Apply for Financial Aid
To apply for all federal and state funds, a student must complete the admissions process and the appropriate steps below.
An essential step to apply for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at fafsa.gov. Be sure to list FVCC on your FAFSA. FVCC’s school code is 006777.
How to Apply
Step 1: Apply for admission to Flathead Valley Community College as a degree- or certificate-seeking student.
Step 2: Students and parents (if considered dependent) need to request a FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID)
Step 3: Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the web using your FSA ID by December 1st for priority consideration. The FVCC school code is 006777.
Step 4: Contact FVCC Financial Aid for appropriate school paperwork.
Step 5: Submit all paperwork and documentation requested by the financial aid office in a timely manner.
In order to be eligible for financial aid a student must:
- A student must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
- A student must have a high school diploma or GED/HiSET.
- A student may receive federal or state financial assistance only if he/she does not owe a repayment on federal financial aid previously awarded and is not in default on any federal loan previously received.
- A student must be enrolled in a program leading toward a degree or certificate offered by FVCC.
- A student must maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP):
- A student must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average in previous coursework at FVCC and have successfully completed 67% of his/her attempted hours at FVCC.
- Degree requirements must be completed within a specific time frame. The maximum time frame for a program of study at FVCC is 150% of the program requirements (i.e. an AS degree requires 60 credits for graduation so maximum time frame would be 90 attempted credits). Hours earned at FVCC, as well as hours transferred and accepted by FVCC, are considered in this maximum time frame.
Additional Financial Aid Information
When To Apply
Students must apply for financial aid each academic year. Applications are available after October 1 for the following fall and should be submitted as soon as possible using the prior prior year tax information. Applications are processed in the order received. Students are notified of their fall awards beginning in December.
Federal and State Aid
Flathead Valley Community College administers a variety of government financial assistance programs for degree-seeking students. Students are required to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to determine eligibility.
The value of this grant varies from year to year depending on Congressional appropriations. The projected maximum annual award is $6,195 for two semesters of full-time attendance. Full and part-time students are eligible. A student’s particular dollar amount depends on the student’s expected family contribution (EFC) from the FAFSA and enrollment status term by term during the year.
This grant is awarded to students with the lowest EFCs who are also eligible for the Pell Grant. Full and part-time students are eligible. Annual awards range from $200 to $500.
For students who are not Pell-eligible; whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001; and who, at the time of the parent’s or guardian’s death, were less than 24 years old or were enrolled at least part-time at an institution of higher education. The projected maximum annual award is $6,195 for two semesters of full-time attendance. Payment is adjusted for less-than-full-time study.
Through part-time employment on campus, students who show financial need may earn a portion of their educational expenses. Ten to fifteen hours per week is the recommended work load. Students are paid a competitive wage and may gain experience in their career field.
Eligible students registered in six or more credits may borrow up to $5,500/$6,500 per year. Additional eligibility may exist for independent students. Congress sets the rates annually and new interest rates go into effect on July 1 of each year. Contact the financial aid office for current rates. Repayment of principal and interest begins six months after a student is no longer enrolled or drops below half-time attendance (six credits).
Eligible parents may borrow for their dependent undergraduate student(s) enrolled at least half-time. Congress sets the rates annually and new interest rates go into effect on July 1 of each year.
In addition to the above programs, FVCC also works with third-party sponsors who provide payment. These include Job Service, Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana, Vocational Rehabilitation, Worker’s Comp, Head Start, various employers, and others. All sponsorship authorizations must be sent to the Financial Aid Office. Authorization letters must be received prior to the start of the semester.
Changes in Enrollment Status
Financial aid is awarded based on the student’s FAFSA application. Enrollment verification is completed after the census class day: 15th class day of fall and spring semesters; 10th class day of summer semester. Financial aid awards are adjusted based on the student’s current registration at the census class day. Any changes to enrollment after that date will not affect the value of a student’s award package, unless a student drops a course that has not started, or withdraws from all courses for that term.
Students who withdraw from classes after the 15th class day should review the eligibility section of the Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements to ensure they are maintaining the required academic standards.
Financial Aid Refunds
If students receive more financial aid than their direct institutional costs, the college will issue a refund check about a month into the semester.
In some circumstances, students who are registered in late-starting classes may have their refund check reduced or held until they are in attendance in the late-starting courses and have passed the refund period for those courses. This excludes all Title IV (Federal Grants and Loans) recipients.
Withdrawal/Return of Title IV Funds
Financial Aid students who desire to officially withdraw from all classes must visit with the Director of Financial Aid at FVCC prior to starting the withdrawal process. The Director will explain the consequences of withdrawal to the student and explore possible alternatives that would preserve the student’s eligibility for continued aid. An official withdrawal is complete when the student fills out a withdrawal form, has all the necessary signatures, and turns the form into the Admission Office for processing.
