Financial Aid FAQs

What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is money to help students pay for their post secondary education. Financial aid comes from a variety of sources such as:

  • Federal and state governments
  • Private agencies
  • Colleges
  • Associations
  • Civic groups
  • Companies
  • Charitable organizations

There are different types of financial aid:

  • Scholarships or grants – financial aid that does not have to be repaid.
  • Work-study – students work and earn wages to help pay for school. The jobs are usually arranged by the schools and can be on or off campus jobs.
  • Loans – federal or private funds that students or parents borrow that must be repaid with interest.

To find out more about financial aid availability, call the financial aid office at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College (DSLCC) 540-863-2836.

How do I start the process to request financial aid? And just what is FAFSA?

A request for financial aid begins by completing an application for admission to DSLCC.

The next step is to apply for the federal financial aid programs by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You should submit your FAFSA via the internet by using FAFSA on the Web. FAFSA on the Web is a free U.S. Department of Education website where you can complete a FAFSA online and submit it via the internet. You can use FAFSA on the Web on a personal computer in your home. The address is Computers are also available in the Library and in Student Services on the main DSLCC campus and at the Rockbridge Regional Center in Buena Vista.  Processing time will depend on whether you have an FSA ID and whether you must sign the signature page and mail it in. To apply for the FSA ID, go to This is the fastest and preferred method. Returning students may use their FSA ID to access a renewal application which is partially completed already.

When is the best time to apply for Financial Aid for the upcoming year?

The best time for you to apply for financial aid is during October or November preceding the upcoming academic year (fall/spring/summer) that you plan to attend. Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 and preferably after you have filed your federal tax return*. Students who file by the priority deadline of March 1st will receive the most generous financial aid packages. If you know you will not be able to file before the priority deadline, estimate your taxes based on your most recent tax return. Don’t forget to go back into the FAFSA and enter your correct income after you have filed your federal tax return. Students may still apply after the deadline but some funds may no longer be available. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is available when submitting the FAFSA on-line and is accessible through the FAFSA website The retrieval tool allows FAFSA applicants and parents the ability to transfer their income information from the IRS to the FAFSA. The retrieval tool can save time in completing the FAFSA, increases accuracy, and eases the verification process (if applicable).

*Beginning with the Aid Year for 2017-2018, students and parents should use their previous year’s tax return; e.g., when starting the FAFSA on October 1, 2016, use your 2015 tax return for the 2017-2018 Aid Year.

I have finished my FAFSA, now what?

If you provided an e-mail address on the FAFSA, you will receive a confirmation by e-mail. If not you will receive it by mail. At the same time, each school listed on the FAFSA will be sent a copy of your report. Call the Federal processor at 1-800-433-3243 if you do not receive a copy of the report. Review your report carefully to make sure there are no mistakes. If you find an error, we can help you with the correction or you may send it back to the processor yourself or go online to and make corrections. When you file the FAFSA, you are given an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number which is determined by the Federal government based on the information you provided on the FAFSA. To determine your eligibility for student financial aid, your EFC is subtracted from the College’s cost of attendance (COA) budget. For example: If your COA Budget is $9,100 and your EFC is $2,500, then your Financial Need would be $6,600. Funds from various student financial aid programs are often packaged in an attempt to meet a major portion of the student’s need. Although DSLCC seeks funding from a variety of federal, state and local sources, funds are generally never sufficient to meet the total financial need for all students.

I have more questions. Whom should I talk to about financial aid?

Our financial aid office can give you information about federal and state aid and also programs that are funded through the College. Contact the financial aid office for dates of upcoming financial aid workshops.

The guidance offices in most high schools have information on all types of financial aid programs.

Additional sources for information are:

I don’t think I qualify for financial aid. Should I apply anyway?

YES, everyone should apply for financial aid! You must submit the FAFSA to apply for all types of aid (including student loans). Every student in good standing will qualify for some type of aid.

How are award amounts determined?

The US Department of Education determines the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). EFC is calculated by factoring in the family income, assets, taxable and nontaxable income, the number of family members in a household and the number of family members attending college. DSLCC calculates the cost of attendance, considers the EFC, and determines the types and amounts of financial aid for which the student is eligible.

If you think your family’s financial circumstances warrant special consideration, talk to our financial aid office. Documentation must be provided to substantiate special circumstances.

Reviewing your Financial Aid Awards On-Line

We encourage you to review your financial aid awards on the web. To do so, click on the myDabney link and log in. Once you are logged in, click on the VCCS SIS: Student Information System link. Once on the site follow the instructions below:

  1. Click on Student Center
  2. Click on View Financial Aid (under Finances)
  3. Click on the Aid Year (the most recent year next to Dabney)

Part-time Students

The award information provided is a projection based on anticipated full-time (12 credit hours) enrollment for each term. If you are planning to enroll on a less than full time basis you may want to use the following formula to determine an estimate of your awards. Please note that this formula is not exact in all cases but should give you a good idea of your prorated awards.

  • If you enroll for 9-11 credit hours (considered 3/4-time) you would normally take 75% of the full-time award listed for the term.
  • If you enroll for 6-8 credit hours (considered 1/2-time) you would normally take 50% of the full-time award listed for the term.
  • If you are taking 1-5 credits, please contact the Financial Aid Office to determine if you qualify for any assistance. (Most financial aid programs require students to be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credit hours to qualify.) We do have some special part-time grants for less than half-time students.

Special Notes:

Direct Stafford Loan recipients must be actively enrolled and participating in at least 6 credit hours at the time of disbursement in order to be eligible to receive loan funds. If you are awarded financial aid and decide not to attend any or all classes you had previously registered for, you must officially drop your classes either prior to the start of the semester or within the refund period (check the academic calendar for dates).

Search for Scholarships on the Internet at

FastWeb, (Financial Aid Search through the WEB) is a searchable database of more than 600,000 private sector scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans from more than 10,000 sources worth more than $1 billion. Used by colleges across the United States, FastWeb is now available to you free through the Worldwide Web, courtesy of the DSLCC Financial Aid WEB Page and, L.L.C. To use FastWeb, a student fills out a detailed profile through a series of online forms. After the forms are complete, FastWeb responds within 15 minutes with a list of matching award programs. Each entry in this list includes a deadline, a list of required majors, the amount of the award, a short description, and contact information. FastWeb is also the only site on the Internet where students can actually apply for scholarships directly online. Currently, FastWeb has online applications (FastWeb calls them E-Scholarships) for some $35 million in scholarships.