Sierra College's Financial Aid programs stem from a belief that student aid services should facilitate and foster the successful academic participation of financially needy students. As part of its commitment to help students have a positive college experience, the Financial Aid Office provides this information to help students better understand their relationship with financial aid.
State and federal regulations allow community colleges participating in financial aid programs discretion when establishing college specific policies and procedures. This policy represents Sierra College’s current practices whenever state and federal regulations determine that policy decision-making is the responsibility of the college.
It is the goal of the Financial Aid Office to provide students with the most current policy information affecting their financial aid while at Sierra College. Accordingly, as new state or federal regulations take effect or college practices evolve, this policy will be updated.
Sierra College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. A copy of the report may be obtained from the following Sierra College website at http://www.sierracollege.edu/about-us/governance/accreditation.php
Sierra College offers services for disabled students. You may visit their website at http://www.sierracollege.edu/student-services/specialized-programs/disabled-students/index.php or make an appointment by calling (916) 660-7460 for Rocklin and Roseville Gateway Campuses and (530) 274-5330 for the Nevada County and Truckee Campuses: (530) 274-5330.
Academic programs offered at Sierra College are calculated in units and measured by semesters. Sierra College’s academic year is comprised of two 16-week semesters (fall and spring) and one 8-week summer session. This meets the federal minimum academic year definition (30 weeks of instruction minimum).
For financial aid purposes, this definition is important because it affects how payment periods are calculated. Sierra College makes financial aid payments based on the college’s semester. A student’s financial aid is calculated by semester, rather than by weeks or classes attended.
To be considered full-time for financial aid for fall, spring and summer, students must be taking 12 or more units.
Sierra College offers an Associate in Arts degree (AA) and an Associate in Science degree (AS), both of which meet the minimum academic year definition. In addition, Sierra College offers certificate programs which also meet the minimum academic year definition. For the most updated list of certificate programs approved for aid at Sierra College, refer to the Sierra College participation agreement with the US Department of Education http://www.ed.gov/
Cost of attendance (COA) refers to the average amount a full-time student can expect to spend while enrolled at Sierra College over a nine-month period. The cost will differ depending on a student’s housing status and residency: living independently off or on campus, living at home, being a California resident, or being a legal resident of another state.
When available, Sierra College’s Financial Aid Office reviews the California Student Aid Commission’s most current Student Expenses and Resources Survey (SEARS). It is a wide survey of students’ budgets and expenses from UCs, CSUs, community colleges, independent, and private career institutions. If the survey is not from the current year, it is adjusted for inflation.
Each year California legislators establish the per-unit tuition at California’s community colleges. The average amount of units enrolled at Sierra College or full-time enrollment units are used along with information about health and transportation fees. This sets the amount for tuition and fees while information from the SEARS is used to establish costs of books and supplies and personal expenses. Finally, Sierra College’s student budget information about room and board and transportation is used because of the close geographic proximity and shared residential areas. In this way, the Financial Aid Office establishes a reasonable cost of attendance.
The cost of attendance is subject to change depending on legislative activity. It sets the maximum amount of financial aid a student can receive for the year. It represents a modest budget by which a student can live adequately while attending Sierra College.
|With Parents/No Dependents||Residence Halls||Off Campus||Less than ½ time Pell|
|With Parents/No Dependents||Residence Halls||Off Campus||Less than ½ time Pell|
Recent changes in the laws that govern federal financial aid will have a significant impact to students who are receiving Pell Grants. Effective fall 2012, students can only receive a Pell Grant for 6 years or 12 semesters at full-time enrollment. Sierra College defines full-time enrollment as 12 or more units. Students who are enrolled in less than fulltime will have their lifetime eligibility adjusted (prorated) accordingly. This new change is effective for all 2 and 4 year schools across the nation. You may monitor your lifetime eligibility by logging into the National Student Loan Database at https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/SaFinShowSummary.do. This site will provide you with the Pell Lifetime Eligibility Used in percentages. The maximum you can use in a lifetime is 600%. This is equivalent to 6 years of fulltime eligibility. You must know your PIN (same PIN you used to complete your FAFSA) to log in.
Be aware, if you have reached your lifetime eligibility, and you did not earn all their units at Sierra College, you will be required to provide official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities for evaluation by Admission and Records before student loans will be processed on your behalf.
Students who are admitted without a high school diploma or its equivalent will be ineligible for
Title IV funds and therefore will need to seek alternative (state and/or private) financing.
Students who completed a home-schooling curriculum are considered to have received a high school diploma or its equivalent and remain eligible for Title IV.
