Financial aid policies

Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy
Federal and State laws require that recipients of federal or state financial aid, which includes grants (such as Pell), loans (such as federal student loans), and work-study employment meet the minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress measures to remain eligible for all financial aid.
Withdrawing from classes
When a student totally withdraws from, or totally ceases attending WCCC before the end of the semester, refunds are calculated according to the WCCC Withdrawal Policy and the Federal Financial Aid Refund Policy. The Title IV Financial Aid you receive from the federal government – Pell Grants, Federal SEOG grant, Stafford Loans, or a Federal PLUS loan – is for your use while you are a student.

  • Federal law states that if you stop being a student for any reason before completing 60% of the semester, the government wants the “unearned portion” of that money repaid immediately. The amount that you have to pay back is based on the timing on your withdrawal/cessation of attendance.
  • The longer that you are enrolled as a student, the more money you earn. Depending upon when you withdraw or stop attending, the amount of money you have to repay could be significant.

If a student attends WCCC after the add/drop period and stops attending all classes before the end of a semester, regulations require the Financial Aid Office to perform a “Return to Title IV” (R2T4) funds calculation.

  • This calculation determines (based on your withdrawal date, your last date of attendance, or if that is unknown, the mid-point of the semester) how much financial aid was not actually earned and must be returned to the government.
  • Students for whom a “Return to Title IV” funds calculation has been performed will receive a letter from the Business Office informing them of this and instructing them to check with Student Accounts to review their bill.

The add/drop period is the first week of each term. If you withdraw from ALL courses, we will perform a federal R2T4 calculation and you could owe money.

It is your responsibility to let Student Services Office know if you are not attending.

  • You cannot have any financial aid for a class you never attended. If you have not attended at all, but you did not let the Academic Affairs Office know and they find out after your aid has disbursed, WCCC will return all the aid for that class and you could owe money.

At the end of the semester, if you are given a grade of “AF” it means that you failed and stopped attending before the end of the semester. The instructor will record your last date of attendance, so if all of your grades are AF’s, the Financial Aid Office will determine whether you attended until at least the 60% point of the semester and if not, will perform a federal “Return to Title IV” calculation and you could owe money.

Summary: Even though your aid may have been awarded and disbursed, and even if you may have received a refund check:

  • You have not earned your financial aid until you have completed 60% of the semester. If you stop attending all your classes before then, money will have to be returned to the government, and you could OWE MONEY!
  • If you have student loans and stop attending before your loans are disbursed, then you would be in less than 6 credits at the time of loan disbursal, which means you are not eligible for the loan. Additionally, we reserve the right to cancel any student loans for first time borrowers who are not making satisfactory academic progress. This is per the Department of Education.
Financial aid refund
Your financial aid is based on the number of credit hours you are taking at the end of the add/drop period each semester. Your awards could be adjusted to a different amount than was shown on your award letter if your enrollment changes from the time of your award.

Your financial aid is applied against your charges (including your books if you choose to “charge” them against your financial aid). If your total financial aid is more than your total charges, you will receive a refund, usually about a month after the start of the term.

It is your responsibility to let the Student Services office know if you are not attending classes. If you have not attended a class or classes at all, but you did not let the Financial Aid Office know and we find out after your aid has disbursed, we will return all the aid to the Dept. of Education and you could owe money. You cannot have financial aid for a class you never attended.

Financial aid for Summer Courses
If you received full time aid for both the fall and the spring semester, you will not be eligible for a summer Pell grant. If you were part time one of the two semesters, and were otherwise Pell-eligible, you may be eligible for a summer Pell grant.

You must inform the financial aid office if you register for summer classes so your financial aid can be adjusted.

In many cases, the maximum loan amount for which you are eligible is packaged in the initial award, and half of the amount is disbursed for the fall semester, and half for spring. However, if you are eligible for a loan for the summer semester and request one, the loan will be awarded.

WCCC’s financial aid year starts with the fall semester, followed by the spring and summer semesters. Therefore, a student who wishes to start with a summer term would have to fill out a FAFSA for one school year to qualify for summer aid and for the next school year to qualify for fall aid.

Financial aid rights and responsibilities

As a recipient of financial aid, you are responsible for:

1. Completing and submitting application materials to the appropriate agencies within required or recommended time frames. All students in a degree or certificate program should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FAFSA”) for the following school year any time after midnight on January 1st of the preceding year. Families can use “estimated” tax information to complete the FAFSA form. However, you should return and update the FAFSA once you submit your final return to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

2. Reading all materials sent to you from the Financial Aid Office and other agencies awarding you aid. Read, understand, and keep copies of all forms you sign. Your WCCC e-mail account is the official means of communication, so you should check your e-mail account often for announcements.

3. Knowing and complying with the rules governing the aid you receive. These rules include but are not limited to:

• You must not be in default on any prior educational loan.
• You must not owe a refund on a Federal Pell Grant, or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant due to repayment.

