2016-2017 Academic Year
Sierra College's Financial Aid programs stem from a belief that student aid services should facilitate and foster the successful academic participation of financially needy students. As part of its commitment to help students have a positive college experience, the Financial Aid Office provides this information to help students better understand their relationship with financial aid.
State and federal regulations allow community colleges participating in financial aid programs discretion when establishing college-specific policies and procedures. This policy represents Sierra College’s current practices whenever state and federal regulations determine that policy decision making is the responsibility of the college.
The Financial Aid Office's goal is to provide students with the most current policy information affecting their financial aid while at Sierra College. Accordingly, as new state or federal regulations take effect or college practices evolve, this policy will be updated.
Sierra College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. You can obtain a copy of the report from the Sierra College Governance page.
2. Academic Year
Minimum Academic Year Definition
The academic programs at Sierra College are calculated in units and measured by semesters. Sierra College’s academic year is comprised of two 16-week semesters (fall and spring) and one 8-week summer session. This structure meets the federal minimum academic year definition (30 weeks of instruction minimum).
For financial aid purposes, the definition of an academic year is important because it affects how Sierra College calculates payment periods. Sierra College makes financial aid payments based on the college’s semester. A student’s financial aid is calculated by semester, rather than by weeks or classes attended.
To be considered full-time for financial aid for fall, spring and summer, students must be taking 12 or more units.
Sierra College offers an Associate in Arts degree (AA) and an Associate in Science degree (AS), both of which meet the minimum academic year definition. In addition, Sierra College offers certificate of achievement programs which also meet the minimum academic year definition.
3. Cost of Attendance
The cost of attendance (COA) refers to the average amount a full-time student can expect to spend while enrolled at Sierra College over a nine-month period. The cost will differ depending on a student’s housing status and residency: living independently off or on campus, living at home, being a California resident, or being a legal resident of another state.
Included in COA
The cost of attendance covers:
- Tuition and Fees
- Books and Supplies
- Room and Board
- Personal Expenses
Determination of Cost of Attendance
When available, Sierra College’s Financial Aid Office reviews the California Student Aid Commission’s most current Student Expenses and Resources Survey (SEARS). It is a broad survey of students’ budgets and expenses from UCs, CSUs, community colleges, independent, and private career institutions. If the survey is not from the current year, it is adjusted for inflation.
Each year California legislators establish the per-unit tuition at California’s community colleges. The average amount of units enrolled at Sierra College or full-time enrollment units is used along with information about health and transportation fees. This process sets the amount of tuition and fees while information from the SEARS is used to establish costs of books and supplies and personal expenses. Finally, Sierra College’s student budget information about room and board and transportation is used because of the close geographic proximity and shared residential areas. In this way, the Financial Aid Office establishes a reasonable cost of attendance.
The cost of attendance is subject to change depending on legislative activity. It sets the maximum amount of financial aid a student can receive for the year. It represents a modest budget by which a student can adequately live while attending Sierra College.
Estimated Cost of Attendance 2016-2017
|With Parents/No Dependents||Residence Halls||Off Campus||Less than ½ time Pell|
|With Parents/No Dependents||Residence Halls||Off Campus||Less than ½ time Pell|
4. Pell Grant Lifetime Maximum
Laws that govern federal financial aid establish lifetime maximums for Pell Grants. Students can only receive a Pell Grant for 6 years or 12 semesters at full-time enrollment. Sierra College defines full-time enrollment as 12 or more units. Students who enroll in less than full-time will have their lifetime eligibility adjusted (prorated) accordingly. You may monitor your lifetime eligibility by logging into the National Student Loan Database. This site will provide you with the Pell Lifetime Eligibility Used in percentages. The maximum you can use in a lifetime is 600%. This maximum is equivalent to 6 years of full-time eligibility. You must know your FAFSA ID (same ID you used to complete your FAFSA) to log in to the database.
Be aware, if you have reached your lifetime eligibility, and you did not earn all those units at Sierra College, you will be required to provide official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities for evaluation by Admission and Records before federal aid is processed on your behalf.
Students who have been awarded a Pell Grant before the start of the semester will also be awarded a Book Voucher to use in the campus bookstore. The charges from the purchase of any books and supplies will be applied to individual student accounts and deducted from the Pell Grant award before a refund is processed. Generally, a Book Voucher is awarded two weeks before the start of each semester. The Book Voucher process will close one week before the first term disbursement to reconcile accounts.
Students may opt out of using their Book Voucher by simply not using it. Should you decide not to use a Book Voucher, then no charges will be applied.
5. Ability to Benefit (ATB)
Funds Subject to ATB
Students who are admitted without a high school diploma or its equivalent will be ineligible for Title IV funds and therefore will need to seek alternative (state and/or private) financing.
Students who completed a home-schooling curriculum are considered to have received a high school diploma or its equivalent and remain eligible for Title IV (federal and state aid).
Students who were approved for aid under the ATB process before July 1, 2012, are eligible for federal and state financial aid.
Students who completed 6 or more college-level units as determined by the Assessment Office before July 1, 2012, are eligible for federal and state financial aid.
Students who were enrolled in any college before July 1, 2012, are eligible to take the ATB. You will need to provide proof of your enrollment, if enrollment was not at Sierra College, before we can determine if you are indeed eligible to take the ATB.
6. Packaging PolicyWhen a student applies for financial aid, the funds usually come from more than one source (federal, state, private, etc. ). This combination of financial resources is referred to as packaging. State programs are always subject to an approved state budget.
Available Financial Aid Sources
Every institution has the option of which kind of financial aid programs to offer to its students. Sierra College participates in the following financial aid programs:
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- Federal Work Study
- William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
- Board of Governor’s Fee Waiver Program (BOGFW)
- Cal Grant B and C
- Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) grants
Definition of Financial Need
Student financial aid is packaged (given financial aid from several of the programs for which a student is eligible) based on the student’s financial need. Financial need is determined by comparing a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to Sierra College’s Cost of Attendance (COA).
To meet with federal regulations, Sierra College defines the neediest students as those whose EFC = $0.
Resources Included in Award Packaging
Financial aid packages are awarded as follows:
- The BOGFW is awarded to those students who qualify for the program. Sierra College awards the amount listed in Sierra College’s Cost of Attendance (COA) for every eligible student even if the student is taking units which differ from the average enrollment information used to calculate the COA.
- The Pell Grant is awarded to students who meet the federal criteria. The amounts of the award vary as determined by the federal government.
