Feb 29, 2024  
2023-24 Gaston College Catalog and Student Handbook 
    
2023-24 Gaston College Catalog and Student Handbook

Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs




Financial Aid (Applies to Curriculum Students Only)

Financial Aid Philosophy - The U. S. Department of Education and Gaston College maintain the view that the primary responsibility for providing educational expenses rests with the student and the student’s family. However, students who cannot provide the entire cost, and demonstrate financial need, may obtain monetary assistance through the Financial Aid Office.

Financial Aid is distributed at Gaston College without regard to race, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Gaston College is an equal opportunity educational institution. Please note: Gaston College does not participate in the Federal Direct Loan Program.

Types of Financial Aid

There are two types of financial aid: gift assistance and work. Gift assistance includes grants and scholarships that do not have to be repaid provided that the student attends classes through the 60% point of the semester. Work-study is a self-help program that enables students to pay part of their expenses through their own earnings. The work-study program gives students the opportunity to work and earn money at or above the current minimum wage.

Application Procedure

Students who are entering Gaston College and are in need of financial aid are requested to follow this application procedure:

  1. After the application for admission has been submitted (see the Office of Admissions), the student should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  2. Students should submit their FAFSA information on the Federal Student Aid website using Gaston College school code #002973. Normally, Gaston will have access to your FAFSA within 1-2 weeks, however, it can take up to four weeks to process a complete file depending on any additional documents that may be required. Therefore, students should submit all financial aid forms several weeks before registering for classes.
  3. In addition, the student should submit other documentation if requested by the Financial Aid Office. Additional documentation includes the Verification Form, IRS tax documentation, and other financial information.
  4. Students interested in scholarships and/or work-study must submit separate applications. Gaston College Foundation Scholarship Applications must be completed online through the online scholarship system, beginning March 1 with a priority deadline of April 30. The Work-Study Application is available online on the College web page or in the Financial Aid Office.

Applicants may apply for a scholarship, grant, work-study, or any combination of these. The total combined sum of these must not exceed total financial need. The awarding of aid is based on funds available. Students will be notified of their financial aid eligibility via mail, e-mail, and their Self-Service account. The award letter will state the type and amount of awards. Students should retain their copy of the award notification letter for their records. If the student does not plan to enroll or use their financial aid award at Gaston College, the student should notify the financial aid office immediately.

In the event that a student receiving federal aid completely withdraws from the institution and stops attending all of their classes prior to the 60% point of the semester, the student could be responsible for repayment of a prorated portion of all financial aid funds.  Financial Aid does not pay for audited courses, credit-by-exam, or a certificate in the certified nursing assistant program (CNA). If the student never attends class(es), the student is not eligible to receive financial aid for the class(es) and will be responsible for repayment and billed for the aid in which they became ineligible. It is the student’s responsibility to complete the necessary forms in the Registrar’s Office to drop or withdraw. If the student never attends their class(es) and does not officially drop or withdraw, the student is still responsible for the payment of their tuition, fees, and/or books. In addition, the student may not be entitled to their Gaston College financial aid award(s) if they have received all or part of the awards at another institution prior to enrolling at Gaston College.

The student has the obligation to read, understand and maintain the “Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards” as defined specifically for financial aid recipients. The student’s failure to read and understand the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards and Policies does not release the student from their responsibilities. Failure to maintain academic progress will result in the loss of eligibility for financial aid. Eligibility may be regained unless the student has exceeded his or her eligibility to receive federal aid. Student coursework must be restricted to the major that is on file in the Office of Records and Registration. Courses taken outside of the approved major may require adjustment to the financial aid award. Financial aid will pay for repeated courses as long as it falls within the College’s repeat policy guidelines. However, Financial Aid will not pay for excessive repeats beyond this policy nor will it pay for repeated courses that are not necessary to complete the student’s major (i.e., courses that have been repeated twice and successfully passed/completed, or Elective Courses). In addition, Financial Aid will pay for remedial/developmental courses up to a maximum of 30 attempted credit hours.

