Financial Aid Policies
The Financial Aid office has developed a packaging philosophy to ensure consistent, equitable, and fair distribution of financial aid funds as described by the federal, state and institutional policies and regulations.
Student files are reviewed upon receipt of the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid is determined using the following formula:
Cost of Attendance - Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
= Financial Need
The Department of Education randomly selects students for a federal verification process. Students must submit all supporting documentation (Dependent students must provide parent and student information and Independent students, their spouse information if married) as requested through the Westmoreland student portal for Financial Aid and select ‘My documents.’
The cost of attendance is created for each student’s initial financial aid award using a default full-time budget for living off campus or with his/her parents. These budgets components include the student’s tuition & fee expenses, books and supplies, transportation, room & board, and personal expenses components for a single academic year.
Students receiving financial aid are provided with the opportunity to receive books and supplies utilizing their financial aid refund credit prior to the receipt of the refund check. 34 CFR 668.164(i)
The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is determined as a result of the student completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA collects income information and asset information from you and your parent(s)/stepparent. Other information that is important in determining your EFC are household size, and number of children in college. Eligibility for federal and state aid is determined based on information from the FAFSA. FAFSA information is used to verify eligibility for federal aid, federal loan annual fiscal limits and subsidized maximum levels within the Datatel Colleague system.
The Financial Aid office staff will attempt to meet as much of your need as possible using federal, state and institutional funding which can be awarded in the form of grants, loans, scholarships and/or student employment. Students are encouraged to seek additional assistance from outside resources.
Westmoreland defines an academic year beginning with the fall semester, the second in spring and the third in summer.
Financial aid is awarded in the form of a ‘package’ or combination of difference types of assistance. A student, based on his/her enrollment, may not fully utilize the annual federal aid offered.
Each student is packaged based on their (EFC) expected family contribution and the Federal Pell Grant is awarded first.
- For 2020-2021, a student may receive a maximum annual amount up to $6,345.
- Federal Pell Grant awards will be awarded based on the student’s EFC and enrollment status, i.e. Less than ½ time (1 - 5 credits), Half-time status (6 – 8 credits), Quarter-time (9 – 11 credits) and Full-time (12 credits and up). 34 CFR 668.2(b).
- Students may receive a Federal Pell Grant award while enrolled in remedial coursework. 34 CFR 668.20
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is awarded to students based on their calculated EFC and having ‘exceptional need’ (students with the lowest EFC at the college) have primary consideration. To receive an FSEOG award a student must have financial need and must meet the general eligibility requirements. Only undergraduate students who do not have a baccalaureate or first professional degree are eligible to receive Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.
Awarding is based on the completion date of the FAFSA for the academic year. Westmoreland County Community College makes FSEOG funds reasonably available (to the extent that funds remain) to all eligible students. 34 CFR 676.9-10 and 34 CFR 668.32(c)(1).
The Work Study programs include Federal, State and Institutional funding. Only undergraduate students who do not have a baccalaureate or first professional degree are eligible to participate in the work-study programs. The annual awards range from $2,000 to $5,500 depending on student’s unmet need. This is based on working a maximum of 17 hours per week. Initial work-study awards will start at the minimum pay rate of $8.50 an hour. A students earned hours along with other awarded aid cannot exceed the cost of attendance. A student may be employed during a non-attendance period if he/she intends to attend school in the next period of enrollment and has financial need. 34 CFR 675.9
Federal Direct Student Loans are automatically packaged as ‘Offered’ on the student’s award and the amount of loan is calculated based on the student’s dependency status, grade level and EFC. The Department of Education pays the interest on Direct Subsidized student loans and student does not go into repayment for the first six months after the student is enrolled at least half time. Subsidized student loans are determined on need.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans are not based on the student’s demonstrated need (EFC). The student is responsible for paying interest during all periods or may defer interest payments while enrolled in school at least half-time attendance.
Students may choose to decline or reduce any or all of their Federal Direct Loans. Students can email the Financial Aid Office here or complete the Loan Request Form. If the student is a firsttime Federal Direct Student Loan borrower, loans will not be originated until the student completes Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note) and Entrance Counseling. Below are the links provided to both web-based processes:
- Federal Direct Student Loan –Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan Agreement (electronic Master Promissory Note)
- Federal Direct Student Loan Entrance Loan Counseling process
Please note that students must be reapply for financial aid each academic year. Students are encouraged to retain their FSA ID. Students will use their FSA ID to make corrections to the FAFSA and for the re-application process as well as for reviewing federal loan data. Westmoreland’s academic year begins in the fall and runs through the summer.
Awards and Disbursements – Notification of Loan Disbursement to Students (14 days to cancel):
Financial Aid awards are made on an annual basis. The annual award is divided into two equal installments which are posted to the student’s account. The Financial Aid Office authorizes the aid at the time of disbursement (based on verification for student eligibility and enrollment), and the Business Office (Student Accounting Office) will post the student’s financial aid awards to the student’s account.
