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How to Avoid Financial Aid Problems
How can you help ensure that your financial aid experience goes smoothly and you remain eligible for aid? Following these tips is a great start.
Check Your Email and Respond to Messages
The single most important thing you can do to avoid financial aid problems has two parts:
- Check your WCC email account frequently
- Respond promptly to any messages from the Financial Aid office
Typically, the Financial Aid office will send you an email because more information is needed to process your aid. Usually, they need the information because the federal government requires it.
What happens if you ignore the messages? You don’t get financial aid. Students who are selected for the verification process must submit required documentation within 120 days of their last enrollment date or September 26, 2016, whichever is earlier. Failure to submit the documentation in a timely manner will forfeit all potential payment(s) of aid. WCC's complete Verification policy can be found here.
The Financial Aid office also sends emails to update you on changes that may affect you as a financial aid recipient.
Fill Out Forms Completely and Carefully
To get financial aid, you have to fill out forms. They can include the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, scholarship applications, and so on.
Always fill out the forms completely. If you don’t, one of two things will happen:
- You’ll get an email asking for more information, which can delay your aid
- You won’t get the aid you requested
You also should fill out the forms carefully. This is especially true for scholarship applications and other forms that ask you for a brief essay or statement. What you write in the essay can be the decisive factor in whether you get money.
Attend Your Classes
This is a no brainer. Why register for classes and apply for financial aid if you’re not going to come to school?
The federal government, which supplies most financial aid, requires that students attend class to receive aid. Instructors will verify whether you’re attending class. If you’re not, you’ll be dropped and your financial aid may be reduced or canceled.
Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress
If you receive financial aid, the federal government requires that you make satisfactory academic progress toward a certificate or degree. WCC’s SAP standard requires that you:
- 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 get a passing grade in at least two thirds of all credit hours you attempt.
- Complete your certificate or degree within 150 percent of the credit hours it requires.
All of the details are available on the Satisfactory Academic Progress page.
Be Careful When Dropping or Withdrawing
If you receive financial aid, be extremely careful about dropping or withdrawing from a class. The reason is that either action can have serious consequences for your financial aid. For example, withdrawing may make it impossible for you to meet WCC’s Satisfactory Academic Progress standard, eliminating your eligibility for future aid.
The consequences can be especially serious if you withdraw from all of your classes, either officially or unofficially. If you receive aid from the federal government, you may have to pay back any aid you failed to “earn” by attending class.
WCC is required by Federal regulation to calculate a refund for students who receive Federal aid and do not complete 60% of the semester. This refund process is called Return of Title IV. WCC’s complete Return of Title IV refund policy can be found here.
Here’s an example: Say that you stop attending all of your classes after 25 percent of the semester is complete. In this case, the federal government would make you pay back 75 percent of the aid that you’ve received for the semester. WCC will send you a letter if you’re required to pay back any of your federal aid.
You don’t have to repay your federal aid if you withdraw from just some of your classes.
Because of the potential for serious problems, it’s a good idea to talk to the Financial Aid office before you drop or withdraw from a class.
If you don’t understand something about your financial aid, ask questions. The best source for answers is WCC’s Financial Aid office. You can get help by:
- Visiting the office on the second floor of the Student Center building
- Calling the office at 734-973-3523
- Sending an email to email@example.com
- Sending a fax to 734-677-5281