- The FSEOG is first awarded to Pell Grant eligible students with EFC = $0 to help ensure that the neediest students receive these limited financial aid funds on a first-come, first served basis. FSEOG is very limited. Awards are provided to less than 500 students per semester.
- Federal work-study is awarded at the rate of or maximum of $2500 per semester ($5000 per academic year). This award is not packaged unless the student receives employment under this program. Once students are selected for employment, the terms and conditions of their employment are provided as part of their employment package.
These are the only programs that Sierra College includes as part of a student’s financial aid package.
Resources Not Included in Award Packaging
Sierra College’s financial aid packaging does not include loans (student or parent). Information about our loan program is provided on the web and further in this publication.
Because Sierra College is a two-year school, students are limited to federal sophomore amounts. For loan amount purposes, Sierra College considers units completed at Sierra College, unless transferable units from other institutions are reviewed and posted by Admissions and Records.
Sierra College does not include Federal Work Study (FWS) in the initial financial aid package. Eligible students are awarded FWS funds on a first-come, first-served basis. Sierra College receives a limited amount of FWS funds to award to eligible students.
Sierra College does not include CalWORKS employment in the initial financial aid package. Eligible students are awarded CalWORKS funds through the CalWORKS office, and then the information is communicated to the Financial Aid Office.
7. Verification Policy
Each year the US Department of Education designates financial aid recipients whose documentation must be verified. Sierra College verifies every file identified by the federal government as part of its own verification process. Financial aid recipients’ files are verified all year using a verification worksheet designed in part by US Department of Education and the Sierra College Financial Aid Office.
A dependent student is required to provide their parents/partner’s IRS Transcript, W2’s and copies of all Tax Schedules. An independent student is required to provide the student’s IRS Transcript, IRS Transcript of their W2’s, and copies of all Tax Schedules of the student and student’s spouse if the student is married.
Sierra College, when possible, will attempt to gather income information from the parents/partners of dependent students who reside out-of-the-country.
Sierra College uses a secondary verification process specific to the college. For example, the College verifies all students who answer yes to “Are you a ward of the court?” If a student is independent only because they answered yes to this question, then the College will require documentation to support this.
Eligibility Changes Resulting from Verification
If the verification process results in a change of a student’s financial aid eligibility, Sierra College repackages the student for financial aid based on their new eligibility status and notifies the student with an updated award letter via mySierra.
Corrections are made in the Financial Aid System and are sent to the Central Processing System (CPS) through EDConnect and/or TDClient. Students are notified that corrections have been processed through receipt of an acknowledgment form from CPS, and the student will receive a new Student Aid Report (SAR).
Unusual Enrollment History (UEH)
Beginning with the 2013-2014 award year, the U.S. Department of Education added an Unusual Enrollment History Flag that indicates a student has an unusual enrollment history based on the receipt of federal Pell Grant or loan funds from multiple schools. The flag addresses possible fraud and abuse in the federal student aid program. Often times students have a legitimate reason for enrollment at multiple schools over a short period. However, this type of history requires a review to determine if the reasons are valid.
If your FAFSA is flagged for an Unusual Enrollment History, we are required by the US Department of Education to use the information from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to identify the schools where you received Pell Grants or Direct Student Loans over the past four award years.
Sierra College Financial Aid staff must determine for each of the previously attended schools whether academic credit was earned during the award year in which a student received Pell Grant or loan funds. Academic credit is considered to have been earned if the academic records show that the student completed any units.
- If it is determined that a student earned academic credit at each of the previously attended schools during the relevant award years, no further action is required
- If it is determined that a student did not earn academic credit (failed or withdrew), Sierra College Financial Aid Office must:
- Obtain documentation from the student explaining why the student failed to earn academic credit and
- The student did not enroll only to receive credit balance
Justification must be documented and could include:
- Family emergency
- Change of residence
- Military obligations
- The student might explain that the first enrollment was at a school that presented unexpected academic challenges or
- The academic program did not meet the student’s needs, as determined by the student
The Financial Aid Appeals Committee will review and either approve or deny the student’s request for aid. If approved, students must establish an academic plan by following the procedure for a Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Reinstatement and submit a comprehensive Student Education Plan before aid is provided. Students will only be provided aid for those units reflected on the Comprehensive Student Education Plan. If a student’s Unusual Enrollment petition is denied, the student may regain eligibility by completing a semester successfully without financial aid. Success for this purpose is defined by completing all courses the student enrolled in with a 2.0 GPA.
Citation: Gen-13-09 and GEN -15-05
8. Eligibility Issues
Sierra College uses any acceptable documentation in the Federal Student Aid Handbook for US citizens or permanent residents.
If in the process of reviewing a student’s financial aid file Sierra College’s Financial Aid Office notices conflicting data, by law, the conflict must be resolved before awarding of financial aid can take place.
Resolving Conflicting Data
The process of resolving the conflicting data for the Financial Aid Office is:
- Send notification to students via mySierra
- Have a phone conversation with the student.
- Request agency certification
Sierra College will not award a student financial aid (which can include the Board of Governors Fee Waiver) until the student replies and the conflicting data is resolved. Additionally, if conflicting data turns up even after the first disbursement and refund to a student, the conflicting data must be resolved before additional disbursements and refunds can be made.
Resolving Student Aid Reports (SAR) Comments
The same process used for resolving the federal SAR comments is used to resolve the college-selected comments. Students are contacted through mySierra and asked to provide documentation or submit forms to the Financial Aid Office. This process can happen anytime during the year when a SAR comment is generated that needs to be resolved.
Monitoring Mid-Year Transfers
When awarding a student within the academic year, sometimes the Financial Aid Office determines that the student was not enrolled at Sierra College during the previous semester (i.e. awarding for spring and the student was not enrolled in fall). In this case, Sierra College checks the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to calculate what the student was paid in federal aid, also known as Title IV aid from any school they attended in the previous semester (Pell Grants, FSEOG, and loans), and determines if any of the student’s scheduled awards need to be changed. These adjustments are made manually to keep the student’s awards within the federal limits. On occasion, NSLDS will not be current, and the Financial Aid Office relies on the student and other schools to assist with this process.
Financial Aid Deadlines and Priority Dates
Sierra College publishes deadlines and priority dates for various programs in the Financial Aid Handbook, on the web, and other public postings.
Sierra College does not accept documents after a hard deadline has passed. If there are extenuating circumstances, the student should talk to a Financial Aid technician or specialist. A decision will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Financial Aid Program Manager.