Students who were approved for aid under the ATB process prior to July 1, 2012 are eligible for federal and state financial aid.
Students who completed 6 or more college level units as determined by the Assessment Office prior to July 1, 2012 are eligible for federal and state financial aid.
When a student applies for financial aid, the funds usually come from more than one source (federal, state, private, etc). This combination of financial resources is referred to as packaging. State programs are always subject to an approved State budget.
Every institution has the option of which kind of financial aid programs to offer to its students. Sierra College participates in the following financial aid programs:
Student financial aid is packaged (given financial aid from several of the programs for which a student is eligible) based on the student’s financial need. Financial need is determined by a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as compared to Sierra College’s Cost of Attendance (COA).
To meet with federal regulations, Sierra College defines the neediest students as those whose EFC = $0.
Financial aid packages are awarded as follows:
These are the only programs that Sierra College includes as part of a student’s financial aid package.
Sierra College’s financial aid packaging does not include loans (student or parent). Information about our loan program is provided on the web and further in this publication.
Because Sierra College is a 2-year school, students are limited to federal sophomore amounts. For loan amount purposes, Sierra College considers units completed at Sierra College, unless transferable units from other institutions are reviewed and posted by Admissions and Records.
Sierra College does not include Federal Work Study (FWS) in the initial financial aid package. Eligible students are awarded FWS funds on a first-come, first-served basis. Sierra College receives a limited amount of FWS funds to award to eligible students.
Sierra College does not include CalWORKS employment in the initial financial aid package. Eligible students are awarded CalWORKS funds through the CalWORKS office, and then the information is communicated to the Financial Aid Office.
Each year the US Department of Education designates financial aid recipients whose documentation must be verified. Sierra College verifies every file identified by the federal government as part of its own verification process. Financial aid recipients’ files are verified all year using a verification worksheet designed in part by US Department of Education and the Sierra College Financial Aid Office.
A dependent student is required to provide their parents IRS Transcript, W2’s and copies of all Tax Schedules. An independent student is required to provide the student’s IRS Transcript; IRS Transcript of their W2’s and copies of all Tax Schedules of the student and student’s spouse, if the student is married.
Sierra College, when possible, will attempt to gather income information from the parents of dependent students who reside out-of-the-country.
Sierra College uses a secondary verification process specific to the campus. For example, the College verifies all students who answer yes to “Are you a ward of the court?” If a student is independent only because they answered yes to this question, then the College will require documentation to support this.
If the verification process results in a change of a student’s financial aid eligibility, Sierra College repackages the student for financial aid based on their new eligibility status and notifies the student with an updated award letter via mySierra.
Corrections are made in the Financial Aid System and are sent to the Central Processing System (CPS) through EDConnect. Students are notified that corrections have been processed through receipt of an acknowledgment form from CPS and the student will receive a new Student Aid Report.
Sierra College uses any acceptable documentation in the Federal Student Aid Handbook for US citizens or permanent residents.
If in the process of reviewing a student’s financial aid file, Sierra College’s Financial Aid Office notices conflicting data, by law, the conflict must be resolved before awarding can take place.
The process of resolving the conflicting data for the Financial Aid Office is:
Sierra College will not award a student financial aid (to include the Board of Governors Fee Waiver) until the student replies and the conflicting data is resolved. Additionally, if conflicting data turns up even after the first disbursement to a student, the conflicting data must be resolved before additional disbursements can be made.
The same process used for resolving the federal SAR comments is used to resolve the college selected comments. Students are contacted through MySierra and asked to provide documentation or submit forms to the Financial Aid Office. This process can happen any time during the year when a SAR comment is generated that needs to be resolved.
When awarding a student within the academic year, sometimes the Financial Aid Office determines that the student was not enrolled at Sierra College during the previous semester, (i.e. awarding for spring and the student was not enrolled in fall). In this case, Sierra College checks the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to calculate what the student was paid in federal aid also known as Title IV aid from any school they attended in the previous semester, (Pell Grants, FSEOG, and loans), and determines if any of the student’s scheduled awards need to be changed. These adjustments are made manually to keep the student’s awards within the federal limits. On occasion, NSLDS will not be current and we rely on the student and other schools to assist with this process.
Sierra College publishes deadlines and priority dates for various programs in the Financial Aid Handbook, on the web, and other public postings.
Sierra College does not accept documents that have passed a hard deadline. If there are extenuating circumstances, the student should talk to a Financial Aid Technician or Specialist, and a decision will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Financial Aid Program Manager.
