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Step One

Take Care of the Basics

  1. Get Started at Rio: I want to Earn an Online Certificate or Degree

    Follow the steps in the "Start at Rio" checklist to explore programs and get admitted to Rio Salado College. The "Start at Rio" Checklist helps students plan for success and navigate through all the steps they need to take to become a successful student at Rio Salado College.

  2. Plan Ahead by Following Priority Filing Deadlines

    To help students plan for their educational journey, the Financial Aid Office has set priority deadlines for each Semester Block Term. It is very important that you are aware of the priority deadline associated with your preferred course start date. By submitting all required information on or before the priority deadline, eligible students will have their:

    * Anticipated financial aid award processed in time to defer tuition payment, and their spot in classes held.
    * Book Advance issued through Maricopa Student Refund Program (MSRP) prior to the start of class
    * Financial aid disbursements released to their account in accordance with a published schedule

    In order to meet the priority deadline:

    • Rio Salado College must have receipt of your FAFSA on or before the Priority Filing Deadline.
    • For Students Selected for Federal Verification:
      The Maricopa Verification Processing Center (MVPC) must have receipt of all financial aid verification forms and documents by the priority filing deadline associated with your semester block in order to process your request for financial aid.
    • For Students who need to submit supplemental documents directly to the Financial Aid Department - identified in the To Do list on with an RSC (i.e. Default Clearance Letters, Homeless Independent Requests, Unusual Enrollment History, etc…): Rio Salado College must have receipt of all supplemental documents or forms on or before the priority filing deadline.

    If the Financial Aid Department and MVPC does not have your documentation by the priority filing deadline, other options are still available. You can:

    • Enroll in the tuition payment plan, in order to secure a spot in the Semester Block Start Date that you want. Students in this situation are also responsible for paying for their books unless their anticipated financial aid award is processed before their first disbursement of financial aid is scheduled to arrive.
    • Make other payment arrangements to hold your space in the Semester Block Start Date that you want and to get your books and supplies.
    • Change your Semester Block Start Date to coincide with the priority filing deadline you are able to meet.
  3. Obtain your FSA ID

    The next thing you need to do is obtain a FSA ID. The FSA ID is used to electronically apply for Federal Student Aid and to access your Federal Student Aid record online. Your FSA ID serves as your electronic signature and provides access to your personal records.

    To get your FSA ID, visit Maintain your privacy and security. Do not share your FSA ID with anyone.

    Processing time:
    Once verification is completed with the SSA (1-3 days), you will be able to use your FSA ID to access your personal information on Federal Student Aid websites.

  4. Submit the FAFSA Form

    The next step is to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You must submit the FAFSA each year you seek financial aid. The FAFSA is used to assess and establish eligibility for Federal Student Aid programs.

    There are several options for filing the FAFSA:

    1. RECOMMENDED: Apply online via FAFSA on the Web: To submit the FAFSA online visit (Make sure to have your FAFSA information electronically forwarded to Rio Salado College by listing our school code on the application. Our school code is 014483.)
      • You electronically "sign" the FAFSA with your FSA ID, so be sure to know your FSA ID or apply for a FSA ID on the FSA ID website, (If you are a dependent student, your parents must also get a FSA ID and sign the FAFSA too.)
      • By applying for the FAFSA online you have the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval tool. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows students and parents to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students and parents may transfer the data directly into their FAFSA.
      • If you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, we highly recommend using the tool for several reasons:
        • It's the easiest way to provide your tax data.
        • It's the best way of ensuring that your FAFSA has accurate tax information.
        • In most cases you won't need to provide a copy of your or your parents' tax return transcripts to us.
      • If you do not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to provide tax information and we then  request a copy of your tax return or your parents' tax return because you are selected for verification, you will be required to obtain an official tax return transcript from the IRS.
    2. Complete a PDF FAFSA (Note: PDF FAFSAs must be mailed for processing): To download a PDF version of the FAFSA go here.
    3. Complete a Paper FAFSA (Note: Paper FAFSAs must be mailed for processing): To request a paper FAFSA form (in English or Spanish) call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243, TTY: 1-800-730-8913.