10. Student Rights and Responsibilities
Students at Sierra College applying for and receiving financial aid have a right to the following:
- Information on all financial assistance available, which includes all federal, state, and institutional financial aid programs.
- Disclosure of application deadlines for each financial aid program and any supporting documentation.
- Specific information regarding fees, tuition, and the refund policy for those who drop out of school (withdraw).
- An explanation of how students are selected to receive financial aid and how financial need is determined. This process includes a consideration of costs of tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, personal and miscellaneous expenses, etc., plus the student’s income and assets, parental contribution, other financial aid (such as scholarships) and so on.
- Knowledge of what resources are considered in the calculation of student need.
- Knowledge of how a financial aid package is determined.
- An explanation of various programs awarded in the student’s financial aid package. If a student feels unfairly treated, a reconsideration of the award may be requested.
- If a return of Federal funds (Title IV funds) needs to be calculated, the student has the right to know the portion of financial aid the student received that must be repaid.
- If a return of Federal funds (Title IV funds) needs to be calculated for a loan, the student has the right to know what the interest rate is, the total amount to be repaid if any, when repayment begins, and the conditions of deferment and cancellation.
- Knowledge of how Sierra College determines whether students are making “satisfactory academic progress” and the consequences of not meeting this requirement.
- A student has the right to challenge or appeal a financial aid award or any other decision of the Financial Aid Office pertaining to the student, which does not fall under the jurisdiction of federal or state regulations. The right includes answers to questions, explanations of policies and decisions, and requests for reconsideration.
Students at Sierra College applying for and receiving financial aid are responsible for the following:
- Reviewing and considering all information about Sierra College’s academic programs before enrolling.
- Completing all the application forms accurately and completely and submitting them to the right place on time. If this is not done, financial aid could be delayed. Since errors can cause misunderstanding and misrepresentation of information provided, errors must be corrected before any financial aid can be received. Intentional misreporting of information on application forms for federal financial aid is a violation of the law and is considered a criminal offense subject to penalties under the U.S. Criminal Code, and subjects the student’s application to denial. Additionally, regulations require that all cases of suspected fraud emanating from misrepresentation, be reported to the Office of the Inspector General.
- Promptly return all additional documentation, verification, corrections and/or new information requested by either the Financial Aid Office or the agency or agencies to which an application was submitted.
- Reading and understanding all forms that the student is asked to sign.
- Notifying the agency holding the student’s federal loan (The U.S. Department of Education, etc.) of any changes in the student’s name, address or school enrollment status.
- Performing the work that is agreed upon in accepting a college work-study award.
- Knowing and complying with the deadlines for application or reapplication for aid.
- Knowing and complying with the Sierra College Federal Aid Refund Policy.
- Repaying financial aid funds if it is determined that the student was ineligible to receive the funds.
11. Board of Governors Fee Waiver (BOGFW)
The Board of Governors Fee Waiver Program (BOGFW) is available to any California resident or any student determined by Admission and Records to be an AB 540 student who meets the financial eligibility requirements or qualifies through another program. California state law about the BOGFW allows community colleges discretion in certain areas. These are Sierra College’s practices with regards to the BOGFW policies outlined in the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office Board of Governors Fee Waiver Program.
For all BOG methods, Sierra College requires proof of income. Students must submit a copy of their IRS Tax Transcript when submitting their paper BOG application. If eligibility was awarded using FAFSA and you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, then we would not require a paper copy of the IRS Tax Transcript.
- Sierra College’s Financial Aid Office considers the summer session a “trailer” for the academic year. If a student applies for a BOGFW for the summer session of 2015, the student is applying for financial aid for the 2015-2016 academic year, not the 2016-2017 academic year.
- If a student wants to qualify for the BOG fee waiver under Method A, the student must submit the BOGFW application with the appropriate supporting documentation. Sierra College does not provide any other supplemental form for use with the FAFSA for BOGFW Method A eligibility.
- If Sierra College admits a student without a social security number, the student may receive a BOGFW fee waiver as long as they are a California resident or an AB 540 eligible student and otherwise qualify for the program.
- A student who fails to register with selective service in accordance with the law (50 USC App 451 et seq.) may still receive a BOGFW fee waiver at Sierra College as long as they otherwise qualify for the program.
- If a student signs the BOGFW application and reports a registered domestic partnership, Sierra College does not require additional documentation to verify the student’s status.
- If a student is independent under the BOGFW application criteria, Sierra College accepts the information on the signed application along with income documentation such as an IRS Tax Transcript.
- A dependent student is eligible for Part A if the parent(s) or registered domestic partner required to complete the FAFSA receive the public benefits listed below at the time of enrollment, or if the dependent student receives the public benefits listed below at the time of enrollment.
In order to qualify under Method A for the BOGFW, Sierra College accepts the following documentation:
- TANF: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). The monthly cash grant must include the dependent student or be the sole source of income for the family. Students/families receiving food stamps or CalWORKs services but no TANF cash grant are eligible under Part A.
- SSI/SSP: Governmental eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/State Supplemental Program (SSP) is “need-based.” The benefits must include the dependent student or be the primary source of income for the family. Other associated public benefits such as Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and regular Social Security retirement benefits do not qualify under Part A. These public benefits are not necessarily “need-based.”
- General Assistance (GA) – The receipt of General Assistance qualifies the student for a BOGFW. In some counties, additional aid may be available that may come “under the umbrella” of General Assistance. If questions arise, contact your local Department of Public Assistance for a determination of whether that aid can be considered as General Assistance. Again, food stamp eligibility alone is not sufficient to qualify for Part A.
- If a student requests an adjustment be made to the student’s/family’s income for Method B of the BOGFW, then the student must submit a FAFSA and request a Special Condition consideration. Professional judgment is not used by Sierra College for the BOGFW application alone. Any consideration will be in the context of a broader determination of a student's eligibility for all types of financial assistance as provided for in Section 4 of the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office Board of Governors Fee Waiver Program.
- If a student does not qualify for Method A or B and wishes to qualify under Method C, then a valid FAFSA must be processed. If the FAFSA has been selected for verification, the BOG C will be awarded, unless the FAFSA is rejected by the federal processor. If after verification is completed, it is discovered that the student is not eligible, then the BOG C will be removed and the student will be responsible for all fees. Students must have $1,104 of unmet need as determined by FAFSA to be eligible for this award.
- Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations requires documentation of those who are eligible for the BOGFW program under Method B.
- The BOGFW is considered an award in the package of financial aid to cover the enrollment fees as assessed per the California Code of Education. The amount listed by Sierra College is currently $667.00 per semester for eligible students. However this could change if the fees are increased by legislative action.
For students who qualify under Method A, the health fee is covered by the BOGFW. For Method B and C, the health fee is not covered. For Method A, B & C, 50% of the parking fee is also covered.
- Students must provide documentation demonstrating eligibility for the Dependents of Law Enforcement or Fire Suppression Personnel Fee Waiver. Sierra College requires a letter from the appropriate public agency indicating that the student is the surviving spouse, registered domestic partner or the child, natural or adopted, of a deceased person who met all of the requirements of Education Code Section 68120 (5.6.1). A new authorization must be provided each year. Sierra College will not go back for previous years should a determination be made by the granting agency of prior year eligibility.
The letter must be on agency letterhead and indicate for the deceased person, that:
- He or she was a resident of California;
- He or she was employed by a public agency;
- His or her principal duties consisted of active law enforcement service or active fire suppression and prevention;
- He or she was killed in the performance of active law enforcement or active fire suppression and prevention duties.
- Sierra College establishes all students’ eligibility for the BOGFW program the day the student’s application is complete unless conflicting or incomplete information is provided. The last day to establish eligibility for the BOGFW for the fall, spring, and summer semesters is June 30th of the current academic year.
- Sierra College will reimburse students for fees if the student establishes BOGFW eligibility after having paid the fees. Students have until June 30th of the current academic year to establish eligibility for reimbursement for fall, spring and summer fees.
If Sierra College determines that a student is eligible for the BOGFW program at the time of application, and we later discover that they are ineligible, we will pursue the repayment of fees.
Effective Fall 2016, California community college students receiving the BOGFW must meet minimum academic and progress standards to remain eligible for the BOGFW.
- Maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0
- Successfully complete at least 50% of all units attempted
If a student is placed on academic or progress probation for two consecutive primary terms, they will lose eligibility for the BOG Fee Waiver and enrollment priority if their GPA falls below cumulative 2.0 for two consecutive primary terms.
12. Satisfactory Academic Progress
Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress
Federal regulations require that all financial aid recipients make satisfactory academic progress and remain in good academic standing. At Sierra College, financial aid academic progress is reviewed at the end of each semester. In addition, students who do not complete any units in the semester will be terminated from financial aid as soon as grades or withdrawals are available. Prior to each disbursement, Sierra College will review the qualitative standard (grade point average or GPA) and quantitative standard (pace).
A student who completes the academic requirements for a program but does not yet have the degree or certificate is not eligible for further additional financial aid without an approved petition. This is discussed later in this section.
Determining Enrollment Status:
Prior to each financial aid disbursement, the Financial Aid Office will verify the number of units a student is enrolled in. For fall 2016, you must be in all units by September 6, 2016. For spring 2016, you must be in all units by February 7, 2017. For purposes of the federal satisfactory academic progress, units attempted mean the number of units the student is enrolled in at the time of disbursement for the semester.
In determining whether or not a student is making satisfactory academic progress, the student’s enrollment status is defined as the number of units the student was enrolled in at the time of the final disbursement for the semester.
To be considered full time in fall, spring and summer, a student must be enrolled in 12 or more units.
If the student is enrolled in 9 to 11.5 units for the semester, the student is considered to be ¾ time.
If the student is enrolled in 6 to 8.5 units for the semester, the student is considered to be ½ time.
If the student is enrolled in .5 to 5.5 units for the semester, the student is considered to be less than half-time. The cost of attendance will be adjusted and the student is responsible to complete all units in which he’s enrolled.
Completed units means that credit was received for the enrolled units. Classes in which a student receives a grade of “F”, “I”, “NP”,”IP”, “MW”, or “W” will not be counted as completed classes for satisfactory academic progress, but will be counted as units attempted.
To be considered making satisfactory progress toward the educational goal, students must complete the minimum number of units required for their enrollment status (75% of all enrolled courses also referred to as making PACE) with a 2.0 GPA or higher at the conclusion of each semester, as indicated below.
In all enrollment categories, the student is expected to maintain a 2.0 (C average) cumulative grade point average (GPA).
ENROLLMENT STATUS UNIT COMPLETION REQUIREMENT (PACE) Full-time (12 + units/semester) 9 units ¾ time (9 to 11.5/semester) 8 units ½ time (6 to 8.5 units/semester) 6 units Less than ½ time (0.5 to 5.5 units/semester) all enrolled units
Units earned from credit by examination are not counted for financial aid purposes.
In the determination of enrollment status, it is permissible for a student to count units being taken concurrently at another college. A consortium agreement must be made between the two schools with one school designated as the primary school (from which the student receives financial aid) and the other school as the secondary school. Sierra College would enter into such an agreement if the other school is the primary school. On rare occasions, Sierra College will participate in a consortium agreement only as the primary school.
Because units taken at a proprietary school generally will not transfer, Sierra College will not enter into a consortium agreement with proprietary schools.
Maximum Time Length and Maximum Unit Limitations:
Federal regulations allow students to receive aid for 150% of the published length of an undergraduate program. Sierra College publishes in its catalog that students can earn an AA Degree by completing 60 credits. Students at Sierra College, therefore, may receive aid for a maximum of 90 credit hours (60 credit hours X 150%=90 credit hours). Once a student has attempted 90 credit hours at Sierra College (including accepted transfer credits), she/he is no longer eligible to receive financial aid. This same rule will be applied to students who are enrolled in eligible certificate programs. (Length of certificate program x 150% = maximum credits a student can take and receive aid).
A student may receive financial aid until a total of 90 units have been attempted, regardless of how much aid has been received. Up to 30 units of remedial coursework will be deducted. A student who has been terminated from financial aid due to attempting over 90-units may appeal to the Financial Aid Advisory Committee (FAAC), provided the student is eligible to enroll at Sierra College.
All ESL units are treated as remedial coursework and used when calculating total units attempted towards the maximum time length and maximum unit limitations.
Once a student receives a Maximum Unit approved Appeal, they may not change their degree program and continue to receive financial aid. Students will only be allowed to receive aid for those courses reflected on their original Student Education Plan (SEP). Once a student receives an approved Maximum Unit Appeal, courses will be reviewed prior to each payment to ensure that the student is only paid for courses that are on the approved Student Education Plan (SEP). Students will not be required to submit a new Maximum Unit Appeal each semester.
