Financial Aid Survival Guide

Male student in EDT lighting classroom lab.

How to Survive on Financial Aid

The money to pay for rent, transportation, food, books, supplies, fees, and other educational expenses should come from:

First: Your Parents

If you are a dependent, the U.S. Department of Education has determined that your education is primarily a parental responsibility. For financial aid purposes,  a dependent is a student under 24 years old who is not married, does not have a dependent who receives more than half their support from the student, is not a Veteran, nor orphan or ward of the court.

Second: You

You are the primary beneficiary of your education whether you are dependent or independent.

These two obligations are expressed in financial aid terms as the parental contribution and the student contribution/self-help (respectively). Together they make up the family contribution.

Third: Financial Aid

The purpose of aid is to enable lower income families and students to have the same access to education as others.

Therefore to survive, you need to do the following:

  1. Identify your costs for the year, month by month. The Student Expense Budgets are average costs for this area and for Ohlone College. They can provide you a place to start planning your own expenses and income.

  2. Calculate how much you have available from work, savings or your spouse for each month’s expenses.

  3. Consult your parents. Include their support in cash or in-kind (housing, food) toward those monthly expenses.

  4. Refer to your award letter. Unless you told us otherwise, the award assumes you are a full-time student. If you will not be enrolled in at least 12 units, reduce the grant amounts by about 25% if you plan for 9-11.5 units, and by 50% if you plan for 6-8.5 units.

    If you have a Federal Direct Loan, the second semester disbursement is paid after the last day to drop a class with a ‘W’ each semester. You must then budget this amount to last for all the remaining months. If you spend your loan proceeds too early, you could force yourself to go without necessary monies, therefore, possibly having to drop out of school and then have to begin repaying the loan.

  5. Request a fee waiver prior to registering for classes.

  6. Keep your grades up, go to class and do not drop classes. If you must drop, see Financial Aid first to make sure you’re following Ohlone procedures.

  7. Live lean. Differentiate between Needs and Wants. Keep to your budget.

Resources to Help You Stay on Target

Here are links to websites to help you: