General FAQs

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.

How long does it take to process my FAFSA?

Once the Financial Aid Office receives all your required documentation, it may take up to 4-6 weeks before you receive an award offer. Students are expected to actively review their financial aid status and any outstanding requirements on MyGCC.

How is my bill for tuition and fees paid?

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.

How are my books and supplies paid?

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?

What is Verification?

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.

What is “Satisfactory Academic Progress” and how does it affect my financial aid?

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.

What happens to my financial aid if I drop or withdraw from classes during the semester?

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. A student “earns” financial aid in proportion to the time they are enrolled up to the 60% point. If you stop attending classes, or withdraw from the college, you may not be eligible for all the aid awarded. Students who officially withdraw from the college will have their financial aid calculated to determine the percentage of aid that was earned at the point of withdrawal; any unearned aid will be returned to the appropriate federal aid program. This is known as the Return of Title IV Federal Financial Aid. If earned aid is less than your bill, you will have to pay the balance. After the 60% point in the semester, all financial aid is considered earned. This policy also applies to medical withdrawals.

PRO-RATION EXAMPLE: A student is enrolled for 10-credit hours during the fall semester. Their original award was a Pell grant for $2,286. They withdrew on 10/02/18, completing 30 out of 109 days in the semester. They earned 27.5% of their Pell Grant adjusting their award to $628.55. The college returned $1,657.35 to the Federal Government and the student now has an outstanding bill. Within 30 days of determining the withdrawal date the college mails a letter to the student notifying them of the calculation and their revised financial aid award.

As part of the Return calculation an evaluation will be done to determine if aid was eligible to be disbursed but had not disbursed as of the withdrawal date. If the student meets the federal criteria for a post withdrawal disbursement, the student will be notified of their eligibility within 30-days of determining the withdrawal date. Any post withdrawal aid the student is eligible for or wishes to accept would first be applied toward outstanding charges before any funds are returned to the student.

For a student who withdraws after the 60% point-in-time, there is no unearned aid. However, the school will still complete a Return calculation in order to determine whether the student is eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement.

What happens to my loans if I drop below 6 credits?

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.

What happens to my financial aid if I stop attending classes?

Financial aid is awarded under the assumption that the student will attend Greenfield Community College for the entire semester for which financial aid was awarded. Federal regulations require the school to determine whether the student established eligibility for each Title IV eligible class. Students who stop attending or participating in classes, without formally withdrawing from GCC, are considered to be withdrawn unofficially. GCC does not have an attendance policy. However, the college monitors attendance based on mid-term early progress reports and final grades. If you failed to pass any of your classes the college will consider you to have unofficially withdrawn. The college will attempt to determine your last day of attendance by using the dates on early progress and final grade reports. Instructors may also be contacted for further information regarding your participation and attendance. Once it is determined that a student has unofficially withdrawn, the college will process the refund calculation at 50%. Any financial aid awarded to you, but not fully earned by you, for the semester must be refunded to the Federal Department of Education. As with the official withdrawal from the college, the student will be responsible for any outstanding charges.

Students must maintain a G.P.A. of 2.0 at all times. Students who walk away from their classes are automatically placed on Unsatisfactory Financial Aid Progress and must complete the Appeal Process, if enrolling in a future semester and applying for financial aid funds.

We understand that sometimes students must withdraw from the college. Whenever you are contemplating withdrawal or feel that you may not be able to complete the semester we strongly encourage you to first contact your academic advisor as well as the financial aid office. You may find that there are other options available to you that you may not have considered. We can discuss support options like peer mentoring or tutoring, community resources, and on-campus support systems.

Is my financial aid limited? How long can I receive financial aid at GCC?

All students are limited in the amount of credits for which they can receive financial aid, even those students who are progressing well academically. In order to receive continued financial aid students must be actively progressing towards degree completion. This is called Maximum Time Frame. Maximum Time Frame allows a student to complete their 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 attempted 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 in 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.