4. Providing additional documentation, federal tax transcripts and any additional information. See Applying for Financial Aid.

5. Complying with the provisions of any promissory note and all other agreements you sign.

6. Completing the registration process each semester by the end of the drop/add period in order to ensure availability of all student aid funds you have been awarded. Note: Some aid programs are limited and may be subject to cancellation if your registration process is not completed by the end of the drop/add period.

7. Using student financial aid proceeds solely for direct educational costs and related living expenses.

8. Knowing the financial implications that dropping a course or withdrawing from WCCC will have on your student financial aid. Always check with the financial aid office before dropping or withdrawing from a course.

9. Making Satisfactory Academic Progress towards completing their degree program in a timely manner. You must meet these minimum requirements in order to participate in the federal aid programs. WCCC offers a number of resources (TRIO, free tutors in the Study Center, etc.) to help you succeed academically and we expect that you will fully utilize them.

10. Understanding that student financial aid recipients who complete a semester receiving all F-grades as a result of non-attendance will have their aid adjusted according to federal regulations and will be required to repay part or all of the federal/state student aid funds received. Students receiving all F-grades who have borrowed under the Federal Stafford loan program will be required to complete a Federal Stafford Loan Exit Interview.

11. Reporting private sources of student financial aid to Financial Aid Office. Please submit a copy of your outside scholarship award letter to the Financial Aid Office and the Business Office.

12. Keeping your local and permanent addresses current with the Registrar’s Office and the Financial Aid Office.

As a recipient of financial aid, you have the right to:

1. Know the correct procedures for applying for student financial aid, your cost of attendance, and the types of aid available.

2. Know how financial need is determined, what the criteria are for awarding aid, how academic progress is determined, and what you have to do to continue receiving aid.

3. Know the type and amount of assistance you will receive, how much of your need has been met, and how and when you will receive your aid funds.

4. View the contents of your student financial aid file, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

5. Know the conditions of any loan you accept.

6. Know the terms, conditions, and pay rate for any student job you accept under the Federal Work Study Program.

7. Appeal any decision with the Financial Aid Office in regard to your application. Appeals must be filed no later than 10 days after the original notification that you have been denied aid.

Financial aid staff code of conduct
The WCCC Financial Aid Office have always been bound to act in compliance with WCCC’s employee Code of Conduct (a copy is available from WCCC’s Personnel Office) and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrator’s Statement of Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct for Institutional Financial Aid Professionals.

No staff member shall accept any gift worth more than $10 from a representative of a student loan provider. The Department of Education has defined “gift” as: “Any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan or other item valued at more than a de minimus amount. The term includes services, transportation, lodging, or meals, whether provided in kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance, or by reimbursement.”

Staff can participate in meals, refreshments, and receptions in conjunction with professional association meetings, trainings, or conference events open to all attendees.

Staff members are free to pursue part-time employment outside of their scheduled work day. However, any staff member who is approached by a lender with an offer for supplemental employment will provide full written details to his/her supervisor. Staff members cannot accept supplemental employment with lenders that creates any potential “conflict of interest” with the operations of the WCCC Financial Aid Office.

Staff members shall not accept any remuneration or expense-reimbursement for serving as a member of a lender’s advisory board.

All staff members in the WCCC Financial Aid Office will disclose to his or her immediate supervisor if an assigned task could create a perceived or real “conflict of interest” in the eyes of the public. Staff who knowingly fail to follow these guidelines will be subject to disciplinary action.

Washington County Community College issues federal Stafford loans through the Department of Education’s William D. Ford Direct Loan program only. Therefore, WCCC does not have a “preferred lender list.” In addition, WCCC does not have a revenue-sharing arrangement with any student loan provider. These agreements are prohibited.

Lender account representatives are not permitted to work within the Financial Aid Office or to pass themselves off as employees of WCCC.

Default Management Program
WCCC reserves the right, as granted by the U.S. Department of Education, to refuse to certify a student’s Stafford loan or to certify the loan for an amount less than the established federal limits. In that instance, WCCC document the reason and provide that written explanation to the student. WCCC’s decision is final and cannot be appealed to the Department of Education.
Cohort Default Rate Disclosure

Federal student loan borrowers generally have to begin repaying their loans six months after graduating, leaving school, or dropping below half-time enrollment. If borrowers make no payments for any period of 270 days, or roughly 9 months, they will default on their student loans.

The U.S. Department of Education (Dept) tracks the number and percentage of federal student loan borrowers who default on their student loans within three years of entering repayment. This is the Cohort Default Rate, commonly referred to as “three-year” CDRs.

The Department of Education releases official cohort default rates for each school that is eligible to participate in the federal student loan program once per year.  The national cohort default rate average is 2.3% while WCCC’s cohort default rate is 11.2% (2019).

The Office of Financial Aid provides entrance counseling for all students before disbursing federal student loans and discusses loan repayment information.

CLICK HERE for a searchable database to find prior year information.