Students at Sierra College applying for, and receiving financial aid, have a right to the following:
Students at Sierra College applying for and receiving financial aid are responsible for the following:
The Board of Governors Fee Waiver Program (BOGFW) is available to any California resident or any student determined by Admission and Records to be an AB 540 students who meets the financial eligibility requirements or qualifies through another program. California state law pertaining to the BOGFW allows community colleges discretion in certain areas. These are Sierra College’s practices with regards to the BOGFW policies outlined in the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office Board of Governors Fee Waiver Program.
For all methods, Sierra College requires proof of income. Students must submit a copy of their IRS Tax Transcript when submitting their paper BOG application. If eligibility was awarded using FAFSA and you used the IRS Data Retrival Tool, then we would not require a paper copy of the IRS Tax Transcript.
If Sierra College determines that a student is eligible for the BOGFW program at the time of application, and we later discover that they are ineligible, we will pursue the repayment of fees.
Federal regulations require that all financial aid recipients make satisfactory academic progress and remain in good academic standing. At Sierra College, academic progress is reviewed at the end of each semester. In addition, students who do not complete any units in the semester will be terminated from financial aid as soon as grades or withdrawals are available.
Prior to each financial aid disbursement, the Financial Aid Office will verify the number of units a student is enrolled in. For fall 2013, you must be in all units by September 8, 2013. For spring 2014, you must be in all units by February 9, 2014. For purposes of the federal satisfactory academic progress, units attempted mean the number of units the student is enrolled in at the time of disbursement for the semester.
In determining whether or not a student is making satisfactory academic progress, the student’s enrollment status is defined as the number of units the student was enrolled in at the time of the final disbursement for the semester.
To be considered fulltime in fall, spring and summer, a student must be enrolled in 12 or more units.
If the student is enrolled in 9 to 11.5 units for the semester, the student is considered to be 3/4 time.
If the student is enrolled in 6 to 8.5 units for the semester, the student is considered to be ½ time.
If the student is enrolled in .5 to 5.5 units for the semester, the student is considered to be less than half-time. The cost of attendance will be adjusted and the student is responsible to complete all units in which he’s enrolled.
Completed units means that credit was received for the enrolled units. Classes in which a student receives a grade of “F”, “I”, “NP”,”IP”, “MW”, or “W” will not be counted as completed classes for satisfactory academic progress, but will be counted as units attempted.
To be considered making satisfactory progress toward the educational goal, students must complete the minimum number of units required for their enrollment status (75% of all enrolled courses also referred to as making PACE) with a 2.0 GPA or higher at the conclusion of each semester, as indicated below.
In all enrollment categories, the student is expected to maintain a 2.0 (C average) cumulative grade point average (GPA).
|ENROLLMENT STATUS||UNIT COMPLETION REQUIREMENT (PACE)|
|Full-time (12 + units/semester)||9 units|
|¾ time (9 to 11.5/semester)||8 units|
|½ time (6 to 8.5 units/semester)||6 units|
|Less than ½ time (0.5 to 5.5 units/semester)||all enrolled units|
Units earned from credit by examination are not counted for financial aid purposes.
In the determination of enrollment status, it is permissible for a student to count units being taken concurrently at another college. A consortium agreement must be made between the two schools with one school designated as the primary school (from which the student receives financial aid) and the other school as the secondary school. Sierra College would enter into such an agreement if the other school is the primary school. On rare occasions, Sierra College will participate in a consortium agreement only as the primary school.
Because units taken at a proprietary school generally will not transfer, Sierra College will not enter into a consortium agreement with proprietary schools.
Federal regulations allow students to receive aid for 150% of the published length of an undergraduate program. Sierra College publishes in its catalog that students can earn an AA Degree by completing 60 credits. Students at Sierra College, therefore, may receive aid for a maximum of 90 credit hours (60 credit hours X 150%=90 credit hours). Once a student has attempted 90 credit hours at Sierra College (including accepted transfer credits), she/he is no longer eligible to receive financial aid. This same rule will be applied to students who are enrolled in eligible certificate programs. (Length of certificate program x 150% = maximum credits a student can take and receive aid).
A student may receive financial aid until a total of 90 units have been attempted, regardless of how much aid has been received. Up to 30 units of remedial coursework and all ESL coursework will be deducted. A student who has been terminated from financial aid due to attempting over 90-units may appeal to the Financial Aid Advisory Committee (FAAC), provided the student is eligible to enroll at Sierra College.
Once a student receives a 90 Unit approved Appeal, they may not change their degree program and continue to receive financial aid. Students will only be allowed to receive aid for those courses reflected on their original Student Education Plan (SEP). Once a student receives an approved 90 unit appeal, courses will be reviewed prior to each payment to ensure that the student is only paid for courses that are on the approved Student Education Plan (SEP). Students will not be required to submit a new 90 unit appeal each semester.
