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Financial Aid Policies

Policies

 


Disbursement Policy

The following disbursement policy is applied to all students receiving financial aid for each term of the academic year.  The objective is to deliver eligible financial aid in the timeliest manner possible, with less paperwork required from students.

Official Enrollment Level - Your enrollment level for financial aid purposes is the same as your enrollment level with the Registrar’s Office:  the number of credits you are enrolled in each term (including summer). Please refer to chart below: 

Student Undergraduate Enrollment Levels:

  • Full Time = 12 credit hours
  • 3/4 Time = 9-11 credit hours
  • 1/2 Time = 6-8 credit hours
  • Less Than 1/2 Time = 1-5 credit hours

Disbursement Policy Summary

  1. Refund disbursement begins 2 weeks after attendance verification is completed, then continues throughout the semester. Students attending a Term II class will not receive a disbursement until after Term II attendance verification is completed. Attendance verification, for students who receive federal aid, takes place after the drop and add period for every term. If a student is in the first year of undergraduate study and is a first-time Direct Subsidized/Direct Unsubsidized Loan borrower, the disbursement of the first installment of the Direct loan will not occur until 30 calendar days after the student’s program of study begins.
  2. Reduction or cancellation of aid creates a balance due on the student’s account. It is the student’s responsibility to make payment arrangements with the Business Office.
  3. Students enrolled less than half time are not eligible for Direct Loans.
  4. Retroactive aid (aid for a term that has ended prior to disbursement) must be disbursed based on completed classes/credits only. A completed class is a grade for that class that is either an A, B, C, or D. The student’s GPA must meet SAP standards. Loans must be originated before the end of the term for the semester.

Disbursement of Loan Funds After a Term Ends

To receive loan funds after a term ends, students must successfully complete a minimum of half-time credits for the previous term(s). Student must also be enrolled at least half-time and requesting loan funds for the current term.

If the student is receiving a loan for just one term (e.g., fall term only), the financial aid package must have been offered, accepted and processed before the end of that term. Federal regulations mandate that a loan for a term that has already ended can be certified only if the student is currently enrolled at least half time and there has been no break in enrollment.

Minimum Enrollment Requirements for Disbursement for Normal Terms

Aid Types Undergraduate Credits

Pell Grant = 1 credit hour (determined by EFC)

SEOG = 6 credit hours

Direct Loan = 6 credit hours

Parent PLUS Loan = 6 credit hours

Scholarships = Credit hours vary by scholarship

Federal Regulations - Cash Management

In an effort to protect students and ensure their best interest, the U.S. Department of Education published new cash management regulations (34CFR668.161-167) via the Federal Register on October 30, 2015. The Program Integrity and Improvement rules require the College to maintain, account for, and disburse Federal Title IV funds in accordance to these regulations. In addition, refunding credit balances associated with Federal Title IV should always be in the best interest of the student. This webpage is published to comply with these regulatory reporting requirements.

On July 1, 2020 the College started operations on a new platform. The Banner software has a payment component that also allows the school to go back to delivering ACH payment in house. As of Fall 2020 semester all disbursements are handled internally by Coastal Alabama Community College and students can receive checks or ACH disbursements. ACH disbursements must be set up through their OneACCS Student Account payment portal, which is TouchNet software provided through our Banner platform.

Students are not required to use the services of Touchnet to receive their refund via direct deposit. If a student is not set up for direct deposit via the Touchnet payment portal, a paper check will be mailed via the United States Postal Service.

 


Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Federal regulations require all students receiving federal financial aid (Federal Title IV aid including: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Stafford Subsidized, Unsubsidized or PLUS Loans) must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward completion of a degree or certificate. Students receiving an Alabama Student Assistance grant must also make satisfactory academic progress toward completion of a degree or certificate.

