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ASCC ARFAO offers workshops on Federal Financial Aid updates

 The Admissions, Registrar, and Financial Aid Office (ARFAO) at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) will jointly hold two Federal Financial Aid Updates Workshops on Tuesday, October 9th and Thursday, October 11th, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the ASCC Lecture Hall.

The US Department of Education (USDOE) has recently announced several policy changes pertaining to Federal Financial Aid, and these two workshops will give representatives from the three ASCC offices most directly involved with financial aid a chance to clarify these changes for students and their parents.

The USDOE recently informed all Federal Financial Aid receiving schools on changes to the 2012-2013 award year involving areas such as the Earned Income Credit Threshold, Minimum Federal Pell Grant Award and Maximum Expected Family Contribution, Federal Pell Grant Duration of Eligibility, and Declining of Pell Grant Funds.

Because of the effect of federal regulations on awarding federal financial aid to ASCC students, the Admissions, Registrar, and Financial Aid Office will collaborate on the forthcoming workshops.

“This is an effort to get the information out to our college community, and especially to our students,” said ASCC’s Director of the Admissions, Registrar, and Financial Aid Office, Mrs. Sifagatogo Tuitasi. “I’m urging our ASCC faculty to share this information with their students and encourage them to attend one of the workshops, as these regulation changes impact transferability and the awarding of Federal Financial Aid in general.”

During the workshops, Financial Aid Manager, Mr. Peteru Lam Yuen will include updates on the Auto-Zero EFC Income Threshold, and Public Law 112-74 amended HEA section 479(c) to reduce the income threshold for an automatic zero expected family contribution (EFC) from $30,000 to $23,000 for the 2012—2013 award year for both dependent and independent students.

Another especially relevant area of discussion will be the Minimum Federal Pell Grant Award and Maximum EFC and Public Law 112-74 amended HEA section 401(b)(4) to change the minimum Federal Pell Grant award for a student to ten percent of the maximum award amount for the award year.

Beginning with the 2012-2013 award year, students will not receive a Federal Pell Grant if they are not eligible for at least ten percent of the maximum award for the academic year.

The workshops will also touch on Federal Pell Grant Duration of Eligibility and Public Law 112-74 amended HEA section 401(c)(5) to reduce the duration of a student’s eligibility to receive a Federal Pell Grant from 18 semesters or its equivalent to 12 semesters.

This provision applies to all Federal Pell Grant eligible students effective with the 2012-2013 award year.

New policies also affect Declining Pell Grant Funds. A student may decline all or part of a disbursement of Pell Grant funds that the student is otherwise eligible to receive. The student may wish to take this action if he/she expects to qualify for a larger Pell Grant in future years as a result of an expected transfer to a more expensive educational institution or an expected change in the student’s expected family contribution.

Lam Yuenexplained that the recent amendments will require an added vigilance on the part of advisors, faculty and students.

“Our advisors should only counsel students to take classes that are required to graduate because those are the only classes that Federal Student Aid will pay for,” he said.

Lam Yuenalso clarified that students will need to strictly adhere to each class’s stated attendance policy, as faculty now have the responsibility of issuing an Administrative Drop if students miss a defined number of class sessions. “Students need to be responsible for dropping classes if they do not attend,” he said. “If they fail to do so, faculty must remain alert with roll calls and act accordingly. Failure on both parties to act on this matter will affect students as well as the institution, both directly and indirectly.”

For more information on the Federal Financial Aid Updates Workshops, call the ASCC main phone exchange at 699-9155 and ask for the Financial Aid Office.