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- Programs Available
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Link to Financial Aid BULLETIN
If you wish to view the current Financial Aid Bulletin, you can download it below
The Financial Aid Process
To be eligible for financial aid, a student must complete a FAFSA, be financially eligible and be making satisfactory academic progress as determined by the Standards of Satisfactory Progress for Financial Aid Recipients (copies are available in the Financial Aid Office). When a student has supplied all the required forms and information and their file is complete, their file will then be reviewed by a technician. The technician will determine if there are corrections that need to be made to the FAFSA or if any additional documentation is needed. If corrections are necessary, processing the file may take an additional 2-3 weeks. If all the information is correct, corrections are not necessary, and there is no additional documentation needed, the technician begins the awarding process. Awards take the form of a "package" of financial aid, on the financial need of the student and the available funds.
Financial Aid checks are usually mailed approximately four weeks after the start of classes. Students whose files become complete during the semester will receive their checks after they have been awarded. In order to receive the financial aid check in a timely manner, the student's address must be accurate with the Office of Admissions. Checks are not forwarded by the post office. The student is responsible for paying any expense not covered by financial aid, including books and fees. Furthermore, if a student's financial aid is not available at the start of the semester, the student must cover all expenses until financial aid becomes available.
Pell Grants are mailed to students in two checks per semester, and loan and SEOG checks are mailed once per semester. If a student is receiving a loan for one semester only, the loan will be mailed in two checks. Work-Study checks are mailed around the 10th of the month upon proper completion of a student time card. Work study students can set up direct deposit to receive their wages.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CA DREAM ACT Applications are available online as early as October 1st for the following academic year. The priority filing date for Cal Grant is March 2nd and the priority filing date for FSEOG and Federal Work Study is April 15th. However, applications are accepted throughout the school year.
Prospective students do not have to be accepted for admission to Mesa College to apply for financial aid. In fact, students should apply for aid as soon as the applications are available whether or not they have been admitted to the college. The application process for federal aid can take up to 12 weeks. Students must be enrolled in order to be paid any financial aid benefits.
All financial aid applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The completed application (FAFSA) should be mailed to the processor or completed online (click on the FAFSA logo above).
Official academic transcripts from prior colleges attended must be submitted before the processing of a financial aid application can be completed. Academic transcripts must be submitted directly to the District Records Office. Transcripts should be sent in an unopened envelope to this following address:
San Diego Community College District Records Office
3375 Camino del Rio South
San Diego, CA 92108-3383
In order to receive financial aid at San Diego Mesa College a student must have San Diego Mesa College showing as their Campus of Record, have a valid FAFSA onfile at San Diego Mesa College AND be actively enrolled in at least one SDCCD course (unit) for the duration of the semester in which he/she wants to receive any type of financial aid. The enrollment in this course must be continuous. [Please Note: Just being enrolled in 1 or more courses will not guarantee eligibility for aid. Individual aid programs have their own enrollment criteria]. If a student drops all SDCCD course(s) he/she is enrolled in, he/she will lose eligibility to receive any subsequent disbursement of financial aid at Mesa College even if he/she enrolls in another SDCCD class during the same semester. If you have any questions regarding this requirement, please consult the Mesa Financial Aid Bulletin or contact the Mesa Financial Aid Office.
In order to be eligible to apply for financial aid, a student must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or be in the country for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a permanent resident (per HEA Sec. 484(a)(5), 34 CFR 668.32(d), 34 CFR 668.33, and Subpart I of Part 668).
Generally, you are an eligible noncitizen if you are 1) a U.S. permanent resident and you have an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-551); 2) a conditional permanent resident (I-551C); or 3) an other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: "Refugee", "Asylum Granted", "Parole" (I-94 confirms paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired) or "Cuban-Haitian Entrant".
Eligible non-citizens provide proof of permanent residency for Federal Aid (Alien Registration Cards, I-94, I-155, or U.S. Immigration and Naturalization letter granting asylum, etc.). F-1 Visa students (Immigrant Workers) are not eligible for financial aid at Mesa College . For further information regarding eligible immigration status, contact the Financial Aid Office.
