Financial Aid Policies
Access a complete statement of the Holyoke Community College Return of Title IV Funds/Refund Repayments Policy & Procedures.
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.
Financial aid can only pay for one repeat of a previously passed course.
Financial aid is based on the student's enrollment status.
The amount of financial aid a student can receive is based on their enrollment status:
- Full-time (taking 12 or more credits)
- Three-quarter-time (9 to 11 credits)
- Half-time (6 to 8 credits)
- Less-than-half-time (1 to 5 credits)
Your enrollment status is determined on an assigned "census date." This census date usually falls right after the first add/drop period of the semester. Intersession and spring semester have the same census date, right after the first add/drop period of the spring semester.
If the student's grant award happens after the census date, their enrollment status is based on the number of credits the student is enrolled in when the grant award gets calculated by the Financial Aid Office.
If the student's loan award happens before the census date, their enrollment status is based on the number of credits the student was taking on the census date. Sometimes, the student may not be enrolled in classes until after the census date has passed. In this case, enrollment status is based on the number of credits the student is enrolled in at the time the loan is awarded. Students must always be enrolled in at least six credits at the time the loan is processed.
If you have any questions about how course withdrawals can affect financial aid, please contact the HCC Financial Aid Office at firstname.lastname@example.org and make an appointment to speak to a financial aid counselor.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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 (six 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 refund 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.
Note that this request for re-evaluation must be submitted while the student is enrolled for the appropriate academic year.
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 online beginning October 1 of each year. For example, the 2020-21 FAFSA was available on October 1, 2019.
Paper copies of all Financial Aid policies, forms, instructional brochures, etc. are available in the Financial Aid Office. Please feel free to visit us in Frost 201 and we would be happy to provide you with a hard copy of what you need.
The primary goal of Holyoke Community College's financial aid staff is to help students achieve their educational potential by providing appropriate financial resources. To this end, the staff members employed in the Holyoke Community College financial aid office commit to a set of principles that serves as a common foundation for an acceptable standard of conduct.
Holyoke Community College's financial aid office staff shall:
- Maintain the highest level of professionalism
- Commit to the highest level of ethical behavior and refrain from conflicts of interest whether actual, potential, or perceived
- Respect the dignity and protect the privacy of students and ensure the confidentiality of student records and personal circumstances
- Provide information about lenders that have proven to offer the best combination of price, access to funds, and service to our students and families
Further, Holyoke Community College's financial aid office staff adhere to the following:
- Refrain from accepting gifts, meals, travel, or anything of other than nominal value from student loan providers in connection with the College's student loan programs
- Refrain from accepting from a lending institution money, equipment, printing services, or anything of value that may suggest an advantage or preferred status
- If serving as a member of an advisory board, commission, or group established by a lender, refrain from accepting anything of value in exchange for this service
- If publishing a preferred lender list, annually review lender choices and clearly and fully disclose the criteria and process for selecting preferred lenders
- If publishing a preferred lender list, disclose information regarding any lender on the preferred list that has an agreement to sell loans to another lender
- Make clear to students and their families that they have the right to borrow through any lender of their choice regardless of a preferred lender list
- Refrain from linking or otherwise directing students and families to any electronic loan process, such as a master promissory note or other loan agreement, that promotes or suggests preferred status for any lending institution
- Refrain from revenue sharing arrangements with any lender. This is defined as any arrangement between a school and a lender that results in the lender paying a fee or other benefits, including a share of the profits, to any member of the financial aid office staff as a result of the school recommending the lender to its students or families of those students.
- Refrain from steering borrowers to particular lenders or delaying loan certification based on the borrower's selection of a particular lender
- Refrain from requesting or accepting any offer of funds for private loans to students in exchange for providing concessions or promises to the lender for a specified number of loans or loan volume or preferred lender arrangement
- Refrain from accepting any fee, payment, or financial benefit as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement or contract to provide services to or on behalf of a lender relating to education loans
- Refrain from receiving financial aid staffing assistance from a lender unless the staffing services are provided on a short-term nonrecurring basis during an emergency situation or for office staff professional development or for providing educational counseling, financial literacy, or debt management materials to borrowers
Reporting of Policy Violations
Any employee who believes that any provision of this policy has been violated shall report such violation to the Chair of the College's Board of Trustees, who shall then be responsible for immediately notifying the Chair and Chancellor of the Board of Higher Education. Upon review of the matter, the Board of Higher Education shall refer the violation to the Office of the Attorney General, if deemed appropriate.
