Eligibility for Financial Aid

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility for federal, state, and VCCS programs is based on financial need and several other factors. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be filed at www.fafsa.gov. Many financial aid programs are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis so it is important to apply early. The financial aid administrator at the College will determine eligibility.  A glossary of Financial Aid terms is available at: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/glossary.

Basic eligibility requirements require that students:

  • Demonstrate financial need (except for certain loans – see Financial Need, below)
  • Have a valid high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate or complete a high school education in a home school setting that is treated as such under state law (see High School Diploma, below, for exceptions)
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an approved program (see Approved Program of Study, below)
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Register with the Selective Service (if male and if required)
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress once in school
  • Certify that they are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant
  • Certify that they will use financial aid only for educational purposes

Details about specific eligibility factors include, but are not limited to:

Approved Degree Program

  • Undergraduate students must be in an approved degree- or certificate-seeking program, also known as a “major”.
  • An approved program usually has at least 16 credit hours.
  • Students may be in more than one major, and generally the largest program from which a student has not graduated will be considered for financial aid purposes.


  • Students must attend each of their courses at least once by the published last day to drop with a refund for the semester.  This is usually the first two weeks of the semester.
  •  For online classes, consult your course syllabus for the definition of attendance.
  • Important note for class attendance: Financial Aid cannot pay for the classes that have not been attended by the refund deadline (see Enrollment, below). This may result in being dropped for non-payment.

Citizenship Status

  • The Financial Aid Office cannot award federal or state aid to international or foreign students, even if the student meets DACA.
  • Students in the country on most types of visas, including student visas, are not eligible for aid.

Class Applicability

  • Students’ classes must fulfill graduation requirements for an approved degree program.
  • Classes that do not fulfill a graduation requirement must be paid for out-of-pocket.

Cost of Attendance

  • Students who apply for Financial Aid and are in an approved degree program will have a cost of attendance computed, using budgeted costs that a student can reasonably expect to incur during the 9 month academic year.
  • The current 18-19 Cost of Attendance (COA or Student Budget) for students at PDCCC are used to determine unmet need.  Any student whose Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is higher than the COA will not be eligible for federal or state need-based aid.
  • Actual per-credit tuition will be found under Tuition Rates.

Default or Owe Debt

  • Students must not be in default on a Federal Perkins Loan, Stafford Student Loan, Supplemental Loan for Students, or any Ford Direct Loan.
  • A student cannot owe any debt on a Federal Pell Grant or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant previously awarded at any post-secondary institution.
  • Additionally, PDCCC is part of the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) and will require a student who owes a Title IV aid debt to any other VCCS school to make restitution to that college prior to enrolling.

Drug Conviction

  • Eligibility is suspended for students convicted under federal or state law for possession of or sale of illegal drugs (not including alcohol or tobacco) if the conviction occurred while receiving Federal Student Aid.
  • If convicted in the past, this does not automatically mean that a student is ineligible for federal student aid. In order to determine eligibility affected students must contact the Financial Aid Office.

Enrollment Status

  • Students must register for at least twelve credit hours each semester by the “last date to receive a refund” in order to receive the full financial aid award package shown on the Financial Aid Notice.
  • Students who register on a part-time basis may have their financial aid award reduced proportionally to remain in compliance with federal regulations and institutional policies.
  • Some aid requires a minimum number of credits to receive, and therefore is not available if a student drops below that level. Please see Types of Aid for details.
  • Enrollment status is established as of the published last date to receive a refund each semester.
  • Additional classes added after the last date for a refund cannot be used to increase financial aid.
  • Classes withdrawn from after the “last date to receive a refund” will still count toward aid eligibility, as long as attendance was established, unless the student does not complete at least one full semester class (see Return of Title IV aid, below).

Financial Need: 

  • Students must meet Federal eligibility requirements to receive financial aid, including “financial need” except if a student has only scholarships or Unsubsidized Loans.
  • Need is defined as the difference between the cost of attending the college and the total expected family contribution (EFC).
    • The EFC is determined when a student files a FAFSA and a zero EFC is best.
    • The EFC is then subtracted from the student’s budget or cost of attendance (COA), to determine eligibility for other awards.
    • If the COA minus EFC results in a zero or negative number, then the student has not demonstrated financial need.
  • For more information on the COA, see Cost of Attendance definition above and please visit our Net Price Calculator tool.
  • If a significant change in the family has occurred, students should discuss them with a financial aid administrator and/or file an appeal for unusual circumstances.

