Financial Aid Policies and Procedures

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Financial Aid Policies & Procedures

  1. Read the Following Information Carefully. It is the student’s responsibility to read and comply with the policies and procedures detailed in this document, including the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards and the Return of Title IV Funds Policy. If you have any questions regarding this information, please make arrangements to meet with a Financial Aid counselor as soon as possible.
  2. Contact the Student Records Office Immediately If You Have a Change in Address. All financial aid refund checks will be sent to the address in your student admission’s file.
  3. Check Your WPCC Email Account on a Weekly Basis. The Financial Aid Office will only use WPCC email accounts to communicate with students when necessary. It is the student’s responsibility to access their email account and check messages on a weekly basis.


To be eligible for financial aid, students must have transcripts for a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent on file with the Records Office, be enrolled in an eligible program of study (POS) leading to a degree and maintain satisfactory academic progress as outlined in the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards for Financial Aid Recipients. Only those courses required and needed in the program of study can be counted towards eligibility for financial aid.

The award amount listed on the Award Offer Letter is based on full-time enrollment (12 SHC). Your award will be reduced proportionately if you attend less than full-time.

Enrollment Credit Hours Student Will Receive:
Full-Time 12 or more Semester Hours Credit 100% of Award Listed
3/4 Time 9, 10, or 11 Semester Hours Credit 75% of Award Listed
1/2 Time 6, 7, or 8 Semester Hours Credit 50% of Award Listed
Less than 1/2 Time 1, 2, 3 ,4, or 5 Semester Hours Credit Limited funding is available at this credit level

Students who plan to attend less than half-time should contact the Financial Aid Office to determine their eligibility. Your award letter may include aid from the following programs, each with their own required enrollment status:

Financial Aid Program Required Enrollment Status
Federal Pell Grant Varies, award reduced if less than full-time
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) At least 1 Semester Hour Credit
North Carolina Community College Grant (NCCCG) At least 1/2 time, award reduced if enrolled less than 15 Semester Hour Credits
North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarship (NCELS) At least 1/2 time, award reduced if less than full-time

All of the above may be used to pay for tuition, fees, books and required supplies. The balance of funds, if any, will be mailed to students on the financial aid refund dates.

Late applications will be processed and awarded on a weekly basis after the initial disbursement date of each term.

Students receiving WPCC scholarships (listed on the Award Offer Letter) must be enrolled at the College on at least a half-time (6 semester hours) basis. Scholarships that require full-time enrollment will be noted on the Award Letter. Most scholarships are available for students to use for the payment of tuition and fees or to purchase books during registration. Students who receive a scholarship will be notified later of the source of the funding. WPCC scholarship recipients are required to attend the Annual Scholarship Ceremony to be held during the Fall Semester.

Students who receive financial assistance from sources outside the College are required to notify the Financial Aid Office to prevent the over award of Federal funds.

Students who plan to concurrently enroll at another college should make arrangements with the Director of Enrollment Management and the Director of Financial Aid prior to the beginning of the semester. Federal regulations require that WPCC negotiate a Consortium Agreement with the institution that the student plans to concurrently attend. Financial Aid is awarded for one academic year at a time.

The academic year begins in the fall semester. A Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed for each academic year. Students must also complete a new WPCC Scholarship Application each school year.

Students should be aware that scholarships and grants might be taxable according to the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Students are encouraged to keep all receipts and check stubs as official documentation. For additional information, students should contact the Internal Revenue Service.

Students must notify the Financial Aid Office of all changes: new address, new name, change of marital status, change of major, or other changes.

The student is required to notify the Financial Aid Office immediately if he/she is withdrawing from classes, adding classes, or withdrawing from the College.

The Financial Aid Office reserves the right to review, adjust or cancel an award any time there has been a change in enrollment status, financial status, or failure to meet satisfactory progress regulations.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards (SAP)

The Financial Aid Office (FAO) at Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) is required by federal regulations to monitor the academic progress of students who apply for financial aid. Financial aid applicants must comply with the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards as a condition for eligibility for aid. These standards are used to determine eligibility for all Federal Title IV aid, state and institutional aid; and are applied to the student’s entire academic history at WPCC.

The standards against which applicants for financial assistance are measured include completion of credit hours, cumulative grade point average (GPA), and maximum time limits to complete the program of study.

SAP will be monitored at the time of application for aid and at the end of each semester. Students must meet all of the standards listed below. Failure to meet any of the three standards will result in the loss of financial aid.

