Feb 25, 2024  
College Catalog 2023-2024 
College Catalog 2023-2024

Financial Aid

Financial Aid

The vast majority of financial aid funds at Holyoke Community College come from federal and state programs for which eligibility is need-based. A student must reapply for this aid each academic year. State-funded programs require the student (and parent) to have been Massachusetts residents for at least one year before the start of the school year. All awards are subject to the availability of funds and changes in federal, state, and college regulations, policies, and procedures.

How to Apply

Financial aid applicants are required to annually submit a properly completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the appropriate school year. This federal application can be submitted electronically through FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Applicants are welcome to use the self-service computers in the lobby of the HCC’s Financial Aid Office, Frost 201, to submit the application.

In order to meet both the HCC priority deadline and the state MASSGrant deadline, the student’s FAFSA must reach the federal processor before May 1 for the school year starting in September. If an applicant is selected for verification by the federal processor or by the college, s/he must submit other supporting documents, such as Verification Worksheets, directly to the HCC Financial Aid Office..

If a student misses the May 1st priority deadline, s/he should apply as soon as possible thereafter even if not starting school until the following spring. In addition to completing the general financial aid application requirements described above, applicants should:

  • PROMPTLY respond to all requests for additional information. 
  • GET ADMITTED to a degree program or to an eligible certificate program*.
  • PREREGISTER for courses as early as possible. 
  • RESPOND to award offers by accepting or declining awards online at Online Services, found under the MyHCC menu at www.hcc.edu.

*Not all certificate programs are eligible for financial aid.

Additional financial aid information such as policies, resources, eligibility, and deadlines are available online at www.hcc.edu/finaid or by contacting the Financial Aid Office, Frost 201, 413.552.2150, financialaid@hcc.edu.

Award Packaging Policies

Holyoke Community College makes every attempt to award financial aid funds up to each student’s financial need. The EFC is determined according to a federal formula based on the FAFSA application data and is reported to the family via the resulting Student Aid Report.

This example is a financial aid package for a full-time, dependent student (MA resident) with an EFC of $1,000:



Federal Pell Grant
  $1,500 MASS State Aid or other Grant Aid
  $3,000 Federal Work Study (optional)

Direct Subsidized Loan (optional)

  $1,000 Direct Unsubsidized Loan (optional)

To receive the amounts above, the student must apply on time and be eligible for both federal and state financial aid.

Three-quarter-time and half-time students are packaged with grants that are three-quarters and one-half of the amounts packaged for full-time students with the same EFC. Their direct costs are also proportional to enrollment status.

Since grants often exceed the cost of tuition, fees and books, the excess funds are available to help with out-of-pocket costs.

If a student does not qualify for enough grant aid to cover direct costs, educational loans can be accepted to cover the shortfall. Students may also borrow loan funds for other educationally-related expenses such as transportation, daycare costs, and other living expenses. The low interest rate of Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized educational loans make them a beneficial option in place of a high interest credit card payment. 

All Federal Direct Stafford Loan applicants must have a complete financial aid file. In addition, all first-time borrowers at HCC must sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete online entrance counseling at https://studentaid.gov in order to ensure that their rights and responsibilities as student loan borrowers are understood.  Direct Loan borrowers are also required to complete an Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment before receiving the first disbursement on the Direct Loan borrowed for each new award year. 

The following awarding policies are also followed:

  1. Federal SEOG’s are normally restricted to students with EFCs = $0.
  2. College-based grants based on need are not reduced for private scholarships unless required by regulations.
  3. Aid for students with bachelor degrees (or higher) is restricted to loans and work-study.
  4. Students simultaneously enrolled in high school and HCC are not eligible for any financial aid 
  5. Students cannot receive financial aid for audited courses or courses the student never attended.
  6. Financial aid can only pay for up to 30 credits of remedial/developmental coursework.

The college reserves the right to adjust awards due to changes in students’ eligibility or the availability of funds.