As of July 1, 2012 you must have a high school diploma, General Education Diploma (GED) or a State approved High School equivalency. With the elimination of the Ability to Benefit (ATB) regulations, students will no longer have the option to pass an ATB test or to successfully complete 6 core/degree applicable units to qualify for aid, unless they have had any college activity prior to July 1, 2012. Students, who had previously qualified under the ATB regulations, will continue to be eligible to apply for Federal Financial Aid. . Reach out to the Financial Aid Office for more information.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Financial Programs Available
For information about the Board of Governor's Fee Waiver, Federal Direct Subsidized Loan, Federal FSEOG Grant, Federal Direct Parent Plus Loan, Cal Grants, Federal Pell Grant, Federal Work Study, Alternative Loans, and more click here.
Financial Aid Forms
For information and to download Financial Aid forms click here.
Repayment of Financial Aid Due to Withdrawal from All Classes (R2T4)
If a student withdraws, drops, or fails to complete/attend all of his/her units for any reason, he/she may need to repay a portion of financial aid that he/she received. In addition, if a student does not attend a late start class for which he/she has been paid, he/she may need to repay (per 34 CFR 690.79). The Financial Aid Office will determine how much the student needs to repay by using a federally mandated formula. The student will be notified by mail of the amount due. If the repayment is not made to the Mesa College Accounting Office within 45 days, the debt will be forwarded to the Department of Education for further collection activities.
If a student receives financial aid that he/she is ineligible for due to an invalid Financial Aid Application, changes to a student's academic history, nonattendance, federal loan default, it is discovered that he/she provided false information, the same repayment policies apply.
Once a student owes repayment of his/her financial aid, he/she is not eligible to receive further financial aid until the debt is fully repaid. The only exceptions to this policy apply to Direct Loan funds and Federal Work Study Wages. If a student receives a Federal Direct Loan and withdraws from his/her units, the normal repayment rules of the Federal Direct Loan program apply. Any Federal Work Study wages received do not have to be repaid, however, the student's employment in the Federal Work Study position will end.
Two weeks prior to the start of a new semester, California resident students who are awarded and are Pell Grant eligible have a portion of their Pell Grant award placed in a special account in the bookstore. This allows the student to purchase books and supplies using the Pell Grant. The account may be used at City, Mesa , Miramar College and the ECC bookstores regardless of where the student is attending. Any unused portion of the bookstore account is returned to the grant and included in the first check mailed to the student.
Campus-based scholarship applications are available in the Student Affairs Office (I4-408) beginning in December of each year. In general, students are responsible for conducting their own research for scholarships. The Financial Aid office has posted a listing of possible online sources.
Never pay for a scholarship or a scholarship search, or fall for the line: "you can't get this anywhere else." Beware of scholarship fraud and remember that the first F in FAFSA stands for "Free".
The following is a list of helpful scholarship sites. Most sites require registration using personal, educational and sometimes family income bracket information.
E-mail addresses are required. Most scholarships require a student essay and letters of recommendation. Note: If any search engine has a link such as: "Apply for a Pell Grant" or "Apply for Financial Aid" etc., and does not send you to www.fafsa.ed.gov, we encourage you to exit the site. You should never pay to file a FAFSA [Free Application for Federal Student Aid].
Financial Aid for Veterans
Students who are veterans and are eligible to receive veterans' education benefits such as the Montgomery GI Bill may also apply for federal financial aid by completing the FAFSA. Financial aid eligibility for veterans is determined by the same federal process applied to all students and are eligible for the same awards as all students.
Veterans are advised to visit the Veterans' Affairs Office on campus. Veterans must provide the Veterans' Affairs Office with a copy of their DD214 (Discharge Form) to open their claim for benefits. The DD214 must show a discharge other than "Dishonorable".