SAP is calculated each semester after grades have been posted to academic history by the Registrar’s Office. If after the first term of attendance the student is not making SAP, they will be placed on a Warning Status and allowed to keep aid for one term. A student’s continued eligibility will be determined after the next term checkpoint. If the student’s SAP status is Failure after the SAP check is performed, the student will not qualify for financial aid for the following term. However, the student has the right to complete the appeal process. Documentation from an unrelated Third-Party source of an extraordinary circumstance (a circumstance not under the control of the student) is required to support any appeal. NOTE: work is not considered an extraordinary circumstance.  A student may appeal their SAP Failure status only twice during their academic career at Coastal Alabama Community College. The SAP appeal form can be downloaded on Financial Aid Forms and Applications page.

After each review of satisfactory academic progress, students who do meet the progress requirements will be notified via their campus e-mail. The notice will tell the student to go to the student portal and ask them to review their status to see what type of satisfactory progress issue the student has: Warning, Failure or suspension due to exceeding maximum time.

According to 34 CFR 668-16(e), there are two major components of satisfactory academic progress: the qualitative component (cumulative GPA) and quantitative component (timeframe of completion).

Qualitative Requirement (Cumulative GPA)

Students must meet or exceed the following minimum cumulative GPA’s based upon total hours attempted:

Semester Credit Hours Attempted Cumulative GPA
1-21 1.50
22-32 1.75
33 and above 2.00

Quantitative Requirement (Timeframe for Completion)

Eligible students may receive federal financial aid for a period of time not to exceed 1.5 times the normal length of their program of study. As an example students enrolled in the Certificate programs may receive financial aid for a maximum of 45 credits ( 30 credits X 1.5) and if enrolled in an Associate degree students may receive financial aid for a maximum of 90 (60 credits X1.5) semester hours attempted. All credits transferred into the college will be counted toward the maximum number of hours attempted. Each student on federal financial aid must complete/earn hours at the appropriate rate (see table below) for all the hours he/she attempts in order to complete a program in the normal length of time allowed. Students who have not passed the required number of hours will be suspended (financial aid suspension) from receiving federal financial aid. Financial aid is reinstated when the student has achieved the minimum cumulative GPA required and earned the required minimum number of credit hours.

Completion Ration-Quantitative Measure of Progress

Hours Attempted % of Hours to be Completed Cumulative GPA
1-21 58% 1.5
22-32 62% 1.75
33 and above 67% 2.00

If a student repeats a course which was previously successfully completed, the hours obtained the second time the course is attempted do count toward the minimum number of academic hours required for program completion. Failing grades, withdrawals, incompletes, and/or repeated classes may result in financial aid suspension because these classes are considered as attempted hours not successfully completed (these hours are included in the maximum number of hours attempted).

Developmental Courses – A student receiving federal financial aid may not enroll in the same developmental (remedial) course more than three times and continue to receive federal financial aid. A federal financial aid recipient may not receive aid for more than 30 semester hours of developmental work. Credit hours attempted for developmental courses are included when determining a student’s qualitative or quantitative progress for financial aid, including the maximum time frame requirement.

Credits earned at another College/University - All college/university transcripts should be received by Coastal Alabama Community College prior to admission to the college, this requirement is stated on the college Admission Application .  These transcripts are evaluated by the college registrar and are then placed on the student’s transcript. These credits count toward a student’s satisfactory academic progress and can affect a student’s rate of completion and maximum time.   The transfer credits do not impact the GPA calculation.   

If the financial aid office discovers that a student has not reported their attendance at a previous college, the registrar’s office is notified, and a hold is placed on the student that will not allow any further registration activity until the transcript is received.  Also, any financial aid processing is halted until all transcripts are received.  This processing includes but not limited to:  packaging, verification, appeals for satisfactory academic progress and professional judgements.

Academic Suspension – Is different than Financial Aid Suspension. A student who is readmitted academically or who has appealed successfully appealed their academic suspension, may not be able to receive financial aid and MUST contact the financial aid office. Approval of the student’s appeal to the admissions committee for readmission does not reinstate the student’s eligibility for financial aid.