The Financial Aid Office will not review 90 Unit Appeals until after the add/drop period of each semester. The FAAC may take up to 4 weeks to review a students appeal. Exception to this is if a student signs a 90 Unit Registration Hold Form, available on the web.
Effective July 1, 2011, per federal regulations, repeated coursework that falls under the following conditions cannot be included in a student's enrollment status for Title IV Federal Aid eligibility, including the Federal Pell Grant and Federal Stafford Loans:
Example 1: A student is repeating a previously passed three credit hour course for the third time. The student is enrolled in a total of twelve credit hours for the term. Per federal regulations, the repeated course must be excluded from the student's Title IV enrollment status. Only nine of the student's twelve hours can be used to calculate his Title IV aid eligibility. The student's Federal Pell Grant will be reduced to reflect three quarter time instead of full-time enrollment.
Example 2: A student enrolls in four classes in the fall semester and passes only three of them; the institution requires the student to retake the failed class and also the other three classes because of failing the one class. When the student repeats all four classes in the spring semester, the failed class would be included in the student's enrollment status, but the three classes passed would not be. This less-than-half-time enrollment status would cause the Federal Pell Grant to be recalculated and any Federal Stafford Loans to be cancelled for the term.
Sierra College remedial and ESL courses are considered the same as credit courses for tuition, for full-time academic standing and for SAP. Credits for remedial and ESL course work are included in the calculation of the 75% completion requirement.
Financial aid may be paid for a maximum of 30 remedial units/credits.
It is the student’s responsibility to request transcripts from previously attended institutions if the student chooses to apply any of those units toward the current educational objective. Upon the student’s request, transcripts from colleges accredited by one of the regional accrediting associations will be evaluated for use toward the student’s current educational objective. All units applicable toward the current education objective will be counted when calculating the maximum time frame for financial aid. By federal regulation, all units attempted, although earned before the student was receiving financial aid, will be considered toward the maximum time frame.
Students who are disqualified due to CUM GPA may be reconsidered for aid once they have raised their CUM GPA above a 2.0. It will be the responsibility of the student to submit a new Reinstatement Petition.
Good: A student is considered in good standing if they complete at least 75% of all units enrolled and earned a 2.0 GPA for the semester.
Warning: A student will be put into warning status if they fall below the 75% completion rate for the semester, but complete at least .5 units. A student will be removed from warning at the end of the next semester if they complete at least 75% of their units with a 2.0 GPA.
Termination: A student is terminated if they complete zero units or if they were on warning from a previous semester and then completed less than 75% of the courses for which aid was provided or their cumulative GPA was less than 2.0.
Probation: A student is placed on probation if they receive an approved Reinstatement Petition or Max Unit Appeal. A student may continue on probation if their CUM GPA is below a 2.0 but their term GPA is above a 2.0. This is considered making progress (PACE) term-by-term. A student may be removed from probation if they complete at least 75% of their units and achieve a CUM GPA of 2.0.
If a student’s Max Unit Appeal is approved, they will be placed on probation for each term they are in attendance thereafter. Should a student fail to complete at least 75% of their units or achieve a semester GPA of 2.0 or higher, they will be terminated from financial aid and must then submit a Reinstatement Petition for consideration.
75% Completion rate (PACE): Students must pass at least 75% of their course work each semester.
NOTE: Students who are dismissed from the College are not able to receive financial aid. Refer to the Probation, Dismissal & Readmission section of your catalog.
NOTE: Pell Grants have a lifetime maximum of 18 semesters at full-time attendance. Anything less than full-time and your Pell Grant will be prorated.
|Enrolled Units||Completed Units with a 2.0 GPA||SAP Standing|
|12||1 - 8.5||Warning|
|3/4 Time Status|
|9 - 11.5||8||Good|
|9 - 11.5||0.5 - 7.5||Warning|
|9 - 11.5||0||Terminated|
|1/2 Time Status|
|6 - 8.5||6||Good|
|6 - 8.5||0.5 - 5.5||Warning|
|6 - 8.5||0||Terminated|
|Less than 1/2 Time|
|0.5 - 5.5||Must complete all units enrolled||Good|
|0.5 - 5.5||0||Terminated|
Students who have exceeded their maximum time frame (90 attempted units), have not completed the required number of units, or have a cumulative grade point average less than 2.0, will be terminated from financial aid. Students who have been terminated because of insufficient units completed or a grade point average deficiency will not receive further financial aid until they have filed and received an approved Reinstatement Petition.
