Financial Aid flexibility out the window


Many students are unaware of recent changes that may impact their eligibility to receive financial aid, said Learning Support Specialist Mary Turner.

Turner said the U.S. government implemented the changes last year, and OCCC students were notified in mid-December via email.

“The government changed regulations somewhat to tighten up the flexibility that individual colleges have in interpreting the regulations and awarding people,” she said.

Now, Turner said, students who receive financial aid will have their lifelong academic profiles looked at, including all classes taken at any date and at any institution — not just at OCCC.


“It doesn’t matter if students had a bad semester 10, 20 years ago,” she said. “It still counts under the new regulations.”

In addition, Turner said, college officials will look at students’ cumulative grade point average, meaning that bad semesters previously written off by OCCC’s academic forgiveness policy will have to be included.

“We’re trying to help students understand that they don’t have the luxury of just coming in and having a bad semester, because everything is going to count now.”

Turner also said that under the new policy, class withdrawals are considered the same as failing a course.

“Historically, if a student wasn’t doing well in a class, we’d encourage them to go ahead and drop it to preserve their grade,” she said. “Now, a withdrawal is the same as a failure {for finanacial aid purposes].”

Many OCCC students said they are upset about the revisions.

One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said he found out about the changes just before Christmas.

His financial aid was revoked due to a bad semester more than a decade ago, despite previously being approved for the upcoming spring semester.

Now, he said, he can’t attend class this year as intended.

“It’s not fair,” he said.

“So many people have cheated the system by buying candy bars and Starbucks coffee using their financial aid, and now they’re punishing the rest of us.

“Now I don’t know what to do. I relied on that to go to school.”

When the financial aid changes were first announced last month, students who had their aid revoked could file an appeal to regain their aid.

Although the official deadline to submit an appeal for the spring semester, Jan. 9, has already passed, Turner said Financial Aid has unofficially extended the date because few students responded in time.

“Because the college was closed for the holidays, the only way students were notified was by email,” she said.

However, Turner said, she believes many students did not check their email over the break period.

“Financial Aid can’t promise that (students) who file their appeal late will get it processed in time for classes,” she said.

“Students need to recognize that it’s not a guarantee, so if they do want to take classes this spring, they need to make sure they have the money to pay for them outright.”

Students can submit an appeal online by visiting and filling out the corresponding form, Turner said.

An email will be sent out to applicants when their appeal is either accepted or rejected.

Before filing an appeal, Turner said she urges students to read the document in its entirety.

“So far of those who appealed and were rejected, most of them were rejected because they didn’t read and didn’t completely fulfill their appeal form.”

For more information or questions regarding the recent changes, contact Financial Aid at 405-685-7837.

In addition, Turner said, students hoping to improve their academic careers can turn to Student Support Services for help.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to let students know that if they’re having some difficulty, they need to come talk to us early so we can help them have more options and hopefully make it through their classes.”

Student Support Services is located on the first floor of the Main Building, next to Student Life.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 405-682-7520.

To contact Whitney Knight, email

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