1. Completion Rate: Each semester, the student’s academic progress will be measured by comparing the number of attempted credit hours with the credit hours earned. The student must successfully complete 67% of the total attempted credit hours to maintain SAP. Hours attempted are calculated as all hours enrolled per semester, minus any hours withdrawn or dropped during the 75 percent refund period. Hours attempted also include transfer credit hours accepted toward a student’s educational program at WPCC. For example: a student who attempts 12 credit hours, and successfully completes 9 credit hours is making SAP (9 credit hours divided by 12 credit hours = 75% completion rate).

2. Cumulative Grade Point Average: Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average at or above the minimum on the following chart:

  • 1.25 for 1-15 credit hours attempted
  • 1.50 for 16-23 credit hours attempted
  • 1.75 for 24-31 credit hours attempted
  • 2.00 for 32 or more credit hours attempted

3. Maximum Time Frame: The student’s maximum time frame to complete a program of study is 150% of the published length of the program. For example, if 64 semester hours are required to complete a degree, the student may attempt a maximum of 96 credit hours before exceeding their eligibility for financial aid (64 x 1.5= 96). The student’s entire enrollment history at WPCC and any transfer hours accepted from other institutions is considered when evaluating academic progress within the established time frame. Developmental classes are excluded from the MTF calculation.
At whatever point in time it is determined to be mathematically impossible for the student to complete their program of study WITHIN the established Maximum Time Frame, the student can no longer receive aid at WPCC and will receive a financial aid status of MTF (suspended).
Change of Majors – Students who change their major are still responsible for adhering to the 150% maximum time frame of the new program (all previously attempted credit hours will be included in the calculation). Students who decide to change majors are advised to do so early in their academic program.
Double Major – Only the primary program of study will be eligible for financial aid funds, however, all classes taken will be used in calculating the 150% maximum time frame limit.
Additional Degrees – Students returning to WPCC to pursue another degree after graduation will be given a new maximum time frame. Only the successfully completed credit hours that apply to the additional degree will be counted towards the net maximum time frame.

Additional Elements of SAP:

  • Letter grades of A, B, C, D, and SC are counted as completed credits.
  • Letter grades of F, I (incomplete), NC (non-satisfactory completion), W (withdrawal), or IW (instructor-initiated withdrawal) are counted as credit hours attempted but not successfully completed.
  • Letter grade of NS (No Show) is not counted as attempted or earned credit hours. Audited (AU) credit hours are not funded by financial aid and are excluded from all calculations.
  • Developmental credit hours (courses below the 100 level) are included in the completion rate calculation but are excluded from the GPA calculation. Students may receive financial aid for developmental credits up to a maximum of 30 credit hours.
  • Consortium credits are included in both the completion rate and maximum time frame calculations.
  • All attempts of a course, including repeats, will be included in the calculation for GPA, Completion Rate, and Maximum Time Frame.
  • Students may receive financial aid for repeating a passed course one time, regardless if the credit is provided again.
  • Students may attempt a failed course a maximum of three times. Developmental courses are exempt from this policy.
  • Transfer credit hours are excluded from the GPA calculation, but are included in both the completion rate and maximum time frame calculations. Students transferring from another institution will be considered to be making satisfactory academic progress at the time of enrollment.

Eligibility Status:
Satisfactory: Satisfactory status is achieved when the completion rate, GPA and maximum time frame requirements are met.
Warning: Warning status is assigned to students who fail to meet the eligibility standards for the completion rate and/or the GPA requirement. Students with a “warning” status may receive financial aid for one semester, provided all other eligibility requirements are met.
Suspension: There are several conditions that may place a student of financial aid suspension. These conditions are listed below:
Probation: This status is assigned to a student who fails to make SAP and who has had their eligibility reinstated as the result of an appeal. While on “probation,” the student must successfully follow the conditions of the Academic Plan created during the appeal process. All Academic Plans will require a 2.0 minimum semester GPA, and a minimum 75% completion rate for subsequent periods of enrollment. The Director of Financial Aid or the Financial Aid Subcommittee may require a more rigorous Academic Plan for individual students based on the particular situation and content of the appeal on a case by case basis. The requirements of a more rigorous plan will be made in writing and signed by the student prior to the disbursing of financial aid. Academic Plans will be monitored by the Financial Aid Office.

Notification of SAP Status: Eligibility status will be updated at the end of each semester. All applicants will be notified via email regarding satisfactory, warning, suspension or probation statuses. However, failure to receive notification will not change the student’s status. Not enrolling for one or more terms does not change the student’s status.

  • A student, who fails to meet the cumulative completion rate and/or GPA requirements at the end of a “warning” period, will have their financial aid suspended.
  • Students with a “probation” status who fail to meet the requirements of their Academic Plan will be placed on suspension.
  • If at any point it is determined that a student cannot complete their program of study within the maximum time frame limit (150%), the student will immediately be placed on financial aid suspension.