Any student who has been terminated from financial aid may submit a written appeal to the Financial Aid Advisory Committee (FAAC). Each appeal will be reviewed and approved or denied based on the student’s individual circumstances and his or her proposed course of action. The decision can take as long as 6 weeks before a student would receive notification. If the appeal is approved, financial aid may only be provided for those courses listed on the Student Education Plan. If the written appeal is denied, the student may appeal that decision in writing to the Financial Aid Advisory Committee. This decision of the Financial Aid Advisory Committee is final.
A student who has reached the maximum time frame of 90 units attempted may submit a written appeal to the Financial Aid Advisory Committee. If approved for additional financial aid, the student will be given a specific length of time to complete his or her goal. If the student is dissatisfied with the decision of the Committee, he or she may make a written appeal to the Financial Aid Advisory Committee. The Financial Aid Committee will not review 90 Unit Appeals until after the add/drop period of any semester.
Students who are on a 90 Unit Appeal may not change their major and expect to receive additional financial aid. Once a student has been placed on an approved 90 Unit Appeal, we will only use the Student Education Plan provided for the original 90 Unit Appeal. Once a student receives an approved 90 Unit Appeal, their courses will be reviewed prior to each payment to ensure that they are only paid for courses that are on their Student Education Plan. Students will not be required to submit a new 90 Unit Appeal each semester.
Students may only receive two approved Reinstatement Petitions while at Sierra College.
Students who are accepted into and attending the Nursing Program will not need to submit a 90 Unit Appeal. It will be granted automatically until the student either graduates from the Nursing Program or is no longer accepted in the program.
A student who attempts to obtain financial aid by fraud will be referred to the Dean of Students for disciplinary action and suspended from financial aid for unsatisfactory conduct. The College will report such instances to local law enforcement agencies, to the California Student Aid Commission and/or to the Federal Government, Office of Inspector General. Restitution of any financial aid received in such a manner will be required. Committing fraud is considered prohibited conduct under the Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. All students are held accountable for the content of this handbook. A copy of this is at http://www.sierracollege.edu/admissions/forms-policies/student-rights.php
Federal financial aid (“Title IV funds”) is awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student withdraws, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds that the student was originally scheduled to receive.
If a recipient of Title IV grant or loan funds withdraws from Sierra College after beginning attendance, the amount of Title IV grant or loan assistance earned by the student must be determined. If the amount disbursed to the student is greater than the amount the student earned, unearned funds must be returned. If the student receives less Federal Student Aid than the amount earned, in rare cases, Sierra College offers a disbursement of the earned aid that was not received. This is called a Post-withdrawal disbursement.
The withdrawal date established by Sierra College is the date used by the Financial Aid Office to determine the point in time that the student is considered to have withdrawn so the percentage of the payment period or period of enrollment completed by the student can be determined. The percentage of Title IV aid earned is equal to the percentage of the payment period or period of enrollment completed.
The amount of Title IV aid earned by the student is determined by multiplying the percentage of Title IV aid earned by the total of Title IV program aid disbursed plus the Title IV aid that could have been disbursed to the student or on the student’s behalf.
If the day the student withdrew occurs when or before the student completed 60% of the payment period or period of enrollment, the percentage earned is equal to the percentage of the payment period or period of enrollment that was completed. If the day the student withdrew occurs after the student has completed more than 60% of the payment period or period of enrollment, the percentage earned is 100%. When a student fails to earn a passing grade in any of their classes, Sierra College must assume, for Title IV purposes that the student has unofficially withdrawn, unless Sierra College can document that the student completed the period.
If the student receives less Federal Student Aid than the amount earned, Sierra College offers a disbursement of the earned aid that was not received. This is called a Post-withdrawal disbursement. Without obtaining a student’s permission, Title IV grant funds from a Post-withdrawal disbursement are credited to a student’s account to pay for tuition and fees for the term for which the student is eligible for a Post-Withdrawal disbursement or are disbursed directly to the student.
If the student receives more Federal Student Aid than the amount earned, Sierra College, the student, or both must return the unearned funds in a specified order as follows:
When a Return of Title IV funds is due, Sierra College and the student may both have a responsibility for returning funds. Funds that are not the responsibility of Sierra College to return must be returned by the student. Sierra College exercises its option to collect from the student any funds Sierra College is obligated to return, and funds required for Sierra College to return will become a debt on the student’s account which the student will be responsible for paying. This charge is not reported to the Department of Education and simply remains as a debt on the student’s account with Sierra College.
