How and When to Apply for Financial Aid
Applying for aid requires that every student submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) via the Internet at www.fafsa.ed.gov. A new application must be completed each academic year and is based on the prior year’s tax information. Students must adhere to priority deadlines to assure that all paperwork will be processed prior to the beginning of each semester.
Only those classified as a matriculated student (one who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate or diploma) are eligible to receive aid from the programs described herein. Non-matriculated students are not eligible to receive financial aid.
How Aid is Awarded and Paid
Financial aid is awarded in accordance with policies and procedures established by the College in conjunction with Federal and State regulations. Each student is given careful consideration consistent with the institution’s Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Statement and governmental guidelines.
Most federal, state and institutional aid awards are based on financial need. Financial need is the difference between Expected Family Contribution (EFC), as determined by the FAFSA, and financial aid budgets, which include allowances for tuition, fees, books, transportation, living expenses and personal expenses.
Typical financial aid packages consist of grants, loans, scholarships and work-study. Students with high financial need are awarded gift aid first such as grants and scholarships, and then are awarded self- help aid such as work-study and loan funds. Students with special circumstances (unemployment, unusual medical expenses, tuition expenses, etc.) may contact the Financial Aid Office to request a review of the EFC calculation used to determine financial need. Students who plan to attend the entire academic year will receive half of their aid during the Fall semester and half during the Spring semester. The Bursar’s Office applies funds to student accounts, deducts any tuition, fees, and other related costs, and refunds the student any excess funds. Refunds will be issued approximately nine weeks after the start of the semester.
Referring Overpayment Cases to the Department of Education
The Financial Aid Department disburses Title IV aid electronically to the College’s Bursar’s Office during the ninth week (50% mark) of the semester. As a result, overpayments are typically resolved during the two-week time frame wherein the Bursar’s Office processes refunds. Should an overpayment occur, the following process has been established to report overpayment cases to the Department of Education:
- The student is sent written notification. This notification explains the nature of the overpayment and options for student repayment. These options include pay off the overpayment in full to the school or indicate intent to negotiate repayment arrangements with Borrower Services. The student is given a 30-day timeframe to comply. If the student does not respond to the initial notification within two weeks, a follow up letter is sent.
- The student who does not satisfy the requirements of his/her payment agreement with the school, fails to contact the school during the designated time frame, fails to pay the overpayment in full or enter into a repayment arrangement will be reported online to NSLDS and referred to Borrower Services before the 45-day period designated for reporting overpayments has elapsed.
- The student is sent written notification that their overpayment status was reported to NSLDS and referred to Borrower Services.
The notification also provides the student with the following:
Borrower Services contact information:
U.S. Department of Education
Federal Student Aid Programs
P.O. Box 4222
Iowa City, Iowa 52244
Telephone number: 800-621-3115
To assure that Borrower Services has time to receive and record an overpayment, the student is advised to wait ten days from the initial overpayment reporting date before contacting Borrower Services.
Financial Aid Academic Progress
The Higher Education Act requires that a student maintain satisfactory academic progress in the course of study he/she is pursuing in order to receive financial aid under the student financial assistance programs authorized by Title IV of the Act. These programs include the Federal Pell Grant, ACG, FSEOG, the Federal Work-Study Program, and loans under the Federal Family Education Loan Program. Pennsylvania Highlands’ Financial Aid Office measures academic progress both quantitatively and qualitatively. The Financial Aid Academic Progress Policy includes maintaining a certain grade point average (GPA) in accordance with the College’s academic standing policy and successfully completing at least two-thirds (67%) of all attempted credits. The standards for determining Financial Aid Academic Progress are stricter than the College’s Academic Policy as it includes all credits attempted (includes “W”, “I”, “F”, and “TR” grades) in the quantitative component.
In compliance with current federal regulations, the Financial Aid Office:
- Checks student academic progress at the end of the fall and spring semesters.
- Includes all withdrawals and incompletes as noncompleted course work, which will affect financial aid academic progress. (Courses with an “I” (incomplete),“W” (withdrawal) or an “F” grade will be considered as courses attempted but not successfully completed.)
- Includes transfer credits as credits attempted.
- Sends financial aid “warning” status correspondence to students in danger of losing financial aid due to academic standing.
- Sends financial aid “probation” status correspondence to students who fail to make financial aid academic progress.
Conditions for receiving financial aid:
- Students must demonstrate that they are qualified to enroll in postsecondary education by having a high school diploma or general Educational Development (GED) certificate, or by passing an approved Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) test..
- Students must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a matriculated student working toward a degree, certificate or diploma.
- Students must meet satisfactory academic progress standards in accordance with the College’s academic standing policy and the Financial Aid Academic Progress Policy.
- Students must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen with a valid social security number.
- Students sign a statement on the FAFSA or FAFSA Renewal that certifies that they will use federal student aid for educational purposes only.
- Male students ages 18 through 25 must comply with Selective Service Registration.
- Students cannot be in default on a federally funded loan or owe a refund on a federal student grant.
- Students officially withdrawing from the institution should contact the Financial Aid Office prior to withdrawing to determine the impact on their financial aid.
- Students making satisfactory progress can apply for financial aid for up to 150% of the total credits for his/her program.
- Students who change majors will be allotted the amount of time needed to complete the new program without regard to time spent in previous course work provided the student was making financial aid academic progress at the time of change.
- Students may receive financial aid for repeated courses only if the original grade in the course was below a “C.” Financial aid will not be awarded for courses repeated more than once.
