Understanding Financial Aid

Overview

​Important information concerning Student Financial Service’s policies and procedures for which each financial aid recipient is responsible to know is listed below. View and/or print the information for your reference. 

How will the college notify me about my financial aid?

All applicants are assigned a free COTC email account once the application for admissions and application fee are received and processed. Student Financial Services will adhere to the campus policy of using email as the primary form of communication with all enrolled COTC students. Important financial aid information such as requested documents, award packages, Satisfactory Academic Progress, Return of Title IV funds, budget adjustments, loan information and scholarship opportunities will be sent to the students’ email account. It is the responsibility of the students to check and read their email on a frequent and consistent basis for important, time-sensitive messages from the college. The students will be held responsible for the information provided via email. Infrequent checking and full inboxes are not excuses for missing official college communications.  (The official COTC email policy is available in the Academic Policies.) 

Student Financial Services will only correspond to a the school-issued email account.  If a message is received from another source (e.g., yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc.), a response will be sent to the COTC email account as well as a response to the non-COTC account stating: “For confidentiality reasons, a response to your email will be sent to your COTC issued email account only.”  Exceptions: non-admitted students or parent seeking general information or non-specific student information. If the parent is asking for specific information, a response will be sent to the student’s COTC email account and the student is responsible for obtaining the information.

​COTC students must complete a Confidential Information Release Form in order for Student Financial Services to release financial aid information via the telephone. If another person or agency is to have access to the student’s financial aid data, they must be included on the Confidential Information Release Form and know the secret code word. To update the persons listed on the form, a new release statement must be completed and submitted in person to the Gateway. Picture ID is required for service at the front desk of Student Financial Services as well as in the advisors’ offices.

How is my financial aid spent (or disbursed)?

Disbursements

Financial aid funds must first be used to pay tuition and fees and then any other educational expenses. Before the start of each semester, Student Financial Services will send an email to each enrolled student directing them to “View Account and Make Payments” on COTCconnect > My Student Financial Accounts. All fees, including penalties, must be paid according to the deadline indicated in the email. 

Beginning as early as ten days before the start of the semester, financial aid awards (grants and scholarships) for which all eligibility requirements have been met will appear as credits on the student accounts up to the cost of tuition, fees and books. Contact Student Financial Services if financial aid does not appear on your student account ten days before the start of the semester.

Fees are due by the fee payment deadline and taking care of the balance due is the student’s responsibility. “Not receiving a bill” is not an excuse for not paying your charges. Students may be dropped from classes if fees are not paid either by financial aid or personal payment by the stated fee payment deadline. Once dropped from classes, the student will be required to pay a late registration fee and a late payment fee in order to re-register. Depending on availability, he may not be able to re-enroll in the sections previously scheduled.

Enrollment and eligibility are monitored on an ongoing basis throughout the semester. Aid that was initially credited to the student’s account for which the student ceases to be eligible may be returned and the student will be required to repay it. Students must attend classes to maintain eligibility for aid.  Students not attending courses for which they registered must withdraw from the courses online or at any Gateway location. Aid will not be disbursed or will be reversed if a student is not attending classes. If Student Financial Services is notified after disbursement that a student has not attended, aid will be adjusted which could create a balance due to COTC. If a student withdraws from all classes after the disbursement of a Federal Direct Loan, the funds may be reduced according to the Return of Title IV Funds calculation. If a student drops below six hours prior to the disbursement of a Federal Direct Loan, Federal Direct PLUS loan, NEALP and certain private alternative loans, the loan funds will not be disbursed to the student account.

Occasionally, due to changes in eligibility and other factors, funds are inadvertently disbursed in error. Should you receive financial aid funds to which you are not entitled, it is your responsibility to contact Student Financial Services prior to utilizing the funds. Failure to do this may result in repayment of the incorrect award.  

If I am eligible for a refund, how and when will I get it?

