Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions
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How do I apply for financial aid?
How do I file the FAFSA?
You must file your online FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov. FAFSA paper applications may be obtained by calling (800-433-3243). Applications are no longer sent to the College. Processing time for the FAFSA application is approximately two weeks if you file online. If you choose to mail the FAFSA, processing takes about four to eight weeks. Once the application has been received by the Financial Aid Office, please allow sufficient time for processing.
Who should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
All students who plan to attend Bucks should file, even if you are not sure if you will need financial aid. The FAFSA form is also used to determine some scholarship eligibilty. All students applying for any loan programs are required to complete a FAFSA at Bucks. This form is completed and used for the entire academic school year.
I know I don't qualify for aid, should I still complete the FAFSA?
Yes. Remember, your family's size, income, and the number of family members enrolled in college are factors taken into consideration when determining your eligibility. And even if you don't qualify for grants, you still need to have the FAFSA completed to be considered for certain scholarships, work study, and Federal Stafford and PLUS Loans.
Can I file the FAFSA if my parent(s) or I have not yet filed our taxes for the tax year?
To avoid delay in processing of your application, you should have a completed income tax return. However, if you or your parent(s) have not filed taxes, you can estimate the tax information by using your W-2 forms. Note: corrections may be needed after you file your taxes, which can delay the processing of your financial aid.
What is a PIN number and how do I get one?
The PIN is a four digit number assigned by the U.S. Department of Education for the duration of your college career. This PIN serves as your electronic signature for online documents such as the FAFSA, and Stafford Loan Master Promissory Note. If filing the FAFSA online, the student and one parent (if the student is dependent) will need a PIN number in order to sign it. You can request a PIN online at www.pin.ed.gov.
What is Bucks's Title IV school code?
Bucks's Title IV school code is 003239. This code identifies Bucks as the school you wish to attend on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
When is the deadline for financial aid at Bucks? When should I apply?
Apply as soon as possible. The FAFSA for the upcoming academic year is available every January. You should apply before May 1st of each academic year to meet Pennsylvania's deadline date for a PHEAA State Grant.
You can complete the FAFSA anytime during your period of enrollment, but no later than June 30, or the end of the academic year, whichever comes first, for consideration for the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Academic Competitiveness Grant(ACG), Federal Stafford Loan or Federal PLUS Loan.
What happens once I file my FAFSA form?
After the FAFSA form has been filed, your Student Aid Report (SAR) will be mailed to you. If you filed electronically, your SAR will be sent electronically. The SAR indicates your expected family contribution (EFC) and Federal Pell Grant eligibility. The information is sent to the institutions listed on your FAFSA. The school will notify you of your eligibility in an award letter.
Are there any other forms that I have to fill out in addition to the FAFSA?
Students who choose to borrow through the Stafford Loan Program will need to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN is the loan application. We also require all students complete a Loan Request Form. A separate MPN is required for parents borrowing through the PLUS Loan Program.
Where can I get more information on Financial Aid?
The Department of Education released a new website and several social media tools to make it easier for students and families to navigate the financial aid process. The newly developed website http://studentaid.gov/ features instructional videos and infographics to help answer the most frequently asked questions about financial aid. This is part of a larger plan by the Department of Education to provide more information via the internet to students when choosing a college and applying for financial aid.
How is financial aid awarded to students?
Students qualify for most financial aid based on their financial need. A student's financial need is based on the following formula:
Cost of Attendance minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC) equals Financial Need
Cost of Attendance: An average cost of attendance is calculated for each student based on their program of study, enrollment, and their residency status. The cost of attendance consists of costs for tuition, fees, books, room and board, transportation, and other associated educational costs.
What is Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
The EFC is calculated through the completion of the FAFSA. The EFC reflects the federal estimate of what a family and/or student can afford to contribute toward the cost of college on a yearly basis.
Do I have to be a full-time student to be eligible for financial aid?
No. Generally, for most financial aid programs, an enrollment status of six (6) credits is required.
How is enrollment status defined?
|Full-time||12 or more credits per term|
|3/4 time||9 - 11 credits per term|
|Half time||6 - 8 credits per term|
|Less than half time||1 - 5 credits per term|
Do I have to attend my classes to get Financial Aid?
Yes, and maintain all academic progress policies as listed in the catalog as well as the website under Academic Progress.
I withdrew from all my classes. Do I have to pay any money back?
Students must earn Title IV Funds that are received. The amount of aid earned is determined by the length of time the student was enrolled. Students who withdraw during the 60% point of the semester are considered to have earned 100% of their financial aid funds. Students withdrawing prior to that period may need to have financial aid funds returned.