Student Responsibilities (related to Financial Aid)

  • Review and consider all information about the College’s programs before enrolling.
  • Complete all application forms accurately and submit them on time to the right department.
  • Pay special attention to and accurately complete the application for Financial Aid. Errors can result in long delays in receiving aid. Intentional misrepresentation of information on application forms for federal financial aid is a violation of the law and is considered a criminal offense, subject to penalties under the U.S Criminal Code.
  • Return all additional documentation, verification, corrections, and new information to the Financial Aid Office.
  • Read and understand all forms before signing them and keep copies of all forms.
  • Notify the lender of previous student loans of changes in name, address, and school status if the student has previously received a student loan from any previous institution.
  • Perform the work that is agreed upon in accepting a College work-study award.
  • Know and comply with the deadlines (both U.S. Department of Education and Gaston College) for application and reapplication for aid.
  • Contact the Financial Aid Office before withdrawing from school or changing course schedule.
  • Notify the Financial Aid Office in writing about additional income not reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Express written appreciation to any scholarship donor.
  • Understand and maintain Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards in order to continue to receive financial aid. Students are not considered to be making satisfactory academic progress if they do not maintain at least a 2.0 GPA and/or 67% completion rate each semester.
  • Officially drop or withdraw from a class(es) that the student registered for but is not attending even if that student applied for and/or received financial aid. Students cannot assume that automatic drops or withdrawals will be performed for them in the event that they do not pay for their registration fees.
  • Make sure that the student’s legal name, as it appears on the student’s Social Security card, is on file with the Office of Records and Registration (via your Self-Service Account) and is the name used on your FAFSA application.
  • Make sure that your correct mailing address and current phone number are on file with the Office of Records and Registration (via your Self-Service Account) in order to properly receive correspondence and/or refund checks (if applicable) that are mailed. 

Unofficial Withdrawals and Financial Aid

Financial aid is awarded to students contingent upon completion of the semester. Federal financial aid recipients who completely withdraw from class, stop attending, drop out, or are dismissed/suspended from class prior to completing 60% of the semester are subject to a Return of Title IV (R2T4) calculation that will determine if the student is responsible for repayments of any financial aid. Return of Title IV (R2T4) calculations are based on the student’s recorded attendance and/or class participation. State financial aid recipients who completely withdraw from class, stop attending, drop out, or are dismissed/suspended from class prior to completing 35% of the semester are subject to a Return to State calculation that will determine if the student is responsible for repayments of any financial aid.

Additionally, all attempted courses (excluding developmental coursework) including withdrawals and transfer credit and all periods of attendance at Gaston College are considered towards the 150% maximum time frame requirements regardless of whether financial aid was received for these periods. Once a student reaches the 150% maximum time frame, the student will be considered ineligible for aid.

Consequences of Withdrawals for Students Who Receive Financial Aid

Federal financial aid recipients who withdraw from class or stop attending prior to completing the semester may owe a repayment to the U.S. Government. Calculations are based on the last date of attendance/participation in the class. If a portion of the aid is unearned, the College is required to return the funds to the federal government. If it is determined that a student owes the U.S. Department of Education, failure of the student to repay the debt or make payment arrangements within 45 days of notification will result in the loss of Title IV eligibility at all institutions. In addition, the student will not be allowed to register for future terms at the College.

