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

Financial Aid & Scholarships


The philosophy of the College is that no qualified student should be denied the opportunity for a postsecondary education due solely to a lack of financial resources.

All student financial aid programs are administered by the Financial Aid Office located in Fox Central, Holton Hall. Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, and employment. To be eligible for financial aid the student must be enrolled in an academic plan leading toward a certificate, diploma, or degree. Course selection must follow a planned program of study to be eligible for financial aid. Application for most aid programs is possible by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at www.studentaid.gov.

MECC offers a variety of scholarship opportunities for students. All students are encouraged to apply for scholarships at www.mecc.edu/scholarships.

Financial Aid Status

  • Financial Aid Good Standing (GS) - Students who are meeting all aspects of the satisfactory academic progress policy or successfully following a designated academic progress plan.
  • Financial Aid Warning Status (WS) - Students who fail to meet satisfactory academic progress for the first time (excluding students who have already attempted 150% of the credits required for their programs of study) will be automatically placed in a Warning Status for one (1) term and are expected to meet SAP requirements by the end of that term. Students who fail to meet satisfactory academic progress requirements at the end of the warning status term will be placed on financial aid suspension. However, with a successful SAP appeal, those students will be placed on financial aid probation and will retain financial aid eligibility.
  • Financial Aid Probation Status (PS) - Students who have successfully appealed financial aid suspension are placed in Probation Status (PS). Students in Probation Status (PS) are eligible to receive financial aid for one (1) semester, after which they MUST be in Good Standing (GS) or meeting the requirements of an academic progress plan that was pre-approved by the College Financial Aid Office. (See Appeals for additional information.)
  • Financial Aid Suspension Status (SS) - Students who do not meet the credit progression schedule and/or the cumulative grade point average standard, or who fail to meet the requirements of their pre-approved academic progress plan, will be placed in Suspension Status (SS). Students in Suspension Status (SS) are not eligible to receive financial aid.
  • Academic Suspension (AS) - Academic requirements for avoiding warning status and staying in school differ from financial aid requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress. Academic status will be noted on registration records; financial aid status will be noted on financial aid pages in SIS. Any student suspended from the College for academic or behavioral reasons is automatically ineligible for financial aid.

VCCS Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

Federal regulations require that a student receiving federal financial aid make satisfactory academic progress in accordance with the standards set by the College and the federal government. These limitations include all terms of enrollment, whether or not aid was awarded or received.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards also apply to state aid. Students who do not meet SAP standards may be considered for institutional and/or foundational funds on an individual basis. Progress is measured throughout the academic program by the student’s cumulative grade point average (Qualitative) and by credits earned as a percentage of those attempted (Quantitative or Pace of Completion). In addition, students must complete their programs of study before attempting 150% of the credits required to complete the program. The College Financial Aid Office will evaluate satisfactory academic progress before aid is awarded and after grades are posted for every term, starting with their first term of enrollment. Some career studies certificate programs (i.e., shorter than 16 credits in total length) are ineligible for student financial aid, but those credits will be counted toward all SAP requirements (GPA, Completion Rate, Maximum Timeframe, and Developmental Maximum) if the student later enrolls in an eligible program.

Evaluating Progress

  • Quantitative Standards or Pace of Completion Rate (67% Rule): Students must, at a minimum, receive satisfactory grades in 67% of cumulative credits attempted. This calculation is performed by dividing the cumulative total number of successfully completed credits by the cumulative total number of credits attempted. All credits attempted at the College (except audits, which must be entered as such by the class census date) are included. All credits accepted in transfer count as both attempted and successfully completed credits. This evaluation will be made prior to aid being awarded and after grades are posted at the end of each semester a student is enrolled at the College. Credits with satisfactory grades at the College are those for which a grade of A, B, C, D, S, or P is earned.
  • Maximum Hours (150% Rule): In order to continue receiving financial aid, a student must complete his/her program of study before attempting 150% of the credits required for that program. Developmental and ESL course work are excluded in this calculation. Attempted credits from all enrollment periods at the College plus all accepted transfer credits are counted; whether or not the student received financial aid for those terms is of no consequence.
  • Transfer Students: Transfer credits officially accepted by the College will be counted in determining the maximum number of allowable credit hours for financial aid eligibility. The College has the option on an individual student basis to put a transfer student in Financial Aid Warning Status immediately upon evaluation for financial aid if academic history at previous colleges indicates a pattern of unsuccessful academic work.
  • Second Degree Students: Credits earned from a first degree or certificate must be counted if the student changes programs or attempts a second degree or certificate. Depending on the circumstances, an appeal might be warranted.
  • ESL and Developmental Studies: Students may receive financial aid for a maximum of 30 semester hours of Developmental Studies courses as long as the courses are required as a result of placement testing, the student is in an eligible program of study, and SAP requirements continue to be met. ESL credits are unlimited in number as long as they are taken as part of an eligible program and SAP requirements continue to be met.

