Changes to financial aid program modify Pell Grants and GPA requirements

It’s a long but simple process that leads to help for continuing education, yet students still dread and misunderstand the financial aid process.

It starts with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid which alone can be a long process if a parent’s income is unknown.

Next up is a wait for an email from Citrus requesting extra documents.

Only after documents have been submitted either in person or by mail and after receiving an email to check their WingSpan accounts can students view what aid they qualified for if any in grants, fee waivers and loans.

“The process is not as bad as people say it is,” said 21-year-old history major Koko Baririan, “it’s only dreadful when there’s an error.”

This year, there have been changes to financial aid requirements nationwide.

“The biggest change is life time Pell eligibility,” said financial aid director Carol Thomas, “Students can receive up to the equivalent of six full time [years] of Pell Grant towards their undergraduate degrees.”

Before the change, the Pell eligibility was for nine full time years.

Also, students without a high school diploma or GED, who weren’t enrolled in classes prior to July 1 of this year, are unable to take the Ability to Benefit test to qualify for aid.

The Ability to Benefit test was designed for students who did not obtain a high school diploma or GED and wished to receive financial aid.

Students enrolled before July 1 are still able to take the test and receive aid.

Disbursement of awards is mainly based on satisfactory academic progress and the number of units students are taking.

SAP is a system which requires students to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or above and to complete 75 percent of the total number of attempted units. Those receiving aid are only allowed a maximum of 72 total attempted units.

The awards given to students are based on a full time (12 or more units) course load. Aid for part time students is reduced to either 75 percent (if attending 9-11.5 units) or 50 percent (6-8.5 units).

If a student attends less than six units, they may not be eligible for any aid at all, which creates conflicts for students who can only attend one or two classes due to work schedules, family matters and the unavailability of classes.

Some students in SAP that choose to drop classes after money has been disbursed, may even end up owing that money back.

The abuse of financial aid that allows unscrupulous students to use aid money for personal use is a tense subject for students who need it, but cannot receive it.

“I haven’t applied, however, I know that I would not qualify for financial aid due to the money my parents make,” said Melanie Johnson, an engineering major from West Covina. “It makes me upset to see other students abuse it.”

Any students with financial aid questions can visit the Financial Aid office located on the first floor of the Student Services building or the Financial Aid website at