Financial Aid

Students may receive assistance through federal programs, state programs, institutional programs, and local scholarship funds. Funds may also be available for veterans and children or spouses of deceased or disabled veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Students should be aware that some certificate curriculum programs are not eligible for federal or state financial aid, and some diploma curriculum programs are only eligible for a prorated amount of federal financial aid. Students should check with the Financial Aid Office to see if their program of study is one of those affected.

The initial application for financial aid should be made at the time of applying for admission to the College. Processing the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) takes approximately two weeks; however, it may take longer if verification of information is required and corrections processed. Financial aid applications must be filed every year. Priority dates for having financial aid files completed in order to cover charges for that term are August 7 (Fall Semester), December 11 (Spring Semester) and April 30 (Summer Term). A financial aid file is considered ‘complete’ when a processed FAFSA with a calculated EFC is on file, all verification documents required have been received for review, and all eligibility criteria are met. If students do not meet those dates, another payment arrangement should be made in order to hold classes; however, financial aid will continue to be processed. The Blue Ridge Community College Federal School code number is 009684. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid may be completed online at fafsa.gov.

In order to receive financial aid, students must also enroll in an eligible program, be a high school/High School Equivalency Diploma/AHS graduate, be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, and not be in default on a federal loan or owe on a Pell Grant overpayment. Special credit status does not qualify as an eligible program. In addition, a student must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (see below).

The College is required by Federal regulations to verify the application data provided by some students. Financial aid applicants should utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to populate their income information on the FAFSA, either initially or through making a correction. If students do not or cannot use the DRT and are selected for verification, they may

1) submit a signed copy of their US Income Tax Return, or

2) order a tax return transcript online at irs.gov.

Either of these two options will take seven to ten business days. Other documents may also be requested by the Financial Aid Office.

Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid

Federal and state regulations require that students receiving financial aid maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. Blue Ridge applies these standards to all federal and state financial aid funds in order to maintain a consistent procedure for all students receiving assistance. In order to be eligible for financial aid, students must meet the following minimum guidelines:

  1. Students must successfully complete at least 67% of cumulative credit hours attempted (pass rate).

  2. Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 (C) or higher at Blue Ridge.

  3. Students must complete their program of study in a time frame not to exceed 150 percent of the credit hours required of the program. All credit hours attempted, with the exception of developmental classes, will be counted even if the student changes programs.

Withdrawal: Students who officially withdraw from classes (or are withdrawn unofficially by their instructor for non-attendance) should understand their withdrawal might affect their eligibility for future financial aid determined by this Satisfactory Academic Progress policy. Students who are withdrawn from all of their classes or end the semester with a 0.00 GPA will be subject to the Return of Title IV Funds Policy for the current semester.

Grades: Grades of A, B, C, D, P will be considered as hours attempted and earned. Grades of F, W, R or I will be considered as hours attempted, but will not be considered as hours earned. Grades of NS or Y will not be counted as hours attempted or earned. Transfer credit hours accepted from other institutions for the student’s current program of study are included in the calculation of the pass rate and maximum time frame.

Repeated Courses: Students are permitted to repeat a class in which their prior grade was a “W”, “F”, “R”, or “D”. This provision may not apply to a student who is receiving VA benefits.

Concurrent Enrollment (Consortium Agreement): A student’s academic progress will be calculated by Blue Ridge as the Home Institution, with the 67% rule being calculated based on the total number of hours attempted at both institutions and the GPA requirement from Blue Ridge only.

Developmental Courses: Developmental courses (designated by course numbers below 100, e.g. DRE 097) are eligible for inclusion in receipt of financial aid, and therefore, meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress guidelines. However, a student may only receive financial aid for a maximum of 30 credit hours of attempted developmental courses.

Review Process: It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of his/her eligibility for financial aid. Each student’s academic record will be evaluated at the end of every semester to determine their eligibility for financial aid in the next term. Once a student becomes ineligible for financial aid based upon his/her failure to meet the minimum guidelines for attempted hours and/or GPA, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for ONE semester. The student is eligible to receive aid during that semester. If the student fails to regain eligibility at the end of the warning semester, financial aid will be suspended and the student must pay for their next semester of enrollment. A student’s financial aid will be reinstated the next semester of enrollment after they meet both the 67% hours attempted AND the 2.00 cumulative GPA requirements, as long as they are within the 150% maximum time frame.

