For a lot of students on American River College’s campus, financial aid is a lifeline used to not only cover the cost of textbooks and other class supplies but also to cover transportation and living expenses while attending the college.
Regardless of the fact that financial aid is such a big resource for students, there are limits as to how much can be received while attending the school.
For ARC, the current cap is based on the degree that a student is working on.
Students working on a certificate degree that requires 50 units, the cap is set at 72 units before being put on probation. For those who are working on completing their AA degrees, 72 units are required but the cap is set at 90 units.
The max amount of units a student can complete before being put on probation from financial aid is 150 units.
These set caps provide serious problems for students who have majors that require them to take a heavy load of classes, most of which are prerequisites, in order to get their degree or to transfer.
Taking several units that they have no choice but to complete, students run out of financial aid early in their time at ARC.
Despite the detriment that these limits cause, the caps are put into place based upon the federal budget and legislative determination and cannot be changed solely based on student needs.
Even though the caps cannot be changed, there are other options that students have that can help them continue to receive financial aid or to get other financial help even after the cap is reached.
For example, if a student has completed the amount of units that falls under their unit limit and they still have a larger amount of classes to finish for their degree goal, they can start an appeal process.
When dismissed from aid, students receive a letter that gives instructions on how to appeal the decision.
The first step is to complete a workshop on D2L and then print out the appeal form. The student will receive documents and a written statement to show that they have a documented and solid plan.
The appeal then gets sent to process and if accepted the student will be able to receive aid again for a limited time.
Other ways that students can receive financial assistance is by taking advantage of resources like the BOG Fee Waiver, scholarships and grants that the school offers.
The BOG fee waiver covers most of the cost of tuition for students leaving them with a smaller amount to pay per unit.
To apply for the different grants that ARC offers students can find all of the information on the college’s financial aid website. Scholarships can also be found under support services section on the main ARC website.
The college also offers a free financial literacy program called “Cash Course” that is available on the financial aid website.
This program assists students by giving them options of how to maximize aid eligibility, reduce debt, and how to properly plan educational costs.
The Cash Course program also gives students the ability to plan for careers after finishing their education, establishing a sound budget, and developing strategies to assist them in stretching their resources.
Chad Funk, the supervisor of the financial aid office at ARC, advises that students use these resources and stray away from forms of student debt including credit cards, private loans, and Direct Student Loans.
Financial aid isn’t unlimited, but there are resources to continue to help students that need to be used so that we have less students that are suffering from debt due to lack of funding for their education.