Change in Program – If a student changes programs, he or she will be allowed to continue to receive federal financial aid for 1.5 times the normal length of a degree program. Students changing programs /majors may have their satisfactory academic progress limited to courses that apply to the new program only.  If the student fails to complete a degree by 90 attempted credits, the student must appeal as Max Time appeal. The student must also appeal if they have earned a degree and are continuing to a second degree. Appeals must have a stated reason as to why the student did not complete and why the student changed programs.  The appeal must have attached a degree plan signed by the student and the student’s advisor indicating the courses by term that the student will need to graduate and the anticipated graduation date. If the appeal is granted, a completion rate of 100% and the signed academic degree plan must be followed.  If a student fails to follow the stated degree plan, federal aid will be suspended. Students who are on an appeal have their files check each and every enrollment period. A student may change programs of study more than once and may appeal but will not be allowed to receive federal financial aid for more than 180 credit hours attempted.

Withdrawals Due to COVID 19 - The college recognizes the hardship that COVID 19 has had on a student’s educational pursuit. On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared a national emergency. Therefore, any student who has a negative satisfactory academic progress outcome due to withdrawal from courses caused by the institutions COVID 19 rules or by the virus causing illness, will be allowed to appeal. In the appeal, the student must state the reason for the withdrawal and if possible any documentation that supports the reason for the withdrawal. Only courses withdrawn after March 13th qualify for this exception. This information will be reviewed and will have a positive effect on a student’s appeal.

Pass/Fail Courses - Courses taken for pass/fail will be excluded from the qualitative calculations but will be included in the quantitative calculation. All courses will be included in attempted credits and only pass credits will be included in earned credits.

Appeals Process – If a student wishes to request consideration for reinstatement of federal financial aid due to either a maximum time situation or an extraordinary circumstance (examples: the death of a parent, spouse or family member, documented medical issues, documented injury (Note: work is not considered extraordinary), the student must do the following:

  1. Complete a Financial Aid Appeal form and follow the form directions.
  2. A student must have a statement regarding why the student failed to make SAP (extraordinary circumstance).
  3. A student must have a statement of what has changed to allow the student to make SAP progress and what the student is going to do to be successful. This must include what the student intends to do differently to succeed academically.
  4. Students must provide a detailed academic plan signed by the student academic advisor, indicating courses needed to graduate in cases where financial aid suspension resulted from maximum time (credit consumption). This degree plan must include graduation date (term). If appeal is approved, the plan must be followed exactly or future aid will be removed.
  5. Provide third party unrelated professional documentation of reason for extraordinary circumstance. This documentation must be date and time specific and address the reason as stated in the appeal. For death of a family member, an original death certificate must be received, as well as other third party unrelated professional documentation that supports the reason as stated.

A student may submit an appeal for reinstatement of federal financial aid twice. Any appeals that are not complete will be returned to the student unprocessed. Once appeals are received by the Financial Aid Committee, written decisions will be sent to the student’s email within two weeks. The decision of the Financial Aid Appeal Committee is final.

Send to – Send all appeal documents to:

Coastal Alabama Community College

ATTN: Financial Aid Office

1900 US Highway 31 South
Bay Minette, AL 36507

 


Professional Judgment

The basic underlying assumption of student financial aid is that it is primarily the responsibility of the student and their family to pay educational costs. When there are unusual situations or circumstances that impact your federal student aid eligibility, federal regulations give a financial aid administrator discretion or professional judgment on a case-by-case basis and with adequate documentation to make adjustments to the data elements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form that impact your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to gain a more accurate assessment of your family's ability to contribute to your cost of education. Neither the President or the Department of Education have the authority to override a school's professional judgment decision.

There are two types of Professional Judgements: Dependency Override and Change of Circumstance. 

