Nov 18, 2019  
2019-2020 Academic Catalog 
    
2019-2020 Academic Catalog

Student Financial Services


To better assist our students in navigating the financial aspects of their college experience; we have combined the Financial Aid Office and the Student Accounts Office (formerly the Bursar’s Office) to create the Student Financial Services Department. We are here to help you navigate your financial needs by providing you one place to go to get all of the information you need to pay for your educational experience at Penn Highlands.

Financial Aid

Student Accounts Office


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:

  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Federal Work-Study
  • Loans

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 sfs@pennhighlands.edu or 814-262-6454.

All students are strongly encouraged to apply for financial aid.


How to Apply for Financial Aid

All students enrolling in an eligible degree, certificate or diploma program from Penn Highlands must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for Federal and State financial aid. The FAFSA is available online at https://fafsa.ed.gov and should be completed as soon as it is available on 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.

ALL STUDENTS ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO COMPLETE THE FAFSA EACH YEAR.


Verification

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. The Financial Aid Office will notify you through postal mail and your college assigned email if your FAFSA application has been selected for review.

Students will be given 14 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 financial aid cannot be awarded. 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

Students are awarded financial aid based on the policies and procedures established by the College under the guidelines of both the Federal and State regulations. Students are awarded the maximum amount they are eligible to receive based on these policies and procedures.


Financial Aid Student Academic Progress (SAP)

The Higher Education Act requires that a student maintain satisfactory academic progress to receive financial aid. The Financial Aid Office is required to establish standards to monitor degree progression and consistently apply those standards to all students. The Financial Aid Office reviews Student Academic Progress at the end of each semester.

How is SAP measured?

  • cGPA - You must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0
  • Pace - You must earn 67% of all of the credits you attempt.
  • Time Frame for completion - You must earn all degree requirements within the 150% timeframe for your program of study. For example, if you are required to earn 60 credits to get your degree, you will be able to take up to 90 credits using financial aid.  If you have not received your degree within those 90 credits you would not be eligible to receive financial aid for any remaining credits needed.

What if I take a Preparatory/Developmental Course?

All attempted preparatory/developmental credits are counted towards the Time Frame for completion and they count as attempted and earned for the Pace portion of SAP. They do not count towards degree completion and therefore are not included in the cGPA calculation.

What if I earn an F or I (Incomplete) grade?

All F or I grades are counted as credits attempted toward Time Frame. For Pace, all credits count toward attempted, but F or I grades do not count as earned credits. For cGPA, F or I grades count as 0 points earned.

What if I withdraw from a class?

All W grades count toward the Time Frame. W grades also count toward Pace; however, W grades do not count as earned credits. W grades are not included in the cGPA.

What if I transfer in credits?

All transfer credits will count toward Time Frame and Pace. Transfer credits are not calculated in the cGPA.

What if I change my program of study?

Changing your program of study does not “reset” your SAP.  If you change programs, the Financial Aid Office will use all of your attempted and earned credits in the calculation of your Time Frame, Pace and cGPA.

What if I paid on my own?

SAP is calculated based on ALL periods of enrollment, regardless of whether or not you received prior federal financial aid for those credits.

What if I do not make SAP?

  • If you fail to make SAP, you will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for your next semester.
  • If you fail to make SAP after your Warning semester, then you will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension and your financial aid will be cancelled.
  • If you make SAP after your Warning semester, then you will remain eligible for financial aid.
  • Students who are on Warning and Suspension will receive notices from the Financial Aid Department of their status and additional directions.

What if my financial aid is cancelled? 

Students who are not eligible for financial aid due to SAP may be eligible academically to take courses in the next semester.  However, they will not be eligible for Federal Financial Aid until they have met the Pace and cGPA requirements.  Students who are not eligible for financial aid are considered to be self-paying students.  Self-paying students can make payment or payment plan arrangements with the Student Accounts Office by calling 814-262-6437 or they may apply for Alternative Student Loan funding to cover any balance they have incurred.  Penn Highlands does NOT participate in a preferred Alternative Loan lender list; students will have to choose a lender that best serves their needs.

What if I did not meet SAP because of extenuating circumstances?

