Why would a school turn a prospective student away?!
April 3, 2012 2:37 PM   Subscribe

California Filter: I'm a recent graduate of a Master's level counseling program and cannot find work that will enable me to fulfill state requirements for licensure. I'm considering enrolling in an Associate's degree program in a closely related field with better job prospects. I'd be relying on federal financial aid to complete this degree, which is specifically an Associate's in Science. The problem is that the financial aid office claims that I cannot obtain federal student aid because I already hold a Bachelor's. Apparently, at this school there's a cap on federal aid - they don't offer it once students graduate with a BA or BS. I called Direct Loans to confirm this, and they said they'd never heard of this. The financial aid office suggested that I use private loans, but that's not an option for me. At all. So.... I'm turning to the hive mind. Any info is greatly appreciated!! Has anyone had this problem? Figured out any workarounds?
posted by luciddream928 to Law & Government (12 answers total)
I'm working on my second bachelor degree and I qualify for federal student loans but not grants. Maybe your school does it differently though. Or maybe they're just confused.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:45 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My understanding is that it is not possible to obtain federal financial aid for an associate's degree if you already have a bachelor's. I don't think that there is anyway to "game" the federal system, and most associate's degree granting schools are public, so little in the way of non-federal money is available. This link seems to have most of the details.

On preview: yes, you can of course still take out loans. But you're not eligible for Pell, which is what most people think of when they're thinking of federal aid. If that was what you were asking about, it's probably worth going back and talking to them and making it clear that you know you're not eligible for most aid, but ou are interested in federal loans.

Also, if this is a community college, have you confirmed that you can't afford to just pay out of pocket? They are generally shockingly inexpensive.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:52 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for your responses! Hydropsyche - The fees for a non-resident are $244 per unit. Not sure if that's competitive or not.
posted by luciddream928 at 3:02 PM on April 3, 2012

hydropsyche has pinpointed most of what I was going to say. The person you spoke with at the financial aid office may have assumed you meant Pell Grants, for which you are not eligible, rather than federally subsidized student loans. I would go back and be very clear about that.

$244 per credit is a very good price for a non-resident tuition at a community college.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:18 PM on April 3, 2012

Response by poster: OP here.

Woa.... Took your advice Hydro, and called back the financial aid office. I double checked my figures and I was looking into "Non-resident tuition" which I figured wouldn't be much more than "Resident tuition." Was I wrong or what.... I estimated $19,000 for non-resident tuition... when actually MY tuition as a resident would only be $5,767! Tuition per credit is only $46, as oppose to non-resident tuition, which is $244.

Not sure if it's a game-changer because of the financial aid conundrum, but might be worth looking into.
posted by luciddream928 at 3:20 PM on April 3, 2012

Response by poster: OP here again, just read your post Sidhedevil. Thanks again everyone for the info. I know nothing about community colleges and it's good to get info from you. I'll look more into it tonight and call back in a few days or so.
posted by luciddream928 at 3:22 PM on April 3, 2012

$46 per credit is a fantastic price!
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:22 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OP here again........I wonder if I could fill out a FAFSA just to determine my eligibility without committing to enroll? I'm looking it up online, not sure if people do that. I've always filled out a FAFSA with the intention of going to school, knowing that I'd enroll anyway.
posted by luciddream928 at 3:35 PM on April 3, 2012

Filling out a FAFSA does not obligate you to enroll anywhere, and may be the reason why the Financial Aid Officer didn't offer up more information when you asked, since you're not even in their system or on their radar.

I'm currently enrolled in an AAS program at a community college (in Iowa), and several of my classmates already have bachelors degrees and are currently drawing federal student loans because they haven't yet reached the aggregate max (somewhere around $57,000). The financial aid office at our school simply requires that they fill out a form every semester indicating that they're making adequate academic progress and that they still "need" the money. Other than having to wait a little longer for their money to come in, they haven't had issues receiving federal aid in the form of loans.
posted by scarykarrey at 3:59 PM on April 3, 2012

You can complete the FAFSA ahead of time, you should receive your award letter before the term begins and you can drop for a full refund if you like. Generally speaking, you won't see any surprises on there as it will just be loans.

One thing to keep in mind: How much in federal loan debt have you accrued through your other degree programs? You are still going to be held to the undergraduate lifetime aggregate limit (something like $57,500 as an independent) and if you have gone beyond that with your graduate level loans, you may be SOL.
posted by Think_Long at 4:05 PM on April 3, 2012

Response by poster: Hi Think_Long. Thanks for the post. I called Direct Loans about this and she said she's seen loans that were twice the size of mine. For an additional $6K in loans, I don't think it would be a problem.
posted by luciddream928 at 4:12 PM on April 3, 2012

Best answer: If you're going to a California community college and you're a California resident with financial need, you might qualify for the Board of Governer's Fee Waiver (the BOG fee waiver). I'm not sure whether it works after you have a higher degree but it looks like it should.
posted by aniola at 5:25 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

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