Counselor’s Corner

“My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.” — Errol Flynn

The Federal Education Act of 1965 paved the way for the system of college financial assistance that we have in place today. First implemented in 1972, the grants you now know as Pell were designed to help those with the most financial need afford to go to college.

The premise then and now is that educated people tend to make more money which allows them to pay more taxes and spend more within their communities. This give-and-take cycle allows those with needs today to “pay it forward” for those coming up behind them.

Millions of individuals, this writer included, have benefited from federal financial aid over the years and received college degrees because of it. However, millions have also received aid, especially loans, and have not kept their part of the agreement, which is to complete a degree.


The dollars invested in student loans that are not paid back and on grants that do not lead to degrees is in the billions. In a social and political climate in which many programs compete for fewer dollars, people take notice of such things.

The result is that we currently are experiencing tighter, more rigid rules and regulations regarding financial aid.

More simply put, it has become harder to qualify for eligibility and easier to lose eligibility. Student Support Services teamed up with Financial Aid in an effort to help our students be as successful as possible so that you can complete your educational goals. There are three requirements for maintaining eligibility:

Select a degree program and take appropriate courses to complete it. If you have attempted a large number of hours without a specific focus, you may reach the maximum limit and lose future aid before completing a degree;

Maintain an adequate GPA. We encourage you to seek help as quickly as possible if you have academic difficulty (or personal issues that might cause grades to suffer). Unlike the rules for academic status, there is no forgiveness in federal financial aid regulations.

Complete your classes. In the world of financial aid, withdrawing looks the same as failing. It doesn’t matter if you earn a 4.0 GPA each semester if you don’t also complete 67 percent of your classes.

If you don’t already check your OCCC email on a regular basis, we encourage you to get into that habit. This will help you know your status and how to keep yourself on the right track.

—Mary Turner
Learning Support Specialist

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