The Financial Aid Office will not review Maximum Unit Appeals until after the add/drop period of each semester. The FAAC may take up to 4 weeks to review a students appeal. Exception to this is if a student signs a Maximum Unit Registration Hold Form, available on the web.
Repeated Course Work:
Effective July 1, 2011, per federal regulations, repeated coursework that falls under the following conditions cannot be included in a student's enrollment status for Title IV Federal Aid eligibility, including the Federal Pell Grant and Federal Stafford Loans:
- Repeating a previously passed course more than twice. A course is considered passed if the student receives a grade of D or better.
- Repeating a previously passed course due to failing other coursework.
- Repeated enrollment that is not aid eligible will be excluded from the student's enrollment status for the term.
- Federal Title IV aid will be recalculated based on the student's adjusted enrollment status.
- This recalculation will be applied regardless of whether a student received aid for previous course enrollments.
- Some courses are repeatable per Sierra College policy but are still restricted for Federal Title IV aid by these regulations.
- Waitlisted courses do not count toward official enrollment status for financial aid purposes.
A student is repeating a previously passed three credit hour course for the third time. The student is enrolled in a total of twelve credit hours for the term. Per federal regulations, the repeated course must be excluded from the student's Title IV enrollment status. Only nine of the student's twelve hours can be used to calculate his Title IV aid eligibility. The student's Federal Pell Grant will be reduced to reflect three quarter time instead of full-time enrollment.
Remedial (including ESL) Course Work:
Sierra College remedial and ESL courses are considered the same as credit courses for tuition, for full-time academic standing and for SAP. Credits for remedial and ESL course work are included in the calculation of the 75% completion requirement.
It is the student’s responsibility to request transcripts from previously attended institutions if the student chooses to apply any of those units toward the current educational objective. Upon the student’s request, transcripts from colleges accredited by one of the regional accrediting associations will be evaluated for use toward the student’s current educational objective. All units applicable toward the current education objective will be counted when calculating the maximum time frame for financial aid. By federal regulation, all units attempted, although earned before the student was receiving financial aid, will be considered toward the maximum time frame.
Students who are disqualified due to CUM GPA may be reconsidered for aid once they have raised their CUM GPA above a 2.0. It will be the responsibility of the student to submit a new Reinstatement Petition.
NOTE: Request for Reinstatement Petitions and Maximum Unit Appeals will not be accepted past June 30th of the current year.
Good: A student is considered in good standing if they complete at least 75% of all units enrolled and earned a 2.0 GPA for the semester.
Warning: A student will be put into warning status if they fall below the 75% completion rate for the semester, but complete at least .5 units. A student will be removed from warning at the end of the next semester if they complete at least 75% of their units with a 2.0 GPA.
Termination: A student is terminated if they complete zero units or if they were on warning from a previous semester and then completed less than 75% of the courses for which aid was provided or their cumulative GPA was less than 2.0.
Probation: A student is placed on probation if they receive an approved Reinstatement Petition or Max Unit Appeal. A student may continue on probation if their CUM GPA is below a 2.0 but their term GPA is above a 2.0. This is considered making progress (PACE) term-by-term. A student may be removed from probation if they complete at least 75% of their units and achieve a CUM GPA of 2.0.
If a student’s Maximum Unit Appeal is approved, they will be placed on probation for each term they are in attendance thereafter. Should a student fail to complete at least 75% of their units or achieve a semester GPA of 2.0 or higher, they will be terminated from financial aid and must then submit a Reinstatement Petition for consideration.
75% Completion rate (PACE): Students must pass at least 75% of their course work each semester.
NOTE: Students who are dismissed from the College are not able to receive financial aid. Refer to the Probation, Dismissal and Readmission section of your catalog.
NOTE: Pell Grants have a lifetime maximum of 18 semesters (6 years) at full-time attendance. Anything less than full-time and your Pell Grant will be prorated.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Grid Enrolled Units Completed Units with a 2.0 GPA SAP Standing Full-time Status 12 9 Good 12 1 - 8.5 Warning 12 0 Terminated 3/4 Time Status 9 - 11.5 8 Good 9 - 11.5 0.5 - 7.5 Warning 9 - 11.5 0 Terminated 1/2 Time Status 6 - 8.5 6 Good 6 - 8.5 0.5 - 5.5 Warning 6 - 8.5 0 Terminated Less than 1/2 Time 0.5 - 5.5 Must complete all units enrolled Good 0.5 - 5.5 0 Terminated
Financial Aid Termination:
Students who have exceeded their maximum time frame (90 attempted units), have not completed the required number of units, or have a cumulative grade point average less than 2.0, will be terminated from financial aid. Students who have been terminated because of insufficient units completed or a grade point average deficiency will not receive further financial aid until they have filed and received an approved Reinstatement Petition.
Any student who has been terminated from financial aid may submit a written appeal to the Financial Aid Advisory Committee (FAAC). Each appeal will be reviewed and approved or denied based on the student’s individual circumstances and his or her proposed course of action. The decision can take as long as 6 weeks before a student would receive notification. If the appeal is approved, financial aid may only be provided for those courses listed on the Student Education Plan. If the written appeal is denied, the student may appeal that decision in writing to the Financial Aid Program Manager. This decision of the Financial Aid Program Manager is final.
A student who has reached the maximum time frame of 90 units attempted may submit a written appeal to the Financial Aid Advisory Committee. If approved for additional financial aid, the student will be given a specific length of time to complete his or her goal. If the student is dissatisfied with the decision of the Committee, he or she may make a written appeal to the Financial Aid Advisory Committee. The Financial Aid Committee will not review Maximum Unit Appeals until after the add/drop period of any semester.
Students who are on a Maximum Unit Appeal may not change their major and expect to receive additional financial aid. Once a student has been placed on an approved Maximum Unit Appeal, we will only use the Student Education Plan provided for the original Maximum Unit Appeal. Once a student receives an approved Maximum Unit Appeal, their courses will be reviewed prior to each payment to ensure that they are only paid for courses that are on their Student Education Plan. Students will not be required to submit a new Maximum Unit Appeal each semester.
Students may only receive two approved Reinstatement Petitions while at Sierra College. To regain eligibility a student must meet PACE.
Students who are accepted into and attending the Nursing Program will not need to submit a Maximum 90 Unit Appeal. It will be granted automatically until the student either graduates from the Nursing Program or is no longer accepted in the program.
