Financial Aid Office
The Financial Aid Office realizes that many students do not have the means to pay for higher education. Penn Highlands participates in financial aid assistance programs that ensure access to and success in higher education for all students. Those programs include the following:
- Federal Work-Study
Students are considered for financial aid eligibility based on federal, state and institutional guidelines.
The Financial Aid Office is here to assist you through the application process. We are located at the Richland Campus. Our hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with extended hours on Monday until 7:00 p.m. Students and parents may also contact us by email or phone at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-262-6454.
All students are strongly encouraged to apply for financial aid.
How to Apply for Financial Aid
A student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at https://fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA is available as of October 1st of each year. A new application is required each academic year and is based on the prior-prior year
tax information. Students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA by the Penn Highlands priority deadline of April 1st of each year. Students must have the financial aid process completed by the tuition due date in order for the school to apply estimated financial aid to their course and fees statement. Students that do not have their financial aid in place by the tuition due date are required to have a payment plan in place with the Bursar.
Students must be enrolled in an eligible degree, certificate or diploma program. Students enrolled as non-matriculated students are not eligible to receive financial aid.
The Department of Education may randomly select a student’s FAFSA application for a review process called verification. The school also reserves the right to select a student’s application that appears to have conflicting or incorrect information. The Financial Aid Office will notify you through postal mail and your college assigned email if your FAFSA application has been selected for review. The notification will provide information to the student about the required documents that you must submit in order to complete the verification process.
Students will be given 10 business days to submit all required documents to the College. If a student fails to submit the required documents by the deadline, the verification process cannot be completed and the student will be responsible for all charges incurred for the academic year. Students may submit the required documents after the deadline set by the school. All documents must be submitted within 120 days from the last date of enrollment or the deadline date that is published in the Federal Register for the academic year, whichever comes first.
Financial Aid will not be determined until all documents are received, the verification process is completed and the student has met the requirements for financial aid.
If a student is not selected for verification, but needs to make corrections to their FAFSA, corrections can be made:
- online at https://fafsa.ed.gov
- at the Financial Aid Office
- to the original Student Aid Report you received and mailed back to the Federal Student Aid Information Center for processing.
How Aid is Awarded/Paid/Refunded
Students are awarded financial aid based on the policies and procedures established by the College under the guideline of both the Federal and State regulations.
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 results of the FAFSA, and the cost of attendance. The cost of attendance includes amounts for tuition, fees, books, transportation, living expenses and personal expenses.
Common financial aid packages can consist of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study. Students with high financial need are first awarded gift aid and then are awarded work-study and loan funds. Students with unusual circumstances may contact the Financial Aid Office to request a review of their EFC calculation that was used to determine financial need. Financial Aid funds are received by the Department of Education and credited to the student’s account at the 60% mark of the semester. The Bursar’s Office deducts the cost of tuition, fees, and other related expenses. Once the financial aid is processed, the student will receive notification from the Bursar’s Office of any excess funds and the process for receiving a refund.
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, FSEOG, the Federal Work-Study Program, and loans under the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. The Financial Aid Office reviews progress after each semester. Standards for aid eligibility and continuation of aid requires that a student maintain a 2.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA), in accordance with the College’s academic standing policy, successful completion of at least two-thirds (67%) of all attempted credits and program completion within a 150 percent of the published length of the program (150% of a typical program equals 90 credits - transfer credits are included).
In compliance with current federal regulations, the Financial Aid Office:
- Checks student academic progress at the end of the fall, spring, and summer semesters.
- Includes all withdrawals and incompletes as non-completed 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.
- Includes credits earned in developmental courses as credits attempted.
- Notifies students of financial aid “warning” status. Students on warning risk losing their financial aid eligibility due to insufficient progress.
- Notifies students of financial aid “suspension” status. Students on suspension are not eligible to receive Title IV financial aid.
- Students will be given a one-time opportunity to appeal. If the appeal is approved the student will be required to meet with the Student Success Center to obtain a Degree Audit and Success Plan and then return the completed Degree Audit and Success Plan to a Financial Aid Administrator for review.
- Students not meeting Financial Aid Academic Progress requirements may re-establish eligibility to receive Title IV assistance by enrolling at their own expense until they meet the minimum standards above.
Conditions for receiving financial aid:
- Students must demonstrate that they are qualified to enroll in postsecondary education by having an earned high school diploma or GED.
- 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 standards for aid.
- Students are expected to attend classes and do the work. Mid-semester grades will be monitored. Students not making satisfactory academic progress AND found as not attending classes may be subject to a reduction or elimination of financial aid assistance.
- 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 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”.
- Students may not receive financial aid for audited courses.