Do I have to meet any academic requirements for financial aid?
Yes, you must be enrolled for at least six credits (half-time) for most programs. Only certain Federal Pell grant recipients can receive a grant for a less than half-time enrollment. The Financial Aid Office does not count audited courses for financial aid. You must also maintain academic progress towards your program of study by completing at least 67% of all attempted credits, plus maintain a certain grade point average. Also you must complete your program within a 150% timeframe. Once a student attempts more than 150% of the credits that it normally takes to complete his/ her program of study, he/she is no longer eligible for financial aid. The Financial Aid Office counts all withdrawals and incomplete grades as non-completed course work. If for any reason financial aid is reduced or lost, the student is still obligated to pay any balance due to their college account. Students have the right to appeal a determination of ineligibility for financial aid based on lack of academic progress.
What types of financial aid are available at Bucks?
When will I find out about how much financial aid I will be receiving from Bucks?
About 1 - 2 weeks after you complete the FAFSA on-line, you will receive an e-mail from the federal processor indicating your FAFSA has been processed. This is called your Student Aid Report (SAR). Read over the SAR and make any necessary corrections. PHEAA will notify you separately about your State grant eligibility. Bucks mails out award letters for the upcoming year starting in June.
I've just recently been accepted to Bucks and just applied for financial aid and classes start soon -- What should I do about my bill?
You can still attend Bucks, however if you do not have financial aid present at the time your bill is due, you will need to make a payment to the college. You may either pay your bill in full or utilize the tuition payment plan, administered by Sallie Mae®. You could also contact the Financial Aid Office to see if you may qualify for a deferment of your tuition and fees.
What do I do if I cannot pay my tuition in full by the tuition due date?
If you have not applied for financial aid yet, please make sure that you complete the FAFSA as soon as possible.
You can also enroll in the Bucks County Community College tuition payment plan, administered by Sallie Mae®. Tuition payment plans are convenient, manageable payment solutions that give you the option to pay tuition in interest-free monthly installments, rather than one lump sum. Tuition payment plans offer:
- More time to pay. Spread your tuition payments over a period of several months.
- Interest savings. Use a payment plan to make monthly payments, interest free. You can also use a plan in conjunction with traditional student loans and financial aid.
- Convenience. You can enroll in a plan, manage your account and make payments online, 24 hours a day.
Plan Terms: Tuition payment plans administered by Sallie Mae® offer you the opportunity to pay your tuition, interest free, in 5, 4, or 3 payments respectively each semester.
To help you calculate how much to budget using a payment plan, school tuition and fee information can be found here.
I am expecting financial aid. Do I need to make any payments for tuition and fees?
If you have received a financial aid award letter from the Bucks Financial Aid Office prior to the tuition due date, and the semester award is enough to cover your bill in full, you do not need to make any additional payments. Note that amounts awarded for a future semester or college work study cannot be used to pay for the current semester bill. If your award is not enough to pay your semester bill in full, you must pay your balance in full or enroll in the tuition payment plan.
I applied for financial aid--why did I receive a bill?
You may have received a bill for several reasons:
- If your Bucks financial aid application was received after the May 1 deadline, the aid may not be processed by the tuition due date. If you do not receive a Bucks award letter by the tuition due date, then we recommend you enroll in the tuition payment plan. Your account will be adjusted after the award is received and any credit balance will be refunded to you.
- Your financial aid may not cover the bill in full.
- All students will receive a statement of account/bill on a monthly basis.
My financial aid award is greater than my semester bill; can I use the excess amount of my aid for books?
If you have a credit balance from excess financial aid award (aid must be awarded), you can come to the Financial Aid Office on the first day of the semester to receive a bookstore voucher. The voucher will allow you to charge your books by using this card. The Bookstore will require appropriate ID, in addition to the card, to charge against your account. If your purchases are in excess of the aid amount you can spend, you will need to pay for the balance out-of-pocket.
What happens to my excess financial aid?
Any credit balance on your account after books are purchased will be refunded approximately 10-14 after the refund period has ended, after the start date of the semester. Remember, enrollment status changes can delay the refund process.
I enrolled in the tuition payment plan because my financial aid was not awarded by the tuition due date. What will happen after my financial aid is awarded?
Any credit balance (overpayments and/or excess financial aid) will be refunded to you.
I dropped one or more of my courses during the refund period, are my charges adjusted and does my Financial Aid awards change?
Yes if you drop during the refund period your tuition and fees will be adjusted according to the % being refunded at the time you drop. Some fees are non refundable. Financial Aid is adjusted to the enrollment status after the refund period has ended. Depending on when you dropped your course you will be responsible for any tuition and fees not covered by financial aid.
