What is financial aid?
Financial aid is any form of monetary assistance that students receive
to help pay for college.
When people talk about financial aid, they usually mean need-based
federal financial aid (or student aid from either the federal or state
government.) Because most
financial aid comes from the government, it’s best to focus on filing
the FAFSA (link
14) first when seeking financial aid.
However, financial aid can also come in the form of scholarships from
clubs or organizations, stipends from employers, or private loans from
banks. When seeking aid,
leave no stone unturned!
Nearly everyone can qualify
for financial aid!
Nearly everyone who applies can qualify for some type of aid.
Each year over 1,800 students receive an average award of $5,000
to attend BCC.
Day, evening, and online students who are either full- or part-time
students are eligible to receive financial aid consideration.
Because eligibility requirements vary depending on the
type of financial aid
(link to What types of financial aid can I get? below),
BCC encourages every student to
apply for financial aid. (link to
How Do I apply for aid?
To receive financial aid, you must meet the following requirements:
Be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident
Be registered with Selective Service
www.sss.gov) (unless female
or born before 1960)
Be accepted into a degree or certificate program
Have a GED or high school diploma from an accredited high school
Have financial need (except for certain student loans)
If you attended college previously, you must also meet these
Be making Satisfactory Academic Progress
(link to SAP policy)
Not be in default on any student loan
Not owe a refund on any grant or loan, and not have borrowed in excess
of loan limits
What types of financial aid can I get?
There are three major types of
scholarships provide free monies that can be applied to college
expenses and do not have to be repaid.
provides part-time jobs so students can earn while they learn.
Paychecks can be used to cover living expenses while enrolled.
The added benefit of this program is the opportunity for you to gain
work experience and references.
Low-interest student loans allow you to
borrow money for your education.
Repayment begins after graduation, and in many cases, the government
pays the interest during your enrollment.
Financial aid programs at BCC
Federal Pell Grant (PELL)
Eligibility for this grant is determined by the household and financial
information you provided on the FAFSA.
It is generally the largest source of “free money” toward college
expenses and does not have to be repaid.
There’s a Pell lifetime limit of 144 attempted credits. You can
get other kinds of aid without being eligible for a Pell.
Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
This grant is awarded to Pell-eligible students with
the highest need and also does not have to be repaid.
BCC receives limited SEOG funding.
This grant is awarded by the Massachusetts Office of Student Financial
Assistance (OSFA) to state residents who file their FAFSA by May 1 each
year. The amount printed on
your award letter is an estimate only.
If you fail to meet the full-time requirement, we will replace
your award with a Mass Part-Time Grant (while funds last). There is a
lifetime limit of 4 semesters on receiving MASSGrants.
BCC gives first preference to awarding you this grant if
you were offered a MASSGrant but were unable to enroll full-time.
You must be a Massachusetts resident and enrolled in 6-11 credits
to receive this award.
Tuition waivers are awarded to residents of
Massachusetts. A waiver can
be used to cover day tuition charges for state-supported courses; if
your day tuition charge is less than your award, you’ll receive the
lesser amount. A waiver does
not cover college fees, books, or charges associated with summer,
evening, or non state-supported day classes. If you enroll in non
state-supported classes, we will convert your waiver to a Cash Grant
(while funds last). However,
we can’t replace your waiver if you already have another type of waiver
(DCF, Mass Rehab, National Guard, Veterans, John & Abigail Adams
Mass Cash Grant (CGR)
This grant is also for state
residents and is awarded first to priority, on-time applicants and
offered to others on a funds available basis. Like other grants, the
Cash Grant provides “free money” that can be applied to college expenses
and does not have to be repaid.
Visit OSFA’s website for a
complete listing of grants, scholarships,
and tuition waivers (link
available through the Commonwealth of
(link to Student Employment
- Federal Work-Study)
This program provides you with part-time employment opportunities in a
variety of job sites both on and off campus.
Student wages range from $8.40/hour to $10.08/hour, depending on
the qualifications required for the job.
Most students work the equivalent of 8-10 hours per week based on
their award amount. Paychecks are issued every two weeks.
For more about how Work-Study works, contact our Coordinator of
Financial Aid & Work-Study Programs, Karrie Trautman.
If you apply for financial aid, BCC will include
Federal Direct Student Loans
financial aid package,
and a separate loan application process is involved.
Student Loan programs provide low
interest loans to help meet expenses related to college enrollment.
Eligibility for a “Subsidized’” or “Unsubsidized’” Direct Loan is
determined by the household and financial information provided on your
FAFSA. You could receive subsidized, unsubsidized, or a combination of
both loans depending on your eligibility.
Most BCC students can qualify for a loan subsidy, which means
that the government pays the interest on your loan while you’re
enrolled. Student loan
borrowers can defer repayment until 6 months after graduation.