- Students must be enrolled for at least six credit hours for most financial aid programs. Students are limited to 12 semesters of full-time/lifetime PELL grants.
- Students applying for a Federal Direct Stafford Loan must complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling regarding the rights and responsibilities of the student borrower and a Master Promissory Note (MPN).
NOTE: Students who have received federal student loans are required to complete loan exit counseling if they are graduating, leave school, or enroll less than half time. The exit counseling process provides information about the rights and responsibilities of a borrower entering repayment on their federal student loans.
Withdrawals & Return to Title IV Federal Financial Aid
All students receiving financial aid and withdrawing from the College either officially or unofficially, should contact the Financial Aid Office prior to withdrawing. The Financial Aid Office will help to determine the impact on the student’s financial aid. Federal regulations require a Return to Title IV Funds calculation for students who receive federal financial aid and withdraw at or before the 60% period of the semester. The withdrawal calculation will be performed based on the number of days the student completed in the semester. For an example, if a student completes 25% of the semester, the student will have earned 25% of the assistance they were originally scheduled to receive. This means that 75% of the scheduled award remains unearned and must be returned to the Federal Government. If a student completes more than 60% of the semester, all (100%) of their assistance has been earned.
A student earns their aid by attending classes. Should a student withdraw from the semester it will result in a Return to Title IV calculation and may require unearned financial aid to be returned to the Department of Education. When these funds are returned to the Department of Education, the student may then owe tuition, fees or other related charges to the College. If funds are returned to the Department of Education they will be credited in the following order:
- Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans
- Subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans
- Federal Direct PLUS loans (Parent Plus loan)
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal SEOG
Once the College returns their portion of excess funds to the Federal Government, it is the student’s responsibility to return the remaining amount. Any award money the student has to return is considered a Federal Grant overpayment. Any loan funds that the student must return are repaid according to the terms of the loan. The amount to be repaid for any grant funds, is to be reduced by 50%. This means that the student only has to return half of any excess grant funds received. The student must either repay that amount in full or make satisfactory arrangements with the Department of Education to repay the amount. The student must complete these arrangements within 45 days of the date of the College’s notification of the overpayment status or risk losing eligibility for further federal financial aid. If the return of unearned federal aid causes any portion of the tuition and fees to become uncovered, the student will be billed by the College. In such cases, the student will be required to make arrangements with the College to pay the balance.
NOTE: If at mid-semester, a student has all “F” grades, the Financial Aid Office will assume the student stopped attending all classes. A Return to Title IV Funds calculation will be performed to determine earned aid. The student will be financially responsible for any remaining balance due to the Department of Education and/or the College. The Financial Aid Office will mail a Return to Title IV Funds Award Notification to the student. The student will have the opportunity to provide proof of attendance and completed coursework, at which time the Financial Aid Office will reevaluate earned aid. If it is determined that the student never attended any classes or completed any work, the student is not entitled to receive Title IV Funds.
Financial Aid Programs
Federal Pell Grant is a federal grant that does not need to be repaid. It is awarded to students with financial need as determined by the FAFSA. Eligible students must not have a bachelor’s degree and must meet eligibility criteria.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a federal grant that does not need to be repaid. It is awarded to undergraduate students with the greatest financial need. Priority consideration is given to those students receiving the Federal Pell Grant.
PHEAA Grant is a State grant that does not need to be repaid. Students must be enrolled in at least part-time credits (6) to receive a part-time award or full-time credits (12 or more) to receive a full-time award. PHEAA determines the eligibility criteria. Students are limited to 4 years of full-time grant in their lifetime. Students enrolled in a two-year program of study can receive a maximum of 2 years of full-time State Grants.
Federal Work Study Program provides part-time jobs for undergraduate students with financial need as determined by the FAFSA. Students can earn a paycheck to help pay for their educational expenses.
Federal Direct Loan Program these are loans that are often referred to as Stafford Loans. These loans are provided by the Federal Government to help students cover the cost of higher education. The Department of Education offers to eligible students either the Direct Subsidized loans (need based) or the Direct Unsubsidized Loans (non-need based). Students are responsible for the interest that accrues on the Direct Unsubsidized Loan once it has disbursed to their student account. The student can pay the interest or choose to defer the interest. If the student chooses to defer the interest it would then be capitalized and added to the principle balance of the loan. Both the Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans go into repayment 6 months after the student ceases to be enrolled in at least half-time (6 credits).
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College Scholarships
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College is committed to assisting veterans, guard members/reservists, military families and dependent/survivors, eligible to receive Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits, to reach their educational goals. Additional information is available in the Financial Aid Office and on the College’s website.