Financial Aid Policies

The staff in the Financial Aid Office embraces the mission statement for Westmoreland County Community College, which is to improve the quality of life for the communities we serve through education, training and cultural enrichment.  The staff consists of a professional and trained team dedicated to serving students by providing financial awareness and resources to benefit their educational goals and financial obligations to the college.  

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 Eligibility

More information can be found at www.studentaid.ed.gov/eligible.  There is no age limit to receive federal student aid.

Students must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be accepted for admission;
  • Be enrolled as a regular student, attending classes in a degree or certificate program;
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen;
  • Meet the financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy;
  • Adhere to penalties for any drug law violations;
  • Be registered with the Selective Service if you are male;
  • Not be in default on a student loan or owe a repayment of Title IV federal financial aid funds. (A repayment occurs if the student receives financial aid funds and then withdraws within the first 60% of the term, officially or unofficially, from the College.)
  • Meet specific criteria for a particular financial aid program. See the “Funding Education Beyond High School” publication for eligibility requirements for each program listed above.

The following federal financial aid programs are available to students who have met the basic requirements:

  • Federal Pell Grant Program
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • Federal Work Study program (FWS)
  • Federal Direct Student Loans & Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans

Awarding Process

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 2018-2019, a student may receive a maximum annual amount up to $6,095. 
  • 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:

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.

Interest rates for loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2018 (and before July 1, 2019) are as follows:

Loan Type 2018 - 2019 Rate 2017 - 2018 Rate Loan Fees 
Direct Subsidized Loans 5.05% 4.45% 1.062%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans 5.05% 4.45% 1.062%
Direct PLUS Loans (Parents) 7.6% 7.0% 4.248%

 

 

Year

Dependent Students (except student whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans)

Independent Students (and Dependent Students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS loans).

First-Year

Undergraduate      

Annual Loan Limit

 

$5,500 – No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$9,500 – No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

Second-Year

Undergraduate    

Annual Loan Limit

$6,500 – No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$10,500 – No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

 

Federal Verification:

Verification is a process where the Financial Aid Office reviews the accuracy of information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with the information provided on the verification worksheet and the previous year’s federal income tax transcript for the parent(s) and/or student/spouse. The Department of Education select random students to be verified. If there is a discrepancy, conflicting information or an unusual situation, the institution may select a student for the verification process.

The Central Processor notifies students through the receipt of their Student Aid Report (SAR). The student may view the requested documents in his/her student portal. Verification forms are available on the Westmoreland.edu website.  The timeline for the Financial Aid Coordinator to complete the federal/institutional verification process is 10 days to 3 weeks, dependent upon the receipt of all documents and the timeline for the semester start date. 

Required verification items include: Adjusted Gross Income (for tax filers – Parent/student), U.S. taxes paid (tax filers), wages (if populated on FAFSA – tax filers & non-tax filers), household size and # in college, and certain untaxed income and benefits. 

Special Circumstances

Special circumstances are anything that makes the information provided on the FAFSA form not reflective of the family’s ability to pay. This can include anticipated differences between the prior tax year and the upcoming award year, such as impending job loss or unusual capital gains. It can also include anything that differentiates the family’s situation from other families, such as medical expenses not covered by insurance.   

The specific examples listed in the Higher Education Act include: 

  • tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary school 
  • medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance 
  • unusually high child care costs 
  • recent unemployment of a family member 
  • the number of parents enrolled at least half-time in a degree, certificate, or other program leading to a recognized educational credential at a Title IV institution of higher education 
  • proceeds of a sale of farm or business assets if the sale resulted from a voluntary or involuntary foreclosure, forfeiture, or bankruptcy or an involuntary liquidation 
  • Additional costs incurred as a result of a student’s disability. 
  • Changes in a family’s income, a family’s assets, or a student’s status

Dependency Override

A student who does not meet the federal criteria for independent status on the 2016-2017 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may submit a request to be considered an independent student and provide supporting documentation for a determination if unusual circumstances exist to qualify for a dependency status override. 

Please note that none of the following conditions qualify as unusual circumstances to make a dependency override:   

1. Parents refuse to contribute to your education

2. Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for Quality Improvement 

3. Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes; or

4. Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency

However, unusual circumstances do include an abusive family environment or abandonment by parents. In addition to your statement, third party documentation is generally expected.