NOTE: Request for Reinstatement Petitions and Maximum Unit Appeals will not be accepted past June 30th of the current year.
A student who attempts to obtain financial aid by fraud will be referred to the Dean of Students for disciplinary action and suspended from financial aid for unsatisfactory conduct. The College will report such instances to local law enforcement agencies, to the California Student Aid Commission and/or to the Federal Government, Office of Inspector General. Restitution of any financial aid received in such a manner will be required. Committing fraud is considered prohibited conduct under the Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. All students are held accountable for the content of this handbook.
13. Return to Title IV (Receiving Federal Funds and Withdrawing)
Return to Title IV
Federal financial aid (“Title IV funds”) is awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student withdraws, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds that the student was originally scheduled to receive.
If a recipient of Title IV grant or loan funds withdraws from Sierra College after beginning attendance, the amount of Title IV grant or loan assistance earned by the student must be determined. If the amount disbursed to the student is greater than the amount the student earned, unearned funds must be returned. If the student receives less Federal Student Aid than the amount earned, in rare cases, Sierra College offers a disbursement of the earned aid that was not received. This is called a Post-withdrawal disbursement.
The withdrawal date established by Sierra College is the date used by the Financial Aid Office to determine the point in time that the student is considered to have withdrawn so the percentage of the payment period or period of enrollment completed by the student can be determined. The percentage of Title IV aid earned is equal to the percentage of the payment period or period of enrollment completed.
Process for Calculation of Amount of Title IV aid earned by student
The amount of Title IV aid earned by the student is determined by multiplying the percentage of Title IV aid earned by the total of Title IV program aid disbursed plus the Title IV aid that could have been disbursed to the student or on the student’s behalf.
If the day the student withdrew occurs when or before the student completed 60% of the payment period or period of enrollment, the percentage earned is equal to the percentage of the payment period or period of enrollment that was completed. If the day the student withdrew occurs after the student has completed more than 60% of the payment period or period of enrollment, the percentage earned is 100%. When a student fails to earn a passing grade in any of their classes, Sierra College must assume, for Title IV purposes that the student has unofficially withdrawn, unless Sierra College can document that the student completed the period.
If the student receives less Federal Student Aid than the amount earned, Sierra College offers a disbursement of the earned aid that was not received. This is called a Post-withdrawal disbursement. Without obtaining a student’s permission, Title IV grant funds from a Post-withdrawal disbursement are credited to a student’s account to pay for tuition and fees for the term for which the student is eligible for a Post-Withdrawal disbursement or are disbursed directly to the student.
Title IV aid to be returned: Sierra College and student
If the student receives more Federal Student Aid than the amount earned, Sierra College, the student, or both must return the unearned funds in a specified order as follows:
- Unsubsidized Direct Stafford loans (other than PLUS loans).
- Subsidized Direct Stafford loans.
- Direct PLUS loans.
- Federal Pell Grants for which a return of funds is required.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) for which a return of funds is required.
When a Return of Title IV funds is due, Sierra College and the student may both have a responsibility for returning funds. Funds that are not the responsibility of Sierra College to return must be returned by the student. Sierra College exercises its option to collect from the student any funds Sierra College is obligated to return, and funds required for Sierra College to return will become a debt on the student’s account which the student will be responsible for paying. This charge is not reported to the Department of Education and simply remains as a debt on the student’s account with Sierra College.
Within 30 days of determining that a student who withdrew must repay all or part of a Title IV grant, Sierra College will notify the student that he or she must repay the overpayment. In its notification Sierra College will inform the student that the student owes an overpayment of Title IV funds, that the student’s eligibility for additional Title IV funds will end if the student fails to pay Sierra College by the 45th day following the date Sierra College sent notification to the student, and that if the student fails to pay Sierra College during the 45-day period, the student’s overpayment must be reported to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and referred to the Debt Resolution Services for collection.
Federal regulations for financial aid require that students who withdraw from all their classes before the 60% point of the semester must return part of their financial aid funds to the U.S. Department of Education because the money is unearned if a student is not enrolled in classes.
Withdrawing from classes can happen in two ways. Sierra College students can withdraw on their own, and instructors also have the choice of dropping a student who does not attend class. (Some instructors choose not to drop students even if they do not attend class.)
The Admissions Office publishes the withdrawal date for each semester as part of the school calendar. The Financial Aid Office will determine the amount of federal financial aid (Pell Grant, FSEOG, Federal Student Loans, and Parent Plus Loans) that a student earned as of the withdrawal date using federally approved methods to perform the calculations. The order in which Title IV program funds will be returned will follow the federal regulations as outlined in the Federal Student Aid Handbook.
Students will be notified by mail if they are required to repay any portion of the financial aid they received. Students are given 45 days to repay the amount to Sierra College. After 45 days, the student will owe either Sierra College for the institutional portion or the U.S. Department of Education directly.
Students who owe money to the U.S. Department of Education are ineligible to receive federal financial aid from any college or institution until they clear that debt.
Students will become eligible for federal financial aid only after they have repaid the full amount or made arrangements directly with the U.S. Department of Education. Sierra College does not make repayment agreements directly with students other than allowing students 45 days to repay the full amount owed.
Students who owe a repayment to the College will be allowed to pay the college directly. Any outstanding debt will block a student’s ability to enroll in courses and the College sends any unpaid debt to collections.
If a student receives an “F” in a course, the instructor will annotate the last date of attendance on the grade sheet and/or indicate that the “F” was an earned grade. If it is discovered that the “F” was due to withdrawal, then Sierra College will calculate the return of aid as necessary.
14. Financial Aid Resources Available
Sierra College makes several financial aid resources available to its students including state, federal, and local funds. Some funds are need-based, meaning the funds go to the most financially needy students who qualify first. There are also non-need-based funds which are available to any students who qualify for the programs regardless of their income or that of their parents.
Need-based programs include Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), subsidized student loans, work-study, Board of Governor’s Fee Waiver Program (BOGW), Cal Grant, and some scholarships.
Non-need-based programs include unsubsidized student loans, parent loans, and some scholarships.
Students who would like to be considered for financial aid must apply using either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the BOGFW. Both forms can be found on the Financial Aid Office’s website or by following the hyperlink above. Some financial aid resources require a student to submit additional application materials; scholarships, for example, might have a completely separate form to submit to the funding agency. The Financial Aid Office is not responsible for the application process of outside resources like non-Sierra College scholarships, although all students are encouraged to apply for scholarships that might contribute to their financial resources while attending college.
