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Billing and Financial Updates

Below is a collection of tips and resources compiled by our Financial Aid Office to assist you with the financial aid process.

Dept of Education Inspector General Warns FSA of Potential FSA ID Fraud

By Allie Bidwell, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Communications Staff 

In a letter to the Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), the Office of Inspector General (OIG) warned the federal office of potential misuse of the FSA ID by third parties to take over borrower accounts.

According to the letter, both OIG and FSA share concern over the growth of some third parties’ fraud and misuse of the FSA ID, which last year replaced the FSA PIN as the way students and parents log on to certain ED websites, including the online application for the FAFSA.

OIG documented in the letter its past investigations into recurring issues with the old FSA PIN. Since 2012, for example, OIG found multiple instances of loan consolidation companies  gaining access to borrowers’ PIN accounts to “consolidate loans or enroll borrowers in debt forgiveness or reduction programs.” During that investigation, OIG also found that one company charged borrowers a monthly fee of $45 to consolidate and lower their loan payments—both things that borrowers can do for free on their own .

Other OIG investigations found loan consolidation companies that charged higher monthly fees, of up to $60 per month, to put borrowers’ loans into forbearance, with the promise of future enrollment in Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or other programs, regardless of whether the borrowers were eligible for these programs.

In the letter, OIG continued to write that the office has conducted more recent investigations into vulnerabilities involved with the FSA ID and the Personal Authentication Service (PAS). In one particular investigation, OIG looked into claims that a third party was illegally “creating, accessing, and changing FSA ID logon information” that could lock borrowers out of their accounts. OIG subsequently identified nearly 11,000 FSA IDs associated with IP addresses used by a third party company in India.

“During interviews, the victim borrowers stated that over a period of weeks, they would receive daily calls from a call center, and that the callers were overly aggressive in trying to get the borrowers to provide their account and loan information,” the letter said. 

Bill Due Dates

Summer I 2017: April 30, 2017
Summer II 2017: June 30, 2017
Fall 2017: July 31, 2017
Spring 2018: December 31, 2017

Account balances (net of verified financial aid) that remain after billing due dates will be assessed a 1% finance charge per month.

Payment Options

Your account balance can be paid electronically or by personal check.  Checks should be made payable to William James College and mailed to:  William James College Attn: Bursar, One Wells Avenue, Newton, MA  02459.

Electronic payments (ACH or credit card) can be made by clicking the link below.  Credit card payments will include a 2.99% convenience fee.   As a not-for-profit organization, we are committed to controlling operating costs incurred during business transactions. William James College pays a fee to the vendor to process credit card payments and  will receive no profit from this fee.  William James College accepts online ACH payments from your checking or savings account free of charge.

Electronic One-Time Paymentswww.williamjames.afford.com/paynow

Payment Plans: William James College, in partnership with Tuition Management Systems, offers an interest-free monthly installment plan.  To enroll, please click on the following link:  www.williamjames.afford.com. Please note: there is an enrollment fee associated with this option.

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure the budgeted amount to TMS will pay their William James College student account in full.  The April payment must pay the spring semester in full.

Financial Aid: Please review your account balance/refund amount and contact the Financial Aid office if an adjustment is needed. 

Refunds will be disbursed shortly after the add/drop period ends. 

William James College uses an outside service to process student refunds.  If you have not previously registered,  you will receive an email from WilliamJamesRefunds@afford.com* that will require you to choose a refund method.  This will eliminate the waiting and give you immediate access to your money.  Your options are direct deposit into your personal bank account or a reloadable prepaid debit card.  Please note certain fees apply when using your debit card.  Because of this, we strongly recommend that you choose direct deposit.  If you do not sign up with afford.com, a refund check will be mailed to your home address in SSIG. 

*Our refund program is administered by Tuition Management System (TMS).  If you have any questions, please call 888-425-1138.

Financial Aid

Once registration is complete, billing will be pulled over and loan will show as “verified” soon after, assuming you’ve filed your FAFSA and returned your signed award letter.  Please review your account balance/refund amount and contact the Financial Aid office if an adjustment is needed. Refunds should be available the 2nd or 3rd week of the semester.

IRS Form 1098T

Form 1098-T showing tuition billed for prior year will be mailed to the address that we have on file.  Please make sure that we have the correct address on file for you. This can be done by checking the address on the Billing Statement in SSIG.