Appeal Process: A student who has become ineligible for financial aid due to a failure to meet the minimum guidelines for Satisfactory Academic Progress may appeal their status to the Financial Aid Office and request to be placed on Financial Aid Probation. Appeals will be considered for unusual circumstances only (i.e. an extended illness or injury, death in the immediate family, length of time out of school, less than a full-time semester remaining, etc.) and must be made in writing, stating why they failed to meet the guidelines and how those circumstances have changed. In addition, the student should provide any relevant supporting documentation (e.g. hospital/doctor verification, death certificate, etc). Circumstances that are deemed to be academic in nature or within the student’s area of control are not usually considered as grounds for appeal. All appeals should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office. The student will receive a notice of approval or denial of their appeal to be placed on Financial Aid Probation in a timely manner.

Students who are placed on Financial Aid Probation may be required to meet specific criteria as outlined in an individualized Academic Plan in order to be eligible for continued receipt of financial aid. Financial aid will continue to remain in effect as long as the student meets the criteria set forth in the Plan.

If the student’s appeal is denied, their financial aid will remain suspended and the student must pay for their next semester of enrollment. A student may appeal the decision of the Financial Aid Office by requesting, in writing, that their appeal is reviewed by the Financial Aid and Scholarship Committee.

Return of Title IV Funds Policy

Students who are withdrawn completely from Blue Ridge should understand their withdrawal may affect their eligibility for financial aid for the current semester as well as future semesters. Federal regulations require a refund calculation for all students receiving Title IV funds who have ceased attendance from all classes for the semester on or before the 60% point in the semester or who complete the semester with no earned hours and/or a term grade point average of 0.00. Students earn a portion of the Title IV funds on a ratio of the number of calendar days attended and the number of calendar days in the term. Unearned federal aid will be returned in the following order: Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan, Federal Subsidized Direct Loan, Federal PLUS Loan, Pell Grant, and SEOG. NC monies will be returned according to state regulations. Institutional and outside scholarships will be fully applied to the student’s account for attendance through the official census date of the term, unless otherwise restricted.

If there is a student account balance resulting from these adjustments, the student is responsible for payment. The student must pay this balance before they will be able to receive a transcript or are allowed to register and attend subsequent terms.

Students Receiving Financial Aid—Change of Status

Financial aid recipients must immediately notify the Financial Aid Office of any changes that may affect their status. Such changes include change of program, change of hours, or credit by exam. Financial Aid awards will be reduced if the student remains enrolled but officially reduces enrollment status prior to the 10% point of the semester. Financial aid does not cover audited classes, continuing education classes (with exception of certain programs for VA benefits), repeat classes with a grade of ‘C’ or higher, credit-by-exam classes, or classes not required for the primary program of study.

Types of Financial Aid

Blue Ridge Community College Educational Foundation Scholarships

Scholarships are provided each year to Blue Ridge Community College students through the fundraising efforts of Blue Ridge Community College Educational Foundation, Inc. Annual awards are made by the Financial Aid and Scholarship Committee. Students must have a cumulative 2.0 grade point average in order to be eligible to apply for scholarship assistance from the Foundation. Applications are available online at blueridge.edu/scholarships.

Federal Pell Grants

Students attending Blue Ridge Community College may be eligible for Federal Pell Grant assistance. Amounts vary, and eligibility is based on financial need as determined by a formula developed by the U.S. Department of Education. Applicants must have a high school diploma, a High School Equivalency Diploma, or AHS certificate to be eligible. Students are ineligible if they have a bachelor’s degree. Students with exceptional financial need may be eligible for further aid through the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program. Students need to complete a FAFSA application online at fafsa.gov in order to determine eligibility.

North Carolina Community College Grants/North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarships

The North Carolina Community College Grants (NCCCG) and North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarships (NCELS) are administered by the College Foundation of North Carolina to provide assistance to North Carolina residents demonstrating financial need. Students receiving NCCCG or NCELS must be enrolled at least half-time. Application is made through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Educational Assistance for Veterans and Certain Dependents of Veterans

Most curriculum programs and some continuing education courses offered by the College are approved for the training of veterans. Eligible veterans and/or their eligible dependents who wish to pursue their education should contact the Financial Aid Office for application procedures and assistance. Please refer to the section on applying for Veteran’s benefits.

Childcare Funds

The State of North Carolina provides limited funds to assist curriculum students with childcare. A student must demonstrate financial need as determined by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculated by the FAFSA and be enrolled at least half-time, with at least one class being taught on campus. Applications are available from the Financial Aid Office on July 1 of each year. A student must be using a licensed daycare provider.