Additional Considerations for Quantitative or Pace of Completion Standards

Withdrawals (W grades) that are recorded on the student’s permanent academic transcript will be included as credits attempted and will have an adverse effect on the student’s ability to meet the requirements of the completion rate for financial aid. Incomplete Grades: Courses that are assigned an incomplete grade are included in cumulative credits attempted. These cannot be used as credits earned in the progress standard until a successful grade is assigned.

Repeated courses enable the student to achieve a higher cumulative grade point average. Students can repeat courses with financial aid until successfully completed but repeating courses adversely affects the student’s ability to meet completion rate requirements. Financial aid can be considered for successfully completed classes that are repeated to achieve a higher grade but for only one additional attempt. Only the latest attempt will count toward the cumulative grade point average.

Qualitative Standards

Cumulative GPA Requirements (GPA Rule): In order to remain eligible for financial aid consideration, students must meet minimum cumulative grade point average requirements based on a progressive scale. Only non-remedial courses with grades of A, B, C, D, and F are included in this calculation. Transfer credits are excluded. In order to graduate, a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 is required.

Total Number of Credits GPA Requirement
16-31 1.5
32-47 1.8
48+ 2.0

Regaining Eligibility for Financial Aid

Students who do not meet the credit progression requirements (Quantitative or Pace of Completion) and/or cumulative grade point average requirements (Qualitative) will be immediately ineligible for financial aid. Removal from financial aid does not prevent students from enrolling without financial aid if they are otherwise eligible to continue their enrollment.

Unless extenuating circumstances exist and an appeal is granted (see “Appeals” section below for additional information), a student in financial aid suspension should expect to continue classes at his or her own expense until satisfactory academic progress requirements are again met. Students who fail to meet these Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards and who choose to enroll without benefit of student financial aid may request a review of their academic records after any term in which they are enrolled without the receipt of financial aid to determine whether they have again met satisfactory academic progress standards. If the standards are met, eligibility is regained for subsequent terms of enrollment in the academic year. Students should consult their campus financial aid advisors for assistance in appealing any element of this policy or to determine how to regain eligibility for financial aid.

Appeals

Under certain circumstances, students who fail to meet SAP standards and lose eligibility for financial aid can appeal the financial aid suspension. Students must clearly state what caused the suspension and must also clearly indicate what has changed that will now allow the student to succeed. Appeals are encouraged if:

  • Extenuating circumstances exist (i.e., student’s serious illness or accident; death, accident or serious illness in the immediate family; other mitigating circumstances), or
  • The student has successfully completed one degree and is attempting another, or
  • The student on suspension for other than maximum hours (150%), who has not yet met SAP requirements, has during suspension enrolled in and successfully completed at least 6 semester credits at the College with a minimum GPA of 2.0.

Students appealing a suspension must:

  • Complete the College’s SAP Appeal Form in its entirety. The SAP Appeal Form is available at the Financial Aid Office, located in Fox Central, Holton Hall, and on the MECC website at www.mecc.edu/forms.
  • SAP Appeal Forms must be signed by the student’s advisor. A copy of the student’s grade progress report, provided by the advisor, must be attached.
  • Submit all items to the College Financial Aid Office

Only complete appeal submissions, with documentation, will be evaluated by the Financial Aid Office. The decision is final. Depending on the circumstances, the student could be required to complete additional requirements (i.e., see a career counselor or another type of counselor, meet with an advisor to develop an academic progress plan for completion, limit enrollment, etc.) before an appeal is granted. The goal is to help the student get back on track for graduation. The reasonableness of the student’s ability for improvement to again meet SAP standards and complete the student’s program of study will be carefully considered. Students who have appeals approved will be in probationary status for the coming term.

Repayment of Title IV Aid When a Student Withdraws

Students receiving financial aid who withdraw or stop attending will, in most cases, be required to return a portion of financial aid received. The Higher Education Act, as reauthorized and signed into law on October 7, 1998, established the Return of Title IV Funds Policy.

This revised policy reflects new regulations effective 7-1-2011. The concept behind the policy is that the College and the student are allowed to retain only the amount of Title IV (federal) aid that is earned. If a student withdraws or stops attending classes, whether any credits have been earned for the term or not, a portion of the aid received is considered to be unearned and must be returned to the Title IV programs from which it was received.

For Title IV purposes, the last date of attendance is one of the following: the date the formal withdrawal process begins, the date the student otherwise gives official notice of intent to withdraw (i.e., letter, phone call, email, in person), the mid-point of the term, or the last documented date of attendance in an academically-related activity (i.e., documented attendance in a class or lab or submission of an assignment in a video course). If a student attends through 60 percent of the term, all Title IV aid is considered earned.

