What kinds of information do I need to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)?
You must complete the FAFSA to be considered for financial aid at GCC. You’ll need income information from 2 years prior, typically obtained from your Federal Income Tax Return and W-2 wage statements. If you’re a dependent student, your parents will also need to supply their income and tax information. You should not send in any tax documents to GCC unless you are specifically asked to do so.
Once the Financial Aid Office receives all your required documentation, it may take up to 6-8 weeks before you receive an award offer. Students are expected to actively review their financial aid status and any outstanding requirements on MyGCC.
If you’ve been awarded financial aid, your funds will arrive on campus mid semester and pay toward any unpaid tuition, fee and bookstore charges for the term. Any excess funds are disbursed to you after the mid-semester point. If your bill isn’t covered completely by financial aid, you will need to make arrangements with the Bursar’s Office, by the bill due date, to pay the balance of the bill.
If you’ve given the Financial Aid Office permission (by signing the Acknowledgements and Certifications Form) to establish an account in the GCC Bookstore, you will be allowed to use financial aid to help purchase textbooks and supplies. Note that you will only have an account set up if you have excess financial aid after your tuition and fee bill is deducted from your award. If you don’t have enough excess aid for books and supplies, you will not have an account open at the Bookstore. If you add or drop classes after your bookstore account is set up, your aid may be adjusted and you could owe a balance. Speak with someone in the financial aid office before adjusting your schedule to find out how this will affect your eligibility.
Why am I still considered a dependent student? I’m 21 years old and haven’t lived with my parents for years.
For financial aid purposes, Federal and Massachusetts regulations consider students dependent until they are 24 years old, or are considered independent by marrying, serving in the military, or having dependents. Students may also be independent if they have been wards of the court. Find out more in our publication Are You an Independent Student?
Verification is a process where a GCC financial aid counselor compares information you provided on your FAFSA with information on tax and income documents. About 3 of every 10 students applying for financial aid at the College are selected for Verification by the Federal Department of Education. If you are selected for Verification, you will be asked to bring in copies of tax and income documents. Learn more about Verification.
To be eligible for financial aid, Federal and Massachusetts regulations and official GCC policy require students to be making “Satisfactory Academic Progress.” Each semester the Financial Aid Office monitors students’ GPA, and also reviews the success of financial aid students in earning credits toward their degrees and certificates. Students also need to earn their degrees within a certain number of attempted credits, usually about 90 credits for an associate degree. If you are not making satisfactory academic progress, you may appeal the status and if successful have your eligibility for financial aid reinstated.
Financial aid is pro-rated for the semester, meaning that aid is earned at a certain rate and not completely provided at the very beginning of the semester. After the 60% point in the semester, all financial aid is considered earned. Generally, earned aid is subtracted from your GCC bill for tuition, fees, and books. If earned aid is less than your bill, you will have to pay the balance.
Students must be enrolled at least six (6) credit hours to remain eligible to receive loan funds. If you drop below 6 credit hours, your loan will automatically be canceled. You must begin loan repayment with the Department of Education if you drop below 6 credit hours. If you are attending school at least half-time, you may have a set period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below 6 credit hours before you must begin repayment. This period of time is called a grace period. Your grace period will be 6 months for the Direct Loan.
Students who stop attending or participating in classes, without formally withdrawing from GCC, are considered to be withdrawn unofficially. If you stop attending your classes, you are no longer eligible to receive your financial aid for the term. Any financial aid awarded to you but not fully earned by you for the semester must be refunded to the Department of Education.
Students must maintain a G.P.A. of 2.0 at all times. Students who walk away from their class are automatically placed on Unsatisfactory Financial Aid Progress and must complete the Appeal Process.
All students are limited in the amount of time during which they can receive financial aid, even those students who are progressing well academically. In order to receive continued financial aid you must be actively completing your degree option. This is called Maximum Time Frame. Maximum Time Frame allows a student to complete his degree within 150% of the degree’s total credit requirements. Most degree options at GCC require a total of 60 credit hours. So, this means that a student can attempt no more than 90 credit hours toward his degree. Students are no longer eligible to receive financial aid at GCC after 90 attempted credit hours. Attempted credit hours include all withdrawal credits, including medical withdrawals, all failed or incomplete credits, all transferred credits, and all developmental course work.
I was a student several years ago. I didn’t do that well and now I’m re-entering GCC under Fresh-Start. How does my previous academic history affect my financial aid status today?
All previous academic history is counted as credits earned toward a degree, even if the student enters under Fresh Start. Fresh start waives the student’s previous academic progress and standing but it does not affect Financial Aid Progress.
I’ve earned 27 credits at GCC and I’ve also withdrawn from three 3-credit courses and two 4-credit lab science course. Do withdrawals count toward satisfactory financial aid progress? My GPA is 3.50.
All credits, attempted and earned, are counted toward degree completion. Attempted credit hours include all withdrawal credits, including medical withdrawals, all failed or incomplete credits, all transferred credits, and all developmental course work.
Even with a G.P.A. of 3.50 this student is not making satisfactory financial aid progress. In this example, the student has attempted a total 44 credit hours and earned only 27. Students must maintain a completion rate of 67% or more in order to maintain their good standing. This student’s completion rate is only 61%.
I’ve been at GCC for three years and I’ve earned 66 credit hours but I haven’t completed a degree program yet. I want to change my major, but my new major requires 45 credit hours that I still have to earn. Can I continue to receive financial aid for my new degree option?
Students must complete a degree or certificate within 150% of the required number of credits for that degree or certificate. Most associate degree programs at GCC require 60 credit hours of course completion. Because this student has already earned 66 credit hours without having earned a degree, he may not have enough financial aid eligibility remaining to cover his new change in major. He can only receive financial aid for 24 remaining credit hours.
I intend to apply to the one of the Nursing Programs but I need to complete pre-requisites. How long can I receive financial aid at GCC?
The regulation regarding Maximum Time Frame definitely applies to students earning pre-requisite courses. For example, if you matriculate into the Associates of Liberal Arts Degree – Health Science Option, you must complete all degree requirements within no more than 45 attempted credits before entering either the LPN Certificate Program or Associate of Science Nursing degree program. If you attempted 45 credits and still have pre-requisite courses to complete, you must first complete the Liberal Arts Degree Option before entering either the ADN Degree Program or the LPN Certificate Program.