Financing Your College Education
The purpose of the Financial Aid Program at Butler County Community College is to make financial aid available to students who, without aid, would not be able to further their post-secondary education.
Financial aid is normally granted on the basis of demonstrated financial need as determined by an approved needs analysis system. The ability of each family to finance an education varies. Factors such as income, assets, liabilities, size of family, and age of the older parent or principal wage-earner are reviewed. In addition, other family members in college and students’ income and assets are all considered in determining the need for funds.
Financial aid may be awarded in the form of grants, scholarships, low-interest loans, part-time employment, or a combination of these. Financial aid awards are generally granted for a period of one academic year. Continuation of the award requires a yearly review of the applicant’s need and academic progress.
The retention and renewal of any financial aid is primarily dependent upon continuing financial need.
When awarding financial aid, the Financial Aid Office will use the following to determine a student’s status:
The College Financial Aid Office, located on the lower level in the Administration Building, is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The College participates in the Federal Title IV Programs (Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG Grant, Federal Work Study, and the Federal Family Education Loan Programs), and the PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency) State Grant Program. Additionally, the College operates a scholarship program. It is always wise to apply for grants even if uncertain about qualifying.
In addition, special programs exist for handicapped students through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services. Butler County Community College awards all students financial aid without regard to sex, age, race, color, national origin, or handicap as required by Title VI, Title IX, and Section 504.
Butler County Community College uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. A student applies for both State and Federal aid programs by completing this application.
Students with Internet access, may file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Students interested in low-interest loans to help defray educational costs can also apply for this form of assistance. Loan programs provide financial assistance to students who qualify. Applications are available from banks, lending institutions, or credit unions. Students are advised to read the application instructions carefully. Applications with incorrect or incomplete answers take longer to process and may cause the rejection of the loan application. All students applying for loan assistance must apply for the Federal Pell Grant and the PHEAA State Grant first. Financial aid applications should be submitted by April 15 for the fall term and November 1 for the spring term. All five programs are described below.
Academic Progress for Financial Aid Recipients
Academic progress is reviewed each May for students receiving financial aid. For every two semesters of financial aid, a student must pass 75% of attempted credits. Additionally, a student must meet the following GPA requirements.
Note: All periods of enrollment at BC3 will be considered when reviewing progress, including semesters when the student did not receive financial aid. Grades of “F”and “I” count as completed for GPA review.
Students failing to satisfy either of the above standards will have their financial aid terminated until such time as they satisfy all progress requirements.
Title IV Award Limitations
A student may only receive financial aid until they have completed 150% of their program. 150% of the typical program at BC3 amounts to 96 credits. Students who have earned 96 or more credits should contact the Financial Aid Office.
Financial Aid Programs
Federal Pell Grant - A Pell Grant is a federally funded program for students enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certificate of at least six months in length. The Pell Grant is based upon the analysis of the financial data of the parents and/or the student. Awards are based on need.
PHEAA Grant – The PHEAA Grant is a need-based award provided by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency for Pennsylvania residents. Awards are given to part-time (at least six (6) credits) as well as full-time students only and are limited to 80 percent of the tuition and fees.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) –The SEOG Grant is for students with exceptional need enrolled at least halftime. Any student wishing to be considered for this grant must file the Federal application.
Federal Work-Study Program – The Work-Study Program provides on-campus jobs for students with demonstrated financial need. This need is determined by information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Federal Stafford Student Loan – Students must carry at least six (6) credits per semester to be eligible for the loan. If the student qualifies for a need-based Federal Stafford Loan (Subsidized), no payments are made while the student continues at half-time status. If the student qualifies for a non-need-based Federal Stafford Loan (Unsubsidized), the student is responsible for making interest payments on the loan during in-school, grace, and deferment periods. Repayment of principal and interest for both types of loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized) begins six months after a student ceases at least half-time attendance. Students can borrow up to $3,500.00 at grade level 01 and up to $4,500.00 at grade level 02. Students have ten years to pay off the loan with a minimum payment of $50/month at 6.8% fixed interest rate.
Scholarship programs provide non-repayable financial assistance to students meeting specific criteria. The Butler County Community College Education Foundation awards more than $100,000 annually to eligible new and returning students. A scholarship application must be completed and deadline dates met for consideration.
A BC3 Scholarship Brochure providing information on all scholarships available and the application process is available in the Financial Aid Office and in the local (Butler County) high school guidance offices.
Additional information on these programs is available in the Financial Aid Office.
Withdrawals and Return of Title IV Federal Financial Aid
As part of the Higher Education amendments of 1998, Congress passed new provisions governing what must happen to the Federal Financial Assistance if a student completely withdraws from school in any semester. This change of policy went into effect beginning with the Fall 2000 semester. The policy governs all Federal Grant and Loan Programs, including Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG, and Federal Stafford Loans, but does not affect Federal Work-Study.
In general, the new law assumes that a student earns Federal Financial Aid awards directly in proportion to the number of days of the term attended. The portion of Federal Grants and Loans that a student is entitled to receive is calculated on a percentage basis by comparing the total number of days in the semester to the number of days completed before the withdrawal. For example, if a student completes 30% of the semester, the student has earned 30% of the assistance he/she was originally scheduled to receive. This means that 70% of the scheduled award remains unearned and must be returned to the Federal Government.
If a student completely withdraws from the College (either officially or unofficially) before completing 60% of the semester, BC3 must calculate according to a specific formula, the portion of the total scheduled financial assistance the student has earned and is therefore entitled to receive. If a student receives (or the College receives on the student’s behalf) more assistance than was earned, the unearned excess funds must be returned to the Department of Education. THIS MEANS THE STUDENT MAY HAVE TO REPAY FEDERAL MONIES THAT WERE ALREADY DISBURSED. Once a student has completed more than 60% of the semester, all (100%) of the assistance has been earned and the return of Title IV Federal Financial Aid calculation is not required.
The withdrawal date will be determined by the College as (1) the date the student begins the College withdrawal process, or the date the student officially notifies the Registration Office of the intent to withdraw; (2) the midpoint of the semester if the student withdraws without notifying the College; or (3) the last date of attendance at an academically-related activity as documented by the College.
If excess funds must be returned to the government, the College shares the responsibility of returning those excess funds. The College’s portion of the excess funds to be returned is equal to the lesser of the entire amount of the excess funds; or the total tuition and fee charges multiplied by the percentage of unearned funds.
When excess funds are required to be repaid, the Federal Government mandates the following order for crediting the returned funds:
- Federal Family Education Loan Program
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal SEOG Grants
- Other Aid
If the College is not required to return all of the excess funds, the student must return the remaining amount. Any loan funds that the student must return are repaid according to the terms of the promissory note. If the student must return any grant funds, the law provides that the amount to be repaid is to be reduced by 50%. This means that the student only has to return half of any excess grant funds received.
Any award money the student has to return is considered a Federal Grant overpayment. The student must either repay that amount in full or make satisfactory arrangements with the Department of Education to repay the amount. The student must complete these arrangements within 45 days of the date of the College’s notification of the overpayment status or risk losing eligibility for further Federal Financial Assistance.
If the return of unearned Federal assistance causes any portion of the tuition and fees to become uncovered, the student will be billed by the College. In such cases, the student will be required to make arrangements with the Finance Office to pay the balance.
Additional information concerning these new provisions can be obtained by contacting the Financial Aid Office.