Federal Pell Grant
A Federal Pell Grant does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are only awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or professional degree (a professional degree would include a degree in a field such as pharmacy or dentistry). For many students, Pell Grants provide a foundation of financial aid to which other aid may be added.
To determine if you’re eligible, the U.S. Department of Education uses a standard formula, established by Congress, to evaluate the information you report when you apply. The formula produces an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. Your Student Aid Report (SAR) contains this number and will tell you if you’re eligible.
The maximum award is determined annually by Congress. How much you get will depend not only on your EFC, but on your cost of attendance, whether you’re a full-time or part-time student, and whether you attend school for a full academic year or less. CGCC will credit the Pell Grant funds directly to your account.
Pell Grants are available to part-time students, if you’re otherwise eligible. The amount is pro-rated based on the number of credits in which you are enrolled.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
A Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is for undergraduate CGCC students with exceptional financial need–that is, students with the lowest Expected Family Contributions (EFC)–and gives priority to students who receive Federal Pell Grants. An FSEOG does not have to be paid back.
The U.S. Department of Education guarantees that each participating school will receive enough money to pay the Federal Pell Grants of eligible students. There’s no guarantee every eligible student will be able to receive an FSEOG. FSEOG will be awarded based on the availability of funds at each school.
New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)
To be eligible for TAP, a student must:
- Be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen.
- Be a resident of New York.
- Study full time (at least 12 credits per semester) at an approved postsecondary institution in New York.
- Have graduated from high school, or has a GED, or passed a federally approved exam demonstrating that the student can benefit from the education offered.
- Be matriculated in an approved program of study and be in good academic standing.
- Have at least a cumulative “C” average after receipt of two annual payments.
- Not be in default on a student loan guaranteed by HESC and not be in default on any repayment of State awards.
- Meet income requirements.
Federal Direct Student Loan
For matriculated student borrowers, Direct Student Loans are either subsidized or unsubsidized.
A subsidized loan is awarded based on financial need. If you qualify for a subsidized loan, the federal government pays interest on the loan until you begin repayment.
An unsubsidized loan is not based on need. If you qualify for an unsubsidized loan, you will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. You can choose to pay the interest or allow it to accumulate. If you allow the interest to accumulate, it will be capitalized–that is, the interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan and will increase the amount you have to repay. If you pay the interest as it accumulates, you will repay less in the long run.
If you are a dependent student enrolled at least half time (0-30) credits you can borrow up to $5,500
If you are a dependent student whose parents do not qualify for a PLUS loan, you can borrow an additional $4,000 in the unsubsidized loan.
If you are an independent student (0-30) credits you can borrow up to $9,500.
Note: The amounts given above are the maximum yearly amounts you can borrow in both subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Student Loans.
However, you cannot borrow more than your cost of attendance minus any other financial aid for which you are eligible. This means that you may receive less than the annual maximum amounts.
The total debt you can have outstanding from all Federal Direct Student Loans and Federal Family Education Loans is: $31,000 as a dependent undergraduate student; $57,500 as an independent undergraduate student (no more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.); For students whose loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 1994, the interest rate is variable, but it will never exceed 8.25 percent (8.25%). The interest rate is adjusted each year on July 1. You will be notified of interest rate changes throughout the life of your loan.
You will pay a fee on both the subsidized and unsubsidized loans that will be deducted proportionately from each disbursement of your loan. Your lender will electronically transfer your student loan funds to Columbia-Greene Community College. Your loans will be disbursed in two equal installments, one at the beginning and one at the midpoint of the loan period. Your first disbursement will be delayed until 30 days after the start of the loan period. Your loan money must first be applied to your school account to pay for tuition and fees, and other school charges. If you are due a refund, you will be contacted by the Bursar’s Office.
After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have six months before you begin repayment. This is called a grace period. After you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment, you will receive information about repayment and will be notified of the date repayment begins. However, you are responsible for beginning repayment on time, even if you do not receive this information.
Parents of dependent, matriculated students enrolled in at least six credits can apply for a Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). Parent borrowers must have good credit histories or an endorser; someone willing to repay the loan if the parent borrower fails to do so.
The yearly limit on a PLUS loan is equal to the student’s cost of attendance minus other financial aid received. The interest rate is fixed at 7.9% at this time. Borrowers are notified of interest rate changes each year on July 1. There is a four percent (4%) fee charged by the government for processing the loan. This fee is deducted proportionately from each disbursement of the loan.
PLUS funds are disbursed to the school in two (2) equal installments, one at the beginning of the loan period and one at the midpoint of the loan period. The funds are first used to pay school charges and any remaining funds are refunded to either the student or parent.
Repayment of PLUS loans begins sixty days (60) after the 2nd disbursement of the loan has occurred. There are three different repayment plans; Standard, Extended, or Graduated. More information on these plans will be sent to parent applicants.
To apply for a PLUS loan, borrowers must complete a Federal PLUS application and promissory note. Please contact your lender of choice to request an application.
The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program and the CGCC Work-Study Program provide jobs for matriculated undergraduate students, allowing them to earn money to help pay educational expenses. When possible, the program encourages community service work and work related to your course of study.
Your work study wages will be at least the current federal minimum wage, but it may be higher. You will receive your wages on an hourly basis and be paid bi-weekly. Work Study jobs are available on and off campus. The amount you earn cannot exceed your total workstudy award. When assigning work hours, your employer will consider your class schedule and your academic progress
Benefits are available through the Veteran’s Administration to certain qualified veterans. All veterans who believe they may be eligible for benefits or want additional information should contact a representative of the New York State Division of Veteran’s Affairs in their county of residence.
Scholarships are forms of aid that help students pay for their education. Like grants, they do not have to be repaid. Hundreds of thousands of scholarships from several thousand sponsors are awarded each year.
Typically, scholarships are awarded for students with special qualifications, such as academic, athletic or artistic talent. Awards are also available for students who are interested in particular fields of study, who are members of underrepresented groups, who live in certain areas of the country, or who demonstrate financial need.
Generally, there are three different categories of scholarships:
- Institutional: Scholarships funded through the college or university.
- Private: Scholarships funded through private businesses, civic organizations, labor unions, and other groups.
- Governmental: Scholarships offered by federal and state governmental agencies.
CGCC Scholarships: CGCC offers a variety of scholarship opportunities to assist new and continuing students in financing their education. All scholarship applicants are encouraged to file a FAFSA Application at studentaid.gov in order to be considered for any award.
Private Scholarships: Again, these are scholarships funded by private businesses & corporations (Price Chopper, Walmart, Bausch & Lomb), civic organizations (Lions Club, Rotary Club, American Legion), and other groups. Students normally research and apply for these scholarships on their own.
The best places to find scholarship information would be:
- Places of employment for Parents and/or student
- Local Libraries
- High Schools
Scholarship Scams: Each year, thousands of families are defrauded by scholarship scams. These individuals prey on the confusion and anxiety of students and parents regarding financial aid, offering services that are generally provided for free by the financial aid community.
A few hints in identifying a scholarship scam:
- Legitimate companies never guarantee or promise scholarships or grants.
- Avoid companies that want you to pay, or need your credit card number to “hold” a scholarship.
- If unsure of a company, check with the better business bureau.
For more tips on how to identify scholarship scams check out The Smart Guide To Financial Aid.