Frequently Asked Questions
Questions About State Scholarships in Georgia:
What is financial aid?
Financial aid is money awarded to students to help pay educational costs. Most aid programs can be broken down into four basic types:
- Grants, a type of "gift aid" that usually does not require repayment and which is usually based on financial need;
- Scholarships, another form of "gift aid" that usually does not require repayment and which can be awarded based on either financial need, or academic or athletic achievement;
- Loans, which is borrowed money that must be repaid with interest;
- Employment, part-time work that can be on-campus (through work-study provided by the college) or off campus (a job you found on your own).
The federal government, the state government, and colleges provide financial aid to students. Also, aid is available from many private sources such as civic groups, clubs, religious organizations, and businesses, generally in the form of a limited number or scholarships or loans.
What Federal aid programs are available to students at SGSC?
Federal aid programs available to eligible students at SGSC include:
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- Federal Work Study
- Federal Direct Loan
- Federal Direct PLUS Loan
Is there a limit on the number of remedial hours that can be covered by student aid?
Yes. But, no more than 30 hours of remedial work can be included in enrollment hours for financial aid purposes. At SGSC, remedial work includes Learning Support English, Math, and Reading, courses used to satisfy College Preparatory Curriculum (CPC) deficiencies, and Remedial Test Preparation courses. If you must enroll in remedial hours in excess of the 30 hour limit, those additional hours will not be included in your future enrollment hours for financial aid purposes.
What State aid programs are available to students at SGSC?
State aid programs available to eligible students at SGSC include:
- Georgia's HOPE Scholarship
- HERO Scholarship
- Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant
- Georgia Public Safety Memorial Grant
- Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship
Does SGSC offer any aid programs to students?
Yes. The South Georgia State College Foundation awards a number of scholarships to eligible students each year. Information regarding these scholarships may be obtained by contacting the Office of College Advancement.
Do any of the Federal or State programs have limited funding?
Yes. The following programs have limited funding each year:
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- Federal Work Study
Due to limited funding, not every eligible student will receive funds from these programs. Students are encouraged to apply early each year in order to improve their chances of receiving funds from these programs.
How is financial aid defined?
The U.S. Department of Education defines financial need as the Cost of Attendance (COA) minus the student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The Cost of Attendance is an estimate of the costs to attend a particular school and includes estimates for tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses. The student's Expected Family Contribution represents the amount of money a student and his/her family are expected to contribute toward paying those costs and is calculated based on the information provided on the student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
What is the difference between an "Independent" student and a "Dependent" student?
For the purpose of applying for student aid, a student is considered to be either an "Independent" student or a "Dependent" student. The Department of Education defines an "Independent" student as someone who meets at least one of the following eight criteria: • Is at least 24 years old by December 31st of the first year of the award year covered by the FAFSA;
- Already has a Bachelor's degree and is working on a master's or doctorate degree by the beginning of the award year;
- Is married;
- Has children for whom the student provides more than half of their support;
- Has dependents, other than children or a spouse, who receive more than half of their support from the student;
- Is an orphan, or is a ward of the court (or was a ward of the court until age 18);
- Is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training
- Is an emancipated minor
- Is an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or at risk of being homeless.
A student who is determined to be Independent provides information about only himself (and his spouse, if married) when completing the FAFSA. Therefore, only the student's information is used to determine eligibility for financial aid programs. A Dependent student must provide information about himself and his parents when completing the FAFSA. Therefore, eligibility for a Dependent student is based on both the student's and his parents' information.
Can a student apply as an "Independent" student if they have special circumstances?
It may be possible. Financial aid administrators may approve a dependency override for a student who can document that unusual circumstances exist that should exclude parental information from being provided. The student is required to provide a written explanation for the override in addition to additional information that documents and supports the unusual circumstance. The Department of Education has specifically stated that a parent's refusal to provide information is not considered an unusual circumstance. The Department also does not consider self-supportiveness to be an unusual circumstance. Therefore, an otherwise dependent student who does not live at home with his parents and who has his own job and pays his own bills would still be required to provide information about his parents when completing the FAFSA.
What are the basic eligibility requirements to receive aid form the federal student aid programs?
- Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible program of study;
- Be pursuing a degree or other recognized credential;
- Be a U.S. Citizen or an Eligible Non-Citizen;
- Be registered with Selective Service (if you are male and are required to be registered);
- Not have eligibility suspended or terminated due to being convicted of a drug-related offense;
- Have a valid Social Security Number (SSN);
- Not be in default on a federal student loan;
- Not owe an overpayment of a federal grant or loan funds;
- Be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (as defined by the school)
These same eligibility requirements also apply for most state aid programs.
I am considering auditing a class. Will financial aid pay for audits?
No. Students who are considering auditing a class should be aware that audited hours will not count toward enrollment hours for financial aid purposes for either federal or state aid, including HOPE Scholarship.
Are "Institutional Credit" hours eligible for aid?
Yes, Institutional Credit hours are not eligible for federal student aid, with the exception of Learning Support English, Math, or Reading, and will not be counted in enrollment hours for federal student aid. This exemption also includes the Freshman Orientation Class.
What is Georgia's HOPE program?
