Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress

A complete statement of the Holyoke Community College policy on satisfactory academic progress is available in the Financial Aid Office, Frost 201. You can also view the policy by downloading this pdf.

For most federal and state financial aid programs, students must meet both a qualitative and quantitative standard of academic progress.

Qualitative Standard

Students must maintain a cumulative financial aid grade point average* as follows:

Cumulative Quality Hours  Cumulative Financial Aid GPA Required
Below 9   No minimum  
9 - 30  1.75
Above 30 2.0


*A student may have a different financial aid GPA than his or her College GPA due to the inclusion of both pre- and post- Fresh Start grades and the inclusion of final grades from remedial/developmental courses in the calculation.

Quantitative Standard

The quantitative standard has two aspects, pace toward completion and a maximum time frame, requiring that the student make reasonable progress toward earning a degree or certificate.

Pace Toward Program Completion
Students must successfully complete at least two-thirds of cumulative attempted semester hours.

Maximum Time Frame
Students must be able to complete their program of study within 150% of the number of semester hours required at HCC to complete their degree or certificate.

Appeal Process
Students who believe that extraordinary mitigating circumstances prevented them from attaining satisfactory academic progress may submit a type written appeal to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee. If the appeal is granted, the student is considered to be on financial aid probation and will be eligible to receive financial aid for one semester.

Warning Period
Students who fail to meet the GPA and/or pace standards for the very first time are granted a one-semester warning period. Students in this category are warned of their failed status but do not lose their financial aid for the semester.

General Policies

Withdrawal Policy

A complete statement of the Holyoke Community College Return of Title IV Funds/Refund Repayments Policy and Procedures can be found by opening this pdf.

If a student stops attending classes before completing 60% of the semester, the student is considered to have earned only a percentage of his/her aid equal to the percentage of the term completed. In such cases the school must apply federal and state rules to determine how much unearned aid must be repaid respectively by the student and the school. Until the student repays the unearned aid, he/she is considered to have a financial aid overpayment. Federal overpayments prevent a student from receiving federal or state aid at any school. State overpayments disqualify the student for state aid at any school. In addition, the return of aid by the college can leave an unpaid balance on the student's college account.

When calculating the unearned aid, the regulations require schools to use the date the student begins the withdrawal process as the "date of withdrawal." Holyoke Community College defines the date the student begins the withdrawal process as the date the student obtains withdrawal forms with the intention to completely withdraw from school.

If a student stops attending, and fails to officially withdraw from classes, the school normally uses the 50% point of the term as the "withdrawal date," although a different date may be used if the school has received a last date of attendance from an instructor. Federal rules also require schools to reduce financial aid for a single course withdrawal, if the student is not attending any other courses at the time of the withdrawal.

There is a limit to the amount of financial aid that can be used for developmental coursework.
Developmental classes are those with course numbers below 100, such as Math 075. The Financial Aid Office is only allowed to pay a student up to 30 credits of developmental coursework. ESL courses are not counted.

There is a limit to how long a student can receive a Pell Grant.
Students are restricted to a lifetime limit of 12 full-time semesters of Pell Grant. This limit became effective July 1, 2012, and is retroactive, meaning that all semesters in which a student received a Pell Grant in the past are counted toward the 12-semester limit. Pell Grants received for part-time enrollment are counted toward the limit on a pro-rated basis. For example, a Pell Grant received for half-time enrollment would be counted as one-half of a full-time semester of eligibility.

Repeat Policy
Financial aid can only pay for one repeat of a previously passed course. This repeat limitation applies even if the student did not receive financial aid when enrolled in the course in the past.

Financial aid is based on student enrollment at the end of the add/drop period.
A student's financial aid is based on the number of credits the student is enrolled in at the end of the semester's add/drop period. For summer this normally means the very first add/drop period. For intersession and spring semester, this normally means the add/drop period during the spring semester.

A student cannot receive financial aid for a course he/she never attended.
If an instructor reports that a student never attended a course, the student's financial aid is canceled for that course.

Not all academic programs are eligible for financial aid.
All degree programs are eligible for financial aid but certificate programs require special approval from the Federal Department of Education. Certificate students should consult with the Financial Aid office to determine if their program of study is approved. In addition, to receive financial aid, students must be taking courses required for their program of study.

Book Advance
Students who have anticipated financial aid that exceeds their tuition and fee charges may draw on that in the form of an advance for the purpose of purchasing books at the HCC bookstore. Approximately three weeks before the start of a semester, a student's eligibility for a book advance is calculated based on the student's billed charges minus pending financial aid. Once calculated, it is posted to the student's account and electronically forwarded to the bookstore. The amount can be viewed on the student's record on HCC online services ("MY HCC"). To charge books against this projected balance, the student goes directly to the bookstore with his/her class schedule and student ID. Book advances are available through the first three weeks of the semester. After the three-week period, the bookstore notifies the school's Student Accounts Office of the actual amount of book charges that should be placed as a charge on the student's account. If a student uses the book advance to purchase course materials, the student is considered to have authorized the use of financial aid funds to pay these expenses, and no additional written authorization is required.

Financial aid cannot be used to pay for health insurance without student permission.
The student must sign an authorization form in the Student Account Services office (Frost 201)before financial aid can be used to pay for the health insurance charge on the student's bill (assuming the student has enough financial aid to cover this charge). If the student has comparable health insurance coverage, the health insurance charge can be waived at www.gallagherkoster.com.

A student does not have to be a full-time student to receive financial aid.
Most financial aid programs require a student to be at least half-time (6 credits or more), but in some cases a student can receive a Pell Grant for just one course.

A student with a bachelor's degree is not eligible for financial aid grants.
Once the student has earned a bachelor's degree, the student is no longer eligible for grant aid even if the student did not receive grant aid to earn the bachelor's degree and even if the bachelor's degree (or equivalent) is from another country.

A student cannot receive financial aid for audited courses.
A student must be taking a course for credit to receive financial aid for the course.

A student can receive a student loan, even if the student did not demonstrate "need" on the FAFSA.
A student is eligible for an unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan regardless of the need calculation from the FAFSA, assuming the student meets all other eligibility criteria.

A student may receive more financial aid than the cost of tuition, fees and books.
Financial aid can be used to help cover educationally related out-of-pocket expenses such as room and board, transportation, lunches and daycare. If the student is awarded financial aid in excess of tuition, fees, and books, the student will receive a check from the college after charges on the student's account have been paid.

Financial aid can be re-evaluated if the student's situation changes.
If the student's family experiences unusual circumstances that could affect their ability to pay for school, the student should notify the Financial Aid Office immediately. With proper documentation from the family, the student's financial aid may be adjusted to reflect this change in circumstances. Examples of change in circumstances would be loss of employment or the death of a parent or spouse.

Estimates of financial aid awards for students who are not yet processed.
The financial aid office may estimate awards for students who are not yet processed, and prepare a "Temporary Payment Extension" (TPE) to inform the Student Account Services office of the amount of the student's expected financial aid.

Students must notify the Financial Aid Office of the receipt of any outside scholarship.
If the student receives any financial aid from any other sources, such as a scholarship organization, the student must inform the Financial Aid Office immediately.

Students must apply for financial aid each year.
A student must complete the "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" (FAFSA) each year. The FAFSA can be completed on-line at www.fafsa.gov beginning January 1 of each year.

Financial Aid Code of Conduct

The HCC financial aid office has adopted a Code of Conduct to guarantee integrity in all matters pertaining to student educational loan programs.


Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Ave. Holyoke, MA 01040
(413) 538-7000