About Student Financial Services
The most important function of Student Financial Services (SFS) is to administer and manage financial assistance programs to the benefit of eligible students and families who are unable to afford the cost of a college education. The goal of the SFS Office is to help students avail themselves of as many federal, state and institutional financial aid program opportunities as possible.
Financial aid comes in three basic types:
- Work-study programs
Any or all of these may be combined in a financial aid package to help pay for educational expenses. Generally, scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid. Loans must be repaid and are therefore not encouraged unless absolutely necessary as a last resort.
This section describes most available financial aid programs, their requirements, and other pertinent policies and procedures. Not all policies and procedures that SFS Offices of the Alamo Colleges are required to follow are listed. Policies listed here are only those deemed most important to students. The Alamo Colleges comply with all state and federal regulations governing administration of student financial aid programs. It is important to note that these policies change unexpectedly as a result of legislative action or U. S. Department of Education interpretation. Therefore, in the event of changes after the editing of this catalog, the Alamo Colleges will comply with the most current regulations and interpretations thereof. Extensive financial aid information can be found at the Alamo Colleges’ Student Financial Services web page. This link will also provide additional information about student aid programs, scholarship searches, applying for financial aid, and links to other helpful websites.
Aid Eligibility for Corporate and Community Education Courses
Tuition assistance is available for eligible individuals who wish to enroll in Corporate and Community Education courses. The Texas Public Education Grant for Continuing Education (TPEG-CE) may be used for tuition only charges of non-credit courses. There is no reimbursement for pre-paid tuition bills. Financial aid may be awarded in an amount not to exceed 50-100% of course tuition, but funded amounts will be determined by each Student Financial Services Office. The standard Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and verification process (if selected) must be completed by the appropriate Processing Guarantee Date for the period (semester) during which the course is offered. Once the FAFSA results are received, the TPEG-CE application may then be submitted for processing. Applications are available in the Student Financial Services Offices. Awards will be based on determined eligibility and available state funding. Training programs that exceed a total of 260 clock hours will not be eligible.
In addition, limited loan assistance can be obtained by eligible students who are pursuing a teacher certification. Grant funding is sometimes available as well. Interested students should check with the Teacher Certification Office at their college for more details on the availability of assistance and specific application information.
What Is the FAFSA and What Does It Do
In order to determine financial aid eligibility for all federal financial aid programs, the U.S. Department of Education has developed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The state of Texas has also opted to accept the FAFSA and the financial aid methodology it represents to establish financial aid eligibility for state programs.
The FAFSA is the first step in the financial aid process and assesses a student’s or a family’s financial ability to pay. Responses to questions on the FAFSA go into a formula established by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, called the Federal Methodology. The result is a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Colleges use the EFC to determine students’ financial need and their state, federal or institutional aid eligibility.
The FAFSA is available from high school guidance counselors, any public library, financial aid administrators at any university, or any of the Alamo Colleges’ SFS Offices. The FAFSA can be ordered by calling 1-800-4FEDAID. For faster processing a FAFSA can be accessed and completed online by logging onto www.fafsa.ed.gov. Each person who is required to sign the online FAFSA will need a Personal Identification Number (PIN). FAFSA PINs can be obtained online at www.pin.ed.gov.
Applying for Financial Aid at the Alamo Colleges
Students who apply for financial aid at the Alamo Colleges are automatically considered for the following programs:
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
- Federal Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)
- Texas Public Education Grant (TPEG)
Students may also complete a separate application for the following as well as other programs:
The application procedures are described below and apply to need-based grants, loans, and work-study. Alamo Colleges’ Scholarship program is administered separate from the Financial Aid Office, but scholarship awards are considered a resource when determining eligibility for other financial aid. Apply for an Alamo Colleges’ scholarship by logging onto www.alamo.edu and click Financial Aid under Admissions in the left navigation bar. In addition, information about the Early High School Graduation Scholarship, the Educational Aide Exemption, and the Hazlewood Act Exemption can be found in the Financial Aid Resources section.
Applications for aid will be considered complete when the following has taken place at one of the Alamo Colleges:
- The student has been accepted for admission in a program of study leading to a degree or certificate and is making Satisfactory Academic Progress. First-time college freshmen are assumed to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress.
- The student has the following on file in Student Financial Services:
- The financial aid application. To ensure the application is electronically forwarded, the Federal School Code of the Alamo College that is the student’s home/primary college must appear on the FAFSA. Since many students enroll at more than one of the Alamo Colleges in the same year, it is advisable to list the school codes for all the colleges on the FAFSA. In addition, the name and Social Security Number recorded at the home/primary college must match exactly the name and Social Security Number recorded on the FAFSA.