High School Diploma

  • To be eligible for aid, students must have a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED).
  • Ability-to-benefit (ATB) alternatives may qualify students without a valid high school diploma or its equivalent. Alternatives for PDCCC students enrolled prior to July 1, 2012 include:
    • passing an ability-to-benefit test approved by the U.S. Department of Education,
    • meeting other standards the state establishes that the Department approves,
    • satisfactorily completing six credit hours or the equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate.
  • Students that did not qualify under these alternatives prior to July 1, 2012 can use them to qualify for aid beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year although they must now also be enrolled in an eligible career pathways program. PDCCC does not currently have any career pathways programs.

Refund Eligibility

Students must generally be enrolled in, and attending classes as well as meeting satisfactory academic progress to be eligible for a refund.  The refund process begins after the Last Date to Drop with a Refund for the full semester, and most refunds are issued within 40-60 days of the start of the term.

Be careful not to count on getting your refund by a certain date to make major purchases or pay other financial obligations. Even though we issue most refunds early, it’s possible your refund may require additional review and take longer. Many different factors can affect the timing of your refund after we process it. Also, if you are anticipating a refund, take into consideration the time it takes for your financial institution to post the refund to your account/pre-paid VISA card, or for mail delivery.

Calling us will not speed up your refund. Our phone and walk-in representatives can only research the status of your refund if it has been 21 days or more since your refund has been posted to your student account or if you get an email that directs you to contact us. If we need more information to process your refund, we will contact you by email in your student account. Otherwise, the Student Information System (SIS) has the most up-to-date information available and like our Call Center, is available 24/7/365.

Repeated or Audited Courses

  • Financial Aid will not cover audited or non-credit classes, other than required developmental courses.
  • Developmental credits are limited to 30 credits total that financial aid may cover.
  • Aid is not available for classes in which a student carries an incomplete “I” grade for the same class in a previous term. The student must contact the instructor to complete the class without re-enrollment.
  • Financial Aid will pay for repeated classes until a student passes, and then may pay once more only.  The college may also limit enrollment to three attempts total.
  • Repeated courses are always counted in the Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) calculation, and may negatively affect the student’s completion rate.

Return of Title IV Aid (R2T4)

  • Federal Title IV financial aid is based on a paycheck theory. Students must earn the full amount of aid by completing a minimum amount of each term, or repay the unearned portion of the aid.
  • Students who do not satisfactorily complete the term may owe unearned aid back to the College, and will not be eligible for re-enrollment until satisfactory repayment arrangements have been made.
  • Please see the Return of Aid Policy (Title IV) in the College Catalog.
  • Students who withdraw from their classes may not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (see below).
  • Federal and State awards are subject to the Return of Aid policy.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

  • To remain eligible for any grant, loan, or work assistance, students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
  • Students who fail to maintain SAP may not receive any Federal or State aid except for one warning semester and/or if a student files a successful appeal.
  • Satisfactory Academic Progress is not the same as Academic Standing.

Selective Service

  • The Military Selective Service Act of 1983-84 states that any student required to register with the Selective Service who fails to do so is ineligible for Federal and State Incentive Grant Programs.
  • Male students between the ages of 18 and 25 must be registered with Selective Service.
  • Students who are between these ages may go to SSS.Gov to register, or mark the appropriate place on the FAFSA to be automatically registered.
  • Students who have passed their 26th birthday may appeal on the SSS.gov website, if mitigating circumstances exist.

Social Security Number

  • Students must have a valid Social Security Number to receive financial aid.
  • Exceptions to this rule are students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.
  • The name on file at the Social Security Administration MUST match the name used to file the FAFSA.
  • Students must also include the Social Security Number on the College application.


  • Students who do not wish to have their Financial Aid eligibility affected in either the current or future terms must withdraw by the published last date to receive a refund.  The student will not get aid for, nor owe tuition for, classes dropped in this way.  The student will owe for any un-returned books.
  • The refund date  for full term courses (16 weeks in Fall/Spring and 10 weeks in Summer) occurs approximately 14 days into the semester and is not the same as the last day to drop without academic penalty, which is at the 60% point.
  • Short session classes will have different deadlines, as published in the class schedule.
  • Withdrawals after the refund date carry one or more penalties such as those found in the Return of Title IV (R2T4) and Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policies.
  • See Return of Title IV Aid, Satisfactory Academic Progress, and Enrollment Status, above, for more details.