This section provides financial aid and related information for students enrolled in clock-hour certificate programs offered through Workforce Development. This includes the 12-month and part-time Practical Nursing program, 9-month Medical Assistant program, and 6-month Administrative Medical Assistant program.
Types of Aid
Students in clock-hour certificate programs may qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, PA-TIP, Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan and Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan; as well as a private alternative loan. Students in clock-hour programs are ineligible for PA State Grants from PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency), because the programs are less than two calendar years in length. To be considered for aid, students must complete a Penn College Financial Aid Authorization (FAA) and a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the appropriate financial aid year.
Academic Programs and Academic Year
All clock-hour certificate programs must have a minimum length of 15 weeks and 600 clock hours, in order for students to be eligible to receive federal financial aid. Students are considered attending on a full-time basis if they attend class at least 24 hours per week. The following Penn College’s clock hour programs are equal to or exceed these minimums.
- Practical Nursing 12-Month and part-time Program – Academic year = 32 weeks and 1024 hours; program length = 48 weeks and 1536 total clock hours*
- Medical Assistant 9-Month Program – Academic year = 960 hours, 960 total clock hours
- Administrative Medical Assistant 6-Month Program – Academic year = 600 hours, 600 total clock hours
*Students enrolled in the Practical Nursing program will complete half of a second academic year. The financial aid these students receive during the second year will be prorated per federal guidelines based upon the number of clock hours in their second year.
Payment Periods and Disbursement Procedure for Clock-hour Certificate Students
Federal aid, which includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans, and Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans, will be disbursed to students (or their tuition accounts) in two or more payments, depending on the number of academic years for their program. The first payment period begins at the start of a program and ends at the halfway point of the academic year. Unless a student has paid the tuition with her/his own money or other funding, some or all of the federal aid a student is eligible for will first go to reduce the student’s tuition bill.
Federal aid payments are normally refunded during the first half of each payment period. Depending on the program, there are two or three payment periods. Programs with one academic year will have two payment periods, while programs that have a second academic year will have three payment periods. The Bursar’s Office sends a letter to students when their accounts are credited with student loan funds, although this does not necessarily mean a student will receive a refund. Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress in order to receive federal aid.
If students are sponsored for educational costs by an agency or program such as Career Link, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, TAA or WIA, their Pell Grant may be first used to reduce that agency’s cost to sponsor them.
Financial Aid Criteria on Satisfactory Academic Progress
In order for students in a clock-hour program to receive financial aid, they must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward completion of their certificate. Satisfactory progress is evaluated at the end of each payment period. Students that do not achieve SAP at the end of that payment period are not eligible for federal financial aid and private alternative loans during the next payment period. SAP is measured in terms of grade point average (GPA) and Maximum Timeframe.
Practical nursing students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 78%. For other programs, students' cumulative GPA must be at least 75%.
Students must maintain the ability to complete their educational program within 125% of the scheduled clock hours. The 125% refers to the amount of 'calendar time' to complete the scheduled clock hours, as measured by weeks of instruction. For the practical nursing program, each payment period is 16 weeks in length and the entire program is 48 weeks in length.
To help explain maximum timeframe, here is an example:
- Valerie completed 16 weeks in the first payment period of the practical nursing program and did not successfully complete all courses.
- Valerie withdrew just before starting the 2nd payment period.
- If Valerie reenrolls in a future class of the same practical nursing program, she will need to complete the course(s) not passed in the first payment period as well as all courses in the 2nd and 3rd payment periods.
- That means Valerie will need 48 more weeks, in addition to the 16 weeks already completed, to finish the program.
- Since 48+16=64 weeks and 64/48=133%, which is greater than 125%, Valerie has not maintained SAP.
Students not maintaining SAP for their academic program of enrollment will have their federal financial aid and private alternative loans delayed or canceled. All payment periods or semesters of attendance at the College will be considered, regardless of what year the student first enrolled or first received federal aid.