Re-Establishing Eligibility: There are three avenues available for regaining eligibility for financial aid. These avenues consist of the following:
Paying on Your Own– To regain eligibility, the student must attend WPCC (without financial aid) until they meet the GPA and completion rate requirements.
Notification of a Grade Change– The student’s financial aid may be reinstated as result of a grade change, provided that as a result of the change, the student is meeting both the completion rate and GPA requirements.
The Appeal Process– Students who have faced mitigating circumstances may appeal the suspension of their financial aid. Mitigating circumstances are generally beyond the student’s control and may include a death in the family, injury or illness of student, or other special circumstances.

To appeal the suspension of financial aid, the student must submit to the FAO the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form, explaining their failure to make SAP, and what has changed to allow them now to regain SAP.  The SAP Appeal form also includes the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Degree Evaluation form which must be completed by the student’s academic advisor.

SAP Appeal Forms are available in the FAO. All appeals must be accompanied by documentation supporting the reasons for the appeal. Appeals submitted without supporting documentation will not be reviewed.

The Director of Financial Aid will review the appeal and notify the student via the student’s WPCC email account within 2 weeks from the receipt date of the completed appeal. If the student finds the Director’s decision unsatisfactory, the student may appeal to the Financial Aid Subcommittee for further review.

The appeal to the subcommittee must be in writing and submitted to the Financial Aid Office.

The student will have the opportunity to present their case in person to the subcommittee. The decision of the Financial Aid Office Subcommittee is final.

Students may submit one appeal per academic year. Students appealing the loss of financial aid as a result of exceeding the maximum time frame are limited to one appeal.

Students seeking to regain eligibility for financial aid remain ineligible for assistance until the appeal process is completed and an affirmative decision has been made by either the Director of Financial Aid or the Financial Aid Subcommittee.

Students should be prepared to pay tuition, fees and other education expenses until notified that their aid has been reinstated.


Student Withdrawal and Return of Title IV Policy

The following governs the Return of Title IV funds disbursed to students enrolled at Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC). This policy applies to all students receiving Title IV funds who officially or unofficially withdraw from the College. Title IV funds include the Federal Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).

  1. During the first 60% of the semester, a student earns Title IV funds based on the length of time he or she remains enrolled. A student who attends beyond the 60% point of the semester earns 100% of their aid for the semester. If a student ceases to attend on or prior to the 60% point of the semester, the unearned portion of the Title IV aid must be returned to the Federal Student Aid program(s). Students who are attending classes after the dates listed below will earn 100% of their aid and will not be required to repay Title IV funds:
    • Summer, 2022 – June 27, 2022
    • Fall, 2022 – October 25, 2022
    • Spring, 2023 – March 24, 2023
    • Summer, 2023 – June 27, 2023
  2. If earned aid exceeds the amount of aid disbursed, the student may be eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement. Post-withdrawal disbursements may
    • Be credited to outstanding tuition and fees.
    • Be credited to other outstanding current year charges which the student authorized
    • Post-withdrawal disbursement funds remaining after all charges and outstanding balances have been deducted will be refunded to the student no later than 45 days after the date of the school’s determination that the student withdrew.
  3. Enrolled percentage is determined by the number of days in the semester (including weekends) divided by the number of days enrolled. Breaks that are a minimum of five days long (including weekends) are excluded from the calculation.
  4. A student’s withdrawal date is the student’s last date of attendance at a documented academically-related activity.
  5. For all programs offered in modules, a student is a withdrawal for Title IV purposes if the student ceases attendance at any point prior to completing the payment period or period of enrollment, unless the College obtains written confirmation from the student at the time of the withdrawal that he or she will attend a module that begins later in the same period or period of enrollment. A program is offered in modules if, for a payment period or period of enrollment, a course or courses in the program do not span the entire length of the payment period or period of enrollment. The determination of whether a program is offered in modules is made on a payment period or period of enrollment basis, as appropriate, and is student specific.
  6. The return of Title IV formula assumes that Title IV funds are directly disbursed to the student only after all institutional charges have been covered, and that Title IV funds are the first to be applied to institutional charges. The institutional charges used in the calculation are the charges initially assessed the student for the entire semester. Initial charges are adjusted only for those changes made prior to the student’s withdrawal (for example; a change in enrollment status unrelated to the withdrawal).
  7. The responsibility to repay unearned aid is shared by WPCC and the student. The College’s share is the lesser of:
    • The institutional charges multiplied by the percentage of aid that was unearned; or,
    • The total amount of unearned aid.
  8. The student’s share of unearned aid is the difference between the total unearned amount and the institution’s share.The student will be notified of the overpayment within 30 days of the date WPCC determined that the student withdrew.Funds are to be returned to the appropriate aid program within 45 days in the following order: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.If the aid to be returned is to one of the grant programs, the amount owed to the grant program is reduced by 50%.The student will have 45 days from the date of notification of the Return to Title IV calculation to repay the funds. The funds are to be repaid to the WPCC Business Office.If payment is not made within 45 days of notification, WPCC will submit the overpayment to the U.S. Department of Education. Once the overpayment is submitted to the U. S. Department of Education, the student will lose eligibility for Title IV assistance until a satisfactory repayment agreement is established. The student does not have to repay a grant overpayment of $50.00 or less as the result of a total withdrawal.
  9. The unearned portion of grant assistance repaid by WPCC is charged back to the student’s account. These funds must be repaid to WPCC within 30 days of the date of notification. The student will not be allowed to register for classes or receive an official copy of his or her academic transcript until all funds are repaid.


