Monday, December 26, 2011

Vacation Break!

The world of financial aid never stops. There are changes that happen all the time and demand attention every day. However, The Financial Aid Blog will take a short break as all four of the Metro Business College campuses are on vacation this week.

Thanks for following the posts, and remember: if you have any questions you'd like answered, email me from the About Me page (or look for my email in the introduction section). I can't wait to see what you all are wondering!

I hope that this blog posting finds you healthy and happy in this holiday season. Take care of yourself, and we'll see you in 2012!

Monday, December 19, 2011

What if? Scenario 1

"What if I don't like the education or I can't find a job when I graduate? What happens with my loans? I don't feel as though they are my responsibility."

Well, the Dept of Ed's rules on this are very specific. The Master Promissory Note for your loans, your information that you receive when a loan disbursement is made, on your borrower rights and responsibilities, and in the entrance and exit counseling, it clearly states that you understand that you are still under obligation to repay your loans even if you are unsatisfied with the education you received or if you can't find a job.

These loans are federal student loans, meaning they come from the federal government. If you borrow from the government, then they will want their money back. They aren't concerned with your feelings or your outcome: they just want their money back. Since you filled out the loan, it is you that is responsible for it. Think of getting a Big Mac, eating it, then being unsatisfied with it. Will McDonald's not charge you? No, because then everyone would be unsatisfied with it, and no one would pay anything. That's just one of many examples.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm Verified

Verification is a process dealing with Pell grants. After you will out a FAFSA, you will be notified on your SAR (Student Aid Report) that you have been verified; your school will probably also notify you. This means that in order for your Pell grant to go through, the school has to document that the information on your FAFSA is correct. This means copies of taxes, a verification form, and any other copies of documents that are needed to support information that had been reported on the FAFSA.

Sometimes, you are verified because there is a mistake in the info that was reported in the FAFSA. Maybe your AGI was entered wrong or the tax wasn't right. Sometimes, you are verified even if the information is correct because the Dept of Ed wants the Financial Aid Dept to take a close look at your information to make sure it's all right. This has been mentioned at meetings before and the response was "there is something in the student's history that warrants a second look at their information". However, sometimes I really believe it is random.

Beginning in 2012, every student that is selected for verification has to be verified. Before, the rule was that 30% of those selected had to be verified. Our school always verifies everyone that is selected, so it's no big deal for us. If you are selected and you refuse to turn in the selected materials, then you cannot receive a Pell grant or have Stafford loans. It's best to take care of the verification as soon as you can to avoid unnecessary problems.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Full Pell vs. Full Pell

Pell grants can be confusing if you've never had them before. If you fill out a FAFSA, and you qualify for a full Pell grant, then for this year, you would be expecting $5550. However, the thing you must keep in mind is that this amount is the total for full-time attendance for an entire academic year. In a quarter-based school, this is 3 quarters; in a semester-based school, this is 2 semesters. So, in order for you to receive all $5550, then you have to be full-time for 3 quarters or 2 semesters during that academic year. What you are really qualifying for is the full amount of Pell per quarter/semester that can be disbursed, or $1850 per quarter or $2775 per semester.

Here's an example that applies at Metro Business College. Let's say you start in December/January. You fill out a FAFSA and qualify for a full Pell grant. You will receive $1850 for the December/January quarter, another $1850 for the March/April quarter. If you attend Cape, Jeff City, or Rolla, then your June quarter can be either the remaining $1850 or your following year's Pell (depending on quite a few things). If you are in Arnold, then your July quarter Pell will be from the following year's FAFSA. So, the other $1850 of the total $5550 will never come in because you didn't attend 3 quarters in that award year.

If that sounds confusing, it's because it is. Remember, you have to attend an academic year during an award year (which is the period between July 1 and the following June 30). If you only attend one part of the entire award year, then you will only have one part of the whole Pell grant.

Another example that applies at Metro Business College. Let's say you are enrolled in a three-quarter program, and you have 2 quarters in one award year and the last 1 in the following award year. Let's say both FAFSAs say you qualify for a full Pell grant. Does that mean you get $5550 for the first year and $5550 for the second? Not for that program, it doesn't. You will get 2 quarters of Pell from the first FAFSA, and you will get 1 quarter of Pell from the second FAFSA. The remaining 1/3 of the Pell from the first FAFSA will never come in because you didn't attend during a third quarter during that award year: you only attended 2 quarters. Your last FAFSA says you qualify for a full Pell grant, but if you only attend 1 quarter of that award year, then you will only receive 1 quarter of Pell. The other 2 disbursements of Pell are not sent until you attend past the 1 quarter. So, the total for the 3 quarters you attend is still $5550, but 2/3 of it is from the first award year, and the last 1/3 is from the second award year. But you won't receive $11,100 in Pell for only attending 3 quarters: you only receive Pell for the quarters you attend.

This isn't even taking into account that you have to be full-time during those quarters also. The less credits you take, the less Pell grant you will receive. But we'll save that for another day.