Aid Like A Paycheck

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 In addition to the standard refund method, starting in Fall 2014, Houston Community College will implement a new refund method called “Aid Like A Paycheck,” through a study with a research organization called MDRC, to help students better manage their financial aid refunds. As a part of the Aid Like A Paycheck (ALAP) research study, new incoming students will be randomly selected to receive financial aid disbursements either in a standard lump sum or in increments that will occur every two weeks through the semester.  Your total authorized aid amount will be the same regardless of when you are scheduled to receive your refund deposits. 

 

 

 

How It All Works

Introduction and Overview

HCC is participating in a research study beginning Fall 2014, conducted by MDRC, in which randomly selected aid recipients new to HCC will be receiving their grant and loan disbursements in biweekly increments rather than in lump sum payments.

Students selected for Aid Like A Paycheck may begin receiving financial aid disbursements and refunds as early as three weeks into the term for grants and as early as four weeks into the term for loans.

The amount of student aid disbursements and refunds will not change; it is the timing of aid disbursements that will be different based on a biweekly schedule.

Students not selected for Aid Like A Paycheck will receive aid disbursements and refunds on the traditional schedule of lump sum payments based on credits and session start dates.

The purpose of the Aid Like A Paycheck research study is to determine the effect incremental disbursements have on students’ managing finances and achieving academic success. If you are new student to HCC and receive financial aid, your student information might be shared with MDRC as a result of the Aid Like A Paycheck study. You will be notified if your information will be shared, and any shared information will be kept confidential unless otherwise stated in writing. A student DOES NOT have the option to choose their financial aid refund method. However, students can opt out of having their information shared with MDRC.

 

 

The Research Study

HCC is working with a research organization called MDRC to test two methods of disbursing and refunding financial aid to determine which method best assists students with managing their finances and succeeding in college.

As part of this study, HCC will share student records data with MDRC. The data includes personal identifiers, such as name and contact information, enrollment, credits attempted and completed, grades, and financial aid funds awarded/disbursed. You will be notified if your information is shared, and any information that MDRC and HCC collect for the study will be kept confidential and will be used for research purposes only.

Researchers may contact students to ask questions about financial aid and their experiences in college. Participation in these follow up activities will be voluntary. A student DOES NOT have the option to choose their financial aid refund method. Once a student with a refund over $800 is selected to receive their aid through the Aid Like A Paycheck method, future disbursements will be made in increments. There is no appeal process.  However, students can opt out of participating in the Aid Like A Paycheck study. If you have questions about the study, or you don’t want to be contacted or have your data shared with MDRC, please email ALAP@mdrc.org or call the HCC Financial Aid Call Center at (713) 718-2000.

Confidentiality:

Information that MDRC and HCC collect for the study will be kept confidential and will be used for research purposes only. Paper research records that include identifying information such as names, addresses, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number will be kept in locked filing cabinets or locked offices at MDRC and HCC. Computerized research data will be kept in password-protected files. All paper and computerized files containing identifying information will be destroyed at the end of the study.

 

 

Standard vs. ALAP

Below is a side by side comparison of both refund methods. All aid disbursements and refunds will be adjusted throughout the term according to enrolled credits.

 

StandardAid Like a Pay Check
  • Grant awards are based on enrolled credit hours & disbursed within 4 weeks after the start of the term.  Grants are adjusted to reflect credit hours enrolled. Grant aid will not be released until after the last session of classes has begun.
  • Grant awards are based on enrolled credit hours & disbursed after 1st official date of record. Grants are adjusted to reflect credit hours enrolled. Students begin receiving grant aid three weeks after first set of classes begin rather than after final classes for late start sessions.
  • Accepted student loans require student to be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours and are disbursed approximately 30 days after officially being enrolled in 6 credit hours. *Loans are not available for summer term.
  • Accepted student loans require student to be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours and are disbursed approximately 30 days after officially being enrolled in 6 credit hours. *Loans are not available for summer term.
  • Tuition & bookstore charges will be paid first with disbursed aid. Any remaining balance will be refunded in one lump sum(s) to EagleOne Card. Grant and loan aid are disbursed and refunded at separate times.
  • Tuition & bookstore charges will be paid first with disbursed aid. Any remaining balance– including grant and load aid – will be disbursed/refunded biweekly to the EagleOne Card throughout the semester. If the total refund is less than $800, aid will be refunded in one lump sum to the EagleOne Card.
  • If a student does not remain enrolled at least 60% of the semester, then the student’s aid must be recalculated, referred to as “Return to Title IV,” and the student will usually owe a balance back to the school. 
  • If student withdraws or does not continue attending past the 60% point of the semester, biweekly disbursements willstop. Recalculated aid most likely will not create a balance due from the student.