Frequently Asked Questions
What is financial aid?
Financial aid covers school expenses, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. The various categories of student financial aid are grants, work-study, loans and scholarships.
How do I apply for financial aid?
You can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at www.fafsa.gov.
The FAFSA is the application form required for all federal aid. The application for New Jersey State aid can be found at https://njfams.hesaa.org
Who gets financial aid?
The financial aid administrator at your college can help determine what you’re eligible for. There are, however some basic guidelines for all applicants.
1. Demonstrate financial need; this means that your cost of education is greater than your family contribution
2. Be working toward a degree or certificate
3. Be enrolled in an eligible program
4. Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, be a New Jersey state resident for NJ state aid (TAG)
5. Have a valid Social Security number
6. Be registered with the Selective Service (if required)
7. Maintain academic progress once in college
8. Have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate
9. Not be convicted of selling or possessing illegal drugs while receiving aid
10. Not be in default of federal student loans or state student loans for NJ state financial aid (TAG).
What is a federal Pell Grant?
Pell Grants are the foundation of federal student aid, to which aid from other federal and non-federal sources might be added.
Pell Grants are for undergraduate students.
How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?
You should file a FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov and indicate your interest in federal work-study by checking the appropriate box on the FAFSA. Checking the box does not commit you to accepting work-study. You will have the opportunity to accept or decline it later. Leaving the box unchecked will not increase the amount of grants you receive.
When do I fill out the FAFSA?
Apply as early as possible in accordance with the application priority dates.
The FAFSA is available for by October 1st.
The priority deadline for BCC is March 15th and New Jersey State is June 1st (all continuing students), and October 1st (all new applicants).
Although there is no deadline for federal student aid, you are encouraged to file your FAFSA information in accordance with these same dates to receive priority consideration.
Bergen Community College participates in most Federal and State Programs, including the Federal Pell Grant, Tuition Aid Grant (TAG), Federal Work Study (FWS), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) Educational Opportunity Grant (EOF), and William D. Ford Loans (Direct Loans).
What should I (the student) do if my family has special circumstances that aren’t mentioned in the application?
Talk to your financial aid administrator in your schools’ financial aid office.
If your family’s circumstances have changed from the base year due to loss of employment, loss of benefits, death or divorce, your school may decide to adjust data elements used to calculate your EFC.
The adjustment might increase your eligibility for student aid.
If live with an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, should that relative’s income be reported instead of parental information?
Only if the relative is your adoptive parent. Dependent students can be considered dependent only on their parent(s) and must report only parental information on the FAFSA. You must report any cash support given by relatives, but not in-kind support (such as food and housing) from relatives.
What if I live with a girlfriend or boyfriend who pays the rent?
You should not report any information for a friend or roommate unless the two of you are actually married or are considered to have a common-law marriage under state law. You must report any cash support given by the friend as untaxed income but should not report in-kind support (such as food). You would have to report as untaxed income the rent the roommate paid on your behalf.
When student aid is considered income?
Generally, grants and scholarships that do not exceed tuition, fees, books, and required supplies are not considered income. Student aid is considered income when its taxable student grant and scholarship aid such as fellowships and assistantships which are reported to the IRS in your parents or your adjusted gross income.
How do I apply for a Federal Loan?
Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and follow the instructions listed under Applying for a Stafford Loan.
*Note: Students must register for at least six (6) credit hours and be enrolled in/accepted to an eligible certificate or degree program.
Can I cancel my student loan if I change my mind, even if I have signed the promissory note agreeing to the loan’s terms?
Yes. Your school must notify you in writing whenever it credits your account with your loan funds. You may cancel all or a portion of your loan if you inform your school within 14 days after the date your school sent you this notice, or by the first day of the payment period, whichever is later. (Your school can tell you the first day of your payment period).
How do my parents apply for a PLUS Loan?
Your parents complete a Direct PLUS Loan application and promissory note at www.studentloans.gov. They will have to pass a credit check. If they don’t pass they might still be able to receive a loan if they can demonstrate that extenuating circumstances exits, or if someone they know, who can pass agrees to endorse the loan and promises to repay it if your parents don’t.
Are my parents responsible for my educational loans?
No. Parents are, however, responsible for the Federal PLUS loans. Parents will only be responsible for your educational loans if you are under 18 and they co-sign your loan. In general you and you alone are responsible for repaying your educational loans.
On the other hand, if your parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can have your billing statements sent to their address.
Likewise, if your lender or loan servicer provides an electronic payment service, where the monthly payments are automatically deducted from a bank account, your parents can agree to have the payments deducted from their account. But your parents are under no obligation to repay your loans.
If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancel the electronic payment agreement, you will be held responsible for the payments, not them.
What is Verification and why do I have to provide this information?
