By Ashton Cermak.
With the current state of our economy, and the cost of higher education, many students have turned to the option of financial aid. BCC offers several types of state and federal assistance for those who may need help paying their tuition. The financial aid office is located right across from the student book store and has faculty available to answer any questions you may have about obtaining financial aid.
Before you choose to pursue financial aid, there are a few things to be aware of. Financial aid does not transfer. If you receive financial aid here at BCC and transfer to Western or UW, your financial aid will be terminated and you must re-apply (if needed) at the institution you have transferred in to. Getting financial aid is somewhat of a screening process: if you, or your immediate family members, can afford to send you to school, the financial aid office will not approve a grant, and seriously… nobody likes a freeloader. Eligibility for financial aid is not solely based on academic performance, though a higher GPA from either high school or a previous college does help. From the time that a student realizes they need financial assistance to the time they recieve the aid it is usually from 45 to 60 days. However, financial aid has an eighteen month processing cycle, meaning that, currently, the financial aid office is accepting applications for next fall quarter.
Financial aid approval is upon the decision of the Washington State Department of Education, and BCC provides the means to attain it. To apply for financial aid, you must first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA (for short). After you have filled out the FAFSA, and you have been approved, several programs are available to you, the PELL program (the largest of the federal government grants), the Washington state need grant, the supplemental education opportunity grant, the state and federal work study program and several others. Although, it is up to the Department of Education to initially approve your financial aid, BCC can terminate it if you fail to meet the requirements to keep it . If this happens to you, there is the option of appealing to get it back.
Financial aid has fairly strict criteria for applicants. The first is EFC or Expected Family Contribution. This is calculated based on your family’s income and can determine whether or not you can receive financial aid. Students receiving financial aid must complete a minimum of six credits per quarter to keep their financial aid. If you do not qualify for a grant, and most students do not, there is always a student loan. Sherri Ballantyne, assistant dean of financial aid, says it is much safer to apply for a loan from BCC than from your credit card company as BCC has an excellent rate of only 6.0%. The difference between the loan and the grant is the loan must be repaid, the grant is free money. If all else fails, students in especially precarious situations can apply for a BCC waiver which waives tuition, but not class fees still a significant drop in expense to the student. Students do have to make an application for a waiver, since financial aid is the preferred method of funding a student, but there is only $80,000 worth of waivers to be given each year, where as $15 million dollars worth of grants and scholarships are given in the same time period. Obviously, the waivers go fast. A tuition waiver is really only for students in particular situations. Ballantyne says she had a student about two years ago whose parents simply would not give him money for school. He did two quarters here, and did quite well, so Ballantyne funded him.
A misconception about financial aid at BCC is that the school itself awards scholarships. According to Ballantyne, “as far as scholarships, we don’t identify students to receive scholarships, we don’t collect scholarship applications and review them.” Sometimes other organizations or companies will grant scholarships.”Microsoft will call us and say
By Ashton Cermak.