A student determined ineligible for aid may request reconsideration of eligibility (appeal) for financial aid based on death of a relative, injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstances that prevented the student from achieving SAP. Appeals must be submitted by the student via the Financial Aid Office site on myPCT Portal before the end of the payment period for which they are requesting eligibility to be restored.
The Director or designee reviews appeals and will inform each student in writing of the decision, specifying the conditions, if any, under which an exception has been made, or explaining the reason(s) for denying the appeal and detailing the actions necessary for a student to regain eligibility. A student may request a review of this decision in a meeting of the student, the Director of Financial Aid, and the Associate Director of Financial Aid.
Refunds of Financial Aid for Clock-hour Certificate Students
If the amount of a student’s financial aid and any other payments exceeds the cost of a clock-hour program during any payment period, the student will receive a refund from the Bursar's Office. Note that refunds will not be mailed until after the start of a payment period. Attendance and satisfactory academic progress will be verified before any refunds are issued.
Institutional Refund Policy for Clock-hour Certificate Programs
When a student withdraws from a long-term, clock-hour program, 100 percent of the tuition will be refunded if the student makes the request in writing and the letter is postmarked prior to the first scheduled class; and 60 percent will be refunded if the student’s request is made in writing and the letter is postmarked prior to the end of the second week of class. No refunds will be issued after the beginning of the third week of class. If the student originally paid by credit card, a credit will be issued to that credit card account. Please allow two to four weeks for refund processing. Refer to the next section to learn about how withdrawing affects financial aid.
Title IV Refund Policy for Clock-hour Certificate Programs
The current federal refund policy applies to all students receiving Title IV federal financial aid who withdraw, are dismissed, stop attending, or take a leave of absence from the College during the payment period in which they are enrolled.
If a recipient of Title IV aid withdraws during a payment period (or a period of enrollment), the College must calculate the amount of Title IV aid the student earned. Unearned Title IV funds must be returned to the Title IV programs.
Earned Title IV Funds
Title IV funds used to cover educational costs according to the length of time the student was enrolled before withdrawing. The amount of funds earned is directly proportional to the number of clock hours scheduled to have been completed in the payment period as of the student's withdrawal date, by the total number of clock hours in the payment period. If the resulting percentage is greater than 60% a student is considered to have earned all aid.
Unearned Title IV Funds
The amount of grant and loan assistance awarded under Title IV that has not been earned by the student and must be returned to the programs. The unearned Title IV funds percentage is determined by subtracting the earned Title IV percentage from 100. To calculate the amount of unearned Title IV funds, multiply the total disbursed federal financial aid by the unearned Title IV refund percentage.
- The date the student began the withdrawal process;
- The date the student otherwise provided the College with official notification of the intent to withdraw; or
- For the student who does not initiate the withdrawal process or notify the College of the intent to withdraw, the College will determine the withdrawal date based on:
- the mid-point of the payment period or period of enrollment for which Title IV assistance was disbursed (unless the institution can document a later date);
- the last date of attendance as documented by faculty and College personnel.
The responsibility to repay unearned Title IV funds is shared by the College and the student. The College's share is the lesser of:
- The total amount of unearned Title IV funds; or
- Institutional charges incurred for the billing period multiplied by the percentage of aid that was unearned.
Total disbursed federal financial aid includes aid that was disbursed, and aid that could have been disbursed, as of the student's withdrawal date.
The student's share is the difference between the unearned Title IV funds and the College's share. The College's share is allocated among the Title IV programs in the following order of return:
- Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
- Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
- Federal Direct PLUS Loan
- Federal Pell Grant
- Other Title IV assistance for which a return of funds is required
In general, students are not eligible for federal aid if they repeat a course. The only exception to this federal regulation is if a student completely withdraws from the certificate program and returns to the same program more than 180 calendar days after the withdrawal.
Verification for Clock-hour Certificate Programs
Fewer than one out of five students who submit a FAFSA are selected for an official review in a process called Federal Verification. Incomplete or conflicting information on your FAFSA may lead to verification, or your FAFSA record may be chosen at random. Please understand that no federal aid or private loans will be credited toward your College bill until Verification is finalized.