Verification Policy

To ensure that Financial Aid funds are awarded to eligible students in an equitable and consistent manner, Western Piedmont Community College verification procedures will be uniformly applied to all financial aid programs which require demonstrated financial need as eligibility criterion.

Western Piedmont Community College will verify all applicants selected for verification by the Central Processing System (CPS) and/or WPCC. In addition, we will resolve all comments on the ISIR and conflicting documentation. WPCC Financial Aid Staff may also question any aspect of an application.

WPCC will verify the items specified in the 34 CFR Part 668.56 for those students selected for verification. Items for verification could include (but are not limited to) the following if applicable:

  • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
  • US Income Tax Paid
  • Education Tax Credits (American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Tax Credit).
  • Untaxed Portions of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Distribution
  • Untaxed Portions of Pensions
  • IRA Deductions and Payments
  • Tax-exempt Interest Income
  • Income Earned from Work (wages)
  • Household Size
  • Number of Household Members in College
  • High School Completion Status
  • Identity/Statement of Education Purpose

Additional items may also be verified when there is conflicting documentation on file or when additional items are selected by the WPCC Financial Aid Staff.

Applicants’ Responsibilities
It will be the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all documents requested are submitted with proper signatures. If an applicant’s dependency status changes during the award year, please contact the Financial Aid Office before making changes. Household size and number in post-secondary education can only be updated during the verification process.

Verification documentation requested must be submitted with all necessary information, including wet (physical) signature(s). Some exceptions to documentation may be made in conjunction with what is allowed by Federal Regulation. The Federal Department of Education has instituted the following guidelines for providing tax and income information for verification purposes:

  • When completing the income sections of the FAFSA, the applicant is given the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (or DRT) to collect income data reported to the IRSIf the applicant decides not to use the DRT  and the application is chosen for verification, the applicant and the parents, if applicable, will be required to submit an IRS Tax Return with applicable schedules or Tax Transcript from the IRS.
  • If the IRS tax information is changed on the FAFSA, the applicant will be required to submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript. The IRS data can be retrieved by the applicant when a correction is made to the FAFSA, after the first transaction.
  • If the retrieved data is not changed, then an IRS Tax Return Transcript may not be required.
  • Effective January 9, 2019, schools can now accept signed copies of tax returns and self-certification of non-filing to complete verification. What this means is that students selected for verification have two options in which to provide theirs, their spouse (if married), or parents’ (if considered dependent) tax return information (2019 for 2021-22 or 2020 for 2022-23). They may submit a tax return transcript or provide a signed paper copy of the required tax return information and applicable schedules that were submitted to the IRS when faxes were filed.

Temporary Guidance for the 2021-22 and 2022-2023 FAFSA processing and verification cycle:

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that beginning July 13, 2021, and for the remainder of the 2021-22 FAFSA processing and verification cycle, it is waiving verification of FAFSA information, except for Identity & Statement of Educational Purpose and High School completion status for V4 or V5 students. If there is conflicting information within a student’s file at WPCC, the Financial Aid Office still has the duty to resolve conflicting information concerning a student’s eligibility and reserves the right to request any necessary documentation.

Beginning May 18, 2022 and for the remainder of the 2022-23 FAFSA processing and verification cycle, the U.S. Department of Education waives verification of all FAFSA/ISIR information, except for identity/Statement of Educational Purpose and High School Completion Status in Verification Tracking Groups V4 and V5. However, WPCC will continue to require an applicant to verify any FAFSA information believed to be inaccurate or to be conflicting information.