Code of Conduct

 “An institutional financial aid professional is expected to always maintain exemplary standards of professional conduct in all aspects of carrying out his or her responsibilities, specifically including all dealings with any entities involved in any manner in student financial aid, regardless of whether such entities are involved in a government sponsored, subsidized, or regulated activity. In support of this and in an effort to rule out any perceived or actual conflict of interest between WCCC officers, employees or agents and education loan lenders, WCCC has adopted the following:

  • WCCC does not participate in any revenue-sharing arrangements with any lender
  • WCCC does not permit any officer, employee or agent of the school who is employed in the financial aid office or is otherwise involved in the administration of education loans to accept any gifts of greater than a nominal value from any lender, guarantor or servicer
  • WCCC does not permit any officer, employee or agent of the school who is employed in the financial aid office or is otherwise involved in the administration of education loans to accept any fee, payment or other financial benefit (including a stock purchase option) from a lender or affiliate of a lender as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement or contract to provide services to a lender or on behalf of a lender relating to education loans
  • WCCC does not permit any officer, employee or agent of the school who is employed in the financial aid office or is otherwise involved in the administration of education loans to accept anything of value from a lender, guarantor, or group of lenders and/or guarantors in exchange for service on an advisory board, commission or other group established by such a lender, guarantor group of lenders and/or guarantors
  • WCCC does allow for the reasonable reimbursement of expenses associated with
    participation in such boards, commissions or groups by lenders, guarantors, or groups of lenders and/or guarantors
  • WCCC does not assign a lender to any first-time borrower through financial aid packaging or any other means
  • WCCC recognizes that a borrower has the right to choose any lender from which to borrow to finance his/her education
  • WCCC will not refuse to certify or otherwise deny or delay certification of a loan based on the borrower’s selection of a lender and/or guarantor
  • WCCC will not request or accept any offer of funds to be used for private education loans to students from any lender in exchange for providing the lender with a specified number or volume of Title IV loans, or a preferred lender arrangement for Title IV loans
  • WCCC will not request or accept any assistance with call center or financial aid office staffing

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. 

Submission after deadline

A student should submit his/her FAFSA and all requested documentation at least three weeks prior to the start of term to enable the receipt of a financial aid award. Students wishing to be eligible for state aid, must submit FAFSA and all required documentation by the posted deadline dates available at www.PHEAA.org. The financial aid office will continue to accept FAFSA applications for the screening of federal aid up to June 30, 2017. 

                   

Determination of fund allocations for student awards are based on the school’s determination of need (COA minus EFC) and the student’s actual need to attend college. The rule is to take advantage of all ‘free money’ first (scholarships, federal and state grants), then self-help funding such as the work study programs and finally borrowed money (federal student and parent loans). The chart below may assist with this determination for accepting awarded student aid.

Type of Aid

What the Student Should Know

Scholarships and Grants

Be familiar with conditions needed to receive and maintain the ‘free money’ award. You may need to have a certain GPA to continue receiving the aid. Aid may also be limited based on program.

Work-Study

Money is earned in the form of a paycheck bimonthly. The student works while in school in an on-campus or off campus location. Hours and wages are limited.

Federal Student Loans

Student loans must be repaid when you complete your studies or take a break from schooling for more than six months. Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while in school.  

Federal Parent Loans

Parent is the borrower and receives the loan funding to assist their student while enrolled in coursework at the college. The funding is provided directly to the student or may be applied to the student’s account. 

Private Loans

Loan funds will be repaid with interest. The terms and conditions will not be as good as federal student loans. 

Outside Resources:  

Students are encouraged to seek assistance from outside resources. All received external forms of scholarships or other aid must be reported to the financial aid office. Students are provided with a cost of attendance and external and awarded aid can’t exceed the student’s COA. If an adjustment to the award package is needed to prevent an over-award, the outside aid will replace self-help aid if possible.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Rights - You have the right to:

  • Privacy (FERPA). All records and information submitted with your application for financial aid are confidential and subject to legal requirements concerning disclosure of such information.
  • Know the correct procedures for applying for financial aid each academic year, reviewing your cost of attendance, and be familiar with the types of aid available.
  • Know how financial need is determined, what criteria has been established for awarding aid, how satisfactory academic progress is determined, and what you have to do to continue receiving aid.
  • Understand the type and amount of aid you will receive, how much of your need has been met, and how and when you will receive your aid funds.
  • View the contents of your financial aid file, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
  • Know the conditions of any loan you accept.
  • Know the terms, conditions, and pay rate for any work study position you accept.
  • Appeal any decision with our office in regard to your application.
  • Expect notification of your financial aid offer and any adjustments to it.
  • Know where to find information on loans you borrowed, repayment options, and debt management strategies.
  • Certain consumer information. Federal regulations require that institutions provide specific consumer information about the school and about financial aid to enrolled and prospective students.
  • Cancel all or part of your federal loan award and/or disbursement.

