Office of Student Financial Services

How to Apply for Financial Aid

Whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, degree completion, or certificate program student, you should follow these basic steps each academic year. You must be formally accepted into your program of study and be enrolled at least half time to be eligible, and you must also maintain satisfactory academic progress to keep your aid.

  1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  2. If requested, complete verification documents.
  3. Review your financial aid offer.
  4. If desired, apply for a Federal Direct Parent Plus Loan or a credit-based alternative student loan.
  5. If applicable, report any outside scholarships or assistance.

Important Information for the Leadership Academy & CAGS: Please note that the Leadership Academy is not eligible for Federal Student Loans. Individuals needing to borrow for the Leadership Academy and/or CAGS are only eligible to borrow through the Smart Option Loan offered by Sallie Mae. Leadership Academy students do not need to complete the FAFSA in order to apply for a Sallie Mae Smart Option loan.

1. Complete the FAFSA

School Code: 002187 MCLA CEEB #: 3521

To start or to continue your FAFSA, you must go to or use the myStudentAid mobile app.

The new, simplified FAFSA is now available for the 2024-2025 award year. The priority deadline for financial aid is March 1. Financial aid offers are based on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Tips: Complete all sections accurately. To electronically sign before submitting, you and at least one parent (if you are dependent) must have a FSA ID.

When completing your FAFSA, it is strongly recommended that you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This tool will take your information directly from the IRS and populate it into your FAFSA. If that's not possible, you may be asked to provide a IRS Tax Return Transcript. If you have been selected for verification and need to provide this document (or any other), you will be notified by Student Financial Services.

Priority Application Date: March 1 for the full academic year. December 1 for spring acceptance.

2. Complete Verification Documents (IF REQUESTED)

You may be asked to verify the accuracy of your information by providing documents such as an IRS Tax Return Transcript. You may complete most verification forms electronically, or you may print and complete forms, and send them to the Student Financial Services Office. Verification documents can be found here. Students selected for verification are notified by Student Financial Services. If you are unsure what verification documents are required, if any, contact Student Financial Services at 413.662.5219 or

3. Review Your Financial Aid offer

Your financial aid offer describes any grant aid and loans you are able to receive from federal and state governments, and MCLA needs-based resources. It also lists work study opportunities available to you.

New & Prospective Students: Expect to see this letter after February 1 for the 2023-2024 academic year, after December 1 for Spring 2023.

Returning Students: You will receive notification via your MCLA email that your package is available to review on Banner Self-Service Account. For the 2023-2024 academic year, this notification will be sent out after the fall 2023 pre-registration period ends.

Direct Student Loans: You need to complete Entrance Counseling and sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) if you are a first time borrower. Accepted loans will not be applied to your student account until both the entrance counseling and MPN are completed.

4. Apply for Other Loans (IF DESIRED)

If you need additional financing to cover costs, you may want to apply for a MEFA (Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority) parent or student loan, which is a fixed-rate loan available to students attending a Massachusetts school, or a federal Direct PLUS Loan for Parents.

You may also want to consider an alternative student loan. Many of these educational loans have variable interest rates and are credit based. Their terms are often not as favorable as government-sponsored loans.

If you plan to apply for a loan, you should wait until you receive your bill before you complete a loan application. 

5. Report Outside Scholarships or assistance (If Applicable)

If you received any outside scholarships, such as from your high school or scholarship organization, copies of the scholarship notifications need to be sent to Student Financial Services.  In some cases, expected outside scholarships can be noted as an expected payment on your student bill.

Your aid may be adjusted if you receive a scholarship or outside assistance. Student Financial Services treats outside scholarships by reducing any unmet need first, then reduces self-help aid such as student loans or College Work Study and then reduces any institutional grants.  Any tuition waivers received by the student such as the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, Veterans waivers, Mass Rehab Commission, etc. will replace any need-based Tuition Waiver the student may have previously been awarded by the College.