To be eligible for federally funded financial aid programs, applicants must first meet the following general eligibility criteria:
- Have a valid Social Security Number,
- Have a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate (GED/HiSET/TASC) or have completed home schooling at the secondary level,
- Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an approved program at EWC for the purpose of obtaining a certificate or degree,
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen,
- Be making Satisfactory Academic Progress toward completion of a certificate or degree,
- Not be in default on a federal student loan or owe repayment of a federal grant,
- Be enrolled at least half time (six credits) for most programs (except Pell),
- Have financial need, except for some loans, and
- Certify that financial aid funds will be used only for educational purposes.
The U.S. Department of Education interfaces with other federal databases to confirm several of these criteria.
Please note: Students who are convicted for the sale or possession of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while receiving federal student aid (grants, loans and/or work-study) may be required to complete the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet.
Students should apply for federal and institutional aid each year by the priority deadline of March 15 in order to be considered for limited funds for the following academic year. Any additional documentation requested by the Financial Aid Office must also be submitted to complete application processing. Students may only receive aid from one institution in any term.
In addition to initial eligibility requirements, students must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements at the end of each semester. SAP is reviewed and monitored prior to awarding of any aid, at the end of each semester of enrollment, and prior to disbursement the following semester. In general, students must maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA and complete at least 67% of courses attempted. Students must also complete their degree objective within 150% of the average length of their program to continue eligibility for federal funding.
For details on Satisfactory Academic Progress, view EWC’s SAP Policies for Financial Aid.
A student who loses eligibility for federal aid has two options for regaining eligibility:
- A student who enrolls in a term at his/her own expense and successfully meets necessary academic progress standards can have his/her aid reinstated the following term (if all other eligibility criteria are met).
- If circumstances beyond the student’s control prevented him/her from meeting satisfactory progress requirements, the student may file an appeal for reconsideration. If the appeal is approved, the student’s aid will be reinstated on a probationary basis.
See EWC’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policies for details. Appeal forms are available on our Financial Aid Forms page under “Financial Aid Appeal Forms.”
Withdrawals and the Return of Federal Aid
To maintain federal financial aid eligibility during the semester, a student is expected to attend class and complete required coursework for the full scheduled term. According to federal regulations, if a student officially withdraws from all classes, stops attending classes (unofficial withdrawal), receives all “F” grades, or otherwise does not successfully complete classes during a semester, the Financial Aid Office is required to determine the percentage of federal aid the student earned based on the percentage of time attended during the term. A student may be required to repay a portion of the federal aid he/she received but did not earn for the semester. The date of a student’s official withdrawal or the last date of attendance or participation in an academically-related activity during the semester is used to calculate how much aid a student earned during a semester and how much unearned aid may need to be returned to the appropriate federal aid program. A student who completes one module course but does not successfully complete any full-semester course may also be subject to Return of Title IV regulations. A student who never begins attendance at one or more classes may be subject to a recalculation of aid based on enrollment status. A student’s last date of attendance is reported to the Department of Education, loan servicers and/or lenders, and subsequent loan disbursements may be cancelled.
The amount of assistance that the student earned is determined on a pro-rata basis by multiplying the percentage of the term attended by the Title IV aid received. That is, if a student completed 30 percent of the payment period, he/she earned 30 percent of the assistance he/she was originally scheduled to receive. Since aid is typically disbursed near the beginning of a semester, the student may be responsible for repaying unearned aid he/she has already received to the appropriate federal program. Once the student has completed more than 60 percent of the payment period, he/she is considered to have earned 100% of his/her federal assistance.
After the amount of Title IV aid to be returned is calculated, a determination of how much must be returned by the institution and how much must be returned by the student is made. If a student owes a repayment, it will be applied to the appropriate programs in this order:
- Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
- Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
- Federal Direct PLUS Loan
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
- Other federal aid programs
If EWC is required to repay any portion of a federal education loan, the student or parent borrower is responsible for repaying the funds to EWC. The student or parent borrower is responsible for the remainder of the loan in accordance with the terms of the Master Promissory Note. If the student is responsible for returning grant funds, the student must make arrangements with EWC or the Department of Education to return the funds. Any amount that the student has to return to the Department is considered a grant overpayment.
If a student receives a grant overpayment notification from the Financial Aid Office, he/she must repay those funds to EWC within 45 days of the notice. Failure to make the payment within that timeframe results in the student’s inability to receive future federal assistance from EWC or any other post-secondary institution. Any funds returned by EWC on the student’s behalf must be repaid by the student to EWC prior to attempting to register for subsequent terms. The requirements for returning Title IV program funds are separate from EWC’s refund policy. Therefore, students may also owe funds to EWC for unpaid institutional charges.
Students who withdraw prior to receiving federal aid may be eligible to receive a “post-withdrawal disbursement” of earned funds to help pay for remaining institutional charges. The Financial Aid Office notifies students of amounts owed and aid earned but not disbursed within thirty days of performing the refund calculation. Post-withdrawal disbursements of federal grants are applied automatically to a student’s balance; post-withdrawal loan eligibility requires a student’s permission (or parent’s, in the case of PLUS loans) to use toward outstanding tuition, fee, room and/or meal plan charges.
Additional information and written examples of return of funds calculations are available in the Financial Aid Office upon request. Also view the PDF of the brochure, What Happens to My Financial Aid If I Withdraw?