For more detailed information regarding federal, state, and institutional student aid programs, the student should check the following websites:

The following link provides information on financial aid assistance from other state agencies:

Book Advances

A student who has expected financial aid that exceeds his/her tuition and fee charges is automatically issued a financial aid book advance for the purchase of books and supplies. Approximately 3 weeks before the start of a semester, a student’s eligibility for the book advance is calculated based on the student’s billed charges minus pending financial aid. Once calculated, the book advance is posted to the student’s account. The amount of the book advance can be viewed by logging into Online Services.  To use the advance, the student can go to the bookstore and purchase books and supplies using their student ID.  Students not able to come to campus may also purchase their course materials online to be shipped to their home for an additional cost.  Please visit hcc.bncollege.com for more information.  Books and supplies can be purchased with the advance through the first 3 weeks of the semester. After the 3-week period, the book advance is removed and the actual charges are placed on the student’s account.

If a student uses his or her book advance, the student is considered to have authorized the use of financial aid funds to pay books and supplies and no additional written authorization is required.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

For most federal and state financial aid programs, students must meet both a qualitative and quantitative standard of satisfactory academic progress (SAP).

Qualitative GPA Standard

  Cumulative Grade Point Hours Required Cumulative G.P.A.*
  Below 9 N/A
  9-30 1.75
  Above 30 2.0

*The financial aid G.P.A is computed using grades received for all HCC courses, including developmental courses and courses taken prior to being approved for an academic “Fresh Start.”

Quantitative Standard

The quantitative standard has two aspects: incremental (pace) progress, and a maximum time frame requiring that the student make reasonable progress toward earning a degree or certificate.

Incremental Pace Progress

The student must successfully complete at least two-thirds of cumulative attempted semester hours, calculated at 0.67.

Maximum Time Frame

The student must be able to complete his/her program of study within 150% of the number of semester hours required at HCC to complete his/her degree or certificate.

Repeat Policy

Financial aid can only pay for one repeat of a previously passed course.

Appeal Process

A student who believes that extraordinary circumstances prevented him/her from attaining satisfactory academic progress may submit an appeal to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee.

Financial Aid Probation

If a student is granted an appeal, s/he is considered to be on financial aid probation. A student on financial aid probation will be eligible to receive financial aid for one semester. To receive financial aid beyond that point, s/he must meet normal SAP standards and/or fulfill the requirements of an academic plan.

Warning Period

Students who fail to meet the incremental pace standard and/or the G.P.A standard for the very first time are granted a one semester warning period. Students in this category are warned of their failed status but do not lose their financial aid for the semester.

A complete statement of the Holyoke Community College policy on SAP is available in the Financial Aid Office, Frost 201, online at www.hcc.edu/sap, and the HCC Student Handbook.

Aid Disbursements and the Return of Unearned Aid

A student’s financial aid eligibility for each term is generally based on the student’s enrollment status at the end of the first add/drop period of the semester. (For the summer this normally means the very first add/drop period, and for the intersession/spring term this normally means the first add/drop period of the traditional spring term).

For grant aid, the enrollment status for students who are awarded after the add/drop period is determined based on the number of credits the student is enrolled in at the time the award is calculated.

For student loans, the enrollment status for students awarded after the first add/drop period is based on the number of credits the student is enrolled in at the end of the first add/drop period. If the student is not enrolled as of that date (at the end of the first add/drop period), then the enrollment status is based on the number of credits at the time the award is made.  Students must always be enrolled in at least 6 credits at the time the loan is processed.

The first aid disbursement for a term normally takes place approximately 30 days after classes start. A student with a credit balance on his/her account resulting from aid in excess of balances due will have this credit balance paid to him/her within fourteen days of the aid disbursement.

If the student stops attending classes before completing 60% of the term, the student is considered to have earned only a percentage of his/her aid equal to the percentage of the term completed. In such cases the school must apply federal and state rules to determine how much unearned aid must be repaid respectively by the student and the school. Any grant aid that is due back from the student is considered an overpayment.

Until resolved, federal financial aid overpayments prevent a student from receiving federal or state aid at any school. State over-payments disqualify the student for state aid at any school. In addition, the return of aid by the college can leave an unpaid balance on the student’s college account.

Federal regulations require schools to use the date the student begins the withdrawal process as the “date of withdrawal.” Holyoke Community College defines the date the student begins the withdrawal process as the date the student obtains the Course/College Withdrawal form from the Student Records Office with the intention to completely withdraw from school.  If a student stops attending, and fails to officially withdraw from classes, the school normally uses the 50% point of the term as the “withdrawal date,” although a different date may be used if the school has received a last date of attendance from an instructor.

