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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Don’t Lose Your Financial Aid

Revised federal rules are making it a bit trickier for some WCC students to continue receiving financial aid.

The rule changes affect the satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standard. Under the new rules, to continue receiving financial aid you must do the following:

  • Maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0.
  • Maintain a cumulative pace of completion of at least 67 percent. This means you must complete, with a passing grade, at least two thirds of all credit hours you attempt at WCC or transfer to WCC. This applies whether or not you received financial aid for those hours.
  • Complete your certificate or degree within 150 percent of the credit hours it requires. For example, if your program requires 60 credit hours, you must finish it within 90 attempted credit hours.

All of your attempted credits are included in calculating the 150 percent standard. This applies even if you withdrew, did not receive a passing grade, changed your academic program, or were not receiving financial aid. The calculation also includes any credits that you transferred in from another college.

“Students have always had to make SAP,” said Lori Trapp, director of Financial Aid. “We’ve just changed the process.”

Overall, the SAP rule changes should benefit students, Trapp said. “I think they will keep students on track to finish their degrees,” she said.

Check Your SAP Online

If you receive financial aid, the Financial Aid office will calculate your SAP at the end of every semester after instructors submit grades. You can check your SAP online in MyWCC. To check your SAP, after you log in click on Financial Aid, then on Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Information, and finally on Your SAP Status.

MyWCC will list your cumulative attempted hours, cumulative earned hours, cumulative GPA, and pace of completion.

The Financial Aid office also will send you an email if you don’t meet the SAP standard. “Read your email,” Trapp said. “We let students know everything via email. We tell them exactly what steps to follow.”

Failure to Meet Standard Has Consequences

What happens if you don’t meet the SAP standard? That depends on which part of it is a problem.

If your GPA or pace of completion are too low, WCC puts you on financial aid warning as long as you receive credit for at least one class. This entitles you to receive financial aid for one more semester while you work to improve your SAP. If you fail to meet the SAP standard after your warning semester, WCC denies you any further financial aid.

You can file a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal if extenuating circumstances prevent you from meeting the SAP standard during your warning semester. Such special circumstances may include a personal illness or accident, a serious illness or death within your immediate family, or other circumstances beyond your reasonable control.

Documentation of your extenuating circumstances isn’t required, but providing it is a big help in considering your appeal, Trapp said. Some examples of acceptable documentation include a letter from a doctor, attorney, social service agency, or parole officer; a copy of a death certificate or divorce decree; or academic records.

The Financial Aid Committee reviews all appeals. If it approves your appeal, you’ll receive financial aid for one or more semesters, depending on your exact circumstances. You may be required to meet with an advisor to develop an academic plan, and you must abide by the plan to continue receiving aid.

If you’re denied financial aid because you’ve attempted at least 150 percent of the credit hours needed to complete your certificate or degree, you can file a Maximum Credit Appeal. After you complete the form, you must meet with your advisor to develop an academic plan.

If the Financial Aid Committee approves your appeal, you’ll be eligible to receive aid for a set number of semesters as long as you follow your academic plan.

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