- Northwest Vista College – Federal School Code…033723
- Palo Alto College – Federal School Code…………016615
- San Antonio College – Federal School Code……009163
- St. Philip’s College – Federal School Code………003608
- Northeast Lakeview College - Code not assigned. Students attending NLC who desire to use financial aid programs must register as San Antonio College students and enroll in courses San Antonio College offers at Northeast Lakeview College. Use SAC’s code: 009163.
- If selected for verification, the student must submit the appropriate Dependent/Independent Verification Worksheet, an official Tax Transcript from the IRS, documentation of benefits and untaxed income, plus any other required documentation. Please see the section on Verification below for more specific information about requirements and procedures.
It is essential that the SFS Office always have the student’s most current permanent address and email address to avoid delays and ensure that important documents are received promptly. Update addresses as often as necessary by completing the appropriate forms at the Enrollment Services/Admissions and Records office.
Deadlines for Filing the FAFSA
The U.S. Department of Education publishes general deadlines that apply to the processing of a FAFSA online. A processed FAFSA, however, does not guarantee that an eligible student will receive financial aid. While Alamo Colleges’ SFS offices accept financial aid applications virtually all year round, the student’s complete financial aid application must be received at least ten (10) weeks before the end of the semester to receive full consideration for funding. In addition, since funding is limited, grants and scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students who qualify. Therefore, applications should be received by the dates below in order to be considered on-time for the indicated semester:
||Processing Guarantee Date
||May 1, 2012
||November 1, 2012
||March 1, 2013
Completed applications/files received by the priority date will receive priority consideration of all available funds, subject to each student’s eligibility. Students who submit a completed application/file (including all required documents) by the Processing Guarantee Date will have an award or denial of aid by the first class day. Completed applications/files received after the guarantee date will be processed according to date of completion, but will most likely not be processed by the payment deadline. Students in this situation should be prepared to make payment arrangements with the Bursar’s Office in regards to their tuition balance before the bill is due. A separate Summer Application is required to be considered for summer aid.
Eligibility Requirements for Student Financial Aid
In general, students are eligible for federal, state, and institutional aid if they meet the following requirements:
- Be enrolled for at least six (6) semester credit hours as a regular student in an eligible program. (Less than half-time students may receive a Pell Grant if they are eligible.);
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen. Undocumented students who meet the criteria for Texas residency under HB1403 qualify for limited state financial aid;
- Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate;
- Not be in default on any student loan or owe a refund to a federal financial aid program;
- Make Satisfactory Academic Progress in a declared course of study. All students must be familiar with the Alamo Colleges’ Satisfactory Academic Progress policy;
- Have financial need as determined by the federal need analysis methodology and institutional guidelines; and
- Not have been convicted of a felony or crime involving a controlled substance.
Calculating Financial Need
The information students report when completing the FAFSA is used in a formula established by Congress that calculates an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount students and their families are expected to have available toward the student’s educational costs. For the Federal Pell Grant Program, if the EFC is below a certain number, students are eligible for a Pell Grant, assuming they meet all other eligibility requirements. There is no maximum EFC that defines eligibility for college-based programs. Instead, the EFC is used in an equation to determine financial need:
Cost of Education
– Expected Family Contribution
= Financial Need
The difference between the cost of education and the Expected Family Contribution is considered the student’s financial need. The financial need calculation helps the SFS Office establish eligibility for grants, loans, and work study. The combination of financial aid from these sources is called a financial aid package and it is meant to help meet the student’s eligibility.
A booklet describing the formula that produces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is available by writing to:
Federal Student Aid Information Center
P.O. Box 84
Washington, D.C. 20044
Verification is the process by which a student’s financial aid application data is checked for accuracy. Only those students selected for verification by the federal processor need to go through this process. The U.S. Department of Education requires all colleges to complete this process for all students selected without exception. Students are notified of this requirement via the Student Aid Report (SAR) and through an email from the Alamo Colleges’ Student Financial Services Office. Log on to ACES at alamo.edu to view the specific documents that must be submitted to the Student Financial Services Office.