What to Consider Before Withdrawing Mid-Semester

If you’re thinking about leaving school mid-semester, consider the following before you do. That decision could haunt you long after you drop out. 

Returning Financial Aid 

Leaving midterm when you have federal financial aid means that you may not be able to keep all of your aid award. If you leave before 60% of the semester is completed, your school is required to return a portion of your financial aid. This process is known as Return of Title IV (R2T4). 

Your financial aid office determines how much is returned from each type of aid (Stafford loans, Pell grants, etc.), and the amount depends upon how long you attended and what type of aid you have. The biggest drawback to this is that once the aid is returned, you will likely have a balance at your school for the term that you aren’t completing. 

Lingering Balances 

Now that you have a balance for the term, you are responsible for paying that bill—even though you are no longer at school.

Unfortunately, ignoring the bills won’t make them go away. You should do your best to cover this balance before you officially withdraw or set up a payment plan with the school. Neglecting to do so will likely cause you to face a collections agency in the future. 

Until the balance is paid in full, you will not be able to get an official copy of your transcripts from the school (if you wish to transfer somewhere else in the future). 

Doing this is completely within the rights of a college. Though you do have the right to access your academic records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the school doesn’t have to give you official transcripts, which are usually required for college admissions. They can also refuse to send them to you via mail or email—instead requiring you to pick them up in person. 

Future Aid Eligibility 

Another consideration is that any federal aid that you receive will count toward your aggregate maximum eligibility (even though you did not complete the term) and your Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) if you return. Using more aid without completing credits extends how long you need to be enrolled in school and the amount of aid you’ll need to actually complete your program. 

You could find yourself in a final term or year without enough federal aid to cover your balance, forcing you to borrow private loans or withdraw again—permanently. 

Alternatives 

I realize that the decision to go to college is a big one, both financially and personally, whether you are a traditional student straight out of high school or an adult going to college for the first time. Likewise, staying in school can also be a big decision, especially if life is getting in the way. 

If you still need to withdraw after considering the consequences I’ve mentioned, make sure to have a plan for paying the balance on your account so that if you decide to return or transfer, you aren’t left with few options. Loans to pay off past-due balances are hard to come by. 

When you do return to school, meet with an academic advisor to set up a plan to ensure that you will complete your education on time without reaching any SAP or aggregate aid limits to retain your federal aid eligibility. 

File Your FAFSA in October

Changes to the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Students are able to file a FAFSA as early as October 1 for the upcoming year, rather than beginning on January 1.

The FAFSA now requires tax information from the prior-prior year; for example, you would use your 2016 tax information when filing a FAFSA for the 2018-2019 academic year.  This allows most students to use the IRS DATA RETRIEVAL TOOL making the FAFSA even simpler.

Start the New Year with a New Budget

Need help creating a budget? Go to www.saltmoney.org under Resources/Tools and Apps, you will find a Basic Budgeting Calculator. This will take just a few minutes and will help you analyze your financial needs and reach your goals.

For APA Bound Students

Section 5.2:  POLICY REGARDING ALLOWANCE FOR APA INTERVIEWS

For students who have scheduled APA internship interviews, WJC will, upon request, increase the student's COA (cost of attendance) to allow borrowing to cover reasonable transportation and hotel expenses incurred. William James will not cover expenses for food and other incidentals as these are covered in the regular COA budget.

  • The student's APA interview schedule and estimated budget must be approved by the program director.
  • The student must then submit the approved schedule to the financial aid office.
  • Based upon "good faith" estimates, William James will advance a student the necessary funds to travel to the APA sites.
  • Upon completion of the APA interview, student must submit transportation and hotel receipts to the financial aid office. Upon approval, the students COA will then be raised to accommodate these expenses allowing the ability to borrow additional funds.

Please note that William James will increase the COA to cover "reasonable" transportation and hotel costs. It is understood to mean that the student, if traveling by air or rail, will be reimbursed for the "coach" fare and a reasonable hotel would be considered a "moderate" hotel within the surrounding area and for the duration of the interview process only.

For Students Taking Summer Courses

A student must be enrolled at least ½ time in order to be eligible to receive Federal Direct Loans for a period of enrollment.  William James College defines ½ time as 4.5 contact hours which is typically 5 credits/semeseter (summer I and II can be combined).

