federal income tax transcript, to our office before you receive aid. If you don’t, it may mean cancellation of financial aid. Aid will be delayed until documents have been received and processed.

I said I was interested in student loans on my FAFSA application. Why wasn’t a student loan processed for me?

Applying for loans at Helena College requires additional processes. You must:

  • Accept an award from Helena College via MyHC and state amount,
  • Complete Loan Entrance Counseling,
  • Sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN),
  • Submit the above documentation to the Financial Aid Office,
  • Complete verification, if selected.

How will dropping a class affect my financial aid?

  • Some examples of what dropping a class may do:  If you withdraw from all your classes before 60% of the semester has passed, you could owe money back to the school and the Department of Education, depending on when the drop took place
  • Dropping a class can also affect your Satisfactory Academic Progress, which requires you to complete a certain percent of your credits to stay in good standing.
  • If you have accepted a loan and are dropping a class that puts you below half-time enrollment, you become ineligible for federal student loans.

How do I apply for Summer Financial Aid?

  • If you are interested in attending classes during the summer term and would like financial aid to assist in paying for this; you will need to schedule an appointment via Starfish with a financial aid administrator to meet one-on-one in order to determine if you have eligibility and the amount in which you may be eligible.

I just accepted my financial aid award package online, am I done?

  • No, 24 to 48 hours after you accept, or after your verification is completed, you will need to log back into your MyHC account to finalize your bill for the Business Office, EACH semester.
  • This needs to be done even if your financial aid will completely cover your bill.  This lets the school know that you intend on attending classes. 
  • Without this step you risk having your classes dropped and your financial aid delayed, each semester. You also risk accruing a late charge.

My financial aid was terminated.  Does this mean I can’t attend classes next semester?

  • No, this just means that you will need to find an alternative way to pay for your classes, or file an appeal to have your financial aid reinstated.  The deadline in order to file an appeal is two weeks prior to the start date of the term for which you are seeking your financial aid.  There are no appeals entertained for the summer term.
  • You are able to attend classes utilizing your own funds if you have not been placed on academic suspension.
  • Please visit with the Financial Aid Office if you have any further questions regarding the appeal process.

I completed my Master Promissory Note (MPN), is this all I need to do to receive my loans?

How is financial aid disbursed?

  • The first financial aid disbursement will take place 7-10 days after the 15th instructional day.  Funds are disbursed on your behalf to the Business Office.  The Business Office then applies these funds toward your charges (tuition and fees).
  • If your financial aid is more than the amount of charges on your account, you should receive a disbursement check in the mail.  (Please make sure your mailing address is up-to-date on your MyHC account.)
  • The first disbursement will consist of all of your grants, scholarships, and half of your student loan for the term.
  • The second half of your student loan will disburse 7-10 days after successful mid-term grades are posted.

What if I need my financial aid to pay for books and supplies?

  • The Business Office will make a book voucher, book advance, and/or tool voucher available to any student that will have aid that is greater than the amount due.
  • A Book Voucher allows a student to obtain books in the Helena College Bookstore prior to financial aid disbursements. If a student would like to obtain books/supplies elsewhere they will need a book advance. Similar with tools, a student will obtain an advance to help cover costs until aid is disbursed.
  • You may inquire in the Business Office regarding a voucher or an advance.
  • The vouchers and advances may be available two to three weeks before the start of the semester. 

Other than a loan, is there any other aid available to me?

  • Yes, there are scholarships listed on the Financial Aid page of the website.
  • There are scholarships due EACH month of the academic year.
  • Bookmark the scholarship page and visit it at least twice a month to see which scholarships are due the following month.
  • You can’t receive a scholarship unless you apply.
  • Be very aware of deadlines.

Contact the Financial Aid Office prior to withdrawing or dropping a class to see what effect it will have on your financial aid award and future eligibility.

Questions about charges or checks should be directed to the Business Office.

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