- Students may not receive financial aid for audited courses.
- Students must be enrolled for at least six credit hours for most financial aid programs. Only certain Federal PELL grant recipients are able to receive financial aid at a less than half-time status.
- Students applying for a Federal Stafford Loan must complete Loan Entrance Counseling regarding the rights and responsibilities of the student borrower and a Federal Stafford Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN).
- Students with unusual circumstances, which may have affected financial aid academic progress, may file an appeal to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee.
NOTE: Students who have received federal student loans will receive loan exit counseling if they are graduating, leave school, or enroll less than half time. The exit process provides information about the rights and responsibilities of a borrower.
Return of Title IV Funds Policy
All students receiving financial aid and withdrawing from the College should contact the Financial Aid Office prior to withdrawing to determine the impact on their financial aid. Federal regulations require a Return of Title IV Funds calculation for students who receive federal financial aid and withdraw completely at or before the 60% period in the semester. The withdrawal calculation will be performed based on the number of semester days completed. Students who complete more than 60% of the term will receive 100% of their federal financial aid.
The consequences of withdrawing may result in a student having to return a portion of his/her unearned federal financial aid and owing tuition, fees or other related charges to the College. The order of return is Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Plus loans received on behalf of the student, Federal Pell Grants, ACG and FSEOG.
Return of Title IV Funds examples may be obtained by visiting the Financial Aid Office.
When a student submits the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the Central Processing System (CPS) selects 30% of the applications received for a process called “verification.” The Financial Aid Office also reserves the right to select any file for verification that appears to have conflicting or incorrect information listed. When a student is selected for verification the Financial Aid Office will notify the student by letter. This letter outlines the requirements and documentation that the student must provide to complete the verification process:
- Financial records - including the previous year’s 1040 tax forms and W-2’s for the independent student and the student’s spouse (if applicable) or the student and the parent/guardian if the student is dependent.
- The USDE Verification Form (dependent/independent) and, if applicable
- Other documentation deemed necessary by the Financial Aid Office.
The USDE Verification Form (completed by the student) and the tax information must be returned to the Financial Aid Office with the required signatures (dependent student form requires the student’s signature and that of a parent). Students are requested to return the required documents within a 14-day time frame. However, a student has up to 120 days from the last date of enrollment or the deadline date published in the Federal Register applicable for the academic year which ever comes first, to submit paperwork. Should a student fail to submit the required documents by the deadline, they will be responsible for any charges acquired for the academic year. The Financial Aid Office will make any necessary corrections and updates to the information on the Student Aid Report electronically. Upon completion of the verification process an award letter will be mailed to a student within 3-5 business days.
Financial aid will not be disbursed until the student has completed the verification process and has a valid Student Aid Report.
NOTE: Students not selected for verification who need to make corrections to their Student Aid Report (SAR) may:
- Make the corrections on their original SAR, sign and date the SAR; and, return it to the Financial Aid Office for processing.
- Make corrections to their original SAR and mail to Federal Student Aid Information Center for processing.
- Make corrections over the Internet at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Financial Aid Programs
Federal Pell Grant
Pell Grants are the foundation of federal student financial aid to which aid from other federal and non-federal services may be added. This grant is awarded to undergraduate students who have financial need to assist with tuition, fees and book expenses.
The maximum award for the 2009-2010 academic year is $6,000.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
This grant is awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. Priority is given to Federal Pell Grant recipients.
The maximum award for the 2009-2010 academic year is $400.
Academic Competitive Grant (ACG)
This grant is awarded to undergraduate Pell-eligible students enrolled full-time who have completed a rigorous high school program of study as determined by a review of the student’s final high school transcript.
The maximum award for a first academic year eligible student is $750. The maximum award for a second academic year eligible student (having a 3.0 or above grade point average) is $1,300.
Pennsylvania State Grant (PHEAA)
This grant is available to Pennsylvania residents who have not yet earned a bachelor’s or professional degree, are enrolled for at least six credits in a degree-seeking program, who demonstrates financial need according to the PHEAA needs analysis formula, and meet PHEAA’s academic progress (for the last academic year during which the student received state grant aid, the student completed the required minimum total number of credits for the terms to which grant aid was applied).
Federal Work Study Program
This program is available to eligible students who have financial need and who wish to work part-time while enrolled at Pennsylvania Highlands. The Federal College Work-Study is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Additional information is available through the Financial Aid Office.
Federal Stafford Student Loan Subsidized
This is a loan which must be repaid after the student graduates or fails to enroll for at least six credits in a semester. The loan is awarded on the basis of financial need and interest will not be charged prior to the repayment period or during an authorized deferment period. Completion of Loan Entrance Counseling and a Federal Stafford Loan Master Promissary Note (MPN) are required.
Federal Stafford Student Loan Unsubsidized
This is a loan which must be repaid after the student graduates or fails to enroll for at least six credits in a semester. This loan is not awarded on the basis of financial need and interest accrued from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. Interest may be capitalized upon request. Completion of Loan Entrance Counseling and a Federal Stafford Loan Master Promissary Note (MPN) are required.
PLUS loans are loans that parents can obtain to help pay the cost of education for their dependent undergraduate children. PLUS loans must be repaid.
*Only those classified as a matriculated student (one who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate or diploma) are eligible to receive aid from the programs described herein. Non-matriculated students are not eligible.
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Pennsylvania Highlands Community College Scholarships