- Federal law requires federal aid recipients to “earn” the aid they receive by staying enrolled in college. Student awards are revised prior to disbursement based on enrolled credits.
- Students who withdraw prior to completing 60% of the term for which they received federal aid may be required to return some or all of the aid they were awarded.
- The amount of the refund is calculated by the Business Office and the Financial Aid Office. Total term financial aid minus tuition and fees, books and supplies (as applicable) equals refund balance.
- Students are encouraged to use caution in deciding to drop or withdraw from classes. Students may owe additional funds to Westmoreland County Community College or the federal government if a refund or Return of Title IV Funds has to be calculated.
- Repeating classes, dropping classes, or withdrawing from Westmoreland County Community College may impact the student’s future financial aid eligibility.
- Students are billed for a return of federal funds owed to the college. The return of federal funds must be paid before any additional Federal Title IV aid is awarded to the student.
- Any unpaid amount will be subject to referral to a collection agency or assigned to the U.S. Department of Education. Additional costs for collection fees and/or attorney fees may be added.
- A hold is placed on the student’s records and the student is ineligible for any additional federal financial aid funds until the debt is satisfied.
Balance of Aid —Funds for Other Expenses
In general, Federal Student Aid Funds may only be used to pay for the student's cost of education for the period for which the funds are provided. However, a school may use current-year funds to satisfy prior award year changes for tuition and fees (and with permission, educationally related charges) for a total of not more than $200. A school may not pay prior year charges in excess of $200.
Corrections and Resolution of Conflicting Data
The Financial Aid Office uses the Colleague database to enter corrections to be extracted to CPS (Central Processing Center). Corrections are extracted from Colleague daily to CPS using the software tool, TD Client. The corrected ISIR is returned to the institution within 72 hours. The new ISIR contains a new official expected family contribution (EFC) number, and confirmation of eligibility. Students who have been verified and a new ISIR is received are packaged biweekly.
Resolving conflicting information is required, as applicable, regardless if the student is selected. All conflicting information must be resolved before awarding and disbursing federal student aid. If any discrepancies are discovered after disbursing federal student aid, the conflicting information must be reconciled and the student is required to repay aid received in excess of his/her eligibility.
Subsequent ISIR Records
All subsequent ISIR records will be reviewed. Students who have completed the Federal verification process and make changes to his/her corrected ISIR must be reviewed for changes modified.
Award Packaging Revision
There may be instances which necessitate a change to your original award notification. A Financial Aid Coordinator may review a student’s special circumstances, make an adjustment to an award and release a revised award notification. This revised award notification nullifies the original award notice.
Revisions can occur in the following scenarios:
- If a student declines part of his awarded aid.
- Student enrolls less than full time (9–11 Quarter-time, 6-8 Half –time, 1-5 Less than half-time).
- Conflicting information with the FAFSA.
- Change in the availability of funds.
- Student fails to meet SAP standards.
Over-Awards and Overpayments
An over-award is created when the student’s financial aid exceeds the student’s need and/or federal financial need for the award period is greater than the eligible funding permitted. An overpayment occurs when the student receives more aid than he or she was eligible to receive. 34 CFR 673.5 and 34 CFR 668.139.
The most common types of fraud will involve underreporting of income and assets and overstating the number of family members in college. Some families may even go so far as to provide a falsified copy of their income tax returns.
The Financial Aid Staff are trained to review signs of potential fraud. Review of student’s files for inconsistencies may be identified through application materials such as income, citizenship and signatures. If a discrepancy is identified, the financial aid office will contact the student to request additional information and documentation. If the Financial Aid Administrator feels that there has been intentional misrepresentation, false statements or alteration of documents which could have resulted in the awarding or disbursement for funds the student is not eligible, the case will be referred to the Vice President for Enrollment Management.
Students who willfully submit fraudulent information will be investigated to the furthest extent possible. All cases of fraud and abuse will be reported to the proper authorities.
During the course of your academic career at Westmoreland County Community College, you may want to take a course(s) at another institution and transfer the course(s) back to your degree program at Westmoreland. This can be accomplished through a Consortium Agreement and you may be eligible to receive financial aid.
This Consortium Agreement is a contract between two colleges/universities that recognizes your registration at each location for financial aid purposes. It also certifies only one of the two institutions can administer Title IV and State financial aid.
This Consortium Agreement refers to the two colleges/universities as the "Home Campus" and the "Host Campus:"
The Home Institution is the school where the student is fully matriculated and from which he/she will earn a degree.
The Host Institution is where the student temporarily takes courses, whose credits will be transferred back to his/her "Home Campus."
Leave of Absence
A Leave of Absence (LOA) is a federally mandated policy for all students who receive Title IV federal financial assistance (Federal Pell Grants, Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Parent Loans and Student Educational Opportunity Grants) who experience an extenuating circumstance that will require them to temporarily stop attending classes. LOA refers to the specific time period during a program when a student is not in attendance (34 CFR 668.22).