I dropped a course(s) after the refund period, what do I owe to Bucks?
Courses dropped after the refund period will be handled as a Withdrawal and you will not be eligible for any adjustment or refund of tuition and fees. Any balance remaining on your account, after the withdrawal, is due in full.
I dropped my course(s), why do I still owe money?
While Bucks makes the decision of whether or not to run each class based on the number of students registered in each class at the beginning of the semester, we understand that your situation may change. Our refund policy allows you to drop your course during the refund period and you will receive partial credit depending upon the date of your drop. Your tuition and fees are adjusted according to this refund policy. If you drop your course during the refund period, you will get the stated % refund. After the refund period, you are responsible for 100% of the balance due, since you reserved a seat in the class that cannot be filled by another student.
Are English as a Second Language (ESL) classes eligible for financial aid?
Yes, but there are limitations for grants. This is according to your program and number of credits in ESL classes completed.
I am not a U.S. Citizen. Will I qualify for financial aid?
To qualify for aid, non-U.S. Citizens must have an "eligible noncitizen" status. Contact the Financial Aid Office for additional information and eligibility requirements.
I earned a Bachelor's degree in another country, would I qualify for financial aid?
If you have an official transcript that has been evaluated and translated by an approved agency, you may only be eligible to apply for a Stafford Loan. Any student, regardless of their citizenship status, with a bachelor's degree is not eligible for federal or state grants.
Money which is awarded based on financial need and does not have to be paid back such as the Federal Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), Happ Grover, and the PHEAA State Grant.
If I am not eligible for the Federal Pell Grant, what other types of Financial Aid is available?
The FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for federal grants, state grants, federal work study and loans. When students are not eligible for the Federal Pell Grant, they may be eligible for the state grant. Students also have the option to apply for a Federal Stafford Loan, which you must pay back.
How do I apply for a PHEAA state grant and what is the deadline?
Students must file a FAFSA application by May 1. The information from the FAFSA is automatically submitted to PHEAA.
What are the eligibility requirements for the PHEAA State Grant?
Please see our web page on PHEAA Eligibility Requirements. Also refer to the pages on the PHEAA web site under State Grant Documents. Read these pages very carefully and refer to them for future reference since you must comply with all requirements to receive a PHEAA State Grant.
When will I receive my PHEAA State Grant?
Students receive a letter from PHEAA several weeks after the FAFSA has been processed. If a student is eligible, their grant will be applied to their account in approximately the 10th week of class. Students that have not received their PHEAA state grant by mid-November may check with the Financial Aid Office for the status. A student must be enrolled for a minimum of six (6) credit hours to be eligible for the PHEAA state grant.
Money generally awarded based on some sort of academic criteria, but can also be based on financial need. Scholarships do not have to be repaid. There are separate applications for each scholarship. Bucks offers a large selection of scholarships on the web at bucks.edu/scholarships.
How do I find out about scholarships?
Scholarship information can be found at bucks.edu/scholarships. Outside scholarship opportunities may be obtained from researching at libraries, civic organizations, churches as well as researching online. Listed below are some of the national Web-based searches.
Where and when can I look for scholarships?
Scholarships for the upcoming academic year are usually available starting in February. It is important to start looking as early as you can. Check with your High School Guidance Office, the Financial Aid Office of the college you plan on attending, local newspapers, the library, local business/organizations, and the Internet. Do not participate in any scholarship searches that require you to pay a fee. You can get the same information for free from free Internet searches and your college Financial Aid Office.
Are there scholarships available for Single Mothers?
There may be, you will need to do some research. Try using the free web scholarship searches and apply for any scholarships that are appropriate to your situation. Also see bucks.edu/scholarships.
Money received which a student and /or parent must repay. The school determines the amount of the loan by the EFC (expected family contribution) calculation. The amount awarded depends on the eligibility of the student / parent borrowers. The loan can be any amount in combination of subsidized loan and unsubsidized loan (see explanation in question below) up to the student borrowers' and the parents' eligibility is dependent upon the amount the student received in resources, and their cost of attendance.
How do I apply for a loan?
Students must complete a FAFSA form, and indicate they are interested in a loan on the form. A FAFSA form must be completed even if the student and family feel they would not be eligible for any federal assistance such as PELL Grant. We require all students to complete a FAFSA Form for the appropriate year. All student borrowers must complete a Master Promissory Note/loan application commonly referred to as a MPN, and also complete an Entrance Counseling session. Students may complete both of these requirements at the www.StudentLoans.gov website. Students must be enrolled for a minimum of six credits (Half Time enrollment) in order to receive a loan.