Dependency Override:

By petitioning for a dependency override, you are asking us to relieve your parents of the responsibility for using their resources to pay part of your college costs. Only very extenuating circumstances will make it reasonable to approve such a petition. The following conditions listed below DO NOT qualify as circumstances meriting a dependency override:

  1. Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education.
  2. Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.
  3. Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  4. Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

Unusual circumstances that DO merit a dependency override:

  1. Total abandonment by parents (generally a minimum of two years).
  2. An abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety.
  3. The death of one parent and student is unable to locate the other biological parent.

Change of Circumstances:

The following is a list of circumstances that may be used by a financial aid administrator in the use of Professional Judgment:

  • Unemployment or reduced employment of the student, spouse, or parent
  • Loss or reduction of an untaxed income or benefit
  • Disability of a student, a spouse, or a parent
  • Lump sum settlement received in the base year.
  • Excessive medical/dental expenses paid in the current year.
  • Divorce or separation of a dependent student’s parent or death of independent student's spouse
  • Dependent child-care costs paid in the current year. 
  • Disability expense allowance

Dates and Deadlines

To ensure processing before the start of the semester, professional judgement request via PJ Advisor (including any additional supporting documents) must be received by the following due dates:

Fall 2021:   July 12, 2021            Spring 2022:   December 12, 2021     Summer 2022:   April 12, 2022

The Process

Coastal Alabama Community College has partnered with Inceptia for professional judgement processing. We have a tool called PJ Advisor for your use to expedite the professional judgement request process. PJ Advisor is an accessible, intuitive tool that will guide you through the process to request a professional judgement. 

Getting Started

Start your request by accessing PJ Advisor at https://inceptia.org/pjadvisor/coastalalabama2022 You (or a parent, spouse, or legal guardian) will need to do the following*: 

  • Create a secure username and password. 
  • Select your dependency status as reported on the FAFSA. 
  • Answer the pre-screening questions and select your professional judgment request category. 
  • Explain your situation in detail, upload supporting documentation, and submit. 
  • Print, sign, and upload the signature page. 
  • Dependent students that provided parental information on the FAFSA are required to have one parent signature on the signature page once all documentation has been submitted. 

Upon receipt of all required documents, Coastal Alabama will conduct a preliminary review to ensure the submission is accurate and complete. You will be notified via email if there are any questions or if any additional documentation is required. Once the submission is verified as complete, the Financial Aid Office will advise you of your professional judgment request status (approval or denial) and any change in estimated family contribution (EFC) and aid package (Pell grant, subsidized loans, etc.).

Questions 

If you have any questions about the professional judgment request process, please contact Coastal Alabama Financial Aid office, 251.580.2151 or financial_aid@coastalalabama.edu

About Inceptia 
Inceptia, a division of National Student Loan Program (NSLP), is a nonprofit organization committed to offering effective and uncomplicated solutions in verification, financial aid management, financial education, and repayment wellness. Our mission is to support schools as they launch brilliant futures for students, armed with the knowledge to become financially responsible citizens. Since 1986, we have helped more than two million students at 5,500 schools reach their higher education dreams. Each year we help nearly 340,000 students learn how to pay for college, navigate financial aid, borrow wisely, and resolve their student loan repayment challenges. Our solutions are designed to support student success by helping financial aid administrators maximize resources, so they can spend more time focusing on students. Learn more at Inceptia.org.

 


Transfer Students

Transfer Monitoring is a process through which schools send student information to NSLDS, so the schools can be notified of relevant changes to a student's financial aid history and eligibility.

A Transfer Monitoring Hold is a seven day hold the Coastal Alabama’s Student Financial Aid Office uses to verify your financial aid history with the U.S. Department of Education. The Transfer Monitoring Hold is a federal requirement of all transfer students 30 days prior to the beginning of the semester.

 


Leave of Absence Policy

The purpose of this policy is to confirm that Coastal Alabama Community College (CA) is in compliance with federal regulations, 34 CFR 668.22 (d), regarding the process for students requesting a leave of absence.