For a student who officially withdraws, the withdrawal date is the earlier of the date they began the withdrawal process or last attended classes. For a student who didn’t officially withdraw (Unofficial Withdrawal), meaning that they stopped attending their classes without notification, the withdrawal date is the last date of attendance as reported by the instructor, or the 50% point of the semester.
The FVCC Financial Aid Office determines the amount of aid ‘earned’ by the student for a term using a federal formula known as Return of Title IV (R2T4) funds. The R2T4 calculation is done if the student withdraws (officially or unofficially) from a term and had received or may receive federal financial assistance in the form of a Federal Pell Grant, Iraq/Afghanistan Service Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Federal Direct Loan (subsidized or unsubsidized), or Federal Parent PLUS loans.
The percentage of aid to be earned is equal to the number of calendar days completed in the semester divided by the number of calendar days in the semester. Scheduled breaks of more than 5 consecutive days within a semester are excluded. The resulting percentage is then used along with the student’s school costs and total federal funds the student received (funds that were disbursed directly to the student’s bill and possibly refunded) or that the student was eligible to receive, to determine the amount of aid that they earned. If this percentage is greater than 60% it is not necessary to return funds. However, if it is less than 60%, the amount of funds not earned will be returned in the following order.
The order in which the aid must be returned is as follows:
- Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan
- Federal Subsidized Direct Loan
- Federal Direct Parent Loan (PLUS)
- Federal Pell Grant
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG)
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
If a student earned more federal aid than was previously disbursed to them at the time of withdrawal, they may be eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement (PWD). In the event of this, FVCC Financial Aid Office will process the disbursement and a refund will be issued within 14 days of the credit balance.
FVCC will disburse any Title IV grant funds a student is due as part of a post-withdrawal disbursement within 45 days of the date the school determined the student withdrew and disburse any loan funds a student accepts within 180 days of the date the school determined the student withdrew. The student or parent may choose to decline any portion of the loan, or the entire loan altogether.
If the post-withdrawal disbursement includes loans, FVCC will send notification to the student or parent (in the event of a Plus loan), within 30 days of the date the FVCC determined the student withdrew. The student or parent (in the event of a Plus Loan) has 14 days to respond to give permission to disburse a federal loan.
Depending on when the student withdrew or it was determined the student withdrew from all classes it may result in an amount returned that exceeds the school’s portion. In this event the student is required to repay some funds. The student/parent will still be required to repay any loans used in accordance with the Master Promissory Note that was signed.
Title IV Grants funds are repaid if the amount by which the original overpayment exceeds 50% of the total Title IV grant funds disbursed or could have been disbursed to the student for the semester. If the amount is less than $50.00, the student is not responsible for returning funds to Title IV grant programs.
FVCC may automatically use all or a portion of the post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds for tuition and fees. However, the school needs the student’s permission to use the post-withdrawal grant disbursement for all other school charges. If the student does not give permission, the student will be offered the funds, however, it may be in the student’s best interest to allow the school to keep the funds to reduce the student’s debt at the school.
It is also important to understand that accepting any post-withdrawal disbursement can reduce the amount of grant eligibility for future use, or increase the student’s loan debt.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy
Student Eligibility Notification:
According to the US Department of Education regulations, all students enrolled in post-secondary education must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards. These standards require, but are not limited to, attending classes, maintaining acceptable grades, completing a sufficient number of credit hours per semester, and completing the program of study within the maximum amount of allowable credits. A student who does not meet these standards is not eligible to receive federal and/or state funded financial aid. All semesters of attendance (Fall, Spring, and Summer) and all students are considered during SAP evaluation. Adherence to the standards indicated in this document will be necessary for continued financial aid eligibility.
New or returning students who have not previously received financial aid at FVCC will be notified of their status for aid eligibility after FVCC receives a copy of the student’s current FAFSA as well as transcripts from previous college(s) attendance. The FVCC Financial Aid Office will attempt to notify in writing any student currently receiving financial aid who is placed on Warning or Suspension status. This notice will be sent to the address and/or email that is listed on the FAFSA. However, failure to receive such notification does not relieve the student of the requirement to read, understand, and follow and the SAP standards for financial aid recipients.
