Continuing Education

FREQUENTLY ASKED FINANCIAL AID QUESTIONS

Q: What is financial aid?

Financial aid is gift money.  Financial aid awards may include Grants, Scholarships, Work-study, and Federal Education Loans (Direct Loans).  Grants, Scholarships, and Word-Study awards are considered need based, and are not required to be paid back.  Educational loans on the other hand are considered self-help funds, and must be paid back. 

Q:  After I complete my fafsa application how is the amout I recieve determened?

When we receive your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from the Department of Education, we evaluate your eligibility not only for federal aid programs but also for institutional need-based aid.  The Department of Education does not award or deny funds; rather, they use a formula to calculate your expected family contribution (EFC) based on your self-reported family resources, family size, and the number of family members in college. This process ensures that all students are treated consistently, and fairly. Our financial aid office verifies your eligibility, and creates an award offer based on need factors; including, federal and state regulations, and institutional policy. 

You should know that your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of student aid you will receive. It’s simply a number determined by the Department of Education that we are required to use to calculate the amount you are eligible to receive in student aid.  After your financial need is calculated, we consider you for all types of financial aid for which you qualify. You will always be considered for grants first and loans last. This process is called "packaging".

Q: Are Loans included in my financial aid award?

At Three Rivers Community College aproximately 80% of those applying for Federal, State, and Institutional grants have little to no out of pocket cost for tuition, fees and books.  As a result, our financial aid office does not include, offer, or combine loans with your financial aid award.  However, if you have a unmet financial need after you apply for financial aid and you wish to be considered for a student loan, you must contact our financial aid office and request an appointment with one of our financial aid administrators. 

Q: If I receive financial aid, should I bother to apply for scholarships?  

Yes, we encourage students to apply for the scholarships offered at Three Rivers Community College every January-April. The information is available at www.threerivers.edu

Q: Can a student with a Bachelor’s degree receive grant aid?

A student with a Bachelor’s degree is not eligible for a federal Pell Grant.  The student may be awarded the institutional grants if such funds are available.  It is important that the student completes the FAFSA by May 1st.  The college often exhausts all institutional grant money by early June.

Q: Can my Pell Grant run out?

Federal Pell Grant - Students who are eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant will have a lifetime limit of 12 full-time semesters or six full years of eligibility. This policy is retroactive to whenever a student first received a Federal Pell grant, and includes payments received at colleges or universities that the student had attended prior to Three Rivers Community College.

Q: What if I am not eligible for grant aid?

Three Rivers Community College offers a payment plan available at our cashier’s office.  Our payment plan divides the cost of tuition into three equal payments.  Please contact the Cashier’s Office for more information on the Payment Plan at (860) 215-9026.

However, If our payment plan is not within your financial means you should apply for financial aid at www.fafsa.ed.gov.  If we determine you are not eligable for grants you may have to utilize a Federal Direct Student Loan to finance your tuition, and fees.  For more information please contact the financial aid office.

Q: What will happen to my financial aid if I drop a course?

If you drop a class before the start of a semester or during the first two weeks, your financial aid will be recalculated based on the remaining credits enrolled.  Please note, this will also change the amount of bookstore money available to you.  Please check with the Cashier’s Office right after the drop.

Q: Do I need to pay back my financial aid grants?

Grant money does not need to be paid back.  (Exception) When a Pell Grant recipient withdraws from all classes before completing 60% of a semester, a portion of your Pell Grant will have to be returned to the Federal Student Aid Program.  (Please see the next Q&A about withdrawals.)

Q: How does a withdrawal affect my financial aid?

Withdrawals may affect your future financial aid eligibility if you are not maintaining a minimum completion rate of 67%.  If you are a Pell Grant recipient, a complete withdrawal from all classes before the 60% point of the semester will also reduce your current semester’s financial aid.  In this case, you will incur a financial liability to the college.

Q: If I don’t pass a course, is it going to impact my financial aid?

If you do not pass a course, the “F” grade will factor into your grade point average (GPA), and also will lower your completion rate.  Financial aid students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0, and a minimum completion rate of 67% even if your completion rate is based on some credits you paid for on your own while receiving financial aid.  The completion rate is determined by comparing the completed credits vs. the attempted credits. 

Q: What is the difference between a financial aid “Warning” and “Unsatisfactory Progress”?

 If you are placed on a financial aid “Warning”, you are still eligible to receive financial aid for the semester; however, you should consider a reduced course load and give 100% effort in completing your courses successfully.  If you are on Financial Aid Warning, and fail courses, and/or do not complete all your courses you will then be place on Unsatisfactory Progress, and your aid will be suspended. 

Q: Can I get my financial aid reinstated?

If you are placed on an “Unsatisfactory Progress” status, your financial aid eligibility is suspended until you once again meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirement. You may choose to appeal for a reinstatement of your financial aid if there was any special circumstance involved in your failure to succeed. 

If you are currently suspended you can appeal your status by clicking on this link: http://www.commnet.edu/finaid/download/K/SAPappeal.pdf. 

Q: If I need to repeat a course, would financial aid pay for it?

If you have a passing grade for the course already, you may only repeat it one time with financial aid.  If you do not have a passing grade for the course, you may repeat it two times with financial aid.

Q: How can a student get summer financial aid?

Summer financial aid is only available to a Pell Grant recipient who did not enroll full-time for both fall, and spring semesters. In this case the student can use the remaining Pell Grant award.  The student should contact the Financial Aid Office to find out the exact amount of Pell Grant that’s available before registering for the summer courses.

Q: Does the financial aid cover the winter session?

    No

Q: How do I get a Work-Study job at Three Rivers?

If you are interested in the Federal Work-Study Program within your fafsa application you should check off yes.  You should thencheck with the financial aid office to see if you qualify for a Work-Study grant.  Work-Study is a need-based grant.  If positions are available, and you are eligable you should visit our financial aid office and complete an application.  Unfortunately, there are more requests than available positions so you may be placed on a waiting list. 

Q: How much book money will be available to me?

You are given a bookstore line-of-credit if there is a remaining fund available in your financial aid award after covering the tuition/fee cost.

Q: How long does it take to be put on the bookstore credit list?

The bookstore credit list is updated daily.  You must complete the Title IV Authorization on www.my.comment.edu before a credit can be made available.  Please check with the Cashier’s Office if you need instructions on how to complete the Title IV Authorization.

Q: If I want to take a course at another CT community college, can my financial aid at Three  Rivers pay for it?

If this course is required for your degree program, but is not currently offered at Three Rivers, or is offered at a time conflict with your schedule, you may take it at another CT community college through the Consortium Agreement.  With the Consortium Agreement, your financial aid at Three Rivers will be available to cover your tuition/fees at another institution, but you will have to pay for your own books at the other Community College.

To start a Consortium Agreement, please contact the Academic Dean’s Office, (860) 215-9004 C213, to provide the information about your course.  (A memo will be sent from the Academic Dean’s Office to the Financial Aid Office)

You also need to visit the Financial Aid Office to fill out a Consortium Agreement form.