Financial Aid Policies
Packaging of Financial Aid
Financial Aid is a process which involves many stakeholders including the student and family, the Department of Education, the IRS, many College Offices including Financial Aid, Admissions, Registrar, Instructional and more. Packaging financial aid takes time and filing a FAFSA is the start of the process. Once a FAFSA is submitted, it takes 3 to 5 business days to reach Coastal Alabama. If additional information is necessary, the process can take a week to 10 days.
Once packaged, a student’s financial aid offer is viewable in the OneACCS student portal. A notification, and all other notifications, are sent via the student’s Coastal email address as agreed upon during the admissions application process. By signing into the student portal and clicking the Financial Aid Dashboard, the student can view their financial aid offer. This offer will include any grant aid the student is eligible to receive as well as federal direct student loans. Please note all students are eligible for loans unless:
- they have defaulted on a previous loan
- they are academically ineligible to receive loans, or
- they have used their maximum loan amount eligibility.
Financial Aid will not be packaged until students are unconditionally admitted to the College. All transcripts must be on file and all Admissions requirements must be complete.
Credit Hour and Enrollment Status (pertains to all Financial Aid Policies)
- Full-Time = 12 or more credit hours in degree plan
- Three-Quarter Time = 9 to 11 credit hours in degree plan
- Half-Time = 6 to 8 credit hours in degree plan
- Less-Than-Half-Time = 5 or fewer credit hours in degree plan – not eligible for federal student loans
Pell Census Date
Coastal Alabama Community College uses one Census (Freeze) date to determine Pell Grant eligibility for the semester. The Census date refers to the point at which your enrolled credit hours are locked for Pell Grant eligibility purposes. The Census date does not apply to other forms of federal financial aid, including loans and FSEOG.
The Census/Freeze will occur every semester, after attendance verification and the reinstatement period for full term classes has ended, which is approximately two weeks into the semester. The classes in which you are enrolled at close of business on the Census date will determine Pell Grant eligibility. It is important to register for all classes prior to the Census date. Credit hours added after the census date cannot be used to increase Pell Grant eligibility.
For example: If you are registered for 9 credit hours on or before the census date for the term, you will be packaged Pell at the three-quarter award status. If you add a 3 credit hour class after the census date, which brings your total credit hours to 12, your Pell eligibility status does not change and you will not receive an increase in your Pell Grant for the added class. This includes adding classes to the second mini term.
Students who receive their initial Pell after the census date will receive Pell according to their course enrollment. If a student drops a course prior to the census/freeze date Pell may be adjusted and tuition will be charged.
Students who are only registered for Mini Term II courses and whose initial package date is for Term II, will receive their Pell according to their registration for Term II. If a student is enrolled for only Mini Term II courses drops courses after the initial census/freeze date their Pell will be adjusted and tuition charges will apply.
Any adjustments to enrollment after the census date are not factored into the student’s eligibility for the term unless the student totally withdraws from the term. For more information on withdrawals, see the R2T4 Policy.
This policy applies to students receiving financial aid. Students must be degree seeking and enrolled in courses in their Program of Study to be eligible for a disbursement of financial aid.
- Refund disbursements begin approximately 2 weeks after attendance verification is complete. This process continues throughout the semester. Students in Mini-Term 2 classes will not receive a disbursement until attendance verification is complete for Mini-Term 2 classes.
- First-time student loan borrowers will not receive a disbursement until 30 calendar days after the first day of class for the term.
- If a reduction or cancellation of aid creates a balance due on a student’s account, the student must make payment arrangements with the Business Office.
Return to Title IV
In accordance with Federal regulations, students who receive federal financial aid and who completely withdraw from the College during the first 60 percent of a term will have their federal financial aid adjusted. A student may withdraw any time prior to the last day of class before final exams begin. To withdraw, students must complete the withdrawal form online.
Any adjustment is based on the percentage of calendar days for the term. The percentage is calculated by dividing the days the student completed by the total days in the term. The total days in the term excludes breaks of five or more days. The date used for the adjustment is the date reported as the last date of attendance in the College system. This policy applies to all methods of course delivery. There will be no adjustments to aid after the completion of at least 60 percent of the term.
A student who receives all “F”s or all “W”s is subject to a Return to Title IV for failure to pass. Adjustments are made when the last date of attendance is prior to the 60 percent date of the term.
Funds are returned to the Department of Education in accordance with regulations. Beginning Fall 2020, students may no longer be expected to pay the College for money associated with the Title IV calculations. However, students withdrawing immediately after receiving a refund, may be subject to owing a partial balance to the College. Otherwise, the College will waiver most balances created by a return to Title IV calculation.
Transfer Monitoring is a process through which schools send student information to NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System), 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, placed on accounts and used to verify a student’s financial aid history. The Transfer Monitoring Hold is a federal requirement for all transfer students. This hold prevents disbursement of federal aid. This hold will appear 30 days prior to the beginning of the semester. Students who submit a FAFSA later than 30 days prior to the semester, will still have the hold preventing disbursement for 7 days. Students are encouraged to submit FAFSAs prior to the semester beginning. Students with a transfer monitoring hold may be responsible for balances and be dropped from classes due to non-payment.
Cash Management Disclosure
All refund disbursements are handled internally by Coastal Alabama Community College. Students can receive refunds via check or direct deposit. Direct deposit must be set up through the OneACCS student portal via TouchNet. Students not using direct deposit will receive paper checks mailed via the US Postal Service. In accordance with the U.S. Department of Education Cash Management Regulations (34CFR668.161-167).
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.
Financial Aid Fraud and Referrals to the Office of Inspector General
Suspected fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with Federal Title IV Aid Programs will be reported to the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General. Coastal Alabama is required to report suspected fraud, not reach a conclusion as to the suspicion. Financial Aid fraud is the willful misrepresentation or falsification of information for the purpose of obtaining financial aid funds that one is not eligible to receive. Fraud may consist of falsified or forged documents, false income reporting, misrepresentation of citizenship, and any number of other misrepresentations. 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.
Financial Aid Retention Policy
Coastal Alabama Community College retains records in accordance with federal, state, and institutional policy and regulations. Additional details concerning file retention policies are located in the Financial Aid Policy and Procedures Guide available in the Financial Aid Office on the Bay Minette Campus.
34 CFR 668.43(b) requires an institution to provide its students or prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its state approval or licensing agency and any other state official or agency that would appropriately handle a student’s complaint.
In 2015, the Alabama Legislature vested oversight of the state’s public two-year institutions of higher education (known as the Alabama Community College System (ACCS)) with the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees. The Alabama Legislature further directed the Board of Trustees to delegate to the System’s Chancellor the authority to act and make decisions concerning the management and operation of the community and technical colleges. The Chancellor is assisted in these duties by the staff of the System Office, formerly known as the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education. Consumer and student complaints that are not resolved at the institutional level are thus arbitrated at the state level by the ACCS System Office.
The ACCS is committed to respecting and supporting the work of its member institutions and to providing a quality educational experience for all students. The objective of the student complaint process is to ensure that the concerns and complaints of students are addressed fairly and are resolved promptly. The Alabama Community College System requires each institution to establish its own procedures to address student grievances and complaints. A student must exhaust his/her rights under the institution’s official complaint/grievance policy before advancing any complaint to the System Office of Alabama Community College System. Students may file consumer/student complaints with the Alabama Community College System
At this site: Student Complaints - Alabama Community College System (accs.edu)