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My Palmetto College

Determination of Aid Eligibility

Federal financial aid programs were created with the idea that the primary responsibility for paying college costs rests with the student and their family. A student’s eligibility depends on the information provided by the student on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Student Aid Index

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is an eligibility index number used to determine how much federal student aid a student might receive. This number results from the information that the student provides in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The SAI is calculated according to a formula established by law and considers the family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as, unemployment or Social Security).


Cost of Attendance (COA)

Prior to being offered financial aid, students are assigned an estimated Cost of Attendance (or budget), based on their residency, dependency status, and full-time enrollment.  After each semester’s drop/add period, a student’s cost of attendance will be reduced if they are enrolled in a less than full-time status.

The Cost of Attendance includes the following components:

  • Tuition and technology fee
  • An estimated allowance for books and supplies
  • Average cost for food and housing
  • Estimated transportation costs
  • Estimated personal or miscellaneous expenses

We use standard student expenses to efficiently process a large number of applications and to ensure equitable treatment. If you believe that you have costs that are significantly different than those allowed, you may visit your campus Financial Aid Office to speak with a financial aid counselor who can help evaluate your circumstances.

Click here to learn more about the cost of attendance.



Determining Financial Need

Financial need is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) and a student’s Student Aid Index (SAI). It is used to determine how much need-based aid (such as grants, Federal Work-Study, or Federal Direct Subsidized Loan) a student is eligible to receive. To determine a student’s financial need, the Student Aid Index (SAI) is subtracted from the student cost of attendance (COA). The remaining figure represents your maximum eligibility for need‐based financial assistance and scholarships.

Cost of Attendance (COA) – Student Aid Index (SAI) = Eligibility for Need-Based Aid

While this number represents aid a student may be eligible to receive based on costs and their resources, the amount of aid that a student will actually receive depends on the amount of funds available during any given year.

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