Financial Aid Eligibility
Students attending Whatcom Community College for the purpose of receiving a unique degree or unique certificate may be eligible for financial assistance through federal, state or local funding programs. Federal and state regulations limit the amount of time a student can receive financial aid to attend school. Students who plan carefully with the assistance of an academic advisor have the best chance of graduating in a timely fashion and accomplishing their academic goals without exhausting their financial aid eligibility before completing their program. It is especially important for students who are planning to transfer to a four-year program to meet with an advisor to ensure that WCC degree requirements and the four-year program entry requirements are met without exhausting their financial aid eligibility.
For financial aid eligibility purposes, WCC students may take a maximum combined total of two unique degrees or certificates. See the satisfactory academic progress policy, receiving aid for more than one program of study, on the financial aid section of the WCC website for detailed information.
Financial aid students are required to enroll only in courses that meet remaining requirements for their selected program of study. For example, a physical therapist assistant student would not be eligible for financial aid funding to take a physical education class, since a PE class does not apply to the PTA degree. Students who enroll in courses that do not apply to degree requirements may lose financial aid eligibility.
Information about establishing financial aid eligibility, maintaining financial aid eligibility, and about various financial aid benefit programs is available in the financial aid section of the WCC website and is also available by visiting the financial aid office in Laidlaw Center, room 135.
Changing Your Program of Study
For financial aid eligibility purposes students are allowed to make program changes. All previously attempted credits that are degree or elective requirements will count toward the maximum credits allowed for the new program. Students who have made multiple program changes may be required to meet with a WCC academic advisor to secure an approved program completion plan including only classes needed to complete the degree or certificate. Students who do not follow the approved program completion plan may lose their financial aid eligibility. Students within 15 credits of completing their program of study will not normally be permitted to change programs of study and be eligible to receive financial aid funding.
Whatcom Community College has implemented a secure portal for financial aid that provides applicants with 24/7 access to the status of their financial aid requirements for each award year. Once the financial aid office receives the student’s FAFSA information from the U.S. Department of Education, students can access the financial aid portal. Additional information on the use of the secure financial aid portal is available in the financial aid section of the WCC website.
The Whatcom Community College financial aid office communicates to students and prospective students who have completed their FAFSA via the email address that the student provides on their FAFSA.
Apply Early! The WCC financial aid process takes approximately 6-8 weeks. Awarding for a new school year (currently summer quarter through spring quarter) starts approximately May 1.
Step 1 - Student completes FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov
- WCC school code: 010364
- Need help completing the FAFSA? Call 1.800.433.3243.
- It takes WCC approximately one week to receive the student’s FAFSA information.
Step 2 - WCC receives student’s FAFSA information
- Student is sent an email alert (to email address listed on FAFSA) verifying FAFSA received and sending student to WCC financial aid portal to see list of additional requirements.
- Processing will not continue until all requested elements are met.
Step 3 - Apply for WCC admission
- Student must apply for Admission to WCC and enroll in an aid-eligible program.
Step 4 - Review
- After all elements are met and worksheets completed and returned, WCC is ready to review a student’s application.
- Review process may take 3- 4 weeks.
Step 5 - Initial Awarding Process
- The initial awarding process takes approximately 2-3 weeks.
- Student awarded maximum amounts for grants, work study and scholarships.
- Once awarded, student receives an email alert notifying student to go to WCC financial aid student portal to see their financial aid awards.
- If student is not eligible for grants, work study and/or scholarships, student is sent an email alert informing them and notifying them of their student loan eligibility and the WCC student loan process.
Step 6 - Student Loan Awarding Process
- Students who are not eligible for grants or scholarships or whose awards do not meet their education funding needs may request a student loan award after the student has been notified of their potential student loan eligibility.
- To request a student loan, go to the federal student loan section of the financial aid section of the WCC website.
Step 7 - Awards Released
- Financial aid awards are applied directly to tuition and fees due; remaining credit balances are provided via WCC’s third party disbursement servicer.
- Student credit balance availability and amounts can be viewed by using the WCC financial aid portal.
WCC has established a “priority deadline” of March 15 for completing the financial aid process for the next award year. Students may apply for aid throughout the year; however, if the student is expecting a determination of eligibility and financial aid awards by the time the student will be starting classes, the student must complete the financial aid process by the “priority processing deadline” that applies to the quarter for which they will be starting to attend. WCC has established a “priority processing deadline” for new students for each quarter. These dates are listed in the ”important dates” area in the financial aid section of the WCC website. Students are always encouraged to complete their FAFSA and the WCC financial aid process as early as possible, as applications are reviewed and aid is awarded in the order in which the student has completed all of their financial aid requirements.
Students who have not been awarded aid prior to published tuition due dates for the quarter that they will be starting should plan on paying their own tuition by the published tuition due dates to prevent being dropped for non-payment from the classes for which they registered.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements for Financial Aid Recipients
Federal and state financial aid regulations require that students who receive financial aid be required to make satisfactory academic progress in order to maintain financial aid eligibility. It is reviewed at the completion of each quarter for every student receiving federal and/or state aid awards.
WCC’s federal financial aid satisfactory academic progress requires students to maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative academic grade point average for the academic program in which the student is enrolled and requires that the student cumulatively complete a minimum of two thirds of the program credits for which the student has enrolled.
WCC’s state financial aid satisfactory academic progress requires students to maintain a minimum 2.0 quarterly grade point average and requires the student to complete at least one-half of the amount of credits for which aid was received for that quarter.
Students have a maximum time frame for completing a program of study. To remain eligible for financial aid the student must be mathematically capable of completing their program within at least 150% federal (or 125% for state regulations) of the total number of credits that are required for their declared program. (Note: all program credits attempted are counted in this calculation.)
Students are urged to carefully plan their academic class load each quarter, as any classes which are started and then dropped, adversely affect the student’s satisfactory academic progress.
See the financial aid section of the WCC website for detailed Satisfactory Academic Progress Policies.