Transfer Credits, Remedial Coursework, Repeat Coursework, Course Incompletes, and Withdrawals
For students new to FVCC, previous transfer coursework and transcripts are used in SAP calculation. The Grade Point Average (GPA) earned at previous institutions will not transfer to or merge with a student’s GPA at FVCC but will be evaluated according to the standards listed below, as though the student attended FVCC for the previous semester (i.e., if a student received a term/cumulative GPA of less than 2.00 their last semester at a previous institution, they will be evaluated as not meeting SAP standards). Only transfer credits from the student’s previous course of study that apply towards the student’s course of study at Flathead Valley Community College will count towards their Max Timeframe calculation.
Remedial or developmental coursework (i.e., courses below 100-level) must be evaluated in the same capacity as all other college courses with regards to meeting SAP Qualitative (GPA) requirements. However, remedial or developmental coursework will not be counted towards the Quantitative (Pace) standards of the SAP policy as attempted or completed credits.
Federal Regulations allow a student to retake any previously passed course a maximum of once per course; students are eligible to repeat courses, in which they have previously received an “D-” grade or higher, one additional time utilizing federal and/or state aid. A student that has repeated a previously failed course and now completed the course with a “D-” or higher grade will be ineligible for further repeats of the course utilizing federal and/or state aid. Students that have previously withdrawn from or failed a course are allowed to repeat the course. If the student receives a grade of “D-” or higher for the course, they have utilized their one repeat of the course; if the student, on their second attempt, withdraws without receiving a grade or receives an “F” grade, they are allowed to repeat the course until they receive a passing grade or until they no longer are meeting SAP standards shown above. Furthermore, students that have received an initial grade sufficient for program progression will be deemed ineligible to utilize federal and/or state aid for additional repeats of the course. Students deemed ineligible to repeat the course must pay for the course utilizing their own funds, and the ineligible course will not be factored into financial aid credit evaluations (i.e., a student enrolled at 12 credits in which a 3-credit course is an ineligible repeat will only be evaluated as though they were enrolled in 9 credits). Only the highest grade for repeated courses will be evaluated in the Qualitative (GPA) component, while all attempts of the course will be evaluated in the Quantitative (Pace) component as “attempted”.
Course Incompletes and Withdrawals (I, W, WI, U, NG) are counted in the Quantitative (Pace) component for SAP evaluation as “attempted” courses. Students with Incomplete, “I”, courses will be evaluated for the Qualitative (GPA) component once a grade has been received.
Students’ records are reviewed for Qualitative and Quantitative Measurement and MXT at the end of each semester.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is determined by:
- Qualitative Measurement (GPA)
- The minimum term and/or cumulative grade point average (GPA) must be a 2.00 for all attempted hours
- Quantitative Measurement (Credit Hours)
- Students must complete attempted credits according to the following:
- Minimum term and/or cumulative completion ratio of 67% (i.e., a student registers for 15 credits, they must complete a minimum of 11 credits to achieve a minimum completion ratio of 67%).
- Course grades of I, W, WI, U, NG, and F are considered attempted and not completed.
- Once a student successfully completes a class for which they received a grade of I or NG, the financial aid status can be reviewed and updated upon the student’s request.
- Students must complete attempted credits according to the following:
A student will be placed on financial aid Warning after their first instance of:
- The term and/or cumulative GPA is less than the required 2.0 listed in the Qualitative Measurement section
- The student has not successfully completed 67% of the term credits or the cumulative attempted credits.
A student placed on Warning status will be permitted to receive grants, scholarships, loans, and federal work-study during the Warning period. A financial aid Warning period will not last more than one semester. By the end of the Warning period, the student must meet all the SAP standards to return to good standing.
A student will be placed on financial aid Suspension after the Warning period if:
- The cumulative GPA remains less than the 2.0 requirement.
- The student still has not successfully completed the minimum 67% of the term or the cumulative attempted credits.
A student will be placed on immediate Suspension if the student receives a non-passing grade (I, W, WI, U, NG, and/or F) in all their courses for the semester.
A student placed on Suspension status will lose their eligibility to receive financial assistance. Students with a current FAFSA on file will receive a notice of their Warning/Suspension status. SAP standards are enforced even if a student did not previously receive financial aid. Students have the option to appeal their suspension if they have had extenuating circumstances for the specific term(s).
Students who have been suspended from financial aid may provide a written appeal if they have extenuating or mitigating circumstances that contributed to their inability to meet SAP standards.
Students may appeal for one of the following reasons:
- The death of an immediate family member.
- Severe injury or illness of the student that has caused hospitalization for an extended period of time.
- Other extenuating circumstances which may include but are not limited to:
- Severe illness of a relative for whom the student has custodial responsibility.
- Emergency situations such as fire or flood.
- Military reassignment, required job shift change, or job transfer that prevented the student from completing a semester.
- Separation or divorce.
