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FIRST ON 3: College student falls victim to federal loan changes

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- About this time every year students get ready for school. At Cape Fear Community College, registration is this week, and many students are looking for financial aid. For some, that aid will not be available.

The US Department of Education recently implemented what is known as program integrity rules. As a result a student's eligibility for loans is limited based on time. That means a student can only get financial aid for 150 percent of the time that is normally allotted to complete a degree, certificate or diploma.

This was not good news for Brandon Eaton. The 28-year-old had been going to Cape Fear Community College on and off for the past couple of years. Now his financial aid is gone.

"They sent me an e-mail and said you're no longer eligible for financial aid. Now you can't get your tuition unless you try to file an appeal," Eaton said. "They said the best thing they could do would be in 15 days give me some more information, but that's well past when tuition is due and past the cut off for buying my books on credit. So either way I'm out a semester of school."

CFCC Director of Financial Aid Jo-Ann Craig said the time away from school is never counted against a student in regards to this rule. She also said that the school has already processed more than 5,200 students for $21 million in federal Pell Grants. That is $3 million more than all of last year.

None of those statistics do much for Eaton who will miss at least a semester of school and without financial aid and cannot pay for a place to live for the time being.

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The Young Man

apparently failed to mention he had changed majors from a business curriculum to art.

And I believe the program also looks at the number of credit hours taken in total versus the number of hours required for a degree.

It's been well documented that college and community college funding from the State trough would be way down; and the fiscal year began 07/01.

Why is this a surprise?

On the other hand, does this mean that those of us who paid our way thrugh college, in years gone by, can return to school and get aid for classes we might want to take?

No you cannot because that

No you cannot because that is what happened here. First off I never switched from business to art. I switched from Business to an associate in art transfer which just means I was going to try to transfer a university instead of just getting a two year at CFCC. I, and let me say it again because apparently no one has been listening to this part I, me, paid for all of the classes out of pocket until I returned to school last semester. I had been gone from school for 5 years! Anything before spring of 2011 I paid for myself so the government gave me a whopping one and a half semesters worth of financial aid before yanking it away. I would understand not giving out money to career college students, but I was trying to return to school, as an adult and not the child I was when I began, and now I'm having to drop out. Furthermore like Ive said over and over, most of the money I was getting was in the form of an interest accruing loan that I had to pay back. I was getting nothing for free!

There is always another option

as noted on several other posts, go join the Reserves; gain focus; serve your country; and get a nice check evey month for 2 days per week of activity and a couple of weeks during the summer.

Glad to know you're an expert on this; sadly, you may want to check your sources. It has nothing to do with your age or being out of school for a period of time.

And here I thought I could enroll in the culinary cuisine and then have an island based reality show on the Food Channel.

Who said it had anything to

Who said it had anything to do with my age or being out of school for a time? I used those to illustrate the point that I paid for most of my schooling out of pocket. My loan was taken away because I switched majors half a decade ago while I was still paying out of pocket and now that I wanted a fresh start I was dropped. It's Cape Fear's fault for just not letting us know this was possible. Furthermore I can switch colleges and get the same loan again. Finally if I was going to "serve my country" as you are assuming that I have in any way not, I would not join the reserves just to get a pay check.

How

is it Cape Fear's fault? They don't make the rules.

These programs do track you. Think you can change colleges and start anew? Guess again.

Quit trying to weasel out. The fact is you have used your eligibility; does not matter what your coursework is or how many times you've changed it.

If you do go back to school, try taking a reading comprehension course.

And as another posted, the gravy train has run out of gravy. There are no gaurantees other than the gauranteed rights to "...life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."

Nothing in the Constitution or Bill of Rights about free education.

Get with the program

if you wait, even during the best economic times, until a few days before school starts to file for grants and aid, you're too late.

You should be filing in the Spring for fall assistance; and now is the time to be filing for Spring assistance.

Some advisers would even tell you to begin your search as a Junior in High School for assistance in funding college on graduating from high school.

Of course another option is the Military Reserve program. Serve a few months of active duty on enlistment; serve a week-end a month and a couple of weeks during the summer, and you get a nice supplemental check along with the satisfaction of paying your own way and serving your country. That's not criticism; merely an observation.

Had the 28 year old followed the Military Reserve option, who knows. He'd certainly have established a funding source for education. And perhaps have focused on education to the point he would be a graduate.

