2024-2025 Catalog and Handbook 
  
    May 20, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog and Handbook

Step 2: Apply for Financial Aid



 MECC encourages all eligible degree and certificate seeking students to apply for financial aid at https://studentaid.gov. Financial aid may come in the form of grants, scholarships, and work-study positions. MECC’s school code to include on the FAFSA form is 009629.

Deadlines to Apply for Financial Aid

Although you can file the online FAFSA anytime, it is best to complete the FAFSA prior to July 1 of the year that you plan to attend MECC. Please review MECC’s financial aid webpage at www.mecc.edu/paying-for-college for deadlines and more details about financial aid. You can also research available scholarships at www.mecc.edu/scholarships.  To be eligible for the Promise Program, students mus have their financial aid file completed by August 1.

Financial Aid

All Student Financial Aid Programs are administered by the Department of Enrollment Services and Financial Aid and include grants, scholarships, and employment. Necessary forms and information are available from Enrollment Services/Financial Aid in Fox Central located in Holton Hall. Application for most aid programs is possible by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at www.studentaid.gov and the MECC Foundation Scholarship Application at www.mecc.edu/scholarships.

The philosophy of the College is that, “No student should be denied the opportunity for a postsecondary education due solely to a lack of financial resources.” To be eligible for financial aid the student must be enrolled in an academic plan leading toward a certificate, diploma, or degree. Course selection should follow a planned program of study.

Eligibility Requirements for Federal, State and VCCS Programs

Eligibility for federal, state, and VCCS programs is based on financial need and several other factors. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be filed at https://studentaid.gov. Many financial aid programs are awarded on a first-come, first-serve, basis so it is important to apply early. The financial aid administrator at the College will determine eligibility. Basic eligibility requirements require that students:

  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Have a valid high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate or complete a high school education in a home school setting that is treated as such under state law (Note: Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) alternatives may qualify students without a valid high school diploma or its equivalent. Alternatives include passing an ability-to-benefit test approved by the U.S. Department of Education, meeting other standards the state establishes that the Department approves, or satisfactorily completing six credit hours or the equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate. For more information, contact Financial Aid at 276.523.7470.
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Register with the Selective Service (if male and if required) only applicable to state aid
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Certify that they are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant
  • Certify that they will use financial aid only for educational purposes
  • Only receive aid for courses required to complete program

Financial Aid for Home School Graduates

  • Home school graduates of a secondary school curriculum may receive federal financial aid.

Virginia Alternative State Aid (VASA)

  • Students who are unable to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can now be considered for state financial aid by submitting the Virginia Alternative State Aid (VASA) application. https://www.levelupvirginia.org/financie/financial-aid/vasa-application.

Enrollment Requirements

To receive financial aid a student must be enrolled in a program of study leading to a certificate or degree. Most aid awards are adjusted based on the number of credits. Students registered for 12 or more credits generally receive 100% of aid awarded.  Students enrolled in less than 12 credits will have their aid adjusted for enrollment intensity.  If you are registered for less than 6 aid eligible credits your aid may be limited to federal Pell grant only at a pro-rated amount.

Aid Programs Available

MECC does not participate in the Federal Family Education Loan Programs. However, the College does participate in the following grant, work, and scholarship programs.

Federal Programs
Federal Pell Grant:
Federal Pell Grants are awarded to eligible undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree. Eligibility is primarily based on the Student Aid Index (SAI) from the Student Aid Report (SAR), but is also affected by enrollment status. 

A minimum of 12 credit hours each semester is required to receive the full amount of aid awarded. Students enrolled in less than 12 credit hours will have their aid reduced based on enrollment intensity.  Eligible students will be awarded once the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) and any required documentation have been received. 

FSEOG (Federal Educational Supplemental Opportunity Grant): FSEOG is for undergraduate Federal Pell Grant recipients with exceptional financial need (i.e., students with the lowest SAIs). Eligible students will be  awarded once the FAFSA and any required documentation have been received on a first-come, firstserved basis until funds have been exhausted.

Federal Work Study: Federal Work-Study (FWS) provides part-time jobs for undergraduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the recipient’s course of study. Students are paid by the hour usually twice per month. Wages for the program must equal at least the current federal minimum wage but might be higher, depending on the type of work and the skills required. The amount earned cannot exceed the total FWS award. When assigning work hours, consideration will be given to the student’s award amount, class schedule, and academic progress. Eligible students who have already been awarded other aid and wish to be considered for FWS are advised to contact the College.

State Programs
Priority for state programs is given to students who do not already possess a bachelor’s or professional degree and have met the College’s priority date for applying for financial aid. Eligible students will be awarded once the FAFSA and any required documentation have been received on a first-come, first-served basis until funds have been exhausted.