Federal rules also require the return of financial aid in cases where a student withdraws from a course that does not span the entire semester, if at the time of withdrawal from the course the student is not currently attending other classes.

Additional financial aid information such as policies, resources, eligibility, and deadlines are available online at www.hcc.edu/finaid or contact the Financial Aid Office, Frost 201, 413.552.2150, financialaid@hcc.edu.

Financial Aid Programs

Students applying for financial aid according to the procedures described under “Expenses” are considered for a wide variety of financial aid programs briefly described below. In addition, students may apply for a variety of scholarships through the HCC Foundation at www.hccscholarships.org. The college also awards a limited number of talent grants without requiring an application.


Federal Pell Grant

During 2023-2024, Pell Grants range up to $7,395 a year for full-time, $5,546 for three-quarter time, $3,698 for half-time, and $1,849 for less than half-time enrollment. Recipients are restricted to a lifetime limit of 12 full-time semesters of awards. Undergraduate students only.

FUNDING: U.S. Gov’t.


Awards at Massachusetts Community Colleges are expected to range up to $2,000during 2023-2024, depending on financial need and remaining eligibility. Eligibility for the MASSGrant is restricted to 4 semesters if enrolled in a two-year undergraduate program, and 2 semesters if enrolled in a 1-year certificate or diploma program.  Full-time undergraduate students only.

FUNDING: State of Mass.

MASSGrant Plus

Award amounts vary depending on student need (gap) to meet tuition/fee costs.  2023-2024 eligibility is limited to students who file the 2022-2023 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by November 1, 2023, and who enroll in 6 credits or more per semester. Undergraduate students only. 

FUNDING: State of Mass.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

Grants normally do not exceed $400 at HCC. Preference to self-supporting Pell-eligible students with zero EFCs living away from home. Undergraduate students only.

FUNDING: U.S. Gov’t.

Financial Aid Need-Based Tuition Waiver

Tuition Waivers reduce tuition charges and can range up to the full amount of in-state tuition. Undergraduate students only.

FUNDING: State of Mass.

Mass Furcolo Access Grant

Awards cannot exceed tuition and fees, currently $212 per credit. Undergraduate students only.

FUNDING: State of Mass.

Institutional Grant

Grants are normally limited to direct educational costs. Undergraduate students only.


HCC Educational Access Grant

Award offers can be up to &1,500. Undergraduate students only.



Federal Direct Stafford Loans

First year dependent students may borrow up to $5,500 in Federal Direct Stafford Loans, with a subsidized limit of $3,500.  Second year students may borrow up to $6,500 per year, with a $4,500 subsidized limit.  Independent students can borrow up to an additional $4,000 in unsubsidized loans, for a maximum amount of $9,500 for freshmen and $10,500 for sophomores, if eligible. Repayment begins six months after the borrower ceases at least half-time enrollment. Interest is not charged on Subsidized Loans until the borrower ceases to be at least a half-time student.  Interest accrues on Unsubsidized Loans from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. 

FUNDING: U.S. Gov’t.

Federal Direct Plus Loans

A loan for parents of dependent students. The maximum loan amount is the student’s cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received. The loan enters repayment once the loan has been fully disbursed (paid out). The loan requires a credit check.

FUNDING: U.S. Gov’t.


Federal Work Study (FWS)

FWS will be offered for eligible students. FWS awards typically allow students to work an average of 10 to 12 hours per week during the academic year. Sometimes additional hours are available during the summer, spring, and winter breaks, but total hours would rarely exceed 30 per week. Payroll is every two weeks.

FUNDING: U.S. Gov’t. & HCC

Federal Work Study (Community Service)

Community service federal work study provides work opportunities that are designed to improve the quality of life for commu­nity residents, particularly low-income individuals, or to solve particular problems related to their needs. Students employed in community service positions work at public or nonprofit agencies that offer the following types of services: health care, child care, literacy training, tutoring, welfare, social services, public safety, crime prevention and control, disability services, elder care, recreation, community improvement, and emergency preparedness and response. Students who are eligible for federal work study may inquire about community service positions by contacting Andrea Picard, Frost 278, apicard@hcc.edu,  413.552.2342.