What is the difference between a subsidized loan and unsubsidized loan?
Subsidized loan are for students with demonstrated financial need as determined by federal regulations. No interest is charged while you are in school at least half-time, during your grace period and during deferment periods. The interest is paid by the federal government while the student is attending school. Unsubsidized loans are not need based, and the student is responsible for the interest while attending school. Students have the option to defer making the interest payments if they are enrolled at least part time.
What is Entrance Counseling?
This counseling session is required by law, it gives the student borrower useful tips and tools to help you develop a budget for managing your educational expenses and help you to identify your rights and responsibilities of being a student loan borrower. It will educate the student on the different the types of loans, the loan amounts, interest rates, repayment options and the debt consolidation.
What is Exit Counseling? And why do I need to do it?
Exit counseling is a federal requirement for all students that stop attending, or drop below half time enrollment (6credits) as well as students that transfer to another institution. The purpose of exit counseling is to educate borrowers about their rights and responsibilities of being a loan borrower. The borrower will receive information about the amount of their loan, their repayment options and the due date of your payment.
Where can I view all of my loan information?
Students can access this information at the National Student Loan Data System (NSDLS), accessible at www.nslds.ed.gov this site maintains your overall financial aid history for federal student aid.
What is Verification? Why was I selected for this process?
Verification is the process by which the information that you and your parents supplied on the FAFSA form is verified by the Financial Aid Office. We will request copies of you and your parent's tax forms and W-2's. A verification form is also required, which will be mailed to you from your school. Most cases of verification will require corrections to your information and will delay the processing of your aid. Verification is a random selection process of the Department of Education similar to being audited by the IRS.
Why is Additional Documentation Required?
After you submit your FAFSA to the US Department of Education they submit it to several federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration to verify that your Social Security Number is correct, to the Selective Service System to verify that you have (if you are male) registered for the Draft, to the Department of Homeland Security to verify that you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, and possibly to other agencies. If any agency has information that does not agree with the information you submitted on the FAFSA the BCCC- FAO must resolve this discrepancy before you can receive any federal or state financial aid.
Department of Education (DOE) also submits the financial information you entered on your FAFSA to a series of edit checks that compare your information to 'norms'. If your information differs significantly from the 'norms' your application will be selected for a process called Verification. You could also be selected randomly. One out of every three FAFSA forms submitted is selected for Verification. If your FAFSA is selected you will be notified on the Student Aid Report. The BCCC-FAO must collect copies of financial documents, such as your IRS 1040 forms and, if you are a 'dependent', your parent's IRS 1040 forms. The FAO then compares the data on these documents to the data you submitted on the FAFSA. The FAO must resolve any differences and make corrections with DOE before any federal or state aid can be credited to your account.
Why is my FAFSA being verified?
There are several possibilities:
- Some applications are selected randomly.
- Some applications are submitted with incomplete data or conflicting information.
- Some applications are categorized as having a high probability of error (e.g. applications on which students provide estimated, not actual, income tax information).
What happens if my FAFSA is selected for verification review?
If your application is selected for verification review, the Student Aid Report (SAR) you receive from the Federal FAFSA Processor will say so. The BCCC Financial Aid Office will also notify you that your FAFSA has been selected to be verified and will ask you to submit copies of certain documents you used to complete your FAFSA.
What does the College's Financial Aid Office do with my documents?
The documents you submit become part of your BCCC financial aid file. The information on those documents is compared to the FAFSA information provided to us by the Federal FAFSA Processor.
I thought I already turned in the documents required for verification. Why do you need more information?
For many students, the process consists simply of a review of the tax returns and the Verification Form but sometimes we discover inconsistencies that must be resolved. When this happens, we request additional information.
What can I do to speed up the process if my FAFSA is selected for verification review?
- Submit all requested documents to the Student Financial Aid Office as soon as possible.
- Submit all requested documents at the same time.
- Make sure the documents you submit are legible and signed.
- Make sure all documents submitted are clearly labeled with the student's name and social security number.
- Please be patient. A large number of student applications are verified, and it takes time for our staff to process the large volume of paper work. Periodically checking on the status of your file is a good idea.
What happens if something was filled out incorrectly on my FAFSA?
If any errors are discovered, we will correct your FAFSA. If the error(s) changes the amount of financial aid for which you are eligible, we will send you a revised financial aid award notice listing any changes in your financial aid package. In addition, the Federal FAFSA Processor will send you a revised Student Aid Report (SAR), which will reflect the corrections we make to your FAFSA.
A federal award based on financial need that provides the student the opportunity to earn money through a part-time job offered through the college.
How do I apply for the Federal Work-Study Program?