COMA (Commonwealth Grant): Students receiving COMA must be domiciled in Virginia, show financial need by means of needs analysis and be enrolled on at least a half-time basis (at least six credits). Funding is provided solely by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Individual awards vary dependent upon need and funding level. Awards Range from $1,000 to $1,800 and can be used for tuition, fees, and books.

VGAP (Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program): Students receiving VGAP must meet requirements similar to COMA recipients. However, students must have achieved a 2.5 GPA in high school, have exceptional financial need and maintain full-time enrollment as a dependent student. Awards vary from $1,100 to $2,200 for tuition, fees and books. Renewal students must maintain a 2.0 G.P.A. and continuous full-time enrollment (summer terms are excluded).

Part-Time Tuition Assistance Program (PTAP): This VCCS-funded grant provides tuition assistance only (no fees) to students in a degree or certificate program who enroll for at least 1 but less than 8 credits. Students must show need.

MECC Programs
Presidential Honor Scholarships:
Awarded by the President and Local Advisory Board of MECC to enrolled students who are valedictorians and salutatorians of public or private high schools in MECC’s service region. Public high schools must be accredited by the State Department of Education and private high schools must be accredited by an accreditation association approved by the Virginia Council for Private Education. The student must enroll during the fall semester following high school graduation to receive this scholarship. Awards are for full tuition and fees, and are renewable for the second year based on the student’s GPA.

Mary Marshall Nursing Scholarship: Established by the General Assembly for Virginia residents who show financial need. The deadline for applications from new nursing students is June 21. Completed applications must be returned to the Financial Aid Office by June 15. Awards vary. Application is available online at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/OMHHE/primarycare/incentives/nursing/indext.htm.

AIMS Scholarship:. Graduating high school seniors are eligible for this scholarship, which guarantees that the student pays no tuition and/or fees at MECC for up to three years (or 72 credit hours), if they meet the qualifications. For specific information please visit www.mecc.edu/aims.

Restricted Scholarships
There are also restricted scholarships provided by industries and organizations. Students should apply directly to each organization for consideration. Enrollment Services/Financial Aid encourages students to apply early, particularly while still in high school.

MECC Foundation, Inc.
The MECC Foundation, Inc. has been established to assist the College in providing student aid. The Foundation is a charitable, nonprofit corporation which provides an appropriate means for individuals, organizations, business and industry to contribute to the College. To learn more about the MECC Foundation, visit www.meccfoundation.org.

VCCS Programs
VCCS Grant:
The VCCS Grant provides assistance to Virginia residents at Virginia’s Community Colleges who demonstrate financial need. Award amounts cannot exceed tuition, fees, and books per academic year. This grant will not be awarded as part of the initial aid package. It may be awarded during the repackaging process that takes place after the end of the add/drop period where aid is based on actual enrollment.

Great Expectations Program: The Great Expectations Program provides tuition and fees at any Virginia community college for high school graduates or general education development (GED) completers in foster care, in the custody of a social services agency, or considered a special needs adoption. More information is available at www.mecc.edu/great-expectations/.

G3 - Get a skill. Get a job. Get ahead: G3 tuition assistance is for students living in Virginia who qualify for state financial aid and whose family income falls below an identified threshold. G3 is a last-dollar scholarship that can be used for designated programs in five of Virginia’s most in-demand industries: Early Childhood Education, Healthcare, Information Technology, Public Safey and Skilled Trades. For more information and eligibility requirements, please visit www.mecc.edu/g3.

Veterans Information

Enrollment Services/Veterans Affairs provides services to veterans, transferees, spouses, and dependents enrolled at Mountain Empire Community College. Assistance is primarily provided with receipt of veterans’ educational benefits. The office of the MECC Veterans Affairs Officer, Lena Grace, is in Robb Hall, Room 106. Enrollment Services/Veterans Affairs is not a part of the Veterans Administration Regional Office.

Application Procedure
Veterans, transferees, spouses, or dependents must first apply for Veterans Education Benefits at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill. After submission of application, contact the MECC Veterans Affairs Officer in Robb Hall, Room 106.

Veterans
Submit a copy of your DD Form 214 (Member 4); Have your military transcripts sent to MECC, Enrollment Services. If you served in the Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, or Navy) request your Joint Services Transcript at https://jst.doded.mil/jst/. If you served in the Air Force, request your military transcripts through the Air Force Transcript Portal at https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/Barnes/CCAF/Display/Article/803247/community-college-of-the-air-force-transcripts.

As transcripts are submitted, transcripts will be reviewed, and credits will be applied to your program of choice.  You will receive a notification informing you of all transfer credits applied to your program.

If you have any questions regarding your qualifications for veterans benefits or to explore your options for maximum use, please call the Veterans Administration toll-free number at 1-888-442-4551 or visit the website www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

If you are transferring to MECC from another place of training, or you have not been enrolled for at least one year, a Request for Change of Program/Place of Training will be required.

