Check out our latest issue of the Greenback. Read about the latest changes to the Verification Process and meet some of our newest staff members.
Check out the new look of the latest issue of ‘The Financial Aid Greenback,”
NOVA’s quarterly newsletter that helps students stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest in the world of financial aid. This issue will be available in electronic form with some limited copies at your campus financial aid office.
- Help Us Help You – An update on the Financial Aid Support Center and how you can make your voice heard.
- Exactly What is “Adjustments?” – Learn more about the process of adjusting and disbursing your aid.
- Buying Books with Financial Aid – Some important tips on using your financial aid at the bookstore.
Check it out and share your feedback on our Facebook page!
Help Us Help You. The Financial Aid Support Center has been in service for the past ten months and, as of the date of this article, has answered more than 46,000 inquiries. While this is wonderful news, NOVA financial aid is serious about helping students; and to that end, we need your help. The Financial Aid Support Center needs your feedback; tell us how we are helping you as you complete the financial aid process.
You can provide feedback on your support center experience three different ways; the first is via the web-based survey on the support center portal. This seven-question survey allows you, the user, to evaluate the support portal, the embedded knowledge base, the NOVA financial aid staff, and allows you to write in your own comments. This survey has provided some vital information thus far and, with your help, will be an even more effective tool.
The second is via a brief phone survey at the conclusion of your call to the support center. This will allow you to rate the service you received during your call on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the most positive score. This provides us with quick and instant feedback on your phone call experience. The support portal is currently getting about a 40 percent response rate via this feedback tool, and it is our goal to get that response rate to above 60 percent.
The final method for feedback is via an embedded survey in your support center e-mail that summarizes the nature of and response to your ticket. This short survey allows the support center staff to gain valuable insight on your financial aid needs and expectations. An example: via this survey, we have found that 75 percent of respondents have indicated that e-mail is their preferred method of communication. Therefore, the financial aid department is taking steps to increase our effectiveness in reaching students via e-mail.
Customer service is a very serious matter at Northern Virginia Community College. Your feedback is essential to improving the financial aid application experience. The Financial Aid Support Center is your first line of engagement in addressing financial aid concerns; and it is important that we all work together to continue to improve this service.
Students are able to use their financial aid to purchase books at the campus bookstore as early as two weeks prior to the start of classes. This service is available through the last day to add/ drop (term census date). This year, purchases may be made from August 8 – September 10. Some important things to remember while using this service:
•First, before going to the campus bookstore, make sure all classes are registered and no holds exist on your account. Understand that you may purchase books for later-starting classes at this time as well, as this is the only period each semester when you can purchase books and supplies directly against your available financial aid.
•The next step is to understand what aid is available for your use at the bookstore. The bookstore will show financial aid based on your actual enrollment at that time. Your pending aid, as you see it in your award letter, is based on full-time enrollment of 12 credits; but when it is time to buy books, you are limited to the portion of aid allowed for the classes you are actually enrolled in at the time of purchase.
•You will be asked to sign a release to allow bookstore employees to access your eligible aid figure. Additionally, the maximum you can spend at the bookstore using aid is $1000 if you have this much available aid beyond what is necessary for tuition and fees. There are some limitations to this program. If you are awarded aid but do not have the enrollment to be eligible, you will not be allowed to spend against those funds; if you are awarded “Alternative Loans” or “Plus Loans” you will not be allowed to spend against those funds. In order to use your federal student loans, you must have accepted your loan, completed your Master Promissory Note (MPN) and your entrance counseling for those funds to be available for bookstore purchases.
•It is important to understand that your financial aid is awarded with the expectation that you will successfully complete your classes; aid assists in your ability to be successful. Any changes in enrollment can impact your financial aid and the funds you have available for bookstore purchases. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Financial Aid Support Center at 855-323- 3199.
How does this work? As a financial aid student, you have done all the required work and completed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), turned in all necessary documents, and monitored your My NOVA account regularly. At last, you receive notification that you have been awarded aid. Your award letter informs you that you will be receiving a Pell Grant, subsidized, and unsubsidized student loans. The total amount of your award is sufficient to cover your tuition costs. Life is good!