A leave of absence (LOA) is a temporary interruption in a student’s program of study. A LOA cannot exceed 180 days in any 12 month period and may have a serious impact on a student’s financial aid.  Any student considering requesting a LOA that received financial aid, should consult with the Financial Aid Office to determine how their financial aid will be affected.

According to federal regulations, 34 CFR 668.22 (d), the following criteria outlines the requirements to process an approved LOA:

  • The student must request the leave of absence in advance in writing to their Dean for approval. The letter should state the reason(s) for the request. LOA can be granted after for unforeseen circumstances.
  • A LOA cannot be granted for academic reasons (i.e. to keep a student from failing).
  • There must be reasonable expectation that the student will return from LOA.
  • A student returning from a LOA must resume training at the same point in the academic program that he or she began the LOA.
  • Upon return from LOA, the institution may not assess the student any additional institutional charges. Therefore, the student is not eligible for any additional federal student aid (Title IV funds).
  • If a student is a Title IV recipient, the institution must explain the requirements and regulations of his/her financial aid status (grace period, repayment, etc.) prior to granting the LOA. The information that will be provided will include the financial consequences if the student fails to return from LOA.

A student granted a LOA is not to be considered withdrawn and no return of Title IV calculation is required. If a student does not meet the LOA criteria, the student is considered to have ceased attendance from the institution and a Title IV return of funds calculation is required if the student received federal aid.

When CA grants a student LOA, it will report a status of ‘A’ (approved leave of absence in NSLDS Enrollment Reporting. If the student fails to return CA must report the student as withdrawn. CA will use the LOA begin date as the withdrawal date.

Impact of a Leave of Absence on Financial Aid

A Leave of Absence (LOA) is granted by the College in which the student is enrolled.  A LOA is a temporary interruption in a student’s program of study during which the student is considered to be enrolled.  A LOA cannot exceed 180 days in any 12 month period and may have a serious impact on a student’s financial aid.  Any student considering requesting a leave of absence should consult with the Financial Aid Office to determine how their financial aid will be affected. Schools may neither credit a student’s account nor deliver loan proceeds to the student borrower while the student is on an approved leave of absence.

CA will not disburse loan funds to a student on LOA.

A student who is approved for a leave of absence after receiving financial aid for the semester may be required to return a portion of the aid previously received. Federal educational loan regulations state that when a student borrower ceases to be enrolled at least half-time for 180 days (6 months) in any 12-month period, the borrower will be considered as withdrawn from school for loan repayment purposes. At that point, the school is required to calculate the amount of financial aid the student earned and the amount of financial aid that must be returned. These calculations are based on the time the student was enrolled. The percentage of the semester the student completed is the percentage of aid the student can keep. The percentage of the semester the student did not complete is the percentage of aid that must be returned. Once a student completes more than 60% of the semester, the student has earned 100% of the aid they received for that semester.

Student borrowers are given a six month grace period on most types of federal loans starting at the date enrollment ceases. During this time, lenders will treat the borrower’s loans as if the borrower were still enrolled in school full-time. Once a grace period is used on a specific loan, it will not be given again. At the end of this six month grace period, the student will be required to enter repayment on their federal educational loans until they return to school; however, deferment or forbearance options are available if the student makes a request to their lender.

Federal Policy for Returning Federal Student Financial Aid

Students who are granted a leave of absence (that is expected to last 180 days or more) after paying for the semester’s tuition will be treated as withdrawn. The following federal policies will apply:

If a student received federal student aid before withdrawing, being dismissed, or being granted a leave of absence, any tuition refund calculated will be returned to the federal aid programs first. Federal regulations mandate that the percentage of the semester the student did not complete will be the percentage of available federal aid the student did not earn. If the student received more federal student aid than they earned, the school must return the unearned funds to the student’s lender in a specified order. Once the student has completed more than 60% of the semester, the student has earned 100% of their aid, and no federal refund is required. When a refund is required, the amount of the student’s aid that the school is required to return to the student’s lender is determined by multiplying the amount of the student’s tuition and fees by the percentage of the semester the student did not complete. Once institutional and federal refunds are complete, the student will be required to pay any remaining balance due the school within 30 days.

