1. What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is federal or state financial assistance that comes in the form of (1) grants, which do not have to be paid back, (2) work-study, a part-time job on campus, (3) student loans, which are required to be repaid starting six months after you leave school. Students must be enrolled and attending classes in a financial aid-eligible program.
2. When do I apply for financial aid?
You can begin applying for financial aid in the January prior to the fall you plan to attend. The earlier you apply, the better, as some resources are limited and may run out. We encourage all students to apply as soon as they and their family complete their taxes for the previous year and by the FAFSA West Virginia State deadline of April 16th.
3. How do I know if I will be eligible for financial aid?
Never assume you will not be eligible! You will not know what types of financial aid you are eligible for until you apply. When you complete the FAFSA application process, you will be considered for Federal and State grants, loans and work-study. All students who meet general eligibility requirements will at least be eligible for the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program.
4. How can I apply for financial aid?
You can apply for financial aid online at www.fafsa.gov. At the end of the FAFSA process, you will be prompted to electronically sign your application with your PIN number. If you have a PIN, enter it. If not, during the process you can apply. If your parent is required to sign the FAFSA, one parent must also apply for a PIN number.
5. What happens after I apply for financial aid?
Once your FAFSA is processed, you will be sent a Student Aid Report via email or by mail. This report details the information that you provided and informs you of any corrections that need to be made. At the same time that you receive the Student Aid Report, the Financial Aid Office receives your information electronically as long as you listed Blue Ridge as one of your school choices. Once we receive that file electronically, the Financial Aid Staff will determine if additional information or documentation is required, at which time, the staff will send you a letter indicating what is needed.
6. What school code do I list for Blue Ridge Community and Technical College?
7. Do I need to get a PIN number?
We encourage all students and parents to apply for a PIN when applying for financial aid. It will allow the processor to expedite your application. It will provide you additional options such as signing your application electronically, checking the status of your application online and making corrections to your application online. If you choose to take a student loan in the future, the PIN number will be used as your electronic signature on that agreement when completing the Master Promissory Note.
8. What is a Renewal FAFSA?
If you have applied for financial aid this past year, you may be able to fill out a renewal FAFSA rather than a new FAFSA. The renewal FAFSA will include all of last year’s information. You just need to update your (and your family’s) income information and any data that has changed. If you have a PIN number, you can access your renewal FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov. To request your PIN number, go to www.pin.ed.gov.
10. What is the deadline for applying for financial aid?
The sooner you apply, the more likely your funding will be available when you start school. Blue Ridge requires you to have a complete financial aid file in order to defer your tuition for the semester. Your file must be completed while you are still enrolled and attending to be eligible for any funding. Student financial aid applicants are processed according to the date the FAFSA is received at Blue Ridge and when the file is completed. Direct Student Loans must be processed while the student is still attending and before the semester ends. We encourage students to apply 6-8 weeks before the semester begins.
11. What if my family income has changed since last year? How will they know?
You are required to use the tax information from the prior year on the FAFSA. If your (and/or your family’s) income information has changed significantly in the current year due to unemployment, death, divorce, medical expenses, or other special circumstances, you may be eligible to be considered for a special circumstance or re-evaluation. You can request a “Special Circumstance” form from the financial aid office and submit to with documentation of the changes (pay stubs, more recent tax information, medical bills, or unemployment compensation payout report, etc…). The Financial Aid Office will then consider your current situation to determine if you will be eligible for more financial aid.
12. I don’t live with my parents. Do I have to have my parents complete their section on the FAFSA? Can I be considered independent?
Living on your own doesn’t automatically qualify you as an independent student. The Federal Government requires parents to complete their information and considers you a dependent until you are 24 years old, married, have dependents of your own that you provide more than 50% support for, are pursuing a graduate degree, are or were an orphan or ward of the court, or are a veteran of the US Armed Forces. If there are unusual circumstances, please discuss them with our Financial Aid staff, and they will determine the best way for you to complete the FAFSA.
13. What is a SAR?
A SAR is a Student Aid Report. The report is provided by the Federal Processor and is a summary of the information you provided on the FAFSA. The SAR will be mailed to you if you sent your FAFSA through the mail and did not provide an email address on the FAFSA. If you filed your FAFSA electronically or provided an email address on the FAFSA, the SAR will be emailed to you. The report will also let you know if the application was rejected or if there are any problems with your application that require a correction be made.
14. What do I do with a SAR?
If everything on your SAR is correct, file it away for your records. There is nothing you need to do with it, but keep it available in case you want to add another college later.
15. How do I make a correction to my financial aid?
If you need to make a correction to your financial aid application before you receive your award notice, you can do so using the Student Aid Report by mailing it to the processor or by doing it on the FAFSA website at www.fafsa.gov. If you have already received your award letter, contact the financial aid office to determine if the correction is necessary.
