Application for Financial Aid

The Financial Aid Application process is a multi-step process that generally takes 90 days to complete. The majority of the 90 days, can be increased and decreased by your participation in the process. Wait too long to turn in requested information, and your process will take the full 90 days or even longer, submit your information within the 3 business day window recommended by South, and it might only take a few weeks.

Application for Financial Aid Steps

What follows is a detailed overview of the Application for Financial Aid Process at South. Each school is different, so the process at one school will not be the same process at another. This means, you should read through this section very carefully to ensure do your part in getting financial aid assistance.

The Application process timeline takes place from October of the year before you go to college, and runs through the academic year. Our timeline below will use the 2017-18 Award Year for our example when illustrating the timeline.

The FAFSA or WASFA begins your Application for Financial Aid process at South, but it’s not the only step. Complete the FAFSA or the WASFA as early as possible. 

Learn more about how to complete your FAFSA or WASFA: 


The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  It is the application that 100% of student’s wanting federal financial aid must complete each year to qualify. It starts the application process but isn’t the only piece of the application.

Two types of students complete the FAFSA, Independent and Dependent students.

Independent students describe those students who meet one of the 13 Independency criteria and do not need to include parent information on the FAFSA.  The most common ways to become independent are listed below, but remember, there are 13 in total:

  1. 24 years old or older
  2. Married
  3. Have children and you provide 51% or more of their financial support
  4. Veteran of the armed forces

Dependent students cannot answer “YES” to any of the 13 Independency questions on the FAFSA, and must include parental information on the FAFSA. 

If your biological parents are married, then only one of your parents will sign the FAFSA but both parent’s information will be on it.

If you’re biological parents are divorced or were never married to each other, then the parent you live with and/or the parent that provides 51% or more of your financial support is parent who’s information belongs on the FAFSA.  If that parent is married to someone who is not your biological parent, then your step parent’s information must also go on your FAFSA.

If you’re not sure if you’re a Dependent or Independent student, please contact the Financial Aid Office and we can help you make the determination.  Likewise, if you have special circumstances that prevent you from putting parental information on the FAFSA when you’re required to, please contact the Financial Aid Office for options.

Once you know if you’re Independent or Dependent, you know who’s information belongs on the FAFSA and who has to sign it.  To sign the FAFSA, you (and your parent if you’re Dependent) will need an FSA ID Username and Password.  The FSA ID acts as your electronic signature for signing some federal financial aid paper work.  You (and your parent if you’re Dependent) will need to get an FSA ID three business days before completing the FAFSA.  The process to get the FSA ID generally takes about 20 minutes and establishes your identity before giving you your username and password.  It’s very, very important that you write down your username and password somewhere safe because you’ll use it every year to sign the FAFSA.  Keep these as safe as you keep your social security card!

The first day you can complete the FAFSA is October 1, and you should try to complete your FAFSA during the month of October.  Most financial aid is first come first served, meaning the faster you complete your Application for Financial Aid, the more money you’ll receive to help you pay for college.

You complete the FAFSA make sure you’re completing the FAFSA for the right year you plan to be in school.  Completing the wrong year FAFSA can have devastating consequences, so be careful.

You’ll need to list South Seattle College on your FAFSA to ensure we have access to your information.  Our school code is 009706

Most of the financial information you list on the FAFSA will be 2 years old.  If you’re completing the 2017-18 FAFSA, you’ll be using 2015 Federal Tax information, the 2018-19 FAFSA uses 2016 Federal Tax Information, and so on.  Some questions will ask you for information during certain periods of time, so it’s important to read each question and provide the correct information.

After you complete the FAFSA and submit it signing with your FSA ID you’ll be taken to a confirmation page.  Print that page, it’s proof of the date you submitted the FAFSA and is very important to keep.  About 3-5 days after you submit the FAFSA you’ll receive a Student Aid Report.  The Student Aid Report is your receipt of the information you put on the FAFSA.  Keep these safe, you may need to refer to them later.  About 10 business days after you submit the FAFSA, South will gain access to your FAFSA information.  This will lead to step 4 of our process, but while you wait, complete step 2.


If you are an undocumented student who qualifies for HB-1079 or DACA, one of the most important steps to complete every year is your Washington Application for State Financial Aid, commonly known as the WASFA.