Scholarships

Gaston College and the Gaston College Foundation offer a variety of scholarships each academic year. Foundation scholarships are donated by civic clubs, foundations, friends of the College, and local businesses. Applicants are considered for all scholarships for which they qualify. Gaston College Foundation scholarship applicants must satisfy all Gaston College admissions requirements, including any required placement tests for their program of study. Applicants must submit the FAFSA using Gaston College’s school code #002973 in addition to completing a Gaston College Foundation Scholarship Application. Scholarship applications are accepted beginning March 1 and will be accepted throughout the academic year. Applications received by the priority deadline, usually by April 30, will receive priority consideration for scholarship awards. Applications received after the priority deadline will be considered as funds are available. Completed applications must be submitted online EACH year by the deadline published online. Information about student financial aid and scholarships may be obtained on the Gaston College website or from the Financial Aid Office located in the Myers Center on the Dallas Campus, and in the Student Affairs Office on the Lincoln Campus. A full listing of Gaston College Foundation Scholarships can be found on the Foundation Scholarship webpage and on the Gaston College website.

Federally Supported Programs

Federally supported programs are funded by the government through the U. S. Department of Education. These programs consist of the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and the Federal College Work Study. Every student who is applying for financial aid at Gaston College must apply for the Federal Pell Grant by completing the FAFSA. The student should complete the form on the Internet at fafsa.gov. Please include Gaston College’s Title IV school code #002973 on the application which will enable the U.S. Department of Education to provide a Student Aid Report (SAR) to Gaston College.

Gaston College does not participate in the Stafford or Federal Direct Loan programs, and Gaston College does not certify student loans. There are many sources of alternative or private loans to help provide funding to students of the College. Gaston College does not endorse the use of any particular alternative loan program, but rather encourages its students to thoroughly review the programs available and to select the program that best meets their personal needs.

Eligibility for Federally Supported Programs

Students must meet the following requirements before they can receive federal financial aid funds:

  1. Have financial need.
  2. Have a recognized/regionally accredited high school or homeschool diploma, or a General Education Development (GED) certificate.
  3. Be enrolled as a regular student working toward a degree or diploma program. (Students may not receive aid for correspondence or telecommunications courses unless they are part of an associate, bachelor, or graduate degree program.)
  4. Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  5. Have a valid Social Security Number.
  6. Make Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  7. Sign a statement of educational purpose/certification statement on refunds and default (found on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
  8. Register with the Selective Service, if male.

Federal Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant program is designed to provide financial assistance to those in need. The amount of the Federal Pell Grant is determined on the basis of the student’s and his or her family’s financial resources and the expected family contribution as provided by your FAFSA.

The Federal Pell Grant Award is a grant and does not have to be repaid as long as the student maintains eligibility requirements for federally supported programs and attends his or her classes through the 60% point of the term. The student must maintain Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards to maintain eligibility.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

This program of direct grants of financial aid is for undergraduate students of exceptional financial need who, without the grants, would be unable to continue their education. FSEOG is a grant and does not have to be repaid as long as the student maintains eligibility requirements for federally supported programs and attends their classes through the 60% point of the term. The student must maintain Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards. You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at http://fafsa.gov.

Federal College Work-study Program
(Federal/Institutional)

Gaston College participates in the college work-study program, which provides on campus work opportunities for students needing financial assistance to attend school. Work is available in the library, faculty offices, administrative offices, laboratories, shops, and building and ground maintenance. Students working under this program are paid monthly for the work performed. To be considered for the work-study program, and to determine the number of hours per week a student may work under the program, the Financial Aid Office will consider a student’s (1) need for financial assistance, (2) class schedule (enrolled in at least 6 credit hours), (3) health, and (4) academic progress.

We also have campus jobs that are funded by the College. If you are interested in Work-Study, you should submit an application online at https://www.gaston.edu/pay-for-college/types-of-aid/work-study/. Click on the Work-Study Application to submit the form. Students may also apply in the Financial Aid Office.

State Supported Programs

North Carolina Community College Grant

The North Carolina Community College Grant is a need-based grant offered by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority through College Foundation, Inc. Applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year they attend school. Legal residents of North Carolina who are enrolled at least half-time (six credit hours) in an eligible program and maintain satisfactory academic progress may apply. Students must demonstrate financial need. Students with a bachelor’s degree are ineligible. Students must demonstrate financial need. Students with bachelor’s degrees are ineligible. Students who register for 15 or more credit hours per semester will receive an additional $200 per semester. NC Community College grants are not available for summer.