Definitions

  • Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation - A required calculation to determine the amount of aid earned by the student when the student does not attend all days scheduled to complete within a payment period or term (Student is considered to be a withdrawal, whether any credits were completed or not.)
  • Over-award [not the same as Return to Title IV calculation] - A required recalculation of Pell Grant and other aid types due to student dropping or not attending credits required for the status awarded (full-time, three-quarter time, half-time, less than half-time); required at any point information received that changes student status. Reductions in aid will always be required for students whose status changes due to dropped classes or classes not attended beyond the course census date.

Clarification of Regulations

• A student who attends and completes at least one course that spans the entire term will have earned the aid for that term (as adjusted for dropped classes or classes not attended).

• School must be able to demonstrate that the student actually attended each class, including any class with a failing grade. Attendance must be academic attendance or attendance at an academically-related activity. Documentation of attendance must be made by the school. A student’s self-certification of attendance is NOT acceptable unless supported by school’s documentation.

Examples of attendance include:

  • Physical class attendance where there is direct interaction between instructor and student
  • Submission of an academic assignment
  • Examination, interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction
  • Study group assigned by school
  • Participation in online discussion about academic matters
  • Initiation of contact with instructor to ask question about academic subject (Logging in to an online class does NOT count as attendance.)

A student who withdraws from a class within the term must still be attending another class or is considered to be a withdrawal, even if registered for future classes starting within the term. The student must, at the time of withdrawal from a module or dynamic class, provide a written statement to the College Financial Aid Office indicating intent to attend (within 45 days) a future class within the term, or the student is considered to be a withdrawal; and a Return to Title IV calculation must be completed. (If student doesn’t actually attend that future class, a Return to Title IV calculation is still required; withdrawal date/last date of attendance dates back to originally confirmed withdrawal date.)

Recalculation of aid for enrollment status changes due to dropped or never attended classes is required before any Return to Title IV calculation is completed. Commonwealth and VCCS funds must also be returned proportionally based on the percentage of unearned aid used in the Return of Title IV calculations.

This policy is totally separate from the institutional refund policy. Unpaid balances due to MECC that result from amounts returned to Title IV programs and other sources of aid will be charged back to the student. If a student does not begin attendance in all classes or ceases attendance during the 100% refund period, aid may have to be reduced to reflect appropriate status prior to calculating Return of Title IV Funds.

Before withdrawing or stopping attendance in classes, the student should be aware of the proper procedure for withdrawing from classes and the consequences of either withdrawing or stopping attendance. Official withdrawal is always the responsibility of the student. Any questions on Return of Title IV Funds may be addressed to the Financial Aid Coordinator. Questions regarding withdrawal should be addressed to the student’s advisor or the Admission’s Office.

Questions to Ask:

  • Did the student cease to attend a course that he/she was scheduled to attend? (If yes, ask the next questions)
  • At the time the student stopped attending this course, was he/she continuing to attend other courses? (If no, ask the next question. If yes, student is not a withdrawal.)
  • At the time of the withdrawal, did the student provide written confirmation of anticipated attendance in a later starting registered course within the term? (If no, student is considered a withdrawal and a Return of Title IV calculation must be completed. If yes, no Return to Title IV calculation is required unless the student doesn’t attend or quits the future class).

Return of Unearned Title IV Aid by the College The College must return the lesser of:

  • The total amount of unearned Title IV assistance to be returned as calculated above; or
  • An amount equal to the total charges by the College incurred by the student for the payment period multiplied by the percentage of Title IV grant assistance that has not been earned by the student as calculated in third bullet above. Charges by the College are tuition, fees, and bookstore charges assessed by the College.

Return of Unearned Title IV Aid by the Student

After the College has allocated the unearned funds for which it is responsible, the student must return assistance for which the student is responsible. The amount of assistance that the student is responsible for returning is calculated by subtracting the amount of unearned aid that the College is required to return from the total amount of unearned Title IV assistance to be returned. Note that 50% of the student’s disbursed grant is protected from the calculation. However, the student does not have to repay an original overpayment calculation of $50 or less for overpayments resulting from the student’s withdrawal.

A student who owes an overpayment of Title IV assistance remains eligible for Title IV program funds through and beyond the earlier of 45 days from the date the College sends a notification to the student of the overpayment, or 45 days from the date the College was required to notify the student of the overpayment if, during those 45 days the student:

  • Repays the overpayment in full to the College or,
  • Signs a repayment agreement for satisfactory arrangements to the school. (The College is never required to enter into a repayment agreement with a student).
  • Negotiates overpayment collection procedures with Borrower Services 800.621.3115

The College must send the student a notice within 30 days of the date of determination of withdrawal, if the student owes a Title IV overpayment. If the student does not repay the overpayment in full, the College must refer the student overpayment to the Borrower Services and NSLDS for collection. A student wishing to enter into a repayment arrangement with Borrower Services, should call 800.621.3115. Referral to Borrower Services must take place within the earlier of 45 days from the date the College sends a notification to the student of the overpayment, or 45 days from the date the College was required to notify the student of the overpayment. After referral to Borrower Services, a student who owes an overpayment is ineligible for Title IV program funds.