This application will enable you to be considered for state and institutional financial aid.  Students that complete this application are not eligible for federal financial aid.

The WASFA application is for HB-1079 and DACA students only.

Due to the current political environment, South strongly encourages WASFA applicants to carefully limit which schools they authorize to gain access to the information they put on their WASFA.  Student information is fully protected under FERPA  regulations that protect sensitive student information such as immigration details, at the school where they commence attendance.  You’re information is not as protected at schools you choose not to attend.

Complete the WASFA application.  Once on the page select “College” at the top of the screen and then read through the text under “Ready: Preparing for My Education” and then select the link at the bottom of the text “residency and citizenship”.  The criteria to see if you can complete the WASFA is strict, so read very carefully the residency and citizenship criteria.  If you meet the requirements, complete the WASFA by following the link “Washington Application for State Financial Aid” under the heading “Next Steps”.

You’ll be using two year old financial information when completing the WASFA.  So if you’re completing the 2017-18 WASFA you’ll use 2015 Federal Tax and income information; if you’re completing the 2018-19 WASFA you’ll use 2016 Federal Tax and income information, etc.

After you complete and submit the WASFA, South Seattle College should receive it within 10-20 business days.

As a special note about the WASFA, colleges and universities cannot correct information that we determine to be incorrect on your WASFA.  This means, that if we find a mistake on your WASFA we’ll contact you to make a WASFA correction before we can proceed reviewing your request for financial aid.

Applying for admissions is a critical step in the financial aid process because only admitted students can receive financial aid.  At South, the application is free and takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Complete your Application for Admissions

It’s important that you write down the degree or certificate you indicate on the Application for Admissions because the Financial Aid Office will need this information when you get to step 4.

Each quarter has a listed deadline.  Understanding what the deadline is will help you determine what quarter to start in.

The deadline is the last day that you can complete your Application for Financial Aid and get a guaranteed financial aid determination before the day tuition and fees are due for the listed quarter.  If South isn’t able to determine your eligibility for financial aid (either approving you and giving you an Award Letter, or denying your eligibility) we will hold you in your class for the first three weeks of the quarter without payment so we have time to finish reviewing your file.

If you complete your Application for Financial Aid after the deadline, South’s Financial Aid Office will still determine your financial aid eligibility as quickly as possible for all quarters, but we don’t guarantee it will be determination before the day tuition and fees are due for the listed quarter.  If you don’t have an Accepted Financial Aid Award Letter by the tuition and fees due date, then you are responsible for paying for your tuition and fees until your financial aid eligibility can be determined.

Financial Aid is awarded on a first come, first serve basis, which means, if 1000 students are ahead of you in line to have their Application for Financial Aid reviewed in front of you, then chances are there won’t be much financial aid for you by the time we get to your file.  This means, that you should try to finish the Application for Financial Aid process as quickly as possible to ensure you get the best financial aid.  Waiting until the last minute might mean you were eligible for thousands of dollars in financial aid, but the money is all gone.

If you do miss our published deadline, and decide to pay out of pocket, the Financial Aid Office will still determine if we can provide you assistance for the quarter.  This means, if there is still money available, you may receive a reimbursement of some of your out of pocket payment.  However, there is no guarantee how much, if any, financial aid you will receive, and it’s very important that you consider this fact when deciding if you can afford to pay out of pocket while you wait for your financial aid to be determined.

Once you’re file is considered to have met the deadline, there’s still a way for you to make your file late.  During the review process, we may request additional information and documents from you via the Missing Document Letter.  You have only 3 business days to submit any requested document or information, if you do not or cannot submit the information within the 3 business day window, you will lose your on time deadline status and the guarantee that goes with it.

Missing the deadline doesn’t mean you won’t receive a Financial Aid Award Letter before the start of the quarter, just that it’s not guaranteed.  Your financial aid team is working hard every day to process as many Applications for Financial Aid as possible, and we’ve made award winning strides in processing times.  So follow all of the recommendations in step 4 and even if you’re late, you may still have financial aid on time to start the quarter. 

The FAFSA or WASFA are only the beginning of the Application for Financial Aid.  One South’s Financial Aid Office receives your FAFSA or WASFA information, we determine what additional documents or information we need from you before we can start the review process.