16. I originally filled out my FAFSA with a different school listed. How do I add Blue Ridge?
You can go online at www.fafsa.gov to add Blue Ridge to your FAFSA, school code 039573.
17. Will I need to fill out forms in addition to the FAFSA to receive financial aid?
If you are selected for a process called verification or the Financial Aid Office needs additional documentation to complete your file, you may need to fill out additional forms to receive financial aid. The Financial Aid Office will inform you of any documentation you need to submit. Students can also go their Blue Ridge BRIDGE account and check their status under the financial aid tab. Financial aid forms requested can be downloaded and printed from the website. If a student needs to complete the Dependent or Independent Verification Form, they must print it and have the appropriate signatures. Please make sure all documentation is labeled with your name and student ID number before turning it in to the office.
18. Do I have to be a full-time student to receive financial aid? Should I bother to apply for financial aid if I am enrolled less than half time?
Students with exceptionally high need may be eligible for a Pell Grant as a less-than-half-time student. Complete the FAFSA, and your eligibility will be determined based on the results of the FAFSA and based on your enrollment status of full time (12 or more credits), three quarter time (9-11 credits), half time (6-8 credits) or less than half time (1-5 credits). The Financial Aid Office will automatically consider you for the Pell Grant and any other type of financial aid that you may be eligible for and will notify you in an award letter or email. Students must be enrolled at least 6 credits or more to be considered for work-study, and Federal Direct Stafford Loans.
20. How do I receive the money I am awarded?
First, you must provide all necessary requested documents to complete your file so your eligibility can be determined. Grants, work-study, and loans will be awarded in that order based on eligibility and availability. You will receive notice of the awards by email if you are a continuing student and by mail if you are a first time freshman or transfer student. You may go to your BRIDGE account to accept or decline awards. Grants are accepted for you. If you accept a student loan and you are a first-time borrower you must complete the Master Promissory Note and Entrance Loan Counseling. Once the process is completed and you are enrolled for the minimum number of required credits, your financial aid will be applied to your student account as the funds are received. Your tuition and fees are then paid, and a refund (difference check), will be issued on a specified date as determined by the finance office. Checks are processed weekly thereafter. Funds are received, as long as the student remains enrolled and attending.
21. Will I have to pay back my financial aid if I withdraw from my program (classes)?
If a student completely withdraws from school (drops all classes) or quits attending before the 60% point in the semester, the student will be required to repay a portion of the aid he/she received for that semester. A Return of Title IV worksheet is completed using the amount of aid received and the withdrawal date to determine if any repayment is due. Students are notified by mail as to the repayment amount if necessary.
NOTE: It is important to consult with the Financial Aid Office prior to withdrawal or dropping to determine how your financial aid eligibility will be affected.
22. Do I have to pay back a Pell Grant?
There are reasons a student would have to pay back a Pell Grant. First, if a student drops courses which impact enrollment status (for example: full time to three-quarter time, etc.). If the student drops a class before it starts and receives 100% refund or if a student drops courses and the only classes left on their schedule are short-term courses, they are also subject to repayment. If the student has not received their funds yet, the award will be recalculated, and the student will be notified. If Pell funds have been credited to the account or disbursed; the student will be required to repay a portion of the Pell Grant. If a student withdraws from school (drops all classes) before the 60% point in the semester or quits attending, a Return of Title IV worksheet is completed using the amount of aid received and the last date attended to determine if any repayment is due. You will be notified by mail with the repayment amount if necessary.
23. What is the difference between a subsidized loan and an unsubsidized loan?
The subsidized loan is need based (based on the information you provided on the FAFSA) and the government pays the interest while you are in school. The unsubsidized loan is not based on need, and the student will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. You have two options for repayment. You may choose to pay the interest as it accumulates. This is the method we suggest, as you will repay less in the long run or you may allow the interest to accumulate and it will be capitalized. (The interest will be added to your loan and additional interest will be based upon the higher amount. This will increase the amount you have to repay.)
24. What if I only want a loan?
You must first file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine what other type of aid you qualify for. You will be offered need-based aid first (grants, work-study and subsidized loans), then as a last resort, the unsubsidized or PLUS loans. To be eligible for Financial Aid, you must be accepted into an eligible program and attend at least half time. The Loan is always considered financial aid even though you have to repay it.
25. How much can I borrow on a student loan?
The Department of Education has set maximum levels for student borrowing which is driven by the total number of credits that you have completed toward graduation in your program of study to determine if you are a first-year or second-year student. Those limits are listed below. Each student’s eligibility is determined based on the results of the FAFSA, if the student is dependent or independent, the unmet need, and cost of attendance.
|DEPENDENT UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT||INDEPENDENT UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT|
28. Why isn’t my loan here yet?
Did you complete the Master Promissory Note and the online Entrance Loan Counseling Session (for first-time borrowers) at www.studentsloans.gov? Once completed, the funds will be authorized to your Blue Ridge account and will run through your student account on the date specified for disbursement.