After completing the FAFSA, the U.S. Department of Education may select you for a process known as verification for one or more of the following reasons:
– You were chosen at random
– Your FAFSA contains estimated information
– Your FAFSA was incomplete
– Inconsistencies were found in the information you provided on your FAFSA
Verification is a requirement of the U.S. Department of Education.
If you are ‘Selected for Verification’, Bergen Community College must compare your FAFSA information your Federal Tax Transcript(s).
You may also be asked to provide additional financial documents.
Submit all documents to the Financial Aid Office along with a completed Verification Worksheet.
If there are differences in your application data and the information contained on your financial documents, the office will make necessary corrections and forward your corrected information to the U.S. Department of Education’s Central Processing System.
What is the Federal Pell Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU)?
Effective July 1, 2012, The U. S. Department of Education established new regulations which reduced the duration to receive a Federal Pell Grant from 18 full-time semesters (or its equivalent) to 12 full-time semesters (or its equivalent). The maximum amount of Pell you are able to receive over your lifetime is limited to be the equivalent of 600% (6 years).
What is Bergen Community College’s School Code?
Bergen Community College’s Federal School Code for the FAFSA is 004736 and New Jersey State School Code for NJHESAA is 2032.
Who is considered as an Independent student?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, a student must meet one of the following criteria to be considered ‘Independent’ of parental support
For 2019-2020 Academic Year:
– Were you born before Jan. 1, 1996?
– Are you married? (Answer “Yes” if you are separated but not divorced.)
– At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate degree program (such as an M.A., M.B.A., M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., graduate certificate, etc.)?
– Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces for purposes other than training? (If you are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee, are you on active duty for other than state or training purposes?)
– Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces?*
– Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020?
– Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2020?
– At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
– Has it been decided by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor or that you are in a legal guardianship?
– At any time on or after July 1, 2019, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison or (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development?
– At any time on or after July 1, 2019, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
How will Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) affect my financial aid?
You must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress standards in order to continue to receive financial aid.
Withdrawals, failures, and course repeats will affect your financial aid.
How will withdrawals affect my financial aid?
Students who wish to withdraw from a course must officially withdraw by completing a Add/Drop Form with the Registration Office or by using Web Advisor.
Detailed information about official withdrawal is accessible at https://bergen.edu/current-students/student-support-services/registration/official-withdrawals/
All withdrawals affect a student’s academic progress and future eligibility for financial aid.
Federal regulations require that the college determine whether a portion of the federal aid be repaid when a student withdraws from classes before the end of the semester.
Students, who withdraw from all classes before 60% of the semester is completed, may be required to repay a portion of the financial aid awarded.
The amount of aid that may be retained is in direct proportion to the length of time you attend classes during a semester.
What is an Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note? Why do I need to complete One?
What is a Master Promissory Note (MPN)?
A Master Promissory Note (MPN) is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the lender. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s).
A MPN MUST be signed and a copy received by the Bergen Community College Financial Aid office BEFORE the first disbursement can be made. The MPN is a multi-year document that only needs to complete once during your time at Bergen Community College.
To complete a MPN online, you will be required to use your FSA ID.
What is Entrance Counseling?
Entrance Counseling helps you understand your responsibilities regarding your loan. Except for Parent Direct PLUS loan borrowers, all first time borrowers at Bergen Community College are required to complete Entrance Counseling.
Entrance Counseling MUST be completed and a copy of the confirmation page received by the Bergen Community College Financial Aid office BEFORE the first disbursement can be made.
Can use financial aid to pay for courses I repeat?
Federal regulations may prohibit you from receiving financial aid for repeating courses.
Once you have taken a course and received a passing grade you may only retake the course one time while receiving financial aid:
1. If you received an ‘E’ the first time you took a course and then pass with a ‘D’, financial aid will cover only one (1) additional attempt because the second attempt made was a passing grade.
2. If you received a ‘D’ the first time you took a course and then retake the course and receive an ‘E’, financial aid will cover both attempts because the second attempt made is not a passing grade.
If I take a leave of absence, do I have to start repaying my loans?
Not immediately. The subsidized Stafford loan has a grace period of 6 months before the student must begin repaying the loan. When you take a leave of absence you will not have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you use up the grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repaying your loan immediately. It is possible to request an extension to the grace period, but this must be done before the grace period is used up.
If your grace period has run out in the middle of your leave of absence, you will have to start making payments on your student loans.
When do I start paying back my student loans?
If you’re attending school at least half-time, you have a period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time status before you must begin repayment. This period of time is called a “grace-period”.
Federal Perkins Loans- the grace period is nine months. If you’re attending less than half-time, check with your financial aid office to determine your grace period.
Direct Stafford Loans– the grace period is six months.
Subsidized loan– during the grace period, you don’t have to pay any principal and you won’t be charged interest.
Unsubsidized loan– you don’t have to pay any principal, but you will be charged interest. You can either pay interest as you go along or it will be capitalized later.