HOPE - Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally - is Georgia's unique scholarship and grant program that rewards students with financial assistance in degree, diploma, and certificate programs at eligible Georgia public and private colleges and universities, and public technical colleges. HOPE programs available to students at South Georgia State College include HOPE Scholarship and HOPE GED.
What is the HOPE Scholarship?
The HOPE Scholarship is for degree-seeking students (students pursuing one of SGSC's Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or Associate of Applied Science programs) who are legal residents of Georgia, are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and who have not already earned a bachelor's degree. Students must also have graduated high school with a 3.0 in academic courses only and meeting the required number of rigorous courses for the year they graduated. If the student did not qualify for HOPE Scholarship as a freshman, then the student must have attempted at least 30 semester hours, after high school graduation, but, have no more than 127 semester hours, and must have earned a minimum grade point average of a 3.0 at either the 30th, 60th, or 90th attempted hour, whichever is appropriate. Currently, HOPE Scholarship pays a percentage of a student's tuition established by the Georgia Finance Commission each fiscal. There is no enrollment hour restriction, so students are not required
What is the Zell Miller Scholarship?
Georgia's Zell Miller Scholarship is available to Georgia residents who have demonstrated academic achievement. The scholarship provides money to assist students with their educational costs of attending college in Georgia. To receive Zell Miller Scholarship funding, students must meet one of the following academic requirements:
- Graduate from a HOPE-eligible high school as the Valedictorian or the Salutatorian.
- Graduate from an eligible high school with a minimum 3.7 grade point average combined with a minimum score of 1200 on the math and reading portions of the SAT test or a 26 composite score on the ACT test in a single test administration and have completed the required number of rigorous courses.
- Complete a HOPE eligible home study program with a 3.7 grade point average combined with a minimum score of 1200 on the math and reading portions of the SAT test or a 26 composite score on the ACT test in a single test administration.
- Graduate from an ineligible high school or complete an ineligible home study program with a minimum score of 1200 on the math and reading portions of the SAT test or a 26 composite score on the ACT test in a single test administration., and then earn a 3.3 grade point average on 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours of college degree-level coursework taken after high school graduation or home study completion.
- Have first enrolled in an eligible post-secondary institution in 2007 or later, as a freshman, meeting one of the academic qualifications listed above and having earned a 3.3 cumulative grade point average at the most recent HOPE Scholarship checkpoint.
Is there a limit on the number of hours a student can attempt or receive payment under the HOPE Scholarship?
Yes. For HOPE Scholarship, students can attempt up to 127 semester hours, which includes hours that are not paid for by the Scholarship. In addition, students can receive payment for no more than 127 semester hours.
I withdrew from a class, will the hours associated with that class be counted in my checkpoint hours and in my lifetime attempted hours limit of 127?
Yes. The HOPE program tracks attempted hours, any hours you attempt but do not complete because you withdrew from the course are still considered attempted hours and will be included in determining your grade point average checkpoint and your 127 attempted hours limit.
What is the HOPE GED?
The HOPE GED program provides for a one-time only payment of $500.00 to students who earned a GED Diploma after June 30, 1993. Students must be enrolled in a certificate, diploma, or degree program at an eligible GA postsecondary school and must be a legal resident of Georgia and a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident.
Eligible students should receive a HOPE GED voucher from the Georgia Student Finance Commission, which should be presented to the aid office upon enrollment. Students must use their GED award within 24 months from the date of the GED diploma. Also, a student must present the voucher for payment during the first term of enrollment as a degreeseeking student. A student who does not present the voucher during this time can not be paid a HOPE GED award during a subsequent term.
How do I apply for a HOPE Scholarship?
You will need to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid), the aid office will use your FAFSA application as your application for HOPE Scholarship.
Questions About Other Financial Aid Programs:
Are there other sources of aid, beyond the federal or state aid programs, that I could investigate?
Yes, some of them are: o Corporation for National and Community Service (Americorps) - www.americorps.gov o Veteran's benefits - www.gibill.va.gov o State Divisions of Vocational Rehabilitation - www.vocrehabga.org
How can I locate information regarding educational scholarships offered by private sources?
There are a number of free search engines on the Internet that will provide you with information about private educational scholarships, some of which are: o College Board - www.collegeboard.com o FastWeb - www.fastweb.com o FinAid on the Web - www.finaid.org o GoCollege: The Collegiate Websource - www.gocollege.com In addition to these online resources, you may want to contact your local library, local businesses and civic organizations, your employer and/or your parents' employers. Any of these sources may be able to provide additional scholarship information to you.
Are there additional loan programs, beyond the federal student loan programs, that I can apply for?
Yes. Private loan programs, also referred to as "alternative" loans, can help fill the gap between traditional federal student loans and the rising cost of higher education. These loans may provide students with funds to meet educational costs when other sources of aid have been depleted or are otherwise unavailable. As with the federal student loan programs, these private loans must be repaid, so students are encouraged to be conservative when applying for private loans. Borrow only what you need!
There are many more who offer private educational loans. You can find Private Education Lenders and their online applications using any of the common search engines.
As you investigate private or alternative loans, make sure you familiarize yourself with the terms of the loan, specifically the interest rate, when your repayment period will begin, how long you will have to repay the loan, and any deferment options that are available.