 


Financial Aid Fraud

Institutions must refer applicants who are suspected of having engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with Title IV programs to the Department of Education's Office of Inspector General. The regulations require only that the institution refer the suspected case for investigation, not that it reached a firm conclusion about the propriety of the applicant's conduct.

As stewards of Title IV funds, Coastal Alabama is obligated to assure that processes are developed to protect against fraud by either applicants or staff. All financial aid staff are responsible for detecting and reporting fraud. If, in the financial aid administrator’s judgment, the applicant and their family have provided a fraudulent application or documentation, it must be reported immediately to a supervisor.

The Office of Financial Aid must identify and resolve discrepancies in the information received from different sources with respect to a student's application for Title IV aid. Some of these areas include but are not limited to the following:

  1. All student aid applications (e.g., federal, state, institutional, etc.)
  2. Need analysis documents [e.g., Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) and Student Aid Reports (SARs)]
  3. Copies of federal and state income tax returns
  4. Information regarding a student's citizenship
  5. Previous educational experience (e.g., school credentials such as a high school diploma)
  6. Documentation of the student's Social Security Number (SSN)
  7. Other factors relating to the student's eligibility for funds under Title IV aid programs (e.g., compliance with the Selective Service registration requirement)

In the context of the financial aid office, fraud is the willful misrepresentation or falsification of information for the purpose of securing financial aid that the individual is not eligible for or not eligible to the extent received. Title IV fraud can take many forms, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Falsified documents or forged signatures on an application, verification documents, or loan promissory notes
  2. False statements of income
  3. False statements of citizenship
  4. Use of false or fictitious names or aliases, addresses, or SSNs, including the deliberate use of multiple SSNs
  5. False claims of independent status
  6. Patterns of misreported information from one year to the next

Referrals to the Office of Inspector General

If Coastal Alabama suspects that a student, employee, or other individual has misreported information and/or altered documentation to increase student aid eligibility or to fraudulently obtain federal funds, it must report those suspicions and provide any evidence to the Department of Education's Office of Inspector General.

 


Return of Title IV Funds

In accordance with Federal regulations, those students who receive federal financial aid and who officially withdraw from the College during the first 60 percent of a term will have their federal financial aid adjusted. To officially withdraw from the College, a student may withdraw any time prior to the last day of class before any final exams start for any semester or term, as published in the printed semester schedule for the College. To withdraw, students must file an official withdrawal form in either the Registrar’s Office or in the Administrative Offices on branch campuses.

The adjustment is based on the percentage of calendar days used in the academic period. This percent is calculated by dividing the number of days in the term (excluding breaks of five days or longer) into the number of days completed prior to the withdrawal (excluding breaks of five days or longer).

The date of withdrawal will be the date the student begins the withdrawal process.

Students who do not follow the official withdrawal procedure but who stop attending classes for all of their courses will be considered to have withdrawn at the 50 percent point of the term unless attendance is documented after that time. Attendance is tracked electronically for students taking Distance Education courses. Distance education students should follow the official withdrawal procedure and base their official withdrawal date on their actual last date of attendance (i.e. course participation). There will be no adjustment to federal financial aid after the completion of at least 60 percent of the term.

A student who receives all “F”s or all “W”s, and whose last day of attendance was before the 60 percent date of the term, will have their federal aid adjusted as stated previously.

Once the amount of federal funds to be returned has been calculated, the funds will be returned in the following order:

  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loans
  • Subsidized Stafford Loans
  • PLUS Loans
  • Pell Grants
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants

Starting in Fall 2020, students will no longer be expected to pay the college any money associated with Title IV calculations. The college will waiver all funds that are due from the student for any of these calculations, this is per college directive. This is to help these students to be able to register for upcoming terms. 12/07/20