Within 30 days of determining that a student who withdrew must repay all or part of a Title IV grant, Sierra College will notify the student that he or she must repay the overpayment. In its notification Sierra College will inform the student that the student owes an overpayment of Title IV funds, that the student’s eligibility for additional Title IV funds will end if the student fails to pay Sierra College by the 45th day following the date Sierra College sent notification to the student, and that if the student fails to pay Sierra College during the 45-day period, the student’s overpayment must be reported to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and referred to the Debt Resolution Services for collection.
Federal regulations for financial aid require that students who withdraw from all their classes before the 60% point of the semester must return part of their financial aid funds to the U.S. Department of Education because the money is unearned if a student is not enrolled in classes.
Withdrawing from classes can happen in two ways. Sierra College students can withdraw on their own, and instructors also have the choice of dropping a student who does not attend class. (Some instructors choose not to drop students even if they do not attend class.)
The Admissions Office publishes the withdrawal date for each semester as part of the school calendar. The Financial Aid Office will determine the amount of federal financial aid (Pell Grant, FSEOG, Federal Student Loans, and Parent Plus Loans) that a student earned as of the withdrawal date using federally approved methods to perform the calculations. The order in which Title IV program funds will be returned will follow the federal regulations as outlined in the Federal Student Aid Handbook.
Students will be notified by mail if they are required to repay any portion of the financial aid they received. Students are given 45 days to repay the amount to Sierra College. After 45 days, the student will owe either Sierra College for the institutional portion or the U.S. Department of Education directly.
Students who owe money to the U.S. Department of Education are ineligible to receive federal financial aid from any college or institution until they clear that debt.
Students will become eligible for federal financial aid only after they have repaid the full amount or made arrangements directly with the U.S. Department of Education. Sierra College does not make repayment agreements directly with students other than allowing students 45 days to repay the full amount owed.
Students who owe a repayment to the College will be allowed to pay the college directly. Any outstanding debt will block a student’s ability to enroll in courses and the College sends any unpaid debt to collections.
If a student receives an “F” in a course, the instructor will annotate the last date of attendance on the grade sheet and/or indicate that the “F” was an earned grade. If it is discovered that the “F” was due to withdrawal, then Sierra College will calculate the return of aid as necessary.
Sierra College makes several financial aid resources available to its students including state, federal, and local funds. Some funds are need-based, meaning the funds go to the most financially needy students who qualify first. There are also non-need-based funds which are available to any students who qualify for the programs regardless of their income or that of their parents. Please refer to the Financial Aid Office’s webpage for detailed information.
Need-based programs include Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), subsidized student loans, work-study, Board of Governor’s Fee Waiver Program (BOGW), Cal Grant, and some scholarships.
Non-need-based programs include unsubsidized student loans, parent loans, and some scholarships.
Students who would like to be considered for financial aid must apply using either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the BOGFW. Both forms can be found on the Financial Aid Office’s website or by following the hyperlink above. Some financial aid resources require a student to submit additional application materials; scholarships, for example, might have a completely separate form to submit to the funding agency. The Financial Aid Office is not responsible for the application process of outside resources like non-Sierra College scholarships, although all students are encouraged to apply for scholarships that might contribute to their financial resources while attending college.
All financial aid is disbursed to students through the Bursar’s Office. Financial aid funds will first reduce any debts students owe Sierra College. Any remaining balance will go directly to the students by the disbursement method selected by the student (Debit Card, direct deposit, or paper check). Debit Cards and checks will be mailed to the mailing address on file with Admission and Records.
The first disbursement of financial aid (grants, federal student loans, and scholarships) to eligible students will be the week following the add/drop period of each semester. For fall and spring, this will be the end of the third week of the semester. For students who apply or complete their files after the third week, financial aid is usually ordered once a week. Orders are done early Monday morning and direct deposit is usually completed by Friday evening of that week. New debit cards and paper checks will take much longer since they must be mailed to the students.
Pell Grants must be paid at the level of units you are enrolled in at the end of the add/drop period for the semester. Check the academic calendar for the exact date for fall and spring. If you add a class after the add/drop deadline, you cannot be paid Pell for the additional units.
Federal Direct Student Loans are issued in two disbursements. If your loan covers fall and spring, your second disbursement will be available the third week of the Spring Semester as long as you are eligible and are enrolled in 6 or more units. If your loan covers only one semester, your second disbursement will be available after the withdraw deadline has passed as long as you are still enrolled in 6 or more units. Check the academic calendar for the withdraw deadline.