If a veteran student is under the age of 24 and is not married, he/she will also need to provide the Financial Aid Office with a copy of his/her DD214. The Montgomery GI Bill is the only VA Education Benefit that does not affect student eligibility for a Subsidized Direct Loan.
Avoiding Scams and Fraud
Unfortunately, not everyone has a student's best interests at mind when it comes to student financial aid. There are many companies or individuals who will attempt to obtain a student's or family member's personal information with the promise of a low interest loan or scholarship. These companies or individuals will later use that information to make unnecessary withdrawals from the student's bank account, open credit accounts in the student's name, and possibly even cause a student and their family members legal trouble!
There are several warning signs that an offer may be a scam:
- The student or family must pay a fee for services
- There is a money-back guarantee
- Credit card/bank account information is requested
- Offers exclusive information on grants or scholarships
- Promises cash if the student pays a registration fee
- Promises a low interest rate loan if the student pays
- Promises the student different results than if the student were to complete the form on his/her own
A scholarship search service, should not require a fee for services and definitely should not request personal information such as a student's Social Security Number or bank account information. Don't get burned!
Another popular scam features companies that promise to get a student better results from the FAFSA if they complete it for a fee. Not only do these companies charge to complete a free form (found at: www.fafsa.ed.gov), but they may be getting the student involved in fraud! If a student or a member of his/her family purposely answers the FAFSA questions inaccurately, he/she is submitting false information to the federal government. Submitting fraudulent information on the FAFSA is punishable with a $20,000 fine, prison time, or both (per Title IV of the Higher Education Amendments, Sec 490). Don't let this happen!
If a student is a victim of fraud, there are resources available.
Be sure to notify the Financial Aid Office of any questionable offers so they can prevent other students from being affected. The Financial Aid Office will notify the proper authority. The student is encouraged to contact the State Attorney's Office and the Department of Consumer Affairs to report the incident. Be sure to have the following information on hand:
- Date and time of call
- Name of company or individual who contacted you
- Nature of any information disclosed
Please see the list of contacts below for assistance in resolving fraud:
- National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- State of California Attorney General's Office
- Equifax Credit Bureau
- Experian Credit Bureau
- Trans Union Credit Bureau
- Social Security Administration ( San Diego, CA)
Frequently Asked Questions
How and when should I apply for financial aid?
To apply for federal and state financial aid you should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Copies are available in the Financial Aid Office and in most high school guidance offices, or it can be completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov . Be sure to put the Mesa College school code (001275) on the application if you plan to attend Mesa . A new FAFSA becomes available every January for the following academic year. Although applications are accepted continuously, students interested in receiving a Cal Grant must file by March 2nd . Students interested in receiving Federal Work Study or FSEOG must apply by April 15th . The earlier you apply the better!
How does Mesa College determine how much
financial aid I receive?
The basis for all financial aid decisions is the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). After you complete the FAFSA, the Department of Education enters your personal and tax information into a formula. The formula determines, based on the previous year's income, how much you and your family can contribute to your education for the following academic year. The Financial Aid Office then uses the EFC to determine your eligibility for federal and state financial aid programs. Other factors also determine your eligibility, including the date of your application, the availability of funds, the highest educational level you have achieved, how many units you have already completed, and your academic record. The Financial Aid Office will be unable to determine your financial aid eligibility until we have determined a valid EFC.
My Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) seems really
high, how can the government expect my family to save this much for education?
The Department of Education uses the same formula to determine EFC for everyone. The formula is determined by the United States Congress. Factors that affect EFC include, but are not limited to: taxed income; untaxed income such as disability and child support; military benefits such as BAH/BAS; business income; number of dependents; number in the family in college (excluding parents); age of the oldest parent; and family asset information. As most people have some form of debt, neither the Department of Education nor the Mesa Financial Aid Office will consider debt in determining financial aid eligibility. Although your EFC may seem high, please remember that financial aid is intended for low income students. The basis for all financial aid policy is that students and their parents have the primary responsibility for meeting educational costs.