Once we figure out what we need to begin the review of your Application for Financial Aid, we email you a Missing Document Letter.  The email tells you each item we need and how you satisfy the requirement.  Read the instructions for each item carefully, as some of the instructions must be followed exactly to prevent delays in your review.  All items should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office within 3 business days.

Information you provide to us can lead to us needing additional information or documents.  For example, if you indicate on your Data Sheet that you went to another school before coming to South, we’ll send you a new Missing Document Letter telling you how to complete the Official Transcript Evaluation process.  Most students will need to provide more information than is listed on their first Missing Document Letter, but your Financial Aid team won’t know what until we look at the documents you’ve submitted or begin our review of your Application for Financial Aid.  The average student at South receives three Missing Document Letters, so its important that you check your email daily for emails from with the subject lines “South Seattle College Financial Aid” or “Urgent: South Seattle College Financial Aid”.

You have only 3 business days to submit requested documents or information to us after receiving the Missing Document Letter.  Submitting documents after these three days may cost you the on time deadline status described in step 3.

You’re financial aid team requires 10 business days to post into our computer system any documents you submit.  We do not send out individual acknowledgements of receipt of any items you submit, instead, you can track receipt of your documents through the Student Financial Aid Portal (for directions use the menu on the left).  Items with a date in the “Received” column shows the date we’ve tracked the item in for.  If an item you submitted doesn’t show a date received, and it’s been more then 10 business days, you should read the comment next to the item to see if we consider it incomplete, or contact the Financial Aid Office. 

Remember, it is your responsibility to read all instructions listed on the Missing Document Letter and follow them exactly.  As a tip, the most common mistake students make is with the Official Transcript Evaluation process, so be sure to read those instructions carefully if they’re on your Missing Document Letter.

There are two outcomes for your Application for Financial Aid, an Award Letter or a Determination Letter.

Award Letter

An Award Letter details out all of the available financial aid funding that South is willing to offer you for the year.  We break that funding out by quarter, and your Award Letter shows you the total you can expect to receive each quarter.  Unless otherwise stated on the Award Letter, you will be awarded for full time enrollment.  The different types of enrollment level are listed below.  Regardless of degree or certificate enrollment level categorized the same for all students.

Enrollment Level


Full time

12 or more credits

¾ time

9-11 credits

½ time

6-8 credits

Less than ½ time

1-5 credits


Students have 30 days (unless otherwise stated on the letter) to accept their listed financial aid.  If you don’t accept your Awards within 30 days, the funds will be canceled for you, and immediately awarded to another student.  There is no exception to this policy, so it’s important that you accept your financial aid as soon as possible.  You can always decline your financial aid at a later date if you decide not to attend South, or that you don’t want the funding.

Financial Aid comes with important rights and responsibilities.  On your Award Letter has a section called Terms and Conditions that detail these rights and responsibilities.  When you accept your Awards you do so agreeing that you have read, understand, and agree to follow all of the Terms and Conditions.  This is a very serious matter, and it’s important that you read everything carefully.  If you don’t understand something, be sure you contact the Financial Aid Office and ask questions before you accept your Awards.

Your financial aid is listed by “Award Code” and is broken out into two types of awards, awards that you must actively accept and funds that are accepted for you.  To accept your Awards you must login to the Student Financial Aid Portal (see the link and instructions in the menu on the left) and go through the two step acceptance process.  Step 1 is where you accept or decline each award listed on your portal page (you can also choose to accept all).  After you click “SAVE” you’ll be taken to a verification screen.  For step 2, you must select “YES” on the verification screen to confirm your acceptance of your financial aid.  You’ll then be taken back to your portal page where you will now be able to see that the awards are accepted.

Work study and loans will not be listed on your Award Letter.  The Financial Aid Office will contact you directly if you are eligible for Work Study.  If you are interested in loans, you are encouraged to come into the Financial Aid Office for an overview of the Loan process at South.

Make sure you keep a copy of your Award Letter.

Determination Letter

Not every student qualifies for financial aid.  If you don’t qualify, we’ll send you a Determination Letter that explains why you were not eligible.  Sometimes a student isn’t eligible for a specific amount of time, or additional information provided by the student may make them eligible.  Its important that you read the information in your Determination Letter carefully, and follow all listed instructions.  If you believe a mistake in your eligibility has been made, then please contact the Financial Aid Office.