If you are a first-time, first-year borrower, Federal regulations require that you wait until 30 days after the semester has begun to receive your first disbursement. For information about the second disbursement, read the previous paragraph.
Scholarships are issued in two disbursements – half for Fall and half for Spring.
Sierra College no longer participates in private loans.
As a service to students and in order to comply with federal regulations, several campus offices coordinate and track consumer information.
Sierra College’s Health Services Clinic provides alcohol and drug abuse resources. This includes educational programming, peer health education programs, resources and counseling, as well as referrals to community service agency counseling and rehabilitation programs. You may receive additional information at their website. http://www.sierracollege.edu/student-services/campus-services/health-services/index.php
Admissions and Records coordinates disseminating the information for the Student Right to Know Act based on data obtained from Institutional Research. In accordance with the Student Right to Know Act, Sierra College includes information regarding completion, graduation, and applicable transfer out rates. This information is maintained at the Chancellor’s California Community Data Mart.
Campus Security prepares the annual security report and posts the results on their web pages. In addition to the annual report, you will find an updated Incident Report that reports larceny-theft, simple assault, intimidation and vandalism.
Whistleblower Protection and Anti-Retaliation Law – nothing in the law shall be construed to permit an institution to take retaliatory action against anyone with respect to the implementation of any provision of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
The Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act is prepared by the Athletics Department. The college is required to provide disclosure of athletic program participation rates and financial support data as part of the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA). This information is available to the student online by accessing a Department of Education website at http://ope.ed.gov/athletics/.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 ensure students certain rights with respect to their educational records. They are:
Each time staff gives information about a student to anyone, staff must:
Each educational institution decides which loan programs it will make available to its students. Sierra College offers a variety of loans to students who qualify. However, Sierra College will not process any request for loans without the student first completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We wish to make sure that students first qualify for grants before loans are processed.
Sierra College does not participate in private loans.
Sierra College is a low-cost community college that grants certificates, two-year associate degrees, and prepares students for transfer to four-year universities for bachelor’s degrees. Students who default on their student loans affect Sierra College’s ability to participate in the financial aid programs once the institution’s default rate reaches certain levels. Sierra College will suspend processing loans if a student’s debt reaches $22,000 until they complete a new Student Education Plan and the LoanWise test. Students should not use all their loan eligibility at a two-year school. It’s important to have some eligibility left for use at a 4-year college so academic goals can be reached.
Sierra College participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program (Direct Loans) which is one of the Federal Title IV Programs.
It is the philosophy of the Financial Aid Program at Sierra College that loans should be taken out as the last alternative for financing a student's education. It is also recognized that in many cases, a student loan may be the only viable alternative for meeting educational expenses.
Students who are on Financial Aid Probation are not eligible for a student loan. Students must be in good standing to participate in this program.
A statement will be included on the Financial Aid Award Notification through MySierra indicating that the student may be eligible for student loans and those wanting more information are instructed to contact the Financial Aid Office.
First-year students who have unmet need after all other financial aid has been awarded, may borrow a subsidized Direct Loan up to the amount of their unmet need or $3,500, whichever is less. Second-year students may borrow a subsidized Direct Loan up to the amount of their unmet need, or $4,500, whichever is less. Sierra College identifies a first-year student as one who has completed less than twenty-four units toward his or her current educational program and a second-year student as one who has completed 24 or more units toward the current educational program.
NOTE: Sierra College does not adjust loan amounts for students who advance to the 2nd-year level during the academic year.
Also, loan amounts must be prorated for students with only one semester remaining to complete the requirements of the educational program. Prorating also applies to a student who has a one semester extension of financial aid eligibility approved. This means that if you have loan eligibility for the academic year of $5,500.00, we will only process half of this amount for the one semester loan.
Students who do not have sufficient “unmet need” to borrow the annual maximum from the subsidized Direct Loan may replace the expected family contribution with an unsubsidized Direct Loan. Students who have no “unmet need” may borrow up to the annual loan limits from the unsubsidized Direct Loan. Such students will be sent an email through their MySierra student account, explaining that they have no calculated need and informing them of the availability of the unsubsidized Direct Loan. Dependent students may apply for up to $2,000 in additional unsubsidized loans. Independent students may apply for up to $6,000 in additional unsubsidized loans.
Students who have not previously borrowed a Direct Loan from Sierra College must complete the Direct Loan Entrance Counseling session online. Each online session will cover those topics specified by federal regulation including borrower rights and responsibilities, repayment options, and consolidation issues. Students may access the Direct Loan Entrance Counseling session from the Financial Aid home page. Proceed to the Direct Loan site; complete the counseling session and quiz. Students must have completed a FAFSA before a Direct Loan Application will be accepted.