Students selected for verification are typically asked to submit the following documents, if applicable to their situation:
- An official Tax Transcript of the student’s (and spouse’s, if applicable) from the Internal Revenue Service if the Tax Retrieval Tool was not used or corrections were made by the student after the Tax Retrieval Tool was used
- An official Tax Transcript of the parent’s (and spouse’s, if applicable) from the Internal Revenue Service if the Tax Retrieval Tool was not used or corrections were made by the student after the Tax Retrieval Tool was used
- Verification Worksheet (available at Student Financial Services); and
- Documentation that verifies benefits or untaxed income, such as:
- Child Support-Paid and Received
- Untaxed Pensions
- Food Stamp benefits
- Other untaxed income and benefits
Notification of Financial Aid Awards
All financial aid award notifications to students from the SFS Office can be found on the student’s personal page in ACES. The SFS Office no longer mails out written notifications. Instead, students are contacted via email at the personal email address provided on the FAFSA, and at the one assigned by the Alamo Colleges, to check their financial aid status online. The email provides instructions on how to view and accept awards via the Web for Students at the above web address. Students can view each source of aid and amount that they have been awarded. In order for aid to be credited to their account, students must accept their award on-line. The SFS Office can assist students in navigating the Web site or provide written instructions.
Awards are automatically accepted for students. This means that financial aid recipients who register for classes and then do not intend to stay enrolled must officially drop their classes to avoid future aid paying their bill. To avoid possible repayment of financial aid funds, students should drop courses at least ten (10) days prior to the first day of classes. Students can view an Financial Aid Tutorial to learn how to view their educational information online.
Receiving Financial Aid Funds
The Alamo Colleges Bursar’s Office is responsible for distribution of financial aid funds once the award has been completed by Student Financial Services. Checks generated in the first (1) check run at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters are mailed to students at their permanent address without exception. Checks generated the rest of the term are held at the Bursar/Business Office for a few days for students to pick up before they are mailed. Loan funds are also credited directly into students’ accounts. This means that disbursement of loan funds is made on the same schedule as grants and scholarships. Electronic deposit is now available for students to receive financial aid funds. Inquire with the college Bursar’s Office for details.
Given that not all checks can be released to students by the payment deadline, students must make arrangements on their own for payment of tuition and for the purchase of books and supplies.
Satisfactory Academic Progress for Purposes of Financial Aid
Federal Regulations require all students applying for financial assistance to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress in order to receive aid. The progress standards that students are required to meet in order to maintain financial aid eligibility are:
- A minimum 2.0 GPA, “C” or better, per semester and overall GPA;
- Successful completion of 67% of all coursework attempted; and
- Completion of the academic program of study within ninety-nine (99) hours of attempted coursework (including all hours attempted at other colleges). Note: Thirty (30) hours of non-repeated developmental classes may be excluded from the ninety-nine (99) hours.
Compliance with the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy must be met in order for a student to retain their financial aid eligibility. Students are advised to check their status through their ACES account. Final Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) rules were published in the October 29, 2010 Federal Register to be effective July 1, 2011. The revised current regulations clarify, standardize, and strengthen provisions on school evaluations of the qualitative (grades and academic standing) and quantitative (pace of completion) aspects of a student’s progress in a program for Title IV funding purposes.
The information below describes each status in more detail:
Students are considered to be in Good Standing with Financial Aid if they meet all three (3) standards of progress outlined above. These students may participate in any financial aid programs provided they meet all other eligibility criteria, subject to availability of funds.
Financial Aid Suspension
Students are suspended from financial aid if they do not meet one (1) or more of the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) criteria listed above. These students are sent a financial aid suspension notice and can continue to enroll but at their own expense.
Students may appeal their suspension status or may appeal to receive a loan if they have been denied one due to their suspension status. The appeal should include a personal statement (with appropriate documentation) detailing the circumstances that resulted in their failure to meet the required standardsand an Academic Plan detailing actions the student will take to achieve and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. Those who have been suspended due to exceeding ninety-nine (99) attempted hours must submit a degree plan, signed by an advisor, clearly showing courses earned towards the program, courses still needed, and the anticipated graduation date. Appeal Packets, complete with forms and instructions, are available in the Financial Aid office and online.
In addition, students appealing their financial aid are required to complete a financial literacy course. More information regarding the financial literacy course is available on the Financial Aid website.
If the appeal is approved, eligibility is reinstated subject to program requirements. Progress is reviewed at the end of the semester to make sure that the student is meeting the standards and following the degree plan. Failure in either of these criteria will again result in financial aid suspension.
If the appeal is denied, no financial aid of any kind may be awarded. Students can continue to enroll but at their own expense. A re-appeal is acceptable after students have completed at least one (1) semester (preferably two (2)) and believe they can make a case for getting back on track academically. The Committee’s decision is final and may not be appealed further.
||May1-June 28, 2012
||September 17-October 31, 2012
||No Summer Appeal Process
Spring and Summer Transfer Students
Students transferring from another institution during the Spring or Summer semesters must make sure that their prior institution reports to the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) the cancellation of any undisbursed Federal Pell Grant and Stafford Loan amounts.