Financial aid may be used for Sierra Colleges study abroad program.
15. How and When Financial Aid Will be Disbursed and Refunded
All financial aid is disbursed to students through the Bursar’s Office. Financial aid funds will first reduce any debt students owe Sierra College. Any remaining balance (refund) will go directly to the students by the disbursement method selected by the student (Debit Card, direct deposit, or paper check). Debit Cards and checks will be mailed to the mailing address on file with Admission and Records.
The first disbursement of financial aid (grants, federal student loans, and scholarships) to eligible students will be the week following the add/drop period of each semester. For fall and spring, this will be the end of the third week of the semester. For students who apply or complete their files after the third week, financial aid is usually ordered once a week. Orders are done early Monday morning and direct deposit is usually completed by Friday evening of that week. New debit cards and paper checks will take longer since they must be mailed to the students.
Pell Grants must be paid at the level of units you are enrolled in at the end of the majority add/drop period for the semester. Check the academic calendar for the exact date for fall and spring. If you add a class after the majority add/drop deadline, you cannot be paid Pell or Direct Student Loans for the additional units.
Federal Direct Student Loans are issued in two disbursements. If your loan covers fall and spring, your second disbursement will be available the third week of the Spring Semester as long as you are eligible and are enrolled in 6 or more units. If your loan covers only one semester, your second disbursement will be available after the withdraw deadline has passed as long as you are still enrolled in 6 or more units. Check the academic calendar for the withdraw deadline.
If you are a first-time, first-year borrower, Federal regulations require that you wait until 30 days after the semester has begun to receive your first disbursement. For information about the second disbursement, read the previous paragraph.
Scholarships are issued in two disbursements – half for Fall and half for Spring.
Sierra College no longer participates in private loans.
To review Sierra Colleges Cohort Default Rate, please navigate to the following url:
Our school code (OPE ID) is 001290
16. Consumer Information
As a service to students and in order to comply with federal regulations, several campus offices coordinate and track consumer information.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Resources
Sierra College’s Health Services Clinic provides alcohol and drug abuse resources. This includes educational programming, peer health education programs, resources and counseling, as well as referrals to community service agency counseling and rehabilitation programs.
Student Right to Know Act
Admissions and Records coordinates disseminating the information for the Student Right to Know Act based on data obtained from Institutional Research. In accordance with the Student Right to Know Act, Sierra College includes information regarding completion, graduation, and applicable transfer out rates. This information is maintained at the Chancellor’s California Community Data Mart.
Campus Security Report
Campus Security prepares the annual security report and posts the results on their web pages. In addition to the annual report, you will find an updated Incident Report that reports larceny-theft, simple assault, intimidation and vandalism.
Whistleblower Protection and Anti-Retaliation Law– nothing in the law shall be construed to permit an institution to take retaliatory action against anyone with respect to the implementation of any provision of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act
The Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act is prepared by the Athletics Department. The college is required to provide disclosure of athletic program participation rates and financial support data as part of the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA).
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 ensure students certain rights with respect to their educational records. They are:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s educational records within 15 days of the day the college receives a request for access.
- The right to request the amendment of the student’s educational records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s educational records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Sierra College to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
Each time staff gives information about a student to anyone, staff must:
- Have a record of the request for access and each disclosure of student information.
- Make sure the record identifies the parties who requested the information and their basis for such request.
- Make sure the record disclosures must remain in the file for as long as the educational records are maintained.
For additional information, visit Privacy Notifications.
The Financial Aid Office will allow students to complete a FERPA request to keep on file for the 2016-2017 academic year to speak with your relative on your behalf as it relates to financial aid only. This this access be abused by the relative, the privilege will be revoked by the Financial Aid Program Manager.
17. Loan Policy
Each educational institution decides which loan programs it will make available to its students. Sierra College offers a variety of loans to students who qualify. However, Sierra College will not process any request for loans without the student first completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We wish to make sure that students first qualify for grants before loans are processed.
Sierra College does not participate in private loans.
Sierra College is a low-cost community college that grants certificates, two-year associate degrees, and prepares students for transfer to four-year universities for bachelor’s degrees. Students who default on their student loans affect Sierra College’s ability to participate in the financial aid programs once the institution’s default rate reaches certain levels. Sierra College will suspend processing loans if a student’s debt reaches $22,000 until they complete a new Student Education Plan and the LoanWise test. Students should not use all their loan eligibility at a two-year school. It’s important to have some eligibility left for use at a 4-year college so academic goals can be reached. Visit the LoanWise requirements for more information.
Sierra College participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program (Direct Loans) which is one of the Federal Title IV Programs.
It is the philosophy of the Financial Aid Program at Sierra College that loans should be taken out as the last alternative for financing a student's education. It is also recognized that in many cases, a student loan may be the only viable alternative for meeting educational expenses.
Direct Loan Packaging Policy
A statement will be included on the Financial Aid Award Notification through mySierra indicating that the student may be eligible for student loans and those wanting more information are instructed to contact the Financial Aid Office or review the process on the Financial Aid website.
First-year students who have unmet need after all other financial aid has been awarded, may borrow a subsidized Direct Loan up to the amount of their unmet need or $3,500, whichever is less. Second-year students may borrow a subsidized Direct Loan up to the amount of their unmet need, or $4,500, whichever is less. Sierra College identifies a first-year student as one who has completed less than twenty-four units toward his or her current educational program and a second-year student as one who has completed 24 or more units toward the current educational program.
NOTE: Sierra College does not adjust loan amounts for students who advance to the 2nd-year level during the academic year.
Also, loan amounts must be prorated for students with only one semester remaining to complete the requirements of the educational program. Prorating also applies to a student who has a one semester extension of financial aid eligibility approved. This means that if you have loan eligibility for the academic year of $5,500.00, we will only process half of this amount for the one semester loan.
Students who do not have sufficient “unmet need” to borrow the annual maximum from the subsidized Direct Loan may replace the expected family contribution with an unsubsidized Direct Loan. Students who have no “unmet need” may borrow up to the annual loan limits from the unsubsidized Direct Loan. Such students will be sent an email through their mySierra student account, explaining that they have no calculated need and informing them of the availability of the unsubsidized Direct Loan. Dependent students may apply for up to $2,000 in additional unsubsidized loans. Independent students may apply for up to $6,000 in additional unsubsidized loans.
