While higher education has never been cheap (especially if time is money!), this fall TMCC has good news to share: students have a unique opportunity to see if they qualify for additional support thanks to the American Rescue Plan! The plan has created a specialized appeals process that every student can take advantage of to see if they can receive additional grant, scholarship or other financial aid.
If you’re thinking: “Wait...what? But my parents and/or I make too much money to qualify for financial aid,” put that thought on the backburner. If either you or your parents experienced a loss or decrease in income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you could qualify for additional financial aid under this new appeals process. A “loss of income” could mean a reduction in the number of hours that you are able to work, or a reduction in your income. The elimination of your previous employment due to the pandemic would also qualify you for this opportunity to receive more financial aid dollars.
If you aren’t sure if you qualify or not for this new opportunity, TMCC Financial Aid Director Leslie Jia said that applying never hurts. “This kind of appeal is not usually granted to a mass group of students—usually it’s only permitted in very select cases. So, students should take advantage of this opportunity,” she said.
There are two things that have to happen before you can apply. They are simple steps, but ones that you cannot skip if you’re interested in seeing if you qualify for additional funds.
- You have to apply for the FAFSA. There are no exceptions to this requirement. In order to apply for the FAFSA, you will need tax documentation from 2020 from you and/or your parents (if you are still a dependent).
- You’re making academic progress and in good academic standing. This doesn’t just mean you’re enrolled in one class or having a blast in your classes. As defined by Federal Financial Aid Standards, this means you must be enrolled in classes that lead to a degree and earn at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA.
Once you’ve checked those two boxes, you’re ready to see if this new appeals process could apply to you.
“The myth that they think that they won’t qualify is really just a myth. Students can’t know if they qualify unless they submit their FAFSA application and these additional documents to see,” said Jia, who explained it costs nothing to apply, so interested students truly have nothing to lose if they apply.
Financial Aid To Plan for Your Spring Semester
If you have already applied for the FASFA and you’re in good academic standing, but have had a change in income in the past year, you need to fill out this form and submit the first 2-3 pages of your 2020 tax return. For students who may not have qualified for federal financial aid in the past (due to an Expected Family Contribution of $5,800 or more), Jia said changes in income could make a big difference.
“For students who are enrolled full time in the spring and update their financial information to show an EFC of zero, they could be eligible for up to $3,247 in Pell Grant assuming this student’s classes are all going toward their degree,” she said. “That’s huge, and that kind of financial support could definitely help to support a student working on their certificate or degree.”
The additional aid will be applied to your student account, covering the cost of tuition and fees. If there are any additional funds left over, those can be used for any additional educational expenses, such as books or other supplies.
Jia encourages students to apply for this opportunity soon as possible in advance of the spring semester. Those appeals that are accepted can expect the funds to be applied to their student accounts in January.
And while not every student will qualify for a fully-funded Pell Grant, students could expect new avenues of financial aid to open to them for which they did not previously qualify.
“If they can demonstrate that there’s been a change in their income… if they can demonstrate there’s been a change in their parent’s or their income, their financial aid eligibility, also known as their Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) can change. If it reduces, there is the potential that students who were eligible for just student loans could be eligible for the Pell Grant. And it could open doors for other financial resources and opportunities. Maybe now they can qualify for a state-need grant, or institutional need grant,” said Jia.
The point is: you will never know unless you apply.
For more information about applying for the Financial Aid Application Review, or for support in applying for Financial Aid, contact their office at 775-673-7072.