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The Office of Financial Assistance News: Important Changes in the Financial Assistance Programs

Expected Family Contribution

The expected family contribution (EFC) is utilized to determine federal student aid eligibility. The lower the EFC a student receives, the higher the student’s federal aid eligibility. A change has been made to the income amount that is used to determine if a student qualifies for an automatic EFC of zero.

When students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), they receive an Expected Family Contribution, which is a number used to determine their federal student aid eligibility. For the 2012-13 academic year students will automatically qualify for an Expected Family Contribution of zero if their family income does not exceed $23,000.

Federal Pell Grant – Duration of Eligibility

Due to recently established regulations from the U.S. Department of Education, the duration of a student’s eligibility to receive a federal Pell Grant has been reduced from 18 full-time semesters to 12 full-time semesters. If a student exceeds the maximum of 12 semesters or the equivalent, they will be ineligible for additional Pell Grants beginning the academic year of 2012-13. Equivalency is calculated by adding together the percentage of your Pell eligibility that you received each year to determine whether the total amount exceeds 600 percent.

For example, if a student’s maximum Pell Grant award amount for the 2010-2011 school year was $5,550, but the student only received $2,775 because he/she was only enrolled for one semester, the student would have used 50 percent of his/her maximum award for that year. If in the following school year, a student was enrolled only three-quarter time, he/she would have used 75 percent of his/her maximum award for that year. Together, the student would have received 125 percent out of the total 600 percent lifetime limit.

Federal Loan Program

Direct Subsidized Loans are not eligible for an interest subsidy during the six-month grace period.

A subsidized loan is a loan for which the borrower is not responsible for accruing interest due to enrollment as a student at least half time, when the loan is within the six month grace period for non-enrollment or when the loan(s) are in deferment status. For a student loan that was/is initially disbursed on or after July 1, 2012, and before July 1, 2014, the student will be responsible for the interest that accrues while the loan is in the grace period. The borrower does not have to make payments during the grace period (unless they choose), but the interest will be capitalized (added to the principal amount of their loan) when the grace period ends. This provision does not eliminate the interest subsidy while the borrower is in school or during eligible periods of deferment.

Previously, the U.S. Department could offer borrowers repayment incentives. For loans distributed on or after July 1, 2012, the Department of Education will not offer any repayment incentives to Direct Loan borrowers. The only exceptions are reductions in interest rates for those borrowers who agree to automatic withdrawals to be electronically transmitted from their bank accounts.

For questions about how these changes, students are encouraged to contact the financial aid administrator at the institution to which they are attending or call 1-800-4-FED-AID.

Verification Process

Students selected for verification are now required to submit a federal tax return transcript to the financial assistance office at the institution to which they are attending. The transcript is not copies of the federal tax return. A transcript can be requested from the IRS:

· Online at the IRS website www.irs.gov

· By telephone by calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946

· Via paper request which can be downloaded at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506tez.pdf

For more information about the process, please review the Verification Process page under the important documents on the Financial Assistance web page.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Assistance to ensure financial aid recipients are making satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward a degree as a condition of receiving their federal and or state financial aid funds. In order to successfully meet the satisfactory academic progress standards a student must:

1. Maintain academic standing, derived from grades, that is consistent with graduation requirements at the University. This is a minimum GPA of 2.00

  1. Complete a reasonable number of credit hours toward a degree each academic year. Students must complete 60 percent of the total credit hours they attempt each semester.
  2. Complete their degree program within a maximum timeframe of 150 percent of the required hours for the degree. For a baccalaureate completer this would be within 180 attempted hours.
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