Application Procedure and Disbursements
Students who have not previously borrowed a Direct Loan must complete the Direct Loan Entrance Counseling session online or in-person starting Spring 2016. Each session will cover those topics specified by federal regulation including borrower rights and responsibilities, repayment options, and consolidation issues. Students may access the Direct Loan Entrance Counseling session here. Students must have completed a FAFSA before a Direct Loan Application will be accepted.
Students receiving Direct Loans for both fall 2016 and spring 2017 will receive one-half of the loan proceeds in the fall semester and the other half during the spring semester. The second disbursement will occur only after the fall grades have been reviewed. Direct loans for first-year borrowers (defined as anyone who has not previously had a Direct Student Loan) will be disbursed at least thirty days after the semester begins. All Direct Loan proceeds will be disbursed using the disbursement options described previously.
The aggregate loan limits for undergraduate dependent students are $31,000 (no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized) and the aggregate loan limits for undergraduate independent students are $57,500 (no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized).
Sierra College defines the loan period based on the semester a student requests the loan. The loan period can either be an academic year (fall and spring semesters) or a single semester (fall, spring or summer). If a student receives loans from another school within the same loan period, then we must consider all loans received and certify only the remaining loan eligibility.
Every student loan borrower is required to complete an exit interview at the conclusion of their academic stay with Sierra College or when they stop attending less than half time. Students will be required to complete the exit counseling on-line.
Sierra College is required to document students on-line entrance interviews and exit interviews to demonstrate that Sierra College has complied with the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements.
New Federal Change for Loan Borrowers “150 Percent Change”
Effective for all loans originated after July 1, 2013, Federal Law now limits eligibility for subsidized loans to 150 percent of the length of the student’s academic program. The 150 percent change means students in a two-year program will be eligible for subsidized student loans for the equivalent of three years. The student who reaches this limitation could continue to receive unsubsidized Stafford loans if he or she is otherwise eligible (for example, has not run afoul of the school’s satisfactory academic progress requirements).
The new limitation affects new borrowers on or after July 1, 2013. Since only periods for which the student received subsidized loans appear to count, the 150 percent limit would only include periods of borrowing that began on or after July 1, 2013. For transfer students who were enrolled in more than one educational program that began on or after July 1, 2013, the limitation would be calculated by taking the difference between 150 percent of the published program length of the longest educational program in which the borrower was enrolled and any periods of enrollment in which the borrower received a subsidized Stafford loan.
Once a borrower has reached the 150 percent limitation, his or her eligibility for an interest subsidy also ends for all outstanding subsidized loans that were disbursed on or after July 1, 2013. At that point, interest on those previously borrowed loans would begin to accrue and would be payable in the same manner as interest on unsubsidized loans.
18. Professional Judgment
In cases of extenuating circumstances affecting a student’s financial eligibility, the student or the student’s parent can request special consideration by submitting the Special Conditions Appeal form. The forms can be obtained from the Financial Aid Office or by downloading it from the financial aid website. We will not consider any form of Professional Judgment after June 30th of the current year.
A student or a student’s parent should consider requesting review of the student’s eligibility if either student or parent experience:
- Loss of employment
- Lost of income due to retirement
- Loss of income due to divorce or legal separation
- Loss of income due to death of a spouse or parent
- Loss of untaxed income or benefits
- One-time income (winnings from gambling will not be considered)
- Loss or hardship due to disability or natural disaster.
- Discharge from active military duty
The documentation required in each case is listed on the Special Conditions Appeal form. Consideration for a Special Condition will not be reviewed if submitted after June 30th.
A dependent student can request to have his dependency reviewed by submitting a Dependency Override Request form. The form is available from the Financial Aid Office or by downloading it from the financial aid website. The required documentation is listed on the Dependency Override Request form.
Issues of professional judgment are reviewed by the Financial Aid Manager for final determination. Requests for a Dependency Override will not be reviewed if submitted after June 30th.
19. Cal Grant Policy
Cal Grants are awarded by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). There are three different Cal Grants.
Cal Grant A is awarded to students who will be attending one of the 4-year colleges or universities in California based on financial need and GPA. If a student is selected for a possible Cal Grant A while attending Sierra College, that award will be held on reserve until the student transfers to a 4-year college or university.
The Cal Grant B Program is intended to help students from low-income families. At Sierra College, Cal Grant B awards are a maximum of $1,666 per academic year for students enrolled in 12 or more units. The award is less for students enrolled in 6 to 11.5 units.
The Cal Grant C Program is for students in vocational/technical programs only and may not be used to pursue a four-year degree. The Cal Grant C is a maximum of $547 per academic year at a community college for students enrolled in 12 or more units. The award is less for students enrolled in 6 to 11.5 units.
Each category of Cal Grants may be renewed but each has a different renewable policy:
- Cal Grant C is for a maximum of 2 years
- Cal Grant B is determined by CSAC based on where the student is in their college career at the time of the Cal Grant award.
- Can be awarded for 1 to 4 years.
- The number of years depends on how many units a student takes per semester.
- Example: A student taking 6 units for fall and spring will extend the years of eligibility because they end up using only 50% of their eligibility per year if they are half-time.
Cal Grants are automatically renewed until eligibility is exhausted or the student is no longer eligible based on the results of a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), enrollment status, etc.
To apply for a Cal Grant, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or complete a California Dream Application if you meet the standards of AB540. In addition, students must have their GPAs sent to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC):
- Sierra College will automatically send GPA’s to CSAC for the March 2nd deadline for students who have completed at least 24 “degree credit” units at Sierra by the end of the Fall semester. Before the September 2nd community college deadline, Sierra College will automatically send GPA’s to CSAC for students who have completed at least 24 “degree credit” units at Sierra by the end of Summer Session.
- Students who have completed at least 12 total units at Sierra through fall before the March 2nd deadline and through summer before the Sept 2nd deadline but who have attended other colleges must take the GPA Verification form (available in the Financial Aid Office) to Admissions and Records. Be sure to plan ahead. Transcripts must be on file and it takes time to calculate the GPA and certify the form.
- Students who have not yet completed 24 units of “degree credit” coursework, must have the GPA Verification form filled out by their high school. In this case, students are advised to plan ahead.
The FAFSA, California Dream Application and the GPA Verification form must be mailed by March 2nd to meet the Cal Grant deadline. If you miss that deadline, there is still another chance (although much less of one) to qualify for a Cal Grant provided that both forms are submitted by September 2nd, the Community College deadline.