To apply for an Appeal, the student must complete the SAP appeal form and provide a written statement that explains why they did not make satisfactory academic progress the last semester or what led them to withdraw from all their classes.
Please answer both questions in your appeal, otherwise your appeal may be subject to denial without consideration:
- Why did you not make SAP or withdraw from all your classes the last semester?
- What has changed since then that will allow you to successfully meet and demonstrate SAP standards moving forward?
Appeals for situations within the last three (3) years must be accompanied by supporting documents and be submitted to the Financial Aid Office, which will submit the appeal to the Appeals Committee. The Appeal Committee may request further documentation if they so choose. Your appeal may be tabled until you provide the requested documentation.
Second appeals are required to have more rigorous documentation than first appeals. You may be instructed as to the nature of the documentation required for a second appeal. Review of an appeal for a current semester requires that the appeal be received by the committee prior to the last appeal date during the semester:
Appeal Deadlines are:
Fall Semester – November 1
Spring Semester – August 1
Summer Semester – July 1
The Appeals Committee may take up to four (4) weeks to reach a decision regarding your appeal. The decision of the Appeals Committee cannot be appealed. You will be contacted by mail and/or phone as to the decision of the Committee once one has been reached with further steps.
Students that receive an approved SAP appeal and after the subsequent semester will still not meet the Qualitative (GPA) or Quantitative (Pace) components will be placed on a Financial Aid Academic Plan. This Academic Plan will require students meet with their Academic Advisor once per Academic Year and submit to the Financial Aid Office their proposed attendance credit load for each semester in the Academic Year (Fall, Spring, Summer). Students will then be required to sign a copy of the Academic Plan before their funds may be disbursed.
Academic Plans will be evaluated at the end of each semester during official SAP Monitoring. Students that fail to meet SAP standards, but meet the standards of the Academic Plan, will continue to receive funding as though they were in good standing; students that fail to meet SAP standards and fail to meet the standards of the Academic Plan will be placed on Suspension status.
Degree requirements must be completed within a specific number of credits. The MXT (number of credits allowed) for a program of study is 150% of the program requirements (e.g., an AS degree requiring 60 credits for graduation has a maximum timeframe of 90 attempted credits). Hours attempted at FVCC, as well as hours transferred and accepted by FVCC, are included in the MXT calculation so long as the hours transferred are accepted towards that program of study. Hours attempted at FVCC, as well as hours transferred and accepted by FVCC, that are not transferred directly into your program of study are not included in this calculation.
Any student who has exceeded the MXT limit and/or who cannot finish the program within this period will be considered ineligible for financial aid.
FVCC understands that students may change their educational goals and programs of study and/or additional education is often needed to enhance career opportunities. Students are allowed to change their major a maximum of two times during their attendance. Should a student desire to change their major a third time, these students may complete a written appeal for re-evaluation of their status.
Students who have been approved for a MXT extension will only have their approved courses funded one additional time. Students on a MXT extension that do not earn at least a 2.0 GPA or who completes 50% or less of attempted credits per term will go on MXT Suspension. If a student would like to submit a second appeal they may do so, but rigorous documentation will be required documenting events outside of the student’s control.
Students who meet the 2.0 GPA for the term but do not complete all their courses will go on MXT Warning if they complete at least 51% or more of their attempted credits. Repeat courses are evaluated as stated under repeat courses.
There are lifetime Federal limits on Title IV funding available to undergraduate students. These limits guide and inform students on their ability to finance post-secondary education. Students who wish to earn more than one associate degree and/or certificate with financial aid funding can do so, if they meet several factors. They must ensure they are not approaching and/or have meet their undergraduate Loan or Pell aggregate limits and can complete their degree within 150% credits attempted towards their program of study. Previous attempted and completed credits will count towards this limit so long as they transfer towards the proposed program of study. Credits that do not count towards the program are not factored into this calculation.
Students that have already earned a bachelor’s degree have limited eligibility for financial aid as they no longer qualify for Pell grants (regardless of whether they received financial aid while pursuing their bachelor’s degree). Given the extensive credits received during a bachelor’s degree, it is likely that student’s that have earned a degree previously may be required to submit a Maximum Time-Frame appeal. Submitting an appeal does not guarantee approval for funds towards your degree.
A student who has been suspended from financial aid for academic reasons and has not had an appeal approved may be eligible for reinstatement if they attend and pay for classes at their own expense and now meet the required SAP standards. While it is the student’s responsibility to inform the Financial Aid Office that they are now up to standards, the student’s file will be processed accordingly if the college discovers that the standards have been met.
If/when a student has been reinstated, they are eligible for financial aid. However, if the student then subsequently drops below SAP standards again, they will be placed evaluated according to requirements outlined above.