Frequently Asked Questions


What is financial aid?

Financial aid is money in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and employment to assist in paying for your college education. The two main types of aid are:

  • Merit-Based Aid: Usually a scholarship.
  • Need-Based Aid: Awarded to students who can show need according to a formula. The three types of need-based aid are:

Grants: federal or state gift funds that do not have to be paid back. The three types of grants available at NMJC are Pell Grants, SEOG and NMSIG.
Loans: borrowed money that has to be paid back over a period of time, usually after a student leaves school. NMJC participates in the Federal Direct Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan program and the Parent PLUS Loan for Undergraduate Students.
Work-Study: money that a student earns by working a part-time job, generally on campus. Funds used to pay for the major portion of a work-study student’s earnings come from either the Federal Work-Study Program or the State of New Mexico Work-Study Program.

What is financial need?

Financial need is the difference between your total annual educational expenses (cost of attendance) and the amount you and your family are expected to pay based on the results of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The amount that you and your family are expected to pay is called the Student Aid Index (SAI). The cost of attendance will be different at each school, but the SAI remains the same. Your financial need will differ from school to school because the cost differs.

Cost of Attendance – Student Aid Index = Financial Need

What is included in the cost of attendance?
The cost of attendance usually includes:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Books and supplies
  • Living Expenses - Food and Housing 
  • Transportation
  • Loan Fees
  • Personal and miscellaneous expenses


Am I supposed to help pay the cost of attendance?

Yes, one of the principles behind need-based aid is that students and their families should pay what they can afford for educational expenses. This means that you will be expected to help pay for your education, and if you are a "dependent" student, your parents may also be expected to help.

How is dependency status determined?

You are considered a dependent student for financial aid purposes unless you meet one of the following criteria:

  • Born before date specified on current FAFSA;
  • Orphan, ward of the court, or have been in foster care since the age of 13;
  • Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces;
  • Currently servicing on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training;
  • Have legal dependents whom receive more than half their support from you;
  • Will be a graduate student during aid year applied for;
  • Married before the date you complete your FAFSA;
  • Emancipated minor or in legal guardianship; or
  • Have been determined to be an unaccompanied youth who is homeless


The FAFSA asks for previous tax year income information. There has been an extreme change of income in my family. What should I do?

Answer all the questions as asked and when you receive your FAFSA Submission Summary you should contact the Office of Financial Aid and explain your special circumstances. We may be able to assist you. You will need to complete the Special Circumstances Form and submit with all required documentation to support the change of circumstance.

How is Student Aid Index (SAI) calculated?

A standard formula is used to calculate a student’s SAI. You and your parents, if you are a dependent student, provide the information used in the formula by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The standard formula looks at family size, family income, and assets. Assets include cash, checking and savings accounts, equities in a business, investments and real estate, and in some cases, farm equity. Equity in the family home is not included. From this information an SAI is calculated. If the SAI is not enough to cover your educational expenses, as determined by the school, you may be eligible for need-based financial aid.

How do I apply for need-based financial aid?

You will need to apply for need-based financial aid every year by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Financial Aid (FAFSA), preferably by Feb. 14 each year. The FAFSA includes all the information necessary to determine your Student Aid Index and must be completed if you want to be considered for any of the federal programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

How do I apply for merit-based aid?
You will need to check several sources to apply for merit-based aid. One important source is your high school guidance counselor’s office. Your guidance counselor will have details about many local scholarships.

The NMJC Foundation offers many scholarship opportunities from a variety of donors. You can apply for a NMJC Foundation scholarship here Scholarships. The application for the upcoming school year becomes available in January of each year.

There are various other sources you may want to check out. You should never pay a fee for a scholarship search! Check out our scholarship page!

Are there other eligibility criteria to be eligible for federal aid?

Yes, you must also meet the following criteria:

  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen;
  • have a valid Social Security number;
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program;
  • be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan funds;
  • maintain satisfactory academic progress;
  • sign statements on the FAFSA stating that you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant and you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes; and show you are qualified to obtain a college degree by having a high school diploma, a General Educational
  • Graduated High School, earned development GED certificate, HiSET, or have completed a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.


How will I hear about my aid eligibility?

You can track the status of your financial aid application, outstanding requirements, and aid offers by logging in to your NMJC T-Bird Portal. Select Self Service Banner, then Financial Aid, and Financial Aid Dashboard. You can also select the College Financing Plan to see your estimated Cost of Attendance and financial aid offers that have been applied to your account. Also, keep close check on your NMJC email for financial aid notifications. If you have any questions about your eligibility for financial aid, please email financialaid@nmjc.edu or call 575-392-5172. 

I find the financial aid process very confusing. Should I pay a fee to a company that specializes in financial aid?

Beware of companies that charge a service fee to process aid applications. NMJC’s Office of Financial Aid provides the same service at no charge! Also beware of services that charge a fee to help you locate scholarships. Your chances are just as good if you invest the time doing the research at your local libraries and high school guidance offices.

What is the "Return of Title IV funds"?

The Department of Education requires NMJC’s Office of Financial Aid to recalculate federal financial aid eligibility for students who withdraw, drop out, are dismissed or take a leave of absence prior to completing 60 percent of the semester. Federal Title IV aid includes Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and the Stafford Loan and the PLUS loan.

A student who receives all F’s for the semester is also subject to a Return of Title IV funds recalculation. The calculation will be based on the student's last date of active attendance in all classes as reported by course instructors.

Students who meet any of the above situations will be subject to the return of Title IV calculation. This may require the student to repay a portion of their Federal aid back to the Department of Education and/or the College.

I have heard NM residents may qualify for free tuition and fees. How does that work?

Yes, NM residents that meet the eligibility requirements may receive state scholarships called the NM Legislative Lottery and/or NM Opportunity scholarships. To find out more regarding the eligibility requirements for these funds, click HERE.