Students should file the FAFSA application by May 1 to be eligible for the Federal Work-Study Program (FWSP). A student's enrollment must be at least six (6) credit hours to be employed on the FWSP. Interested students need to meet with a Financial Aid Representative to complete their required documents. Students should indicate on the FAFSA that they are interested in Federal Work-Study.
If eligible for Federal Work-Study, how many hours can I work?
The number of hours depends on the amount you have been awarded, normally no more than 20 hours during the academic year. Eligible students can normally work more than 20 hours a week during the summer.
Under the Federal Work-Study Program, what is the hourly pay rate?
The on-campus rate of pay is $7.50 per hour. Off-Campus rates vary from $7.50-$15.00 per hour.
When will I receive my refund check?
On time applicants that have been awarded and received an award letter will begin to receive refunds after the third week of the semester. Students are awarded and paid in the order of the file completion date. Payments are made to student accounts after the third week of classes every semester. Students who change enrollment status may experience a delay in receipt of their refund. Refund checks are mailed to students and cannot be picked up.
Do not make any changes to your FAFSA/SAR after you receive an award letter from Bucks.
If you find you made an error and you have already received an award letter from Bucks, contact the Financial Aid Office.
My family's income has decreased since I filed the FAFSA. Can my eligibility for financial aid be re-evaluated?
Yes. If your family has unusual circumstances such as loss of employment, loss of untaxed income or death of a parent or spouse, and the family income is significantly reduced, contact the Financial Aid Office to request a Special Condition Form.
I have developed a serious medical illness/ injury during the semester and cannot continue attending classes. What do I do?
If you are a current student and are unable to continue your classes due to a serious illness or injury, you must contact the Admission's office and ask for an Application for Tuition Appeal. You can also print a copy from the Bucks website. If your application is denied, you will be responsible for payment of any unpaid balance due for the current semester.
In order for a tuition appeal to be considered, all financial aid refunds for the semester must be returned to the Student Account's Office. The student must specify that the payment is for a tuition appeal.
|Frequently Used Telephone Numbers|
|PHEAA State Grant||(800) 692-7392|
My parents no longer support me and I live on my own. Why do I still need to supply their information on the FAFSA?
Despite living on your own and receiving no support from your parents, you are not considered independent for financial aid purposes.
What requirements must I meet to be considered independent?
There are seven requirements which determine whether a student is independent. However, the student only needs to meet one of the following criteria to qualify as an independent student:
- 24 years of age on or before the January 1 preceding the academic year
- A graduate student
- Have legal dependents for whom you provide more than 50% of their support
- An orphan or ward of the court
- A veteran of the armed forces
- You have dependent children for which you provide more than 50% of their support throughout the year
If you do not meet any of these requirements and there are special circumstances regarding your situation, contact the Financial Aid Office to have your dependency status determined.
Do I need my parent's tax information if I do not live with them?
Yes, if you don't meet the requirements for independent status.
Is Financial Aid available for the summer semester?
Summer financial aid may be available to students that have not used their financial aid in full during the regular academic year.
A summer application is required for students who would like to be considered for a Pell Grant, Work-Study, or Student Loan. An additional Summer Loan Request Form (LRF) is required for students interested in a Stafford Loan. Applications are available in the Financial aid Office starting in mid-April. Summer Applications are also placed on the Bucks Financial Aid website under Applications (this form is only available at certain times of year as needed).
If a student did not borrow the maximum amount of student loans during the academic year, they may be eligible to borrow up to their remaining balance of loan funds.
To be eligible a student must take at least 3 credits during summer session I. If the student is taking out a loan, they must take 6 credits total. Students receiving loan funds are required to take at least 3 credits during summer session 1 and the 3 remaining credits can be taken in any of the other summer sessions.
If a student was full time both Fall and Spring semester the student will have no grant money available to them.
Are book cards available for summer?
If a student has been awarded financial aid in excess of their tuition and fees for the summer, they may qualify for a book voucher for Summer Session I only. This is due to the fact that refunds will be sent prior to the beginning of Summer Session II if the student has provided us with all required information prior to Summer Session starting.
It is the student's responsibility to save any refunds they receive from Summer Session I to pay for books in later summer sessions.
Can I receive summer aid at Bucks if I attend another school during the regular academic year?
You may only receive financial aid at Bucks if you are seeking a degree at our institution. Students that enroll in courses at Bucks for the summer semester only, with plans of returning to their "home school" during the academic year, would not qualify for any financial aid.
Feel free to contact the Financial Aid office at 215-968-8200. Or you can stop in Monday through Friday 8:30 - 4:30. Or you may contact by email at email@example.com.