However, that euphoria is short-lived as the rigors of being a community college student begin to set in; the school/work/home balancing act needs adjustment. This often requires you to make difficult academic decisions — decisions that can ultimately affect your financial aid award. Your financial aid, as explained in your award letter, is awarded based on the premise that you will be enrolled in 12 credits or more — full-time status. This status is determined at the end of the “Add/Drop” period for each semester or term. This date, known as the census date, is the date your course registration status is assessed for determining your financial aid. This process is what we in financial aid refer to as “adjustments”.
So, what exactly is being adjusted? And why is my refund so much less than I anticipated? Both of these are good questions and can often be answered by understanding what was adjusted and why. When you, as a student, change your enrollment by dropping or not attending a class, and that change reduces your enrollment status (full-time to three-quarter time, or half-time to less than half-time), your financial aid will be adjusted to reflect that change. This means your Pell Grant will be reduced to match your actual enrollment at the census date. If you drop below six credits, you will lose your loan and supplemental grant eligibility as well. As a financial aid recipient, you must be aware that reducing your course load can have serious implications on your financial aid award even after excess aid has been refunded to you.
It is also important to understand that “anticipated aid” as you see it in My NOVA, is based on full-time enrollment. If you are enrolled less than full-time, the Pell Grant amount will be adjusted to reflect actual enrollment; for loans, you must be enrolled in a minimum of six credits. When it comes to financial aid, it pays to be proactive, read your college mail and e-mail, and, most of all, earn your aid by completing your classes.
It is no secret that the financial aid process can be very arduous for students and staff alike. The process of administering the distribution of local, state, and federal funds is a task that requires continual refinement, oversight, and review. However, it is our goal here at NOVA to accomplish this process as effectively and efficiently as possible. Our campus representatives and college administrators are continually reviewing processes with the goal of making them more transparent and supportive of the student experience. NOVA has set a vision of being the “Gateway to the American Dream” for members of our community, and we know that the path to that gateway often leads through the financial aid office for many of our students.
This year the Department of Education has updated the Return to Title IV (R2T4) funds policy in an effort to hold both students and institutions accountable for those funds received from the federal government to support higher education. This new policy can be read in its entirety in the Financial Aid Handbook and online at: http://www.nvcc.edu/current-students/paying-for-college/financial-assistance/letters/125-119.pdf. As with most fiscal policies, it is very easy to get caught up in the policy verbiage and legal terms that comprise these documents; when as a college student your main perspective is “Will I Owe Money Back?”
To help answer that question the College Financial Aid Staff is making a conscious effort to help you better understand this policy and how it will impact you as you make decisions regarding your education here at NOVA. First and foremost, a student who attends and completes at least one course that spans the entire term will have earned the aid for that term. Key point: earn your aid, complete your classes!
College experience is intertwined with that ever changing enigma called life and we know how that creates situations where there are needs for adjustments and changes as you pursue your educational goals. As a recipient of federal student aid you should know that if you are awarded aid for a term and you are not actively enrolled in class at any point in that term, you most likely will have to return that aid to the government. Key point: attendance/enrollment is essential to earning your aid.
Now when you are faced with the decision to drop or withdraw from a course. How will you know if you will owe money back? Here are (3) three simple questions to help you make that determination:
- Did you cease to attend a course that you were scheduled to attend? (If No, then you are earning your aid – keep up the good work; if YES, ask the question 2.)
- At the time you stopped attending this course, were you currently attending other courses? (If yes, you are not a withdrawal; if NO, you are a withdrawal and should ask the question 3.)
- At the time of withdrawal, did you provide written confirmation of anticipated attendance in a later starting, registered course within the same term? (If yes, no Return to Title IV calculation is required however, should you not attend or fail to complete the later starting registered course a Return to Title IV will be required. If NO, you are considered a withdrawal, and a Return to Title IV calculation must be completed.)
Do you I money back? Unfortunately, there are times when the answer to that question will be yes. However, if you keep these key points in mind: (1) earn your aid, complete your classes; (2) attendance/enrollment is essential to earning your aid, and review these three questions prior to making a decision to drop or withdraw from a course and you will be on your way to earning your federal aid and achieving your educational goals here at NOVA.
