Harper College

Understanding Your Financial Aid Package

The primary responsibility of paying for educational expenses is with the student and the student’s family. If the financial assistance awarded does not cover all the educational expenses, the student is responsible for paying the remainder.

The financial aid administrator determines your eligibility for financial aid awards based on federal and state regulations, the college’s Cost of Attendance (COA) and the family’s Student Aid Index (SAI).

Cost of Attendance (COA): The COA includes specific education-related expenses such as tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation, and room and board. COA is different at each college.

Student Aid Index (SAI): Your SAI represents the total dollar support that the federal government feels you (and your family) can reasonably contribute toward educational expenses during the academic year.

Federal Methodology is used to calculate the SAI from your income and assets (and your parents’, if dependent) and other information submitted on the FAFSA.

Financial Need: To award financial aid, the college determines your financial need. Financial need is the end result of a simple calculation that subtracts the SAI from the COA.

Cost of Attendance - Student Aid Index = Financial Need

Using your financial need, the financial aid administrator identifies each award you are eligible to receive. You will be provided with an award package listing each aid source and the dollar amount you are offered.

“Must know” financing terms"

To help you navigate the tricky waters of the financial aid process, you need to be aware of some basic terminology. Read these terms in our Resources section.

Last Updated: 12/14/23