Financial aid funds are managed efficiently for the students who are attending their classes and earning their aid.  Any financial aid that the students are eligible for that exceed the cost of tuition, fees and books will post to the students’ account around the fifth week of the semester pending confirmation of attendance. Refunds should be available within 14 days of the posting. Students will receive an email notice from Fees & Deposits once the refund has been processed. Refunds are NOT processed through Student Financial Services. 

Refunds can be issued in two different ways:

  • Direct Deposit into a personal checking or savings account. (This option is strongly encouraged.) Contact Student Financial Services for more information.
  • Institutional check will be mailed

Because financial aid refunds will not be available to students until after the fifth week of each semester, students are highly encouraged to budget their excess aid funds wisely. Prior semester balances cannot be paid by current or subsequent semester financial aid. The balance must be paid or future enrollment will be cancelled. For example, a student that owes a balance from summer semester cannot use his autumn semester refund to pay summer’s balance. The balance from summer must be paid or the student will be deregistered from autumn semester classes.

Can I use financial aid to pay for books?

If a student has completed all required financial aid steps and has pending excess aid (tuition/fees are covered and there is a financial aid refund expected), the student will be able to purchase books and supplies from the Newark Campus Official Bookstore on credit against his pending aid no earlier than 10 days prior to the start of the semester. Students are limited to the lessor of $1,500 or the amount of their pending excess financial aid funds. A student must provide his COTC ID with the correct seven digit ID number to purchase books using his pending excess aid. Students may purchase more than the amount available; however, they must pay the difference at the time of purchase using cash, check or credit card. If a student chooses to purchase books from a source other than the Newark Campus bookstore, the student must use another payment method until his refund is available.​ Click here for additional information.

What things can affect my financial aid?

Dropping, Withdrawing and Non-attendance

Schedule Change

The Student Financial Aid Enrollment Change Policy requires a student to complete all of his add/drop changes by the census date of each course. (Contact the Office of Financial Aid for specific dates.) If a student adds or drops classes anytime up to and including the census date, financial aid will be adjusted. If changes are made after this date, financial aid will not be adjusted unless the student did not attend the class or withdrew from all of his classes. Students receiving Federal Direct Loans should maintain 6 credit hours throughout the semester.

Financial Aid is awarded on the basis of full-time enrollment. If a student plans to enroll less than full-time, he should expect his financial aid awards to be reduced or cancelled. The amount of aid a student is eligible for has no relationship to institutional charges or other incurred costs of attendance.

View the chart of how aid is adjusted when credit hours change.

Withdrawing From All Classes

​According to federal law, COTC students who receive Federal financial aid and do not complete their classes may be responsible to repay a portion of their aid. Students must “earn” the financial aid received by staying enrolled in school and attending classes. If a student drops, withdraws or stops attending classes during the semester, he may be required to return some of the financial aid awarded. For example: a student who completes 30% of the semester has earned 30% of his aid. This means that 70% of the aid is unearned and must be returned to the federal government. Click here for more information regarding this policy.

View the chart of how aid is adjusted or how SAP is affected when students withdraw from the semester. (This chart is updated each semester.)

Non-Attendance

Non-attendance in classes is considered a reduction of hours and aid will be adjusted. Students not attending courses for which they registered must formally withdraw online at my.cotc.edu > COTCconnect > Student Planning or at any Gateway location. Aid will be adjusted if a student is not attending classes which may create a balance due on his institutional bill.  If the student has been attending his classes, he must speak to his instructor who must report attendance electronically in order for financial aid to be updated and disbursed correctly.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

COTC is required to establish a policy to monitor the academic progress of students who apply for and/or receive financial aid. These standards are designed to ensure that students are making progress toward completion of their program of study and apply to the following financial aid programs: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Federal Work-Study Program (FWS), Federal Direct Loan Program (subsidized and unsubsidized), Federal Direct Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program (NEALP), and other programs as determined by the Office of Financial Aid.  Click here for more information regarding the SAP Policy.

Why does Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) matter?

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is key to students continuing their education at COTC and affects financial aid eligibility.

What are Student Rights and Responsibilities?

Students at COTC have rights and responsibilities related to financial aid.