Determining whether or not you have enough financial aid to come to South is essential to making sure South Seattle College is the right school for you.  We are required by the US Department of Education and the State of Washington to produce a budget called the Cost of Attendance.  Cost of Attendance shows both direct and indirect costs of 9 months of education at South Seattle College.  We estimate the average of these costs to create the Cost of Attendance.

Direct Costs are costs that you’ll pay directly to the school.  This would include tuition, fees, and in some cases, books.  Miscellaneous fees like a parking permit or library fine are also direct costs.  If you didn’t have any financial aid assistance, you’d pay these costs at the Cashier’s Office.

Indirect Costs are other important costs you have to consider when deciding where to go to school.  Indirect costs are costs that you’ll pay to other people or organizations while you’re in school, such as rent, utilities, food, clothing, and transportation expenses.

Cost of Attendance

At South, we have a number of Cost of Attendance budgets depending on your program of study, your residency, and your living arrangements.  Below are our most common Cost of Attendance budgets, but there are many others.  You can see the Cost of Attendance we’ve assigned to you on the Student Financial Aid Portal (see the menu on the left side).

It’s very important that you understand that these are not your actual costs.  They are average estimates for students in each category.  These figures may not represent your actual costs but are a good guide.


Resident Living at Home

Resident Living on Own

BAS Program, Resident Living on Own

Non-Resident Living on Own

Tuition and fees*










Room and Board










Misc. Expenses











*Assumes 15 credits per quarter or 45 credits per year

Calculating Your Owing Balance or Refund

To calculate your owning balance or refund, you need to know what your quarter charges are and your financial aid Awards are.  This calculation only works if your enrollment level matches the enrollment level listed on your Award Letter.  Remember, your Award Letter is calculated on full time enrollment unless otherwise stated.

You can get your current charges on the My South Portal, and your Financial Aid Awards on the Student Financial Aid Portal.  Take your Total Charges for the quarter, and subtract the Financial Aid Awards for the same quarter.  If the number is positive, you have an owing balance of the amount listed that must be paid by the Tuition and Fee due date for the quarter.  If the number is negative, that is how much financial aid you will receive to help you pay for your indirect costs such as rent and transportation—we call this your Financial Aid Refund.

For example.  If you’re enrolled in 15 credits and your owing balance for Fall 2017 is $1,567.90 and your Awards are $2,987.00, then you would have a Financial Aid Refund of $1,419.10.

Owing Balance


Minus Awards


Financial Aid Refund


Likewise, if you’re enrolled in 15 credits and your owning balance for Fall 2017 is $1,567.90 and your awards are $1,500.00, then you would owe South $67.90 for the Fall 2017 quarter.

Owing Balance


Minus Awards


Remaining Balance Owed to South


Payment Plan

If you have an owing balance, and you want to spread out your payments, you can sign up for the FACTS Payment Plan. Information about the plan is available on our Cashier’s page.

The Seattle Colleges delivers your refund with BankMobile Disbursements, a technology solution, powered by BMTX, Inc.

To view our third-party servicer contract for refund management, click here.

While BMTX, Inc. offers multiple options for refund, please keep in mind that paper checks take additional time to process, and typically, students will not receive the check until the second or third week of the quarter, which can make it difficult to purchase text books.

Financial Aid Disbursement

Financial Aid Disbursement refers to the process of disbursing student accepted Awards to the student’s account to pay quarterly charges like tuition and fees.  If you have more financial aid than you do charges you’ll be eligible for a Financial Aid Refund.

On Time Disbursement and Financial Aid Refund

Eligible students will receive Financial Aid Refund on or after the first Wednesday of each quarter provided that they:

  • Have not changed any of their classes since the Sunday before the quarter started
  • Met all Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements during their last quarter of attendance
  • Have selected a refund preference through BankMobile Disbursements Refund Selection

Delay in Financial Aid Refund

Students who do not meet all of the above conditions may experience a delay in receiving their Financial Aid Refund. These students should contact the Financial Aid Office at FinancialSouth@seattlecolleges.eduif they do not receive a refund by the second Wednesday of the quarter.

Due to the high volume of calls we receive at the start of the quarter, we will not return phone calls for students who did not meet the above criteria for an On Time Disbursement until after the second Wednesday of the quarter.