Financial Aid COA Budget & Aid Limits
There are limits to the amount of financial assistance a student can receive. Any student who receives student financial aid from any source, regardless of payment method, is held to the Office of Financial Aid-determined Cost of Attendance (COA) budget for the given Award Year.
The COA budget is determined by an estimate of tuition and fees amount, plus allowances for housing, food, books and supplies, and other education related expenses for a 9-month period including the fall and spring semesters. Factors such as your living situation, dependency status, full or part-time enrollment, what you spend to cover your non-tuition, education related expenses may differ from the average amounts used by the Office of Financial Aid.
COA Budget Inclusions
Your financial aid budget is defined by various costs you will assume when going to college, the first being tuition and fees.
The next cost included in your financial aid budget is room and board. Since all students live off campus, an allocation is included for room and board costs.
Books are another expense students incur while going to school. DCTC determines an average cost for books when defining the COA budget. Your individual costs may differ depending on availability of used or new textbooks or your course requirements for any given semester.
Finally, there are items we include in your financial aid budget that you may not think of as college costs or expenses to consider. Transportation, as well as miscellaneous costs including everything from medical insurance to clothing and toiletries are included as miscellaneous expenses. As with book costs, what you spend on these items may differ from the average amounts budgeted.
The total financial aid package – to include all types of aid received – must remain within the COA budget as determined by the Office of Financial Aid. It is therefore important that you notify the Office of Financial Aid of any scholarship, grant, assistance, or loan funding that does not appear as part of your Financial Aid Award Offer from the college. By keeping the Office of Financial Aid informed of these types of awards, a student reduces the risk of having financial aid adjusted mid-year or after funds have been received by the student.
Students receiving multiple or large scholarship offers from DCTC should also be aware that, in rare cases, their scholarship awards may be limited. Work closely with awarding offices to understand your scholarship package and terms of individual awards.
Overawards & Financial Aid Reductions
The Office of Financial Aid packages students based on their eligibility as determined at the time of financial aid awarding. Unfortunately, eligibility can change even after the year or term has begun.
Financial assistance from any DCTC department or outside source previously unknown to the Office of Financial Aid may surface. When total aid exceeds the revised COA budget, an overaward exists.
Adjustments to the make up or total sum of the aid package are required if any federal aid is present when an overaward occurs. Similarly, scholarship adjustments may be necessary due to any scholarship limit policy. The Office of Financial Aid routinely reviews all financial aid awards throughout the school year to ensure they remain in compliance and meet eligibility requirements.
The college wants to limit post-award changes and avoid post-disbursement adjustments to aid packages. Adjustments, when necessary, most often reduce loan or work study portions of an aid package, and posting of new aid sources may replace loan or work-study portions of an aid package.
Though every effort is made to maintain compliance with federal, state, institutional, and external agency policies prior to award disbursement, some adjustments to funding may be required following the payment to a student account or a refund made to the student.
Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress
Dakota County Technical College and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board Policy 2.9, in compliance with Federal and State regulation, require that all students maintain satisfactory academic progress toward the completion of a degree, diploma, or certificate in order to receive financial aid.
Details regarding Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress can be viewed in section 2.9.2 of the College Policies page, which can be viewed at:
Federal Return of Title IV Funds Process
Dakota County Technical College is not required to, and does not, record student attendance. Federal regulations mandate that the college have a procedure in place to ensure that students have attended, at a minimum, one class session in each course in which that student has registered, if that course was used to determine enrollment status for Federal Pell Grant. (Pages 3-40 through 3-42 - 2004-05 Federal Student Aid Handbook)
On the sixth class day of the semester, after the add/drop period has ended, faculty members must submit to the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, the names of students that have not attended a class session. Classes the student has not attended are flagged as ineligible for financial aid in the ISRS system and are not included in the award calculation for disbursement of funds. If a faculty member does not include a student in the report to the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid of non-attendees, it is inferred that the student has attended at least one class session.
If a student officially withdraws from all courses (total withdrawal), it is determined whether a Return of Title IV Funds calculation is required. If required, a calculation is completed and the student is notified of any financial liability. Institutional repayments are made to the appropriate financial aid program and overpayments are recorded on NSLDS. Students that fail to make satisfactory arrangements to repay an overpayment, or fail to comply with a previous arrangement, are referred to the United States Department of Education for collection after 45 days of noncompliance.
Students who have unofficially withdrawn are identified at the end of each term. A report of students who have earned zero credits for the term is generated and a letter is sent to the student notifying the student of potential financial liability if the student cannot provide proof of attendance past the 60% point of the term. If the student can document attendance beyond the 60% point, no calculation is required, as aid is 100% earned per federal regulation. Prior to completing the Return of Title IV Funds calculation, the college will evaluate student eligibility for a post-withdrawal disbursement, and if eligible, the post-withdrawal disbursement will be made. The student is notified of any financial liability resulting from this calculation. Institutional repayments are made to the appropriate financial aid program and overpayments are recorded on NSLDS. Funds will be returned to programs in the following order: Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, Subsidized Stafford Loan, PLUS Loan, Pell Grant, FSEOG, Iraq/Afghan Grant. Funds will be returned to the appropriate federal program within 45 days.
Refunds to Minnesota Financial Aid Programs and Other Non-Title IV Financial Aid Programs
Refunds to Minnesota financial aid programs and other non-Title IV financial aid are calculated using State Grant Refund Calculation spreadsheet from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and DCTC’s Institutional Refund Policy.