Responsibilities - You are responsible for:

  • Reading all notifications provided to you by the Financial Aid Office, studentaid.ed.gov, NSLDS.gov, studentloans.gov, PHEAA.org and other awarding agencies. Read, understand, and keep copies of all forms you sign.
  • Completing and correcting application materials to the appropriate agencies within required or recommended time frames.
  • Knowing and complying with the rules governing the aid you receive. These rules include but are not limited to: one, you must not be in default on any prior educational loan and two, you must not owe a refund on a Federal Pell Grant or a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) due to repayment or adjustment.
  • Providing requested documentation, federal tax return transcripts, W-2s, and any additional information requested by our office.
  • Complying with the conditions of any promissory note and all other agreements you sign.
  • Aid may be adjusted based on the number of credits for which you are enrolled as of the Census Date.
  • Using student financial aid solely for direct educational costs and related living expenses.
  • Knowing the financial aid implications of dropping a course or withdrawing from Westmoreland County Community College.
  • Maintaining satisfactory academic progress.
  • Keeping your local and permanent addresses current with the Registrar’s Office.
  • Reporting any change in your status, including informing the Financial Aid Office and your loan servicer of changes to your name, address, social security number, and graduation date. You must notify your loan servicer if you transfer to another school, withdraw from school, or drop below half time enrollment in any term.
  • Providing complete and correct information on applications and in response to requests from our office or other awarding agencies.
  • Begin attendance in all of your classes for which you receive financial aid. If you withdraw from or fail a class you did not begin attending, your federal financial aid may be reduced or canceled. Academic attendance includes physically attending class, submitting academic assignments, taking exams, or participating in online discussions that are part of the course delivery.
  • Repay all loans according to your repayment schedule and to contact your loan servicer immediately if you can't make a requirement payment. Should you default on a federal loan you will not be eligible for financial aid.
  • Continue to monitor your financial aid at ‘MyWCCC’ to ensure accuracy in receipt of all information, requested documentation.

Award Notifications

The notification for Awards and Acceptance of Awards are generated through Financial Aid emails to the student to log into their student portal at ‘MyWCCC’/Student/WebAdvisor/Financial Aid/Financial Aid Award Letter/select 2017-2018/ and enter. Students may accept or decline any self-help aid. All ‘free aid’ has been awarded as accepted for the student. 

*Please note: Notifications are emailed to the student at his/her primary email address upon following the completion of verification, special circumstances and/or Dependency Override. 

Disbursements, Refunds, Repayments and Balance of Aid

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.

The student’s account will be credited in the following order:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Other institutional charges

The Financial Aid awards are applied in the following order:

  • Federal and State grants
  • Federal Student Loans
  • Scholarships
  • Other aid

When the financial aid awards and /or cash payments exceed the college charges, the student is eligible to receive a refund. Book store credit is available at this time. Credit balances should be made available to students at least (30) days after the first day of enrollment to ensure that attendance, book store credit and enrollment has been validated. 

As a student or parent borrower, you have the right to cancel the entire loan or any portion (a specific disbursement) of any federal Stafford or PLUS loan. Requests to cancel a specific loan disbursement may be submitted prior to the date of crediting to your account or within 14 days of notification. To request cancellation of a loan disbursement, the student should complete a Financial Aid Adjustment Request Form.

Students should maintain regular and consistent attendance in all classes. Financial Aid disbursements are calculated on enrolled credits. Students who stop attending class, drop out or officially withdraw may owe money back to the federal and state financial aid programs.

  • 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.

Refunds

All refunds to students or payers are calculated from the official starting date of the course. The number of weeks to determine refunds is calculated by counting the actual days from the starting date of the course and not by counting the course meeting dates. All refund checks will be mailed to students and will not be held for pick up.

  • For courses meeting for one week or less: If you officially drop before the course starts, you may be eligible to receive a 100% refund of tuition and fees. There are no refunds after that date. 

 

  • For courses two weeks through four weeks long: If you officially drop through the first three days of the course, you may be eligible to receive a 100% refund of tuition and fees. There are no refunds after that date. 

 

  • For courses five weeks through nine weeks long: If you officially drop through the first week of the course, you may be eligible to receive a 100% refund of tuition and fees. There are no refunds after the first week of the course. 

 

  • For courses of 10 weeks through 19 weeks long: If you officially drop through the second week of the course, you may be eligible to receive a 100% refund of tuition and fees. There are no refunds after the second week of the course. 