Good news for all

There are still several ways that the military will pick up most or all of your college tuition in return for an eight-year obilgation. (Not all of that is active duty, either.)

You can actually EARN your tuition instead of hustling for fewer and fewer Pell grants.

The gravy train is drying up, friends. The money just isn't there.

Financial Aid

I'm actually the student about which this story was written. It has absolutely nothing to do with academic suspension, but the fact that Cape Fear did not let me know that they were changing their policy a few days before my tuition was due. My financial aid money had already posted over the summer and they actively took it away a few days ago. There were a lot of "closed doors" and "off the record" comments made yesterday by this business in which I was paying money to attend, on how this was only the beginning of the government cutting financial aid and so on. For the comment on how financial aid isn't for living expenses... I wasn't getting free federal money for living, I was getting a student LOAN, that I had to pay back with interest to cover my living expenses, so that I could take as many classes as possible and finish my degree as quickly as possible. As an added slap in the face I found out today I was only a few classes shy of being about to transfer out of there with an Associates Degree.

But where do we place the blame?

I am also one of those people who will be having their financial aid cut off soon. I was informed via email that I had monies to cover this semester but soon,and they didn't tell me when, my financial aid will be gone. But the problem here seems to be the staff at CFCC. When I first started going to CFCC about 10 years ago, I was in the Computer Engineering program. This was right before the dot-com bubble burst and it seemed at the time to be a great idea. Od course mid way through the program not only did the bubble burst but I realized this was not the path I had really wanted to take. I then dropped out and went into the work force for those years. Recently,I decided it would be a good idea to finish my education,so my first step was to go to career counseling to see what I should really be doing. There,I was told to sit at a computer and take the same career placement test you can take at home on your own computer. Then after getting my results the 'guidance counselor' didn't give me any sort of analysis but simply asked "Well what do you want to do?", not tell me what I would be good at. The friend I went with got the exact same treatment and instead of trying to give us options,this guy simply agreed with whatever we said. I could have easily said 'underwater basketweaving' and he would have said "Oh yes...according to your scores you'd be great at that."

Then the financial aid office is not much better,instead of spending the time to navigate through the often confusing amounts of grants and loans,they simply hand you paperwork and tell you to fill it out. Instead they should have brought up my records and said 'Well,you have used this much of your financial aid...here is what I suggest' or 'Well since you are wanting to do this,here are some grants you should apply for'. I personally am studying history with the hopes of becoming a teacher,it wasn't until I went off on my own and did some research that I found there are many programs that potential teachers can pursue in order to pay for college.

Finally,I think alot of this blame lies on the shoulders of the Dept. of Education who fails to realize that business trends chane,and what is a good degree one year,is a junk degree the next,and allow for those students who show initiative and maintain good grades,to be exempted from alot of their restrictions. It's not as if students like us are trying to exploit the system for free money,alot,like myself do very well in school and are striving to better ourselves and our communities,I personally work full time,go to school full time barely make ends meet and then to only have the money yanked away at near completion, is a slap in the face.

But I think a closer look needs to be taken at this issue because alot of good and hardworking students are going to become victims of this legislation, and years down the road, when we are looking for community leaders, most of them will be sitting on the sidelines with unfinished degrees. This blanket policy does not help matters, but only aggravates alot of problems our industries and educational systems have been facing for years.

Financial Aid

Sounds to me like he is on Academic Suspension. That same thing happened to me because I quit in the middle of a semester and they will take your financial aid away until you either pay for your own semester and get your GPA back up to a 2.0 or you write an appeal letter and let them know why you failed or quit or whatever the circumstance was. I wrote an appeal and received my financial aid back, but I did it before I knew it was time for school to start! Belive me if he has been going to school for a couple of years, he knows the drill. Sounds like a case of the lazies to me, better get started getting things situated before January semester. Also, financial aid is not to pay for you somewhere to live, that's called a JOB! :)

Of course...

I'm actually having a similar problem with Cape Fear. I have been enrolled for a few years at CFCC, but I just recently began receiving financial aid so they have only technically let me borrow money for a semester. Now I'm being dropped because the federal government decided I had taken too long to finish my degree? Good for this young man for actually speaking up for those of us who are having the same issues. Maybe Cape Fear will at least notify their students ahead of time that this is a possibility! I'm actually only 3 classes away from graduating and they are booting me!