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Once you’ve been sent your financial aid award letter, here’s what happens before you receive your money:

You will need to log in to eConnect and accept your award(s). Please be sure to read the terms of your awards and learn about the requirements you must meet to maintain eligibility. These requirements are called Satisfactory Academic Progress standards.

You will also need to verify your address in eConnect (login required). This verification ensures your Higher One card is sent to the correct address. You will need this card to log in to Higher One and choose how you prefer to receive your funds from DCCCD. Choices include checks, direct deposit to your bank account or opening a “One Account” with Higher One. (See Getting Your Money for more information.)

Next, your award funds are credited to your account, usually 10 days before your first class day for a term. Any tuition you still owe to the college is deducted from these funds.

Your college then verifies the accuracy of award amounts credited to your account. This verification includes confirming your enrollment level and your eligibility to receive payment. Under federal regulations, DCCCD has up to 14 business days to complete this part of the process.

Once verification takes place and your eligibility is confirmed, your funds are released and sent to Higher One for distribution. If you have opted for the “One Account” at Higher One, your funds are available in most cases the same day.

You will receive a notice from DCCCD informing you funds have been sent to Higher One for distribution.

These steps, such as verification of enrollment with your professors, must be completed before you receive your remaining financial aid money.

In addition, if your award(s) include Pell, SEOG or federal loans, your eligibility must be confirmed with the Department of Education before your remaining funds can be released. This process usually takes just 24 to 48 hours and can only be done after your award(s) have been credited to your account.

While it may seem like financial aid is taking longer than it should, your funds will be released before the federally mandated deadlines pass.

What Can You Do to Get Your Money Earlier Next Semester?

The easiest way to ensure your funds are processed as quickly as possible is to stay on top of your paperwork.

  • Submit your FAFSA online as soon as possible — the form for the Fall semester becomes available Jan. 1 of that year (the Fall 2013 application was made available in January 2013).

  • Respond as soon as you get forms requiring input. If you get a request for more information, or a signature, send in your response as soon as possible.

  • Financial aid isn’t a race, but the sooner you fill out your paperwork and submit it, the better your chances of receiving money. Colleges are only given a certain amount of money every year to distribute to students, and if your paperwork is submitted early, you have a much better chance of being fully funded.