Recent Changes to the Federal Student Aid Programs - Financial Aid Office

As a result of recent federal legislative changes, you should be aware of a number of new requirements for the federal student aid programs. Most of these changes are effective with the 2012-2013 school year (July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013).

Here's an overview of the changes that could impact your financial aid for the upcoming academic year and in the future.

UC Riverside representative's table at Transfer Day.

1. Eligibility of Students Without a High School Diploma

If you are enrolling in higher education for the first time on or after July 1, 2012, in order to be eligible for federal student aid, you must have either a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent (such as a General Educational Development certificate (GED) or have been home schooled).

You will no longer have the option of becoming eligible for federal student aid by passing an approved test or completing at least six credit hours or 225 clock hours of postsecondary education.

2. Federal Pell Grant Program—Duration of Eligibility

Once you have received a Pell Grant for 12 semesters, or the equivalent, you will no longer be eligible for additional Pell Grants.

You are eligible to receive a Pell Grant for up to 12 semesters or the equivalent. If you have exceeded the 12-semester maximum, you will lose eligibility for additional Pell Grants beginning in 2012-2013 school year. Equivalency is calculated by adding together the percentage of your Pell eligibility that you received each year to determine whether the total amount exceeds 600%.

For example, if your maximum Pell Grant award amount for the 2010-2011 school year was $5,550, but you only receive $2,775 because you were only enrolled for one semester, you would have used 50% of your maximum award for that year. If in the following school year, you were enrolled only three-quarter time, you would have used 75% of your maximum award for that year. Together, you would have received 125% out of the total 600% lifetime limit.

To check your current Pell Grant eligibility, go to www.nslds.ed.gov , create your account and view your total grant records. 

If you find that your eligibility is 300% or more, you have the option of waiving your Pell Grant while attending Ohlone College. This way you can save your grant for use when transferring to a university to complete your Bachelor’s degree.

3. Expected Family Contribution

The lower a student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the higher the student's federal student aid eligibility. A change has been made to the income amount that is used to determine if a student qualifies for an automatic EFC of zero.

When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you receive an Expected Family Contribution, which is a number used to determine your federal student aid eligibility. For the 2012-2013 school year, you will automatically qualify for an Expected Family Contribution of zero if your family income does not exceed $23,000. This is a reduction from the previous maximum income of $32,000.

Two female students in study and socialize area at Ohlone's Newark Center campus.

4. Direct Student Loan Changes

A. Direct Subsidized loans will not be eligible for an interest subsidy during the six-month grace period.

Subsidized loans are loans for which the borrower is not responsible for the interest while the student is enrolled in college on at least a half-time basis, when the loan is in the six-month grace period after the student is no longer enrolled at least half time, or if the loan is in a deferment status. This provision eliminates the interest subsidy provided during the six-month grace period for subsidized loans for which the first disbursement is made on or after July 1, 2012, and before July 1, 2014. If you receive a subsidized loan during this timeframe, you will be responsible for the interest that accrues while your loan is in the grace period. You do not have to make payments during the grace period (unless you choose to) but the interest will be added (capitalized) to the principal amount of your loan when the grace period ends. This provision does not eliminate the interest subsidy while the borrower is in school or during eligible periods of deferment.

B. All subsidized loans made to undergraduate students will have a fixed interest rate of 6.8%.

Subsidized loans for which the first disbursement is on or after July 1, 2012, will have a 6.8% fixed interest rate. Note: In President Obama's Fiscal Year 2013 budget request, the Administration has proposed maintaining the interest rate on subsidized loans at the current rate of 3.4% for the 2012-2013 school year.

C. The U.S. Department of Education can no longer offer borrowers repayment incentives.

Effective for loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2012, the Department of Education is prohibited from offering any repayment incentives to Direct Loan borrowers, except interest rate reductions to borrowers who agree to have payments automatically electronically debited from their bank account.

Questions?

If you have any questions about how these changes could impact you, please contact the Ohlone College Financial Aid Office or call (800) 4-FED-AID.

Last updated/reviewed February 17, 2012.

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