Child Support Paid
Applicants who have been chosen for verification and who have indicated that child support was paid by an individual listed during the previous tax year, must confirm the amounts of child support paid, to whom the payments were made, and the names and address of the children receiving the child support. Documentation may be requested.

High School Completion
Applicants who have been chosen to verify high school completion, and have not already provided documentation to WPCC Admissions Office will be required to provide a copy of one of the following:

  • A copy of the student’s final official high school transcript that shows the date when the diploma was awarded.
  • For students who completed secondary education in a foreign country, a copy of the ‘secondary school leaving certificate’ or other similar documentation.
  • A state certificate or transcript received by a student after the student passed a State-authorized examination (GED test, HiSET, TASC, or other state-authorized documentation.
  • For a homeschooled student in a state where state law requires the student to obtain a secondary school completion credential for homeschool (other than a high school diploma or recognized equivalent), a copy of that credential.
  • For a homeschooled student in a state where the state law does not require the student to obtain a secondary school completion credential for homeschool (other than a high school diploma or it recognized equivalent), a transcript or the equivalent, signed by the student’s parent or guardian, that lists the secondary school courses the student completed and includes a statement that the student completed a secondary-school education in a homeschool setting.

Confirmation of Identity and Statement of Educational Purpose
Applicants who were selected to verify identity and to sign a statement of educational purpose are required to appear in person at the Financial Aid Office with a non-expired, government-issued photo id (i.e. US passport, driver’s license, or another state-issued ID) to complete the Identity and Statement of Educational Purpose form.

Applicants who are unable to appear in person must go to a notary public to sign the Identity and Statement of Education Purpose Notary form. The original form along with a copy of the non-expired, government-issued photo ID presented to the notary must be mailed or hand-delivered to the Financial Aid Office. Faxed copies, photocopies, emailed pdf, etc. are not acceptable.

Time Period
All applicants are encouraged to submit the required forms and documentation as quickly as possible. For Federal Aid recipients, the deadline for submitting verification documents is 120 days from the applicant’s last date of enrollment. This includes making any necessary corrections, submitting those corrections to the Central Processing System, and submitting the new corrected Student Aid Report (SAR) to the institution.

Consequences and Deadlines
If a student fails to provide documentation or information within the required time frame, no Title IV aid will be released.
For the 2021-2022 academic year, you must submit all required documents to complete the verification process by whichever date is sooner:

  • Within 120 days from the applicant’s last date of enrollment
  • By September 10, 2022

For the 2022-2023 academic year, you must submit all required documents to complete the verification process by whichever date is sooner:

  • Within 120 days from the applicant’s last date of enrollment
  • By September 10, 2023


Students are notified of selection for verification at the time the ISIR is received by WPCC. A paper letter, including hard copies of Verification Forms needed, will be mailed to the student’s address on file with the Admissions Office; an email will be sent to the student’s WPCC email account with information and hotlinks to Verification Forms needed; and the Financial Aid Checklist in the student’s Pioneer Pass Account will populate with a listing of items needed and links to the Verification Forms as applicable to the student.

Once all verification items are turned in by the student, it may take up to 5 business days for documents to be reviewed. Students may track the documents and view their financial aid file status by logging onto their Pioneer Pass account 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

After reviewing the verification items received, if additional information is required, email notifications will be sent to the students WPCC email address.

Once all verification items have been received and reviewed, the file marked complete, and any corrections have been processed and completed with the CPS, the students is notified of their financial aid eligibility via WPCC email accounts.  If the student is awarded aid, the email notification provides detailed information as to how the student can access and view the award offer in their Pioneer Pass Account.  If the student is not eligible for any aid, the email notification provides information regarding Professional Judgement for Special Circumstances, institutional scholarships, private education loans, and other sources of assistance that may be available to students.

Referral Procedures
WPCC must refer for the investigation to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) any credible information indicating that a Title IV aid applicant, school employee, or third-party servicer may have engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with the Title IV programs. (Note: Fraud is the intent to deceive as opposed to a mistake.)

Common examples of misconduct include but are not limited to:

  • Claims of independent student status
  • False claims of citizenship
  • Use of false identities
  • Forgery of signatures of certifications
  • False statement of income

Prior to notifying the OIG, the Financial Aid Office will consult with the WPCC’s General Counsel regarding any cases suspected of fraud.  If it has been determined that intent to commit fraud has occurred, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) can be contacted at 1-800-MISUSED.

If it is determined that a student has received funds that they were not entitled to receive, the student must repay the amount. If a repayment is not made, the overpayment may be referred to the US Department of Education.