Failure to do so will prevent any of the Alamo Colleges from awarding any remaining funds for which a student is still eligible from those student aid programs. Students who plan to enroll at the Alamo Colleges only during the Summer and then return to their home institution the following Fall semester, are considered transient students and are therefore not eligible for financial aid at the Alamo Colleges.
Concurrent Enrollment and Financial Aid Eligibility
Students may only receive aid at one school per period of enrollment. Students who are enrolled at two (2) or more of the Alamo Colleges for the same semester may receive financial aid at the college they have declared as their home/primary college, if they are enrolled at their primary college. Some programs require that students be enrolled at their primary institution for six (6) or more hours. At no time will students be allowed to count enrollment outside the Alamo Colleges towards their eligibility for financial aid at one of the Alamo Colleges.
Enrollment Status by Session
Eligibility for financial aid is based on the semester credit hours in which students are enrolled. The Federal Pell Grant program allows for payment of three (3) or more hours based on eligibility. Note that the enrollment status definitions for financial aid purposes differ from academic enrollment.
Fall/Spring 16-Week Sessions
- Full-Time Student - Twelve (12) or more semester credit hours
- Three-Quarter-Time Student - Nine to eleven (9-11) semester credit hours
- Half-Time Student - Six to eight (6-8) semester credit hours
- Maximum Hours Allowed - Eighteen (18) semester credit hours
Fall/Spring Start Two 14-Week Sessions
- Full-Time Student - Twelve (12) or more semester credit hours
- Three-Quarter-Time Student - Nine to eleven (9-11) semester credit hours
- Half-Time Student - Six to eight (6-8) semester credit hours
Flex Six-Week Session
Maximum Hours for Payment: Six (6) semester credit hours
Summer Sessions I and II are combined for financial aid purposes. It is recommended that students register for a minimum of six (6) semester credit hours prior to the start of Summer I in order to be eligible for all possible sources of aid that may be available. Students planning to attend Summer Sessions I and II should register for both sessions prior to the start of Summer I in order to receive funding for Summer II.
Maximum Hours for Payment: Six (6) semester credit hours for each session with a combined twelve (12) semester credit hours.
Maymester is considered part of the Summer Session; see above.
Consortium Agreements and Financial Aid Eligibility
The Alamo Colleges will sometimes enter into consortium agreements with institutions willing to consider a student’s concurrent enrollment at an Alamo Colleges school as part of the student’s semester course load at their school for the purpose of awarding aid through their financial aid office. That institution becomes the student’s home institution for financial aid purposes, and it initiates such agreements on behalf of the student. These students are automatically ineligible for aid from any of the Alamo Colleges. All consortium agreements must be approved by the appropriate Alamo Colleges authorizing official.
Withdrawing from College and Returning Financial Aid Funds
It is important that students know the Census Date for each semester or session. Although students may be awarded aid based on the number of hours they register for at the start of the semester, financial aid will be recalculated on the basis of the number of hours in which they are still enrolled by the Census Day. For example, students who are initially awarded as full-time (twelve (12) hours) will have their financial aid award adjusted to half-time if they have dropped to six (6) hours by the Census Day. For some aid programs this means that the student has to pay back half of the aid received. A drop in enrollment (but not 100% withdrawal) after the Census Day will not impact the amount of aid received with two (2) exceptions: Federal Work-Study and loans cannot be disbursed at any time in the semester when a student is enrolled in less than six (6) hours. All enrollment adjustments (drops and adds) must be complete as of the end of business on the semester Census Date. Pell Grant adjustments cannot be made after the Census Date.
When students withdraw 100%, federal regulations require all schools to pro-rate the amount of financial aid that they have earned based on the percentage of the semester that they have attended classes. The regulations require that such a percentage be calculated up until the 60% mark of the semester. Since in most cases students are disbursed 100% of their financial aid under the assumption that they will stay in school the entire semester, withdrawing before the 60% mark means they will have to pay back a portion of their financial aid. Failure to repay these funds results in Financial Aid Holds that prevent future registration at any college or university.
Return of Title IV Fund Order:
- Federal Unsubsidized Loans/Direct Loans
- Federal Subsidized Loans/Direct Loans
- Federal Perkins Loan
- Federal PLUS Loans/Direct PLUS Loans or Grad PLUS Loans
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
- Federal TEACH Grant
- Federal Iraqi & Afghanistan Service Grant
If a student withdraws before financial aid is disbursed, financial aid amounts will be pro-rated according to federal regulations.
State, local, and institutional grants, loans, and scholarships are also subject to evaluation to assess impact of changes in enrollment status.