Federal Loans

Student loans as reflected on the student’s financial aid award are optional because they are monies borrowed that must be repaid with interest. Blue Ridge participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Student loans, both Subsidized (need-based) and Unsubsidized (non-need-based), and PLUS loans to parents are available. The amounts vary depending on the student’s year in college, financial need and other aid received. Students should refer to the Student Loan and Basic Money Management pages on the website for important information to help them determine how much they should borrow if any. Students must be registered at least half-time (6 credits) in an eligible program at the time of disbursement and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. Students need to complete a FAFSA application to determine eligibility. Blue Ridge requires all loans to be made in two disbursements. For Fall/Spring borrowers, one disbursement is made in the Fall term and the second disbursement is made the Spring term. However, if a student borrows for a single term, one disbursement is made at the beginning of the term and the second disbursement is made at mid-term. In addition, all first-time borrowers first loan disbursements will not be posted until after the first 30 days of the semester has elapsed.

Federal Work-Study Program

Blue Ridge Community College participates in the Federal Work-Study Program, which provides on-campus work and community service opportunities for students needing financial assistance to attend school. Work is available for qualified students to assist in the library, faculty and administrative offices, and labs. Students working under this program are paid once a month for the work performed. There is limited funding for the program. Students need to complete a FAFSA application online at fafsa.gov in order to determine eligibility.

Federal Workforce Investment Act Grants

Individuals who are (1) unemployed, underemployed or (2) have recently been dislocated from their jobs and want to learn new skills to enter or re-enter the workforce may be eligible for WIOA funding of books and tuition. Those interested should contact NCWorks at 694-1755 or 694-1753.

Local Scholarships

Some local scholarship funds provided by interested citizens and civic organizations are available. Requirements for local scholarships vary. Interested students should apply directly to the organization or visit blueridge.edu/scholarships.

Emergency Grants and Loans

Emergency grants and loans are available to enable a student to begin or continue a program of study by alleviating a short-term lack of funds or providing temporary assistance. Preference for emergency grants and loans is given to currently enrolled students who have attended Blue Ridge for at least one semester. There is limited funding for these programs, and students must be maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress. These funds are not intended for those students who have failed to file their financial aid forms in a timely manner.

Veterans Benefits

Application for Veteran’s Benefits

To apply for benefits, the Veteran must be a fully accepted student in an approved curriculum program or continuing education job training program. Students eligible for Veteran’s benefits should follow the procedures outlined below:

  1. Apply for VA educational benefits at www.Vets.gov.

  2. Complete the Residency Determination Service (RDS) and obtain a Residency Certification Number (RCN) - curriculum students only.

  3. Submit an application for admissions (curriculum) or registration form (continuing education).

  4. Submit an official high school transcript or High School Equivalency Diploma scores to the Registrar’s Office. Official transcripts from all previous colleges attended and/or a Joint Services Transcript for college credit obtained while in the military are also required as determined by the VA School Certifying Official. Foreign transcripts must be translated and evaluated for course equivalencies by an approved educational evaluation service.

  5. Provide the VA School Certifying Official your Certificate of Eligibility and Form DD214.

Disabled veterans attending under Vocational Rehabilitation must have the approval of a VR&E counselor at the VA before payment of benefits may be authorized.

Members of the Selected Reserve and National Guard may be eligible under Chapter 1606 or 1607 to receive benefits while attending the College. Reservists must provide a notice of basic eligibility (N.O.B.E.) to the VA School Certifying Official. Information can be obtained by calling the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Regional Office at (888) 442-4551.

The Veterans office at Blue Ridge is located in the Sink Building on the Henderson County Campus in the Financial Aid Office. The VA School Certifying Official can be contacted at (828)694-1815 or finaid@blueridge.edu.

Certification of Veteran’s Benefits

Veterans must notify the VA School Certifying Official once they register each semester in order for benefits to be certified.

Veterans cannot charge against the VA to attend class (except Chapter 31 and Chapter 33 recipients). Students should be prepared to pay out-of-pocket to attend school. Chapter 31 and Chapter 33 students’ schedules will be held for a maximum of 90 days after certification has been submitted to allow adequate time for VA payment.

The typical processing time is 30-60 days once certification has been completed.

Interruption of Veteran’s Benefits Due to Unsatisfactory Progress

For the purpose of veteran’s assistance, students must meet the College’s academic standards of a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or above (see Catalog under Student Policies: Academic Probation and Satisfactory Academic Progress).

Failure to meet these academic standards will result in the student having a probation semester in which they will continue to receive their benefits. Failure to meet these academic standards for two successive semesters will require the student to consult with a counselor who will determine if additional actions will be required or if the suspension is warranted.

If the student is academically suspended, they will not be certified for subsequent terms until he/she meets the minimum grade point average requirement.

Student Receiving Veteran’s Benefits—Change of Status

Benefit recipients must immediately notify the VA School Certifying Official of any changes that may affect their payment status. Such changes include change of program, dropping or adding of classes, or taking a course as ‘credit by exam’. Benefit recipients must also notify the VA School Certifying Official of address and telephone number changes.