The purpose of the Student Financial Services Office at Polk State College is to assist students in obtaining funds to meet their educational objectives in accordance with state, federal, and institutional regulations. The Student Financial Services Office provides personalized service in a courteous and professional manner. All federal aid programs, as well as many state and local programs, require a needs analysis from each participating student. Students use a needs analysis form, called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), to apply for any federal aid. All Polk State College students are required to complete the FAFSA, whether they plan to use federal aid or not.
Students must apply online at the federal government's website at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The Student Financial Services Office on each campus can assist students with all questions regarding the FAFSA.
The major categories of financial assistance programs include grants, loans, the College Work-Study Program, and scholarships.
Grants, like scholarships, generally do not have to be repaid, provided students successfully complete their classes. Most grant programs are based on student need.
The Pell Grant is a need-based federal aid program for undergraduate students. Eligibility is determined by the U.S. Department of Education when students complete the FAFSA. The maximum award is established by the federal government, and awards are prorated according to the number of credits in which a student is enrolled. Pell Grant recipients are expected to complete their courses successfully. Recipients who cease to attend or who withdraw from classes prior to the end of a term may be required to repay some (or all) of the grant award.
Financial Standards of Progress
In addition to other requirements, students are required to maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average (GPA) and a 67% cumulative completion of all attempted student semester hours (SSH) to retain federal aid. The attempted student semester hours include all remedial transfer courses as well as courses for which a grade of W, I, or F is received. No federal aid (including loans) is awarded to students after attempting 90 SSH in a 60 SSH major or 180 SSH in a 120 SSH major. More information about these standards can be found in Polk State College Procedure 5017: Standards of Academic Progress .
Eligibility for federal financial aid is based on a number of factors:
Applying for Federal Financial Aid
To apply for aid, a student must:
- Complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
- List Polk State College's school code (001514) as one of the code choices for recipient schools.
- Await receipt of the Federal Student Aid Report (SAR) from the federal processing center.
- Check all information on the SAR for accuracy.
- Await notification that Polk State College has received the SAR from the federal processing center, which can take up to three (3) weeks.
- Check for email notifications through the student's Polk State email or PASSPORT. Email is the primary mode of communication from the Student Financial Services Office.
Awards and Payment
When a student meets all applicable standards, the Student Financial Services Office updates Passport with the amount of funding that the student is eligible to receive. Funds are credited to the student's account for payment toward the cost of tuition and books. In accordance with federal, state, and institutional guidelines, if there is a balance in the account after the term begins, Polk State College releases these funds to the student by the end of the term. Awards are disbursed based on the number of credit hours for which a student is enrolled. Disbursement dates can be found in the Academic Calendar.
Lab courses may require more contact hours than the credit hours indicated. This may affect how certain entities view a student's full-time or part-time status. Students should refer to program information and course descriptions to determine course-required contact hours.
Federal awards are made annually to students with the greatest financial need. Grants are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible students enrolled at least half time (enrolled in six or more credits).
Florida's largest need-based program provides assistance to degree-seeking, undergraduate, resident students who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled in eligible public or private postsecondary institutions. To be considered for this grant, a student must submit a completed (error-free) Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the deadline specified by Polk State College. The deadline to apply for the Florida Student Assistance Grant is May 15 for the following academic year. Grant monies are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible students enrolled at least half time (enrolled in six or more credits).
Education Tax Credits
Two education tax credits are available: the Hope Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. These credits are based on educational expenses paid for the student, for his or her spouse, or for the student's dependents. During any particular year, a student can claim only one of the credits.
The amount of the credit is determined by the amount paid for "qualified tuition and related expenses" for each student and the student's modified adjusted gross income (modified AGI).
Students can access more information at www.irs.gov, or they may visit a tax consultant.
Workforce Investment Act
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is a federally-funded program administered through the Polk County Workforce Development Board (CareerSource Polk). This program assists economically-disadvantaged individuals, dislocated workers, or homemakers with the cost of attending college. The benefits include tuition, books, and other associated costs of learning, and can be applied toward Polk State College's AS, AAS, and Certificate Programs. Students also receive career counseling and academic assistance as well as job counseling, job-seeking skills, and job-placement services. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the CareerSource Polk Center at 863.808.1100.
The College administers loans through both the Student Financial Services Office and through the Polk State College Foundation. The Student Financial Services Office administers Stafford Loans through the federal government. Stafford Loans are long-term loans, requiring a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students may obtain applications and information about these loans through the Student Financial Services Office. To be considered for federal loan programs, students must complete the FAFSA. In accordance with the Polk State College default-avoidance plan, students must earn an overall 2.0 GPA per term, complete 66 2/3% of their attempted courses per term, and have attempted fewer than 150% of the student's program hours. Applications are found online and must be submitted to the Student Financail Services Office. Eligibility is based on the applicant's educational need.
The Foundation administers the Walter Dent and Alice Lorraine Brown loan contingent upon available funds. The Walter Dent and Alice Lorraine Brown loan is a long-term, interest-free loan. To qualify, a student must be a U.S. citizen, be 31 years of age or younger, be attending or have attended Polk State College, and must have an overall GPA of 3.5 with a declared major in one of the following fields: nursing, computer science, engineering, accounting, industrial technology, education, mathematics, chemistry, law, media technology, business, or medicine. Applications for this loan are available in the Foundation Office.