Students who have experienced extenuating circumstances that led them in not meeting SAP requirements will be permitted to file a one (1) time appeal to have their Financial Aid reinstated. The link to file an appeal will be sent to those students (who have not previously filed an appeal) in their notice of Financial Aid Suspension. Students should provide all additional documentation that supports their appeal request at the time of the appeal. The committee will review the appeal request and determine the outcome. Students will be notified of the appeal decision via their college email. All Appeal committee decisions are final. Students may contact the Financial Aid Office at 814-262-6454 or sfs@pennhighlands.edu with questions on the appeal process.

Extenuating circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • Health reasons
  • Death of an immediate family member
  • Undue Hardship
  • Major life event

VETERANS BENEFITS SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS

Federal law and Veterans Administration regulations specify the conditions under which student veterans, eligible dependents, and reservists are paid VA educational benefits.  The law requires that educational benefits be discontinued when the student ceases to make satisfactory progress toward completion of his or her training objective.  Based upon this requirement, any student using VA educational benefits at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College will be dismissed immediately following the semester when the Veteran or other eligible person does not meet the requirement for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) listed in our current approved catalog.

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College requires students receiving V.A. educational benefits to meet the same SAP standards necessary to receive financial aid.  The standards include:

  • Maintain at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA
  • Complete 67% of all classes attempted
  • Complete your degree-seeking program of study within a 150% timeframe

When the Veteran or other eligible person fails to maintain the prescribed standards of progress and is placed on suspension, the VA will be informed promptly in order that benefit payments can be discontinued in accordance with the law.  The termination date will be the last day of the semester in which the student’s progress became unsatisfactory.

REINSTATEMENT AFTER NOT MAKING SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS

In order to have benefits reinstated the student must:

  • Meet with the Student Success Center to complete a Success Plan and Degree Audit
  • Meet with the VA Certifying Official to discuss the minimum performance standards to be achieved by the student for the next term
  • Complete the Veteran/Military Enrollment Certification Form

Withdrawals

All students receiving financial aid and withdrawing from the College, either officially or unofficially, should contact the Financial Aid Office prior to withdrawing. Federal regulations require the Financial Aid Office to adjust your award amounts you are eligible to receive based on your last date of attendance. You may be responsible to return award money for the portion of the semester you did not attend. You will receive a letter from Student Financial Services notifying you of your obligation. Depending on the calculation, you may owe money back to Penn Highlands and/or the Department of Education.

NOTE: If at mid-semester, a student has all “F” grades, the Financial Aid Office will assume the student stopped attending all classes. A recalculation 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 are loans that are 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). Interest accrues on the Direct Unsubsidized Loan once it has disbursed to the student’s account. 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). 


Scholarships

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College offers Foundation Scholarships. Because many scholarships are based on a student’s registration status and need eligibility, students must be registered for classes and have a processed FAFSA on file. Students may apply online at https://pennhighlands.awardspring.com/ by May 15.


Veterans Benefits

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.


Tuition

Information regarding current tuition and fees is available by accessing the Tuition and Fee Schedule, available online at http://www.pennhighlands.edu/admissions/pay-for-college/tuition-fees/. A copy of the schedule may also be obtained from the Student Accounts Office. Tuition and fees are subject to change.

Tuition rates are based on legal residency as follows:

  • Sponsored Rate: Residents of Cambria County
  • Non-Sponsored: Pennsylvania residents living outside of Cambria County
  • Somerset County: Residents of Somerset County
  • Out-of-State Rate: Non-Pennsylvania residents

Fee Information

Comprehensive Services Fee

The Comprehensive Services Fee will be charged to all students enrolling in credit courses. This fee supports the non-academic services provided to students and covers expenses related to graduation, activities, transcript requests, etc.


Lab/Materials Fees

Some courses require additional fees, often labeled laboratory fees, which cover special costs including insurance, equipment and materials, software usage, and special testing.


Books and Supplies

Textbooks and other supplies are available through the College bookstore located at the Richland Campus. Students should consult the website for bookstore hours of operation. For additional information call 814-262-6453.


Third Party Funding

Students whose tuition and fees are paid by a third party, such as a business or agency, must have written documentation from the organization. A copy of the documentation must be on file in the Student Accounts Office. The student is responsible for meeting all the terms of the agreement specified by the paying party. If a student does not fulfill the terms required by the paying party, the College will hold the student responsible for payment of all tuition and fees.


Payment of Tuition and Fees

Students are responsible for tuition and fees at the time of registration. All financial arrangements for your tuition and fees must be made on or before the tuition due date for each semester or your registration will be cancelled.