North Carolina Community College Less Than Half time Grant

The State Board of Community Colleges allocates funds yearly to each college to provide need-based assistance to students enrolled less than half time and have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by your FAFSA between 801 through 4000 to be eligible for these funds.

North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarship

The North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarship program is offered by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority through College Foundation, Inc. Applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year they attend school, Eligibility and awards are determined annually. Legal residents of North Carolina who are enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours) in an eligible program and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements of the institution they attend may apply. Students with a bachelor’s degree are ineligible. North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarships are not available for summer sessions.

Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS)

This forgivable-loan was established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011 and provides financial assistance to qualified students who are committed to working in North Carolina in fields designated as critical employment shortage areas. Students must be a legal North Carolina resident and NC resident for tuition purposes, present a minimum GPA of 2.80 (at time of application), register with Selective Service if required, must not be in default (or do not owe a refund) under any federal or state loan or grant program, must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (according to the enrolling policy of the institution), and be willing to work in NC in a designated critical employment area. To apply, visit http://cfnc.org/fels.

State Employees Credit Union “People Helping People” Scholarship

The SECU Foundation established this two-year scholarship program to assist North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) students in achieving academic success. Each North Carolina Community College receives two (2) scholarships. These scholarships are distributed semi-annually in two payments for fall semester and spring semester for a maximum of four (4) consecutive semesters. Scholarships are not transferable to another student or another school.

Preference is given to students whose parents or guardians and family members are public sector employees who live and work in North Carolina. The committee considers students who best exemplify the membership philosophy of credit unions, “People Helping People”, and have demonstrated leadership, excellence of character, integrity, and community involvement. The recipient is selected without regard to race, sex, color, creed, religious preference, age, national origin or disability. The committee recognizes the individual most deserving of an opportunity to attend college. Recipients are selected by the Gaston College Scholarship Committee. To be considered for this scholarship, students must complete a Gaston College Scholarship application.

Wells Fargo Technical Scholarship

This fund was established through a gift from the Wells Fargo Bank to the North Carolina Community College System. To qualify as a candidate for this scholarship, a person must be a full-time student enrolled in the second year of a two-year technical program; must demonstrate financial need and scholastic promise; and must use the scholarship to pay for books, tuition, and transportation. The recipient is selected by the Gaston College Scholarship Committee. To be considered for this scholarship, students must complete a Gaston College Scholarship application.

SPARC Scholars

In response to a growing need for a well-trained science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent pool, Gaston College has developed an initiative, known as SPARC, to promote persistence and graduation of these students at the College. The SPARC Scholars scholarships are one element of the larger SPARC initiative. The success of SPARC Scholars will be fostered by financial support, academic learning communities, mentoring, undergraduate research experiences, and supplemental group activities to aid in student learning and prepare students for future achievement. Successful SPARC Scholars will complete the Associate of Science or Associate in Engineering degree and be provided assistance in applying for acceptance to four-year colleges and universities for further study in STEM fields. SPARC is currently supported by a private donor and a grant from the National Science Foundation.

How to Apply

Gaston College subscribes to the open-door admission policy. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and possess a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll. Students should apply for the scholarship through the Gaston College online scholarship application system at gaston.academicworks.com.  Students who meet the base requirements and list their degree program as Associate of Science or Associate of Engineering should be auto matched with the scholarship. Please email the program at sparc3@gaston.edu with any issues applying.

SPARC Scholars will be expected to meet additional eligibility requirements including:

  • U.S. citizenship, nationality, or lawful U.S. permanent residence
  • Full-time enrollment in the Associate of Science or Associate of Engineering program at Gaston College
  • Demonstrated financial need based upon federal guidelines as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Overall unweighted GPA of 3.0 or higher

Scholars will be notified upon acceptance into the program. You can find more detailed information on the SPARC Scholars Scholarships at http://gaston.edu/arts-and-sciences/testing-sparc-3/.