To ensure smooth processing of VA claims, it is important to apply early. Applicants normally receive notification from the Department of Veterans Affairs within 30 days after an application is submitted. A copy of the Certificate of Eligibility must be submitted to Enrollment Services/Veterans Affairs.

Certificate of Understanding
All VA recipients are required to submit a signed MECC Certificate of Understanding (COU) prior to receiving any VA Education Benefits based on enrollment through MECC.

Enrollment Certification
VA recipients must be enrolled in an approved program of study. To receive full-time monthly stipends/BAH, the VA recipient must be enrolled full-time. Post-9/11 G.I. Bill recipients must be enrolled in at least 51% of a full course load to receive a monthly housing allowance. The College will certify enrollment as a full-time at 12 credits or above; three-quarter time at nine to eleven credit hours; half-time at six to eight credit hours; less than six hours for cost of tuition and fees only. Certifications listed above are based on continuous enrollment for the entire 15-week semester. Please contact the MECC Veterans Affairs Officer for certification information for short or special sessions.

Upon completion of enrollment, VA recipients are required to submit the Certification Request for VA Educational Benefits form to Enrollment Services/Veterans Affairs. An online form and a fillable/printable pdf form are located on our website at https://www.mecc.edu/veterans/. It is important to enroll early and submit your documentation by the priority deadline. VA recipients will receive a certification email each semester indicating the rate of pursuit that has been certified. In addition, the first semester a recipient enrolls in a program/plan, a Shopping Sheet and a copy of the program/plan from the College catalog will be included in the certification email.

VA recipients are required to notify Enrollment Services/Veterans Affairs immediately of any changes in enrollment that occur after benefits have been certified to the DVA.

All academic policies as included in this catalog apply equally to all students at Mountain Empire Community College. However, there are a few guidelines specifically applicable to the administration of veterans certified for benefits through the Veterans Administration.

  1. Veterans Affairs Officer will consult with VA recipients who fail to attend classes regularly.
  2. Veterans Affairs Officer will report to the Veterans Administration as soon as possible any change in the status of VA recipients, including change in curriculum, reduction or increase in course-load or withdrawals.
  3. Veterans who fail to maintain good academic standing must be counseled by an Academic Advisor at the College prior to veteran’s benefits being reinstated.
  4. Mountain Empire Community College grading policies will be used to determine whether VA recipients are maintaining satisfactory progress. According to College and the Veterans Administration policies, students must make satisfactory academic progress. If suspended or dismissed, students must appeal to the Student Affairs Committee and meet with Student Affairs Committee. Students who have been reinstated must achieve a 2.0 GPA for the semester of their reinstatement. At the conclusion of this semester, enrollment of successful students receiving veterans’ educational benefits will be certified.
  5. The physical education requirements for the degree, certificate, and career studies certificate programs may be waived for veterans

Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 and the Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness Act of 2021, effective August 1, 2022, with amendments as required under 38 USC 3679:
The following individuals shall be charged the in-state rate, or otherwise considered a resident, for tuition purposes:

  • A veteran using educational assistance under either Chapter 30 (Montgomery G.I. Bill® - Active Duty Program) or Chapter 33 (Post-9/11 G.I. Bill), of Title 38, United States Code, who lives in the Commonwealth of Virginia while attending a school located in the Commonwealth of Virginia (regardless of their formal state of residence).
  • Anyone using transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits who lives in the state where the IHL is located, and the transferor is a member of the uniformed service serving on active duty.
  • A spouse or child using benefits under the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (35 U.S.C. § 3311(b)(9) who lives in the Commonwealth of Virginia while attending a school located in the Commonwealth of Virginia (regardless of their formal state of residence).
  • A spouse or child using benefits under Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance (Chapter 35) living in the Commonwealth of Virginia (regardless of their formal state of residence).
  • An individual using educational assistance under chapter 31, Veterans Readiness and Employment (VR&E) who lives in the Commonwealth of Virginia (regardless of their formal state of residence) effective for courses, semesters, or terms beginning after March 1, 2019.
  • Anyone described above remains continuously enrolled (other than during regularly scheduled breaks between courses, semesters, or terms) at the same institution. Therefore, the described person must be enrolled in the institution and use educational benefits under Chapters 30, 31, 33, or 35 of Title 38, United States Code.

Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program The Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program (VMSDEP) provides education benefits to spouses and children of military service members killed, missing in action, taken prisoner, or who became at least 90% disabled as a result of military service in an armed conflict. More information, eligibility requirements, and instructions for applying are available at https://www.dvs.virginia.gov/education-employment/virginia-military-survivors-and-dependents-education-program/.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

Contact Information for MECC Veterans Affairs Officer:
Ms. Lena Grace
Robb Hall, Room 106
276/523-9028
lgrace@mecc.edu