Based on the most recent available data, the average
total student loan debt upon leaving BCC (graduating, transferring,
If you’re going to take out a student loan, learn about the differences
between federal and private education loans and apply for
For more information, contact our Coordinator of Financial Aid & Student
Loan Programs, Christopher Weingartner.
to concerns at a national level about student lending practices, the
Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, established a
Code of Conduct for Student Loan Programs
Code of Conduct.doc) and called on each public institution of
higher education in Massachusetts to adopt the Code.
Accordingly, on August 28, 2007, Berkshire Community College
adopted the Code as specified and is fully complying with the Code.
Student Borrower Bill of Rights
Borrower Bill of Rights.doc) is a variation on this Code of
Conduct that is intended to enhance student understanding of their
rights under the Code.
How much financial aid can I get?
— We’ll show you the money!
BCC has nearly $12 million available to help students like you!
Each year nearly 1,800 students receive an average award of
$5,000 to attend BCC, excluding student loans.
Just how much financial aid you can qualify for and what
types of aid
(link 7) you get depends on the following factors:
Whether you’re an on-time FAFSA filer
When should I file my FAFSA?) (see
case studies in the box below)
Your household and financial circumstances such as:
the number in your family
the number of college students in your family
your/your parents’ taxable income
your/your parents’ assets
To get the most money you can qualify for, also check out:
So You Think You’re Independent?
Common Mistakes to Avoid
For an estimate of how much aid you can expect to receive and how much
you may have to pay out-of-pocket, use Cost
Applying for financial aid has never been easier and it’s FREE!
File a FAFSA
BCC requires just one form,
Aid (FAFSA) found online at
There’s no charge for filing your FAFSA application at this free
government website. File the
FAFSA just once each year to receive consideration for all forms of
federal and state aid administered by BCC (grants, jobs, loans).
To receive priority award consideration,
file your FAFSA on time (by May 1st) each year.
If you apply on time and qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, financial aid
will pay 100% of your tuition and fees up to 12 credits per semester;
on-time filers who do not qualify for a Pell Grant still receive up to
$1,000 more than late filers.
BCC will process FAFSAs year-round while funds last.
The earlier you file your taxes,
the earlier you can file your FAFSA
- Federal regulations require students/families to use the IRS Data
Retrieval Tool (DRT) when completing the FAFSA.
Allow 2 weeks after filing your taxes to file your FAFSA using
the DRT. If you estimate tax
info on your FAFSA, you must update your FAFSA after filing your taxes
using the DRT; then re-submit.
If you do not use the DRT and you are selected for
verification, you will need to provide the Financial Aid Office with a
transcript of your taxes, as
copies of tax returns are not acceptable per regulation.
Get a PIN
Student Aid Personal Identification Number) at
before beginning your FAFSA. The PIN can be used to electronically sign
your FAFSA, correct processed FAFSA information, and apply for a student
loan. If you are providing
parent information on the FAFSA, your parent must apply for his or her
own PIN. Save your PIN; you’ll be re-using it annually.
Complete your FAFSA -
enter all required information such as your Social Security number and
parents’ Social Security numbers if you are providing parent
information, or your Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S.
citizen and information on savings, investments, and assets for yourself
and for parents if you are providing parent information.
Pop-up boxes on each screen will instruct you as to the
information required to complete each question.
BCC’s Federal School Code: 002167
sure you receive a confirmation verifying that you successfully
submitted it. Print and save
Why do I need a PIN to apply for
PIN (Federal Student Aid
Personal Identification Number) at
before beginning your FAFSA.
Your PIN will serve as your “electronic signature” when filing your
FAFSA online, correcting or updating a processed FAFSA, and applying for
a student loan. If you are
providing parent information on the FAFSA, your parent must apply for
his or her own PIN. Save your PIN; you’ll be re-using it annually.
What financial aid terms do I need
to know about?
Attendance (link 3)
includes tuition, fees, books, and allowances for room & board,
transportation, and personal expenses.
Expected Family Contribution
is the number that the federal processing system calculates based on the
information you report on your FAFSA.
Your EFC is an estimate of your/your family’s ability to
contribute toward college.
Need is the difference between BCC’s Cost of Attendance and your
EFC. It is the number that
determines how much financial aid and what types of aid BCC will award
BCC’s Cost of
Your Expected Famly Contribution
= Your Need
(your eligibility for financial aid)
Financial aid package
is the term we use for a typical award offer which includes a
combination of financial aid programs such as federal and /or state
grants, possibly a tuition waiver, work-study award, and student loan
eligibility. The package is
broken into 2 installments (Fall 2014, Spring 2015) and is based on
Proration is the
process by which we reduce your awards when you enroll less than
full-time. Most awards will be
adjusted proportionately according to your actual enrollment status at
the end of the refund period (10th day of any given term).
See chart below for actual proration schedule.
% of Award Received
100% of Day Tuition
0% of Award
Total Earned or Borrowed
NOTE: If you add credits
after the refund period, you may be liable for any additional charges