29. What is a Master Promissory Note?
The Master Promissory Note is a legal document which binds you to the conditions and terms of your student loan. It is necessary to complete the MPN the first time you choose to borrow a student loan. You can fill out your MPN by going to: www.studentloans.gov . Enter your PIN when requested. Continuing students who processed a student loan last year at Blue Ridge will not need to complete a new MPN. The MPN is active for ten years.
30. What is the interest rate on student loans?
For any Federal Direct Stafford Subsidized Loans, the interest rate is 3.4%. The Unsubsidized Student Loans interest rate is fixed at 6.8%. Any loans prior to that date may be at a variable rate. Your loan servicer will notify you of any interest rate changes throughout the life of your loan.
31. Can I get more loan than what I was awarded?
Your loan amount is determined by your financial need. Not all students will qualify for the maximum loans. Blue Ridge takes a proactive approach in awarding student loans and wants you to understand the difference in need-based and non-need based loans. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you want to be considered for Unsubsidized Stafford or Parent PLUS loans. We will determine the maximum amount you are eligible for and advise you appropriately. The amount is then divided between the semesters you plan to attend. An origination fee is assessed to each loan disbursed.
32. When do I pay back my loan?
Generally, you will begin paying back your loan six months after you graduate or drop below six credits. If this occurs, you must also complete exit counseling at www.nslds.gov.
33. What is a PLUS loan?
The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students or PLUS loan enables parents (who do not have an adverse credit history) to borrow to pay the educational expenses of each dependent undergraduate student. Repayment begins after the first disbursement.
35. How do I apply for a PLUS loan?
The Student must file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to determine what type of financial aid they are eligible for. Once the student has been awarded, the parents may consider a PLUS Loan in their name to assist the student with the cost of education.
36. What is work-study?
The Federal College Work-Study program provides jobs to eligible financial aid students. It gives them the opportunity to earn money like a part-time job as well as gain valuable work experience. Most jobs are on campus and can offer more flexibility than a traditional part-time job in that your class schedule is considered when setting up your work hours. There are some off-campus jobs as well. Contact the work study coordinator for additional information.
37. How do I apply for a work-study job?
Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and be offered work-study as part of their Financial Aid award. If you are interested in work-study, but were not offered it, contact the Financial Aid Office to review your eligibility for the program.
38. How much will I get per hour with a work-study job?
$7.75 per hour for the first year.
39. Do I need to have good grades to receive financial aid?
Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (G.P.A.) of 2.0 and complete at least 70% of their cumulative attempted credits, and complete their associate degree program within 96 attempted hours. Students will be placed on Warning Status if they do not meet the standards at the end of the semester and will be suspended the following semester if not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress for financial aid. If the student’s lack of progress was due to extenuating circumstances, the student can submit an Appeal for Reinstatement of Financial Aid to the Financial Aid Office. The student may be required to complete an Academic Plan with the Financial Aid Academic Coach.
40. Is there a limit on how long I can receive financial aid?
Satisfactory Progress Standards require students to complete their program before attempting more than 150% of the credits required for their graduation. Example: a program that requires 68 credits for graduation. 68 credits x 150% = 102. Students are not eligible for aid at the point when they cannot mathematically complete their program in the 150% time frame. The Department of Education has set a 12-semester limit for full-time Pell Grants effective July 1, 2012. Other grant and scholarship programs may have their own limitations.
41. I’m taking classes at another college in addition to my classes at Blue Ridge. Can I get financial aid there too?
You may only get financial aid at one college for each semester. You should request financial aid through your home college (the school you intend to graduate from). A Consortium Agreement can be used to include the credits from both schools. If Blue Ridge is considered your home school, you should request your Consortium Agreement through the Blue Ridge Financial Aid Office. If you are pursuing a degree at your other college, contact their Financial Aid Office to initiate a Consortium Agreement. Credits taken must apply toward graduation for your program of study.
42. My parent is also taking classes, should I include them as going to college on my FAFSA?
No, parents cannot be included in the number in college.
43. Does the college take into account my living expenses when determining financial aid
Yes, when determining the amount of financial aid you are eligible for, the Financial Aid Office assigns each student a budget, which includes tuition, fees, books, room and board, personal expenses, transportation, and loan fees. Child care expenses, excessive transportation, or disability-related expenses are not budgeted unless the student provides documentation to the Financial Aid Office for consideration.
44. What if I decide to transfer to another college at the semester?
If you received financial aid at Blue Ridge during the first semester and now want to transfer to another college at semester, it is important to notify the Financial Aid Office to cancel your funds for second semester. You will need to add your new college to the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov so they have your information to award you at that college.
45. What if I receive a scholarship from my high school or a community group? Do I have to notify the financial aid office?
All types of financial assistance, scholarships, other community agency grants, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation grants, Dislocated Worker benefits, etc. must be reported to the Financial Aid Office to be coordinated with your federal and state aid.