Veterans Benefits

Gaston College is approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs and NC State Approving Agency to offer VA educational benefits. Eligibility is established by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Eligibility remains in effect until consumed or 10 years from active duty release date for Chapter 30 recipients and 15 years for Chapter 33 recipients (prior to January 1, 2013). Students serving in the Reserves may also be eligible for benefits. Please contact the Veterans Affairs Office located in the Myers Center on the Dallas Campus to complete the necessary forms and any other details.

Applicants for educational benefits must fulfill all requirements for general admission. In addition, transfer applicants must submit for evaluation transcripts from ALL other post-secondary institutions attended.

By law, no certification can be sent to the DVA Regional Office for any course or program until all of the admission requirements have been completed.

Eligibility may apply to widows or widowers of deceased veterans, spouses of living veterans, and children of either who are between 18 and 26 years of age when the death or permanent disability, resulting from service in the Armed Forces, occurs.

Educational benefits are provided under the provisions of Chapter 30, 31, 33, or 35 of Title 38 of the U.S. Code and Chapter 1606 and 1607 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code.

‘AU’ (Audit), ‘NS’ (No Show), and ‘CE’ (Credit by Examination) are not accepted by the Department of Veterans Affairs for payment purposes. Marks of ‘WA’ (Withdrawal), ‘WI’ (Withdrawal by Instructor), and any course that a student does not complete or stops attending can result in repayment of funds to DVA.

All questions and problems pertaining to eligibility, certification of programs, and payment should be directed to the Veterans Affairs Office.

In-State Tuition Policy

Gaston College will NOT charge a tuition rate higher than the rate charged for North Carolina residents to any covered individual receiving Chapters 30, 31, or 33, as long as they are currently living in North Carolina (regardless of the state of legal residency). In addition, the Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness Act of 2021 now includes Chapter 35 beneficiaries as covered individuals for the purpose of receiving in-state tuition rates.

Return of Department of Defense Military Tuition Assistance

Department of Defense Military Tuition Assistance (TA) is awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student withdraws, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of TA funds originally awarded.

To comply with Department of Defense policy, Gaston College will return any unearned TA funds on a prorated basis through the 60% portion of the period for which the funds were provided. TA funds are earned proportionally during an enrollment period, with unearned funds returned based upon when a student stops attending. These funds are returned to the military Service branch.

Prohibition of High-Pressure Recruitment Tactics

In accordance with Federal regulations, 34 C.F.R 668.71-668.75 and 668.14, and as mandated by the Isakson and Roe Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 (P.L. 116-315) Gaston College prohibits inducements, including any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, transportation, lodging, meals or other item having a monetary value of more than a de minimis amount, to any individual or entity, or its agents including third party lead generators or marketing firms other than salaries paid to employees or fees paid to contractors in conformity with all applicable laws for the purpose of securing enrollments of Service members or obtaining access Tuition Assistance funds.

Gaston College prohibits the payment of any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based directly or indirectly on securing enrollments or federal financial aid, including Tuition Assistance, to any persons or entities engaged in any student recruiting, admission activities, or making decisions regarding the award of student financial assistance.

Gaston College prohibits high-pressure recruitment tactics such as making multiple unsolicited contacts (3 or more), including contacts by phone, email, or in-person, and engaging in same-day recruitment and registration for the purpose of securing Service member enrollments in non-credit courses/programs.

Vocational Rehabilitation

The state of North Carolina may provide financial assistance for students who have physical or mental disabilities, learning disability, or emotional impairment. Interested students should contact their local Vocational Rehabilitation Office for further information. The Gastonia office is located at 109 W. Eighth Avenue, Gastonia, NC 28054, 704.853.5358. The Lincolnton office is located at 529 North Aspen Street, Lincolnton, NC 28092, 704.735.8035.