NOTE: As part of our default management, students who are placed on Financial Aid probation after being Reinstated to financial aid, will not be eligible for loans until such time as they are no longer on Financial Aid probation. Students may continue to receive grants and BOGFW.
Students receiving Direct Loans for both fall 2013 and spring 2014 will receive one-half of the loan proceeds in the fall semester and the other half during the spring semester. The second disbursement will occur only after the fall grades have been reviewed. Direct loans for first-year borrowers (defined as anyone who has not previously had an educational loan while attending Sierra College) will be disbursed at least thirty days after the semester begins. All Direct Loan proceeds will be disbursed using the disbursement options described previously.
The aggregate loan limits for undergraduate dependent students are $31,000 (no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized) and the aggregate loan limits for undergraduate independent students are $57,000 (no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized).
Sierra College defines the loan period based on the semester a student requests the loan. The loan period can either be an academic year (fall and spring semesters) or a single semester (fall, spring or summer). If a student receives loans from another school within the same loan period, then we must consider all loans received and certify only the remaining loan eligibility.
Every student loan borrower is required to complete an exit interview at the conclusion of their academic stay with Sierra College or when they stop attending less than half time. Students will be required to complete the exit counseling on-line.
Sierra College is required to document students on-line entrance interviews and exit interviews to demonstrate that Sierra College has complied with the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements.
Effective for all loans originated after July 1, 2013, Federal Law now limits eligibility for subsidized loans to 150 percent of the length of the student’s academic program. The 150 percent change means students in a two-year program will be eligible for subsidized student loans for the equivalent of three years. The student who reaches this limitation could continue to receive unsubsidized Stafford loans if he or she is otherwise eligible (for example, has not run afoul of the school’s satisfactory academic progress requirements).
The new limitation affects new borrowers on or after July 1, 2013. Since only periods for which the student received subsidized loans appear to count, the 150 percent limit would only include periods of borrowing that began on or after July 1, 2013. For transfer students who were enrolled in more than one educational program that began on or after July 1, 2013, the limitation would be calculated by taking the difference between 150 percent of the published program length of the longest educational program in which the borrower was enrolled and any periods of enrollment in which the borrower received a subsidized Stafford loan.
Once a borrower has reached the 150 percent limitation, his or her eligibility for an interest subsidy also ends for all outstanding subsidized loans that were disbursed on or after July 1, 2013. At that point, interest on those previously borrowed loans would begin to accrue and would be payable in the same manner as interest on unsubsidized loans.
In cases of extenuating circumstances affecting a student’s financial eligibility, the student or the student’s parent can request special consideration by submitting the Special Conditions Appeal form. The forms can be obtained from the Financial Aid Office or by downloading it from the financial aid website.
A student or a student’s parent should consider requesting review of the student’s eligibility if either experience:
The documentation required in each case is listed on the Special Conditions Appeal form.
A dependent student can request to be considered independent by submitting a Dependency Override Request form. The form is available from the Financial Aid Office or by downloading it from the financial aid website. The required documentation is listed on the Dependency Override Request form.
Issues of professional judgment are reviewed by the Financial Aid Manager for final determination.
Cal Grants are awarded by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). There are three different Cal Grants.
Cal Grant A is awarded to students who will be attending one of the 4-year colleges or universities in California based on financial need and GPA. If a student is selected for a possible Cal Grant A while attending Sierra College, that award will be held on reserve until the student transfers to a 4-year college or university.
The Cal Grant B Program is intended to help students from low-income families. At Sierra College, Cal Grant B awards are a maximum of $1,473 per academic year for students enrolled in 12 or more units. The award is less for students enrolled in 6 to 11.5 units.
The Cal Grant C Program is for students in vocational/technical programs only and may not be used to pursue a four-year degree. The Cal Grant C is a maximum of $547 per academic year at a community college for students enrolled in 12 or more units. The award is less for students enrolled in 6 to 11.5 units.
Each category of Cal Grants may be renewed but each has a different renewable policy:
Cal Grants are automatically renewed until eligibility is exhausted or the student is no longer eligible based on the results of a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), enrollment status, etc.
To apply for a Cal Grant, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and turn in any additional documentation needed to complete the file. In addition, students must have their GPAs sent to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC):
Both the FAFSA and the GPA Verification form must be mailed by March 2nd to meet the Cal Grant deadline. If you miss that deadline, there is still another chance (although much less of one) to qualify for a Cal Grant provided that both forms are submitted by September 2nd, the Community College deadline.