 

  • For courses 20 weeks through 29 weeks long: If you officially drop through the second week of the course, you may be eligible to receive a 100% refund of tuition and fees. If you officially drop during the third or fourth week of the course, you may be eligible to receive a 60% refund of tuition. There are no refunds after the fourth week of the course. 

 

  • For courses of 30 weeks or longer: If you officially drop through the third week of the course, you may be eligible to receive a 100% refund of tuition and fees. If you officially drop during the fourth, fifth or sixth week of the course, you may be eligible to receive a 60% refund of tuition. There are no refunds after the sixth week of the course. 


You must contact the Registration Center during the refund period to officially drop a course. If you do not officially drop, you remain obligated for all tuition and fees

Revisions

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. 

Satisfactory Academic Progress Procedures (SAP)

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended by Congress, mandates that institutions of higher education establish standards of “Satisfactory Academic Progress” (SAP) for students receiving federal financial aid. These standards apply to all Federal Title IV aid programs. The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards apply to all students seeking federal Title IV financial aid, regardless of whether a student has received Title IV financial aid in the past.  Federal regulations require that all students receiving federal financial aid make continued progress in their educational programs and toward their educational goals. (CFR 34 668.34). 

Federal financial aid programs include:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Federal Direct Student Loans (including Parent Loans)
  • Federal Work Study

 

Institutional financial aid programs that follow this procedures include:

  • Westmoreland County Community College Scholarships
  • Other financial assistance programs awarded by Westmoreland County Community College

 

IMPORTANT: Students may be academically eligible to continue to take courses at Westmoreland, but be ineligible for federal financial aid.

Withdrawals

Official Withdrawals: Withdrawal from a course becomes official only after a Student Withdrawal Request is processed by the Records Office. Students who wish to withdraw from a course or courses should request Student Withdrawal Request forms at the Student Services Success Center in Founders Hall. Forms are also available at the education centers.

  • Students who drop classes within the first three weeks of the semester will be   dropped from the course and no record of the course will appear on the transcript.
  • Students who officially withdraw from a course after the third week but prior to the last day of the seventh week of the semester will receive a “W” on the transcript indicating withdrawal from the course.
  • Students who withdraw after the seventh week but before the end of the fourteenth week of the semester will receive a W or F grade as determined by the instructor.
  • Withdrawals are not permitted after the fourteenth week.
  • Students who initially attend class but, due to poor attendance and/or participation, are not making satisfactory progress, may be recommended for withdrawal by the instructor after the third week and prior to the end of the twelfth week of the semester. Students recommended for withdrawal are notified by the Records Office and receive a “W” on the transcript.

Unofficial Withdrawals

If you stop attending all of your classes without officially withdrawing (a.k.a. an unofficial withdrawal), you are considered as not enrolled, but will be responsible for all expenses incurred during this time period. Federal aid you received during the semester will be subject to the federal return calculation based on the effective date of withdrawal. If an instructor reports a date with the posting of a failing grade ‘F’, this date will be considered your last documented date of attendance.  For a student who withdraws without providing notification from Westmoreland County Community College (which is not required to take attendance), the institution must determine the withdrawal date no later than 30 days after the end of the earlier of (1) the payment period or the period of enrollment (as applicable), (2) the academic year, or (3) the student’s educational program.

Post-Withdrawal Process

Post-withdrawal disbursement

Some aid programs may be available to you after you withdraw. In some cases, a portion of your Federal Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), and/or Federal Direct Loan may be available.

An institution must return the amount of Title IV funds for which it is responsible as soon as possible, but no later than 45 days after it determines or should have determined that the student withdrew. In addition, if a student is due a post-withdrawal disbursement, then the date of the school’s determination must allow for the school to meet the 30-day Post Withdrawal Date notification requirement.

If an amount of Title IV aid for a student is greater than the amount of Title IV aid that has been disbursed, the difference is treated as a post-withdrawal disbursement to the student. Any post-withdrawal disbursement must be made within 180 days of the date the institution determines that a student withdrew.

Contact upon withdrawal

When you withdraw, your grace period prior to repayment will begin (six months for Federal Direct Loans). If you reenroll before your grace period ends, you will have a new grace period when you leave school. Otherwise, when you reenroll you may need to request an in-school deferment.

Complete the Loan Exit Interview when you withdraw from school

Students who withdraw from Westmoreland County Community College, even for just one semester, will be required to complete the "Loan Exit Interview" on studentloans.gov to comply with institutional procedure and federal regulations. Students who do not complete the Loan Exit Interview may have registration and transcript holds placed on their academic records.