In closing, always consult with your financial aid representative if you have any questions concerning your aid or about the impact a decision you may make will have on your current financial aid. Remember, your financial aid is an integral part of your academic/professional success so treat it accordingly – be proactive and not reactive.
Did you know?
- During the month of December, the Financial Aid Support Center answered over 225 web tickets, 1200 online chats and over 3900 phone calls! This resulted in well over 5,500 successfully answered inquiries!! Call or log on to the Financial Aid Support Center today!!!
- What have you done to promote the Financial Aid Support Center on your campus or in your office today?
- Here are some suggestions:
- Post/distribute some flyers to students as they transit your office
- Personally tell at least “3” students about the Financial Aid Support Center and how it can help them.
- Make a point to remind at least 10 students to complete the online survey about the Financial Aid Support Center and let them know that their opinion matters to us. NOVA Financial Aid is serious about helping students!!
- Here are some suggestions:
Call for Action!
- Encourage or assist a student to use the “Live Chat” function of the Financial Aid Support Center to get an answer to their financial aid question.
Financial Aid Support Center Awareness Month
Avoid the lines, save some gas, financial aid support is right at your fingertips! NOVA financial aid has designated May as Financial Aid Support Center Awareness Month. Our goal is to make a college-wide push to promote the services available to our students via the Financial Aid Support Center. We are encouraging all our students and financial aid staff to visit the support center, ask questions and complete a survey to tell us about your experience. The Financial Aid Support Center is available 24-hours, 7-days a week and 365 days a year for your financial aid questions or concerns. Log on to the Support Center at: http://www.nvcc.edu/finaidsupport/ and chat with a representative; or call them at: (855) 323-3199.
NOVA Financial Aid is serious about helping students!!
It is that time of the year again! If you have not already submitted your 2011 tax returns to the IRS and your 2012-2013 FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov, please do so immediately! It is more important than ever that you first file and submit your tax returns for 2011 prior to filing the FAFSA. Students and parents are encouraged to use IRS data retrieval when completing the FAFSA. If both do, the student’s file is much less likely to be selected for verification. If selected for verification, the student and parent must submit tax transcripts and cannot submit copies of tax returns as you have in the past.
Our priority file completion date for fall is May 1; that means we want not only a correct FAFSA by that date but all requested documentation required for file verification, as well. We will continue awarding aid for files completed after May 1, but we cannot guarantee that your award will be in place by the July 29 tuition due date if your file is not complete early. In addition, supplemental funds run out quite early most years. The sooner your file is complete, the better the opportunity to be considered for all possible types of aid.
If you are attending classes at NOVA during summer 2012, we will utilize the 2011-2012 FAFSA to award any remaining aid for which you might be eligible. No separate application is required. Students can no longer receive a second Pell Grant within the same academic year; but if you did not use your full Pell Grant prior to summer, you could still have some Pell available–or possibly remaining loan eligibility.
A recent budget bill passed by Congress has reduced the maximum number of full-time equivalent terms for receiving Pell to 12 terms. It doesn’t matter when you first received Pell; the new rule applies to all students beginning with 2012-2013 awards. If you have received the equivalent of twelve full terms of Pell Grant, you can receive no more Pell. The old rules no longer apply to anyone.
SAP Warning Status
If you are currently on SAP warning status, you must be back in good standing after spring term, or you will be on financial aid suspension and ineligible for continued aid. If unusual circumstances exist and you can document them, you can submit appeal form 125-323 for consideration. Warning status is by federal regulation for one term only. If you did not attend NOVA spring term, your warning status will still end with spring term. Please contact the Financial Aid Support Center at 1-855-323-3199 to request a review of your file and possible reinstatement of a warning term due to no attendance during spring term. If you attended elsewhere for spring but are returning to NOVA, we need an official copy of your academic transcript from the other school before a decision can be made.
Watch your NOVAConnect account and NOVA email for information regarding summer 2012 and 2012-2013 aid! All awards are originally at full-time status and must be adjusted to the correct status after term census. We will continue to adjust or cancel aid if at any time you otherwise become ineligible for those awards.