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 the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 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 academic progress and need based on a new FAFSA.
When awarding financial aid, the Financial Aid Office will use the following to determine a student’s status:
Freshman (Grade Level 1)
Sophomore (Grade Level 2)
The College Financial Aid Office is located in the Student Success Center and 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 Direct Loan Program), and the PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency) State Grant Program. Additionally, the College operates a scholarship program and works with third party agencies in awarding funds. It is always wise to apply for grants even if uncertain about qualifying.
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.
Financial Aid Application Procedures
Butler County Community College uses the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). A student applies for both State and Federal aid programs by completing this application.
Students must 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 must complete the FAFSA application first. Loan programs provide financial assistance to students who qualify and complete the additional application process. Instructions can be found on the BC3 website. Financial aid applications should be submitted by April 15 for the fall term and November 15 for the spring term. All five programs are described below.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
SAP is reviewed each term for associate degree and certificate program students receiving federal financial aid. A student must pass 67% of all attempted credits. Additionally, a student must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA 2.00.
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 attempted for GPA review. Preparatory classes are not included in the GPA.
Students failing to satisfy either of the above standards will have their federal financial aid terminated until such time as they satisfy all progress requirements.
Title IV Award Limitations
SAP Max Timeframe - A student may only receive federal financial aid until they have completed 150% of their program. 150% of the typical program at BC3 amounts to 96 credits. Transfer credits are included in the 96 credits.
Pell Lifetime Limit - Students are limited to the equivalent of six years funding. The maximum Pell Grant a student can receive per year is 100%, the six-year equivalent is 600%.
Subsidized Loan Limit - Students eligible to receive Direct Subsidized Loans are limited to 150% of the published length of the program. As a two-year institution, BC3 students may receive 3 years of Direct Subsidized Loans, provided otherwise eligible.
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 Direct Loan Program - 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 Direct Loan (Subsidized), no payments are made while the student continues at half-time status. If the student qualifies for a non-need-based Federal Direct 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 $5,500.00 at Grade Level 1 and up to $6,500.00 at Grade Level 2. Students have ten years to pay off the loan with a minimum payment of $50/month at 6.8% fixed interest rate.
Scholarships are academic awards for students meeting specific criteria. The Butler County Community College Education Foundation, Inc. awards more than $200,000 annually to eligible new and returning students. Scholarship information can be found on the BC3 website. The application will be posted April 15th and must be submitted by July 1st. Additional scholarship information is available in the BC3 Education Foundation, Inc. office.
Financial Aid Refunds
Financial Aid students that qualify for a refund can sign up at BC3 EZ-Refund on the Student Portal. Otherwise checks will be mailed.
Financial Aid is first applied to a student’s tuition balance approximately 30 days into the semester. Refunds are disbursed thereafter. Please see the Financial Aid webpage for dates.
Withdrawals & 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 Direct 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 Direct 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.