Return of Title IV Funds

Return of Title IV Funds Philosophy

The Financial Aid Office is required to return funds received under Title IV if a student withdraws from all classes during the term before completing more than 60 percent of the term. The adjustments are calculated based on any of the following actions:

  • The date the student officially withdraws or is suspended, or
  • The students last date of attendance at a documented academically-related activity or,
  • The date the College determines the unofficial date of withdrawal, or
  • The date the student is reported by the faculty for non-attendance.

 

Title IV aid is earned in a prorated manner on days attended up to or greater than the 60 percent point in the semester. Title IV aid is viewed as 100 percent earned after that point in time.

All withdrawals for financial aid students are monitored by the Financial Aid Office. Students who withdraw from courses and/or reduce their course loads after registration may have their financial aid reduced accordingly.

In accordance with the federal regulations, the Financial Aid Office will return funds to the Title IV Fund programs in the following order: Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans, Subsidized Federal Direct Loans, Federal PLUS Loans, Federal Pell Grants, Federal SEOG, other Federal sources of aid.

The Colleges responsibilities in regard to the return of Title IV Funds are:

  • Providing each student with the information given in this procedure
  • Identifying students who are affected by this procedure and completing the Return of Title IV Funds calculation for these students.
  • Returning of Title IV Funds that are due the Title IV programs.

The student’s responsibilities in regard to the Return of Title IV Funds include:

  • Notification of proper withdrawal from the college i.e. completion of the required withdrawal documents.
  • Returning of Title IV programs any funds that were disbursed directly to the student and which the student was determined to be ineligible for via the calculation.

Failure to repay the overpayment to the College will jeopardize the student’s eligibility for continued enrollment at the College.

Refund for State Funds

PHEAA sends State Grant funds directly to your school. The school will then credit your account after first certifying your eligibility. The Financial Aid Office will assume the responsibility for returning overpayments received by the College and the student to state aid programs. Students are responsible for paying the college any overpayments that were disbursed directly to the student, which the student was determined to be ineligible to receive, based on the refund calculation.   

Returning Unearned Funds

Unearned Title IV funds, other than Federal Work Study, must be returned. Unearned aid is the amount of disbursed aid that exceeds the amount of Title IV aid earned. The amount of Title IV funds the student has not earned is calculated by subtracting the amount of Title IV funds the student earned from the total Title IV funding disbursed or was disbursable.

Unearned Title IV funds must be returned within 45 days of the date of the student’s withdrawal. 

Fraud

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. 

Consortium Agreements

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 WCCC.  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."

Summer Financial Aid

Students who wish to be considered for summer financial aid must be registered for at least six (6) credit hours before beginning the summer financial aid process. Once your 2017 Summer Aid Application has been processed, you will receive an email to access and accept your financial aid via ‘MyWestmoreland’.

There is a limit to the amount a student can receive in Pell Grant and Direct Loans in one academic year.Utilizing the Pell Grant and/or the Direct Loans during the Fall and Spring semesters, may reduce what you will be offered in those funds for the summer term.

Veterans’ Financial Aid Assistance

As a military student, or dependent/spouse of a military service-member, you may be entitled to federal and state financial aid - including both grants and loans. To determine this eligibility, you will need to fill out the FAFSA - the Free Application for Federal Student Aid each academic year at www.fafsa.ed.gov

At Westmoreland County Community College, our academic year starts with the Fall semester and ends with the completion of the Spring semester. Summer financial aid may be available as well, please check with the Veteran’s Affairs Office to determine your eligibility. Some students are required to provide extra paperwork (i.e. requests for federal verification, special circumstances, etc.), so giving yourself extra time to complete the process will hopefully provide you with more time to figure out your finances.

Under Chapter 30, Chapter 1606, Chapter 1607, Chapter 35, and VRAP educational benefits, since the VA does not pay your tuition directly, you may be eligible to receive both federal and state financial aid. This would include Pell (a grant given based on need by the Federal government); PHEAA (a grant given based on need by the PA state government); VTA (Veteran Tuition Award); and also federal direct student loans, if needed.

Under Chapter 33 (Post 9/11 - at the 100% rate) and Chapter 31 (Voc Rehab) educational benefits, since the VA will directly pay your full tuition and fees, you may not use state financial aid such as PHEAA and VTA. However, if you are a student receiving Chapter 33 benefits at the 40%-90% rate, the VA will only cover that amount.

It is also a good idea to find out what you may be eligible for in terms of financial aid because you may want to forego using your VA benefits. You may want to save them for another time after you leave Westmoreland County Community College where they can cover higher tuition amounts at four-year schools.