Beginning with the 2016-2017 processing year, HCC has been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Education Dual Enrollment Pell Experiment. Under this program, Holyoke Public school students, who are otherwise eligible for Title IV aid, will be awarded Pell grants to help with the educational costs of the classes they are taking at HCC. Students will be awarded other funding to meet the costs not covered by Pell, as required by the experiment.
Please review the important information below regarding this experiment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Federal Pell grant?
Federal Pell grant awards vary in amounts depending on a family's expected contribution as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the number of college credits a student is enrolled in. These are federal funds that do not need to be paid back; however, it is important to note that lifetime limits do apply.
Why should I participate?
Students eligible for Pell grants have the opportunity to earn even more college credit while enrolled as a dual enrollment student. Students will not be limited to one course, can take additional courses over the summer, and have a greater guarantee of available funding. Furthermore, this is an opportunity to learn about the financial aid application process with the extra assistance of designated workshops and resources.
What is the FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an online application that students and parents complete together. It is used to determine what a family may be expected to contribute towards a student's educational costs. Completing this application does not commit a family to covering any costs.
What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
The expected family contribution (EFC) is determined by the FAFSA and it informs families and schools what the U.S. Department of Education determines your family can contribute. The EFC impacts the amount of Pell grant that a student may be eligible for.
What do I need to pay?
For purposes of this program, students eligible for Pell grant funds will not be responsible for any other costs associated with their education. HCC has agreed to cover the costs that Pell grant funds do not cover. The only exceptions apply if a student withdraws or takes non-college level credits.
Will my book costs be covered?
Students eligible for Pell grant funds will be awarded financial aid to cover the anticipated costs of required books and supplies. If the financial aid the student receives exceeds the amount needed for tuition, fees, and books, the excess will be refunded to the student for help with other out-of-pocket expenses, such as transportation.
What else do I need to do?
Students must meet the other eligibility requirements (other than high school completion). Families selected for verification may need to submit additional documentation to the HCC Financial Aid Office.
What if I am not eligible for Pell grants?
Students who are ineligible for Pell grants may have a single course covered by alternative funding sources.
Verification & Required Documentation
The FAFSA provides the school with certain information and requirements. There are times when we are required to get additional documents from families/students. It does not mean you did anything incorrectly; it is simply a process that the U.S. Department of Education has in place to randomly select applications for review. We will communicate any requirements to you in the form of a letter. Information regarding deadlines for required documentation can be found here. Please feel free to contact us if you need assistance in completing any steps in the application process.
Lifetime Eligibility Limits
The Federal Pell grant is restricted to a lifetime limit of 12 full-time semesters. Students who attend less than full time (12 credits) use up this limit on a pro-rated basis. In other words, if a student attends half-time (six credits) then they are only using half of one of the 12 semesters of eligibility and can continue to take classes on a part-time basis for a longer period of time.
Non-college Level Coursework
Typically, the Pell grant does cover developmental courses; however, it does not for the purposes of dually enrolled students. Students are required to pay for the educational expenses related to these courses on their own, unless other funding sources are available.
A student may be responsible for charges if they withdraw from all of their courses, stop attending their courses, or withdraw from a single course while not enrolled in any other courses at the same time. The financial aid office will perform a federally required calculation when a student is determined to have withdrawn to determine how much of the Pell grant funds that student earned. If the student fails to earn all of the funds, then some or all of the funds may be returned and the student would be responsible for the outstanding balance at the college. For more information please see the withdrawal page.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the minimum standards required to maintain eligibility for federal and state financial aid programs. The coursework taken as a dually enrolled student impacts SAP whether the student is the receipt of Pell funds or not. There are three components to SAP:
- Grade-Based: Students must maintain a certain cumulative GPA
- Pace Toward Completion: Students must earn semester hours equal to at least two-thirds of the semester hours they attempt
- Maximum Time Frame: Students must complete their program of student within 150% of the published number of semester hours (credits) required to complete the program
Students who fail to meet the grade based or pace standards are issued a financial aid warning before facing financial aid suspension. There is no warning for maximum time frame. Students who fail to meet the standards may appeal if they feel as though there were documented extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from meeting the standards.
View the complete SAP policy and appeal information.
HCC's Financial Aid Office has financial aid counselors available to assist you with all aspects of understanding and completing the financial aid application process. You can feel free to stop in during our normal office hours or contact us by phone: 413.552.2150 or email: email@example.com.