Apply now for federal student aid
Those planning to attend college in the fall are fast running out of time to apply for federal financial aid, a process that starts with a free online application.
“We want all students who may be eligible for federal grant funds to apply now to allow enough time for processing for fall semester,” said Renée LeMaire, LBW Community College public information officer.
Students attending LBWCC will notice two major changes in Pell Grants as mandated by the U.S. Department of Education.
“The good news for students is that Pell Grant funding levels do not decrease for the 2012-2013 academic year,” said LeMaire. “Technically, eligible students get one Pell Grant per year, but the funds are divided between two semesters.”
One major change is the lifetime limit from 18 to 12 full-time semesters, which will affect the ability of some students to receive further Pell Grant funding.
“This change is retroactive,” she said. “That means if a student attended college with a Pell Grant 10 years ago, we will have to calculate how many semesters they may still have available until they reach that lifetime amount.”
Some students may be eligible for funding through Veterans Affairs, the Workforce Investment Act or Trade Readjustment Act. LBWCC also participates in the federal work-study program.
“If students have questions about their funding they should visit the financial aid office now on the campus they plan to attend so they can make plans for the fall 2012 term.”
Another big change for students is in the “Ability to Benefit” rules.
“Currently, the U.S. Department of Education requires that students who want to receive federal financial aid and who do not have a high school diploma or a GED demonstrate their ‘ability to benefit’ from college work. That has traditionally been demonstrated through federally-approved testing, such as the Compass placement test, which measures reading comprehension, writing and math skills.”
After July 1, college students who have never enrolled in college courses and who do not have a standard high school diploma or GED will not be eligible for Pell Grants or Direct Loans. Changes in the rules will not affect funding for currently enrolled students who have already met the requirements.
“For those impacted by this change, the good news is that LBWCC offers free adult education classes for GED preparation,” said LeMaire. “These classes are available in Andalusia, Opp, Florala, Luverne and Greenville.”
Students who apply for financial aid are required to complete the federal application at www.fafsa.gov, and should use the IRS link to access their income tax information. According to financial aid directors, using the tool will speed up the entire process for the student and the time it takes the college to process the student’s file.
“Students should apply as early as possible to allow enough time to process their aid before payment is due for the fall semester,” said LeMaire. “The longer they wait, the higher the likelihood of having to pay tuition out-of-pocket until their aid is processed. Fall classes begin August 13.”
LBWCC financial aid directors are available at (334) 881-2272 in Andalusia, (334) 493-5338 in Opp, and (334) 383-6702 in Greenville.