Order of Return of Title IV Aid

Unearned funds returned by the College or the student must be credited to any amount awarded for the payment period for which a return of funds is required in the following order: Federal Pell Grants and Federal SEOG Program aid.

Timeframe for Return of Title IV Aid The College must return the amount of Title IV funds for which it is responsible, as soon as possible, but not later than 45 days after the date of the College’s determination that the student withdrew. The College must determine the withdrawal date for a student who withdraws without providing notification to the College no later than 45 days after the end of the payment period.

Examples of Repayment

Student 1 enrolled for 18 credits in the fall semester and withdrew from all credits on September 13. Student 2 enrolled for 18 credits in the fall semester and withdrew from all credits on October 31. There are 115 calendar days in the semester. Both students charged $500 at the College bookstore and $749 tuition against their financial aid account. Federal aid dispersed of $1,650 PELL and $50 FSEOG.

Student 1:

  • Withdraw Date: September 13
  • Day Attended: 22 out of 115=19% completed
  • Total Aid: $1,700 x 19% completed = $323 earned aid
  • Total Aid of $1,700 - $323 earned aid = $1,377 unearned aid to be returned
  • 100% - 19% completed = 81% unearned • 81% unearned x $1,249 tuition and bookstore charges = $1,011.69 unrecoverable charges
  • Lesser of unearned aid to be returned or unrecoverable charges: $1,011.69 Institution’s share of unearned aid
  • $1,377 unearned aid - $1,011.69 Institution’s share = $365.31 Student’s share of unearned aid
  • $1,011.69 returned to PELL: Institution’s share of unearned aid to be returned $1,700 (aid dispersed) x 50% (grant protected) = 850
  • $365.31 (student’s unearned aid) - $850 (grant protected) = $0 Student aid to be returned

Student 2:

  • Withdraw Date: October 31 (after the last day to withdraw without academic penalty)
  • Day Attended: 70 out of 115=61% completed (if calculated percentage exceeds 60% enter 100% instead): 100% completed
  • Total Aid: $1,700 x 100% completed = $1,700 earned aid
  • Total Aid of $1,700 - $1,700 earned aid = $0 unearned aid to be returned
  • 100% - 100% completed = 0% unearned • 0% unearned x $1,249 tuition and bookstore charges = $0 unrecoverable charges
  • Lesser of unearned aid to be returned or unrecoverable charges: $0 Institution’s share of unearned aid
  • $0 unearned aid - $0 Institution’s share = $0 Student’s share of unearned aid
  • $0 returned to PELL: Institution’s share of unearned aid to be returned $0 (aid dispersed) x 50% (grant protected) = 0

 

Financial Aid Appeals

Financial aid eligibility is ordinarily determined using income information from approximately two years ago (i.e. 2022 tax information for the 2024-2025 academic year) and current assets as of the date the FAFSA is submitted. However, if the financial situation for you, your spouse (if applicable) or your parents (if parental information is provided on the FAFSA) has significantly changed from the information reported on the FAFSA, you may request a reconsideration of your aid.

Before submitting a reconsideration request you are encouraged to discuss your situation with a financial aid staff member. Guidance will be provided as to what information should be included in your written statement and the type of documentation that should be included with your request.

 

Dependency Appeals

While most students under 24 will be required to include their parent information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), some students have unusual situations in which it is not possible to obtain parent information. In some unusual cases, you may appeal for an override of your dependency status.

Some examples of reasons you might submit an appeal for dependency status are:

  • You are estranged from your parent(s)s or were placed in the custody of  a non-parent because of abuse or neglect,
  • Parent(s) is/are incarcerated or institutionalized,
  • Parent(s) live(s) in a war-torn country, and you are unable to contact them in any way,
  • Other documentable circumstances which demonstrate that parental information cannot or should not be obtained.

All dependency appeals will require documentation from an objective third party.

Per federal regulations, a dependency appeal cannot be based on any of the following:

  • Student financial self-sufficiency or not being claimed on the parent tax return,
  • Parental unwillingness to contribute to college costs,
  • Parents are unwilling to complete the FAFSA or provide documents or signature for verification.

 

If you believe you have an unusual circumstance that would qualify you for an income appeal or a dependency appeal please contact the financial aid office at fa@mecc.edu or 276-523-7470.

NOTE: you will normally be notified of the appeal decision within two weeks. The college financial aid office may request additional information from you before a decision is made.