In order to finalize your registration each semester, one of the following payment methods must be in place in the Student Accounts Office by the tuition due date each semester:

Payment of Balance in Full - The College accepts cash (only at the Richland Campus), check, money orders, MasterCard, and VISA as methods of payment. Payments are made at the Student Accounts Office during regular business hours. Credit or debit charges may also be made via the telephone at (814) 262-6437 during regular business hours.

Online Payment - Students can make payments online through the Student Financial Services page on the myPEAK student portal (http://my.pennhighlands.edu).

Approved Financial Aid - We strongly encourage all degree, certificate and diploma students to apply for Federal Financial Aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid online as soon as possible.  Students who would like to use Financial Aid toward their student payment account, MUST have completed the FAFSA process, through verification (if required), AND completed the documents required to accept their financial aid.

Students who have tuition and fees that are not completely covered by financial aid, MUST make arrangements with the Student Accounts Office to pay the remaining balance on or before the tuition due date for each semester.

Payment Plan - Students may enroll in our interest free payment plan.  To enroll a student must:

  1. Complete the payment plan agreement.
  2. Submit with the agreement the $25 payment plan fee (charged each semester you choose the payment plan option)*
  3. Submit with the agreement the first month’s payment to the Student Accounts Office.*

*Payment Plans are not complete until both the $25 payment plan fee and the first month’s payment have been received.

Students and parents can get more information by contacting the Student Accounts Office at 814-262-6437.

Proof of Third Party Direct Payment - Students whose tuition and fees are paid by an organization (third party), such as a business or agency, must provide written documentation from the third party submitted to the Student Accounts Office upon registration or by the tuition due date. It is the student’s responsibility to follow the terms and guidelines set forth by the organization. Students will be responsible for any outstanding tuition and fees not paid for by the third party.

Payments can be made in person only at the Student Accounts Office at the Richland Campus. Students can make payments online by accessing the Student Financial Services tab on the myPEAK student portal. Payments may also be mailed to:

Student Accounts Office
101 Community College Way
Johnstown, PA 15904


Refund of Tuition Policy

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College has a policy whereby a portion of the tuition will be credited to the student’s account if the student officially drops or withdraws from a course during a designated refund period. Course drops or withdrawals are official only after the required forms have been signed, submitted to the Registrar’s Office and processed. Non-attendance in classes does not constitute an official withdrawal from the class or from the College. It is the student’s responsibility, if receiving financial aid, to check on their eligibility prior to adding, dropping or withdrawing from a class or withdrawing from the college.  Students are responsible for all charges on their account.

A student is eligible for a refund if:

  • The College has cancelled the student’s class. If a refund is due back to the student, a check will be mailed to the address on file with the Registrar’s Office after the Add/Drop period.
  • A student has officially dropped a class during a designated refund period; a reversal of tuition and fees will be calculated and if a student is due a refund, the refund check will be mailed to the address on file with the Registrar’s Office after the Add/Drop period.

Refund Procedures

For courses fifteen weeks or longer:

Students who officially drop during the first week of a course will be eligible to receive a 100% reversal on tuition and fees. Students who officially drop during the second week of a course will be eligible to receive a 25% reversal. Students who officially drop during the third week of a course will be eligible to receive a 10% reversal. There are no adjustments made after the third week of a course.

For courses less than fifteen weeks:

Students who officially drop during the first week of a course will be eligible to receive a 100% reversal on tuition and fees. After the first week of class, students will have until the 20% point of a course to officially drop and be eligible to receive a 25% reversal on tuition and fees.There are no adjustments made after the 20% point of a course.


Student Financial Obligations

Students must satisfy all financial obligations with the College in order to graduate. Students with outstanding balances will not be able to obtain an official transcript or enroll in subsequent semesters until all financial obligations are settled to the College’s satisfaction.  


Form 1098-T

IRS Form 1098-T is an information form, filed with the Internal Revenue Service, which reports qualified education expenses for students who were enrolled during a calendar year. This information is intended to assist taxpayers with determining the amount, if any, of education-related income tax credits or deductions they may be able to claim on their tax return. Pennsylvania Highlands Community College cannot provide tax advice. If you need assistance in determining how to report information from Form 1098-T on your tax return, please refer to IRS Publication 970 (available at www.irs.gov), or consult a licensed tax preparer.

1098-T forms will be mailed by January 31st for the previous year. 1098-T forms will also be available electronically on the Student Financial Services page of myPEAK by January 31st.