    Please Note: Completing a PDF or paper form will add 4-6 weeks to the overall processing time. To reduce processing delays, avoid common FAFSA errors.

    Processing time:
    Completing the online FAFSA usually takes 1-2 hours. Once you submit the FAFSA, it takes approximately 5 business days for Rio Salado College to receive it.

    The amount of Federal Student Aid you qualify for depends on many factors, including:

    • Your financial need, determined by submitting the FAFSA.
    • Your enrollment status at Rio Salado College, specifically, the number of credit hours that you take each semester.
    • The amount of Federal Student Aid that you've previously received.

    For more information about the types of aid available at Rio Salado College, please click here. The total amount of Federal Student Aid a student receives cannot exceed Rio Salado College's Cost of Attendance.
    Students must meet ALL eligibility requirements described below in order to be considered for Federal Student Aid:

    • Have a high school diploma, or General Education Development (GED) certificate.
    • Be enrolled in a Financial Aid approved academic program (degree or certificate) at Rio Salado College.
    • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
    • Have a valid Social Security number. Exceptions to this rule are students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.
    • Male students must be registered with Selective Service or must register for selective service between the ages of 18-26.
    • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), as defined by Rio Salado College's SAP policy.
    • Not be in default on a Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Stafford Loan, Federal Supplemental Loan for Students, or Federal Direct Loan, nor owe any refund on a Federal Pell Grant or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.
    • Students who have one or more loans that had previously defaulted, but who are no longer in default must obtain and provide a Title IV Eligibility Letter indicating that he/she is once again eligible to receive Federal Student Aid. This letter can be obtained by contacting the holder (guarantee agency, lender or servicer) holding the previously defaulted loan(s). It is the student's responsibility to obtain and submit this letter to the Rio Salado College Financial Aid Office.
    Not have been convicted of violating any federal or state law of selling or possessing illegal drugs. Students who have one or more convictions must call 1-800-4-FED-AID to find out how this law applies to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What if I forgot my Username/Password for my FSA ID?

    If you are having trouble remembering your Username/Password, you can visit and click on Edit My FSA ID.

  2. What personal information is needed to submit the FAFSA?

    Primarily demographic and financial information about yourself and your household. The FASFA is based on the applicants prior year's federal income tax return as well as other household assets. Before you get started, be sure to collect the documents you need to complete the FAFSA.

  3. What if I've already submitted a FAFSA this year?

    If you have already submitted a FAFSA, and did not originally request that it be sent to Rio Salado College, you DO NOT need to redo it. Simply visit, retrieve your FAFSA record, and send it to Rio Salado College by making a FAFSA correction to add our school code. Rio's school code is 014483.

  4. What if I don't meet the general requirements to be eligible for Federal Student Aid?

    Individuals who are not eligible for Federal Student Aid must work with the appropriate agencies to assess options for regaining eligibility.

  5. What do I do first - submit the FAFSA or apply to Rio Salado College?

    It's your choice. Some students prefer starting the financial aid process first while others begin with the admissions and advisement process. What's most important is that you do both! Without these, Rio Salado College cannot process your request for Federal Student Aid.

    • Applying for the FAFSA is free. Don't get scammed by individuals who charge a fee.
    • Start a college reference folder to keep your important information in easy reach.
    • Plan, plan, plan! Although Rio offers Semester Blocks on a weekly basis, be sure to have a good financial game plan in place before your classes start.
    • Remember, once your FAFSA is received, it can take about 4 to 6 weeks (sometimes longer) for Federal Student Aid to be ready for disbursement to Rio Salado College.
    • While you wait for classes, check out our Payment Plan option eCashier.
    • Make sure that your class start dates are reasonably aligned with the financial aid process and Rio Salado's block calendar requirements.
    • Keep your User IDs/passwords secure where you can easily retrieve them, but others won't gain access.
    • Fill out your FAFSA thoroughly and accurately. It is a federal crime to provide false or misleading information on the FAFSA. In addition, incorrect information may result in an increased wait time to receive yo­ur Federal Student Aid.
    • When considering borrowing money for a student loan, remember that whatever you borrow will have to be paid back with interest.
A financial aid advisor on the phone at he desk
Steps for Financial Aid