My mother recently lost her job. Is there anything I can
do to receive more financial aid?
Do not adjust your FAFSA to reflect your family's new income. Students whose families have experienced a drastic decrease in income from what they indicated on the previous year's FAFSA may complete an Income Reduction Form. In order for the Financial Aid Office to process an Income Reduction Form, a family must document why a loss of income occurred, provide documents to show income earned year-to-date, and estimate income they will receive for the rest of the tax year. The family must be able to demonstrate that the loss of income was not a personal decision, but rather created by circumstances beyond their control. The Income Reduction process allows the Financial Aid Office to review income from the tax year following the tax year reported on the FAFSA. For example, for the academic year 2004-05 the income reported on the FAFSA is 2003. The Income Reduction process allows the Financial Aid Office to review income for 2004 and to make decisions on eligibility based on that income. Please contact the Mesa Financial Aid Office for more information on this process and to obtain the proper form.
I am 21 years old, claim myself on my taxes, and don't
live with my parents, why must I include their information on my FAFSA?
Although it may seem unfair that you must include your parents' information on your FAFSA even though you support yourself, the Department of Education's perspective is that most students receive some form of support from their parents while they are in college. Also, the basis of federal financial aid policy is that students and their parents have the primary responsibility for meeting educational costs. A parent's unwillingness to contribute to his/her child's educational expenses does not make a student independent. The Mesa Financial Aid Office may declare a student independent, but only in extreme and documented cases of neglect and abuse. This procedure is called Dependency Override. Any student who DOES NOT meet at least one of the following requirements must include his/her parents' information on the FAFSA:
- Will be 24 years of age by the first day of the next year
- Is working on a graduate degree
- Is married
- Has children who receive more than half their support
from the student
- Has other dependents who receive more than half their support from the student
- Is/Was a Ward of the Court until age 18
- Both parents are deceased
- Is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
I took a few Mesa classes while in high school; can that affect my financial aid eligibility?
Yes! All units attempted at Mesa College contribute to a student's academic progress record. To remain eligible for financial aid a student must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress, defined as completing no more than 90 units and working toward the first degree, having at least a 2.0 GPA for two consecutive years, and completing a minimum of 67% of all units attempted. Be careful not to overburden yourself while in high school as failing or withdrawing from classes at Mesa College could impact your future financial aid eligibility.
My parents haven't filed their taxes yet; can I still complete a FAFSA?
Yes! You can complete the FAFSA by providing estimated tax information. This may be a good idea if you are trying to meet the priority deadline for a certain award. However, you will eventually need to file taxes and present the Financial Aid Office with a copy of the tax return and W2s in order for them to determine your actual eligibility. In order to determine if you need to file a tax return, please contact the IRS (www.irs.gov or 1-800- 829-4933).
When do I get my financial aid check?
Assuming you have submitted all requested paperwork and your file is complete and has been packaged by your financial aid technician, you can expect to receive your check approximately four weeks after the start of classes. In order to receive your check in a timely manner please make sure your address is up-to-date with the Mesa College Admissions Office and that your name is on your mailbox.
How might my grades affect my financial aid eligibility?
Your academic history is relevant to your financial aid eligibility. The Department of Education requires that financial aid be given only to students who are making Satisfactory Academic Progress. At Mesa College , Satisfactory Academic Progress is defined as completing no more than 90 units and working toward the first degree, having at least a 2.0 GPA for two consecutive years, and completing a minimum of 67% of all units attempted. If a student does not meet the standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress, he/she may appeal to receive financial aid. Appeal forms are available in the Financial Aid Office. Students are permitted to appeal one time per academic year.
For More Information
The Department of Education makes available billions of dollars annually in need-based grants, loans, and work-study funds to enable millions of students to attend college. If you're interested in applying for financial aid or just knowing about the many opportunities available, check out the Office of Postsecondary Education web site.
Funding your education, from the U.S. Department of Education office.