If you will be enrolled for less than 4.5 contact hours for the summer and unable to "pay out of pocket", you may have a couple of options available:

If you have any questions or concerns please contact the financial aid office.

Free Money

We occasionally receive information in the Financial Aid Office promoting scholarships. Below are two that appear interesting. As always, check these out thoroughly before you apply and DO NOT PAY TO APPLY FOR A SCHOLARSHIP!!


From Addiction Resource:

Addiction Resource awards $3,000 in scholarships each year to students who share their vision on how to end substance abuse and addiction. The winning applicants will be determined based on the essay content, style and originality. There are no costs associated with submitting an application for this scholarship. The deadline to apply is May 31 of each year. Additional information can be found at addictionresource.com/scholarship.


Funding Guidebook from Learn Psychology:

Learn Psychology provides in-depth information and resources for those interested in pursuing a degree in psychology and other mental health professions. They have just released their Funding Your Psychology Degree guidebook available here: www.learnpsychology.org/resources/scholarships-and-financial-aid.

They created this guide to inform students about the scholarship and grant resources available to them while pursuing a psychology degree at either undergraduate or graduate levels. They also have a guide dedicated to helping students choose a psychology specialty, which can then help them find specialty specific scholarships and aid. That guide is available here: www.learnpsychology.org/resources/choosing-a-specialization.


Financial Aid Guide for Hispanic Students:

C ollege can be expensive for any student, and Hispanic students are no exception. With 49% of Hispanic high school graduates now attending college, the need for specific financial aid resources has also grown. To help answer the call, Online Colleges has created a financial aid guide for Hispanic students available here: www.onlinecolleges.net/for-students/financial-aid-hispanic-students.


Scholarships for African American Students

Demos recently reported that 84% of African American students used Pell Grants to finance their education and graduated with debt, compared to just 60% of white students. With both segments of students enrolling in college at similar rates, it's alarming that black students receive significantly less funding than their white peers.

To help bridge this funding gap, our college planning experts at BestColleges.com developed a holistic financial aid guide specifically for African American students. We provide context for how students can best take advantage of available resources while offering a comprehensive listing of 30+ scholarship and grant opportunities totaling over $250,000. Please join us in easing the financial burden of African American students at your school. Please see our scholarship guide


From AlcoRehab

AlcoRehab.org, works towards raising awareness of the alcohol abuse and addiction issues and hoping to encourage as many people as possible to realize the potential consequences of their drinking habits. They award $6,000 in scholarships each year to three winners. It is free to apply for all current students. Scholarship recipients will be selected through an essay contest, and essays are judged based on their originality and content. There are no costs associated with submitting an application for this scholarship, and the next application period begins October 10.

More information can be found here: alcorehab.org/scholarship


Vital Impact - Life-Changing Scholarships for Women over 35

Vital Impact distributes scholarships annually to mature women over age 35. living in Massachusetts, who are embarking on a career transition. Candidates must meet certain eligibility requirements and submit a completed application no later than June 15, 2016 to be eligible for Fall 2016 funding. Vital Impact Scholarships are awarded in amounts up to $2,000. The application and requirements can be found here: www.vitalimpact.org/scholarships.

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

Purpose 
The purpose of the NHSC Loan Repayment Program is to recruit and retain medical, nursing, dental, and behavioral/mental health clinicians in eligible communities of need designated as health professional shortage areas. Primary care medical, dental and mental/behavioral health clinicians can get up to $50,000 to repay their health profession student loans in exchange for a two-year commitment to work at an approved NHSC site in a high-need, underserved area.

2016 NHSC Loan Repayment Program Application and Program Guidance

Questions
For questions, please call 1-800-221-9393 (TTY: 1-877-897-9910) Monday through Friday (except Federal holidays) 8:00 am to 8:00 pm ET.

Important NHSC Program Updates

In an effort to better integrate mental and behavioral health with primary care, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) added two changes to the Application and Program Guidance for the 2016 Loan Repayment Program application, which closes on April 5. Mental and behavioral health providers must now spend at least 32 hours each week providing patient care at approved health care sites - the same requirement for NHSC medical and dental providers. Previously, the requirement was 21 hours.  Additionally, mental and behavioral health providers must work in a community-based setting. If the provider works at a private practice, the practice must be affiliated with a community-based facility that provides comprehensive health care services, including mental health.

How to Finance Your Education

How to Finance Your Education, Piggy bank on books