The College participates in the need-based, federally-sponsored College Work-Study Program (CWSP). Participating students may work on campus or in non-profit organizations in the community. Students may work up to a maximum of 20 hours weekly. Income earned through the CWSP does not require repayment. Students should visit the Student Financial Services Office for additional information.
Many academic merit, special skills, public service, and financial need scholarships are available to students at Polk State College. The Student Financial Services Office also encourages students to seek scholarship opportunities from resources and organizations with which they are already affiliated. For example, some businesses and agencies have tuition-reimbursement programs for their employees. These financial aid opportunities often are the best source of college funds as the likelihood of acceptance is much higher than with open-competition funds.
The Student Financial Services Office administers federal, state, and institutional scholarships and grants, some of which have been explained in this section of the catalog. These include PELL Grants, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), Bright Futures, Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG), as well as Public Service, Academic Merit, trust-fund, and athletic scholarships. Students should contact the Student Financial Services Office on either the Winter Haven or Lakeland campus for information about these scholarships. Additional financial assistance is made available through the generosity of private donors. The Polk State College Foundation serves as the direct support organization for the College and encourages donors to direct funding of private scholarships to:
Polk State College Foundation, Inc.
999 Avenue H, N. E.
Winter Haven, Florida 33881
Donors should include the recipient student's name or scholarship fund they wish to contribute toward, contact information, and any other specific instructions. Students who receive private scholarships should ask the donor's permission to include information such as the name of the individual or organization making the donation, contact information, and the title of the scholarship. In addition to these scholarships, the Polk State College Foundation awards and administers private endowed scholarships. These scholarships are awarded annually with applications being accepted February 1 through the middle of March each year. Applications for endowed scholarships are available online only. For more information about endowed scholarships and the application process, students should visit the Polk State College Foundation website. Applicants who do not otherwise have access to home computers may use computers in the TLCCs on the Winter Haven or Lakeland campus to apply. Students should contact the respective campus TLCC or visit the TLCC website for hours of operation. Periodically, the Polk State College Foundation administers special scholarships from federal, state, and local programs as well as from various private donors. These scholarships are awarded as donors make funds available and are advertised throughout the year on the Polk State College Foundation's website as "Third Party Scholarships." Students seeking information should click on the Scholarships link.
The Polk State College Foundation, Inc. is a tax-exempt organization with the mission of providing Polk State College with resources for the advancement of the College, its students, faculty, staff, and other constituencies in fulfillment of the College's mission. Through contributions from donors, scholarship opportunities are provided to qualified students. Information about Foundation scholarships and the application process is accessible through the Foundation website.
The Polk State College Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of business and professional leaders in Polk County. The Foundation exists to supplement the College's budget, which enables Polk state College to offer county residents advanced educational programs promising academic excellence, personal growth, cultural development, and meaningful employment. To fulfill this commitment, the Foundation continually searches for donations of cash, securities, and property as well as deferred gifts. More information on donations and becoming a donor can be found at the Foundation website.
High School Academic Scholarships
Polk State College awards scholarships to academically-outstanding students from all accredited high schools in Polk County. High School Academic Merit Scholarships pay matriculation fees for two years, provided students maintain satisfactory academic progress. Certain maximum dollar amounts apply.
High School Service Scholarships
Polk State College awards scholarships to students dedicated to providing volunteer services to their high school classmates during their senior year and serving as student ambassadors while attending Polk State College. The high school juniors chosen for these awards must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA, and a documented record of community service hours may apply.
High School Service Scholarships pay matriculation fees for two years, provided satisfactory academic progress is maintained. The scholarship pays for 60 credit hours taken within two years.
Additional information about these scholarships is available from high school counselors in the spring of the student's junior year.
Cultural Arts and Other Extracurricular Scholarships
A number of scholarships are awarded each year to students displaying special skills in several areas, including music, art, journalism, and drama.
These scholarships pay matriculation fees (maximum dollar amounts per term apply) and are renewable, provided performance and academic progress are satisfactory. For additional information, students are encouraged to contact the Student Financial Services Office or the relevant area of the College for the particular skill.
Athletic students are invited to apply for scholarships available to individuals who qualify for participation in Polk State College's Varsity Sports Program. Scholarships are awarded in accordance with the rules published by the Florida Community College Activities Association and the appropriate Board of Trustees rule. Participating varsity sports include baseball and basketball for men, and volleyball, soccer, and softball for women. Interested individuals may contact the Athletic Office for information about team tryouts.
Honors Program Scholarships
Polk State College provides scholarships for students participating in the Honors Program. These scholarships pay some or all matriculation fees, provided satisfactory academic progress is maintained. Students must be eligible for admission into the Polk State College Honors Program. Further information about admission requirements for the Honors Program and about the Honors Program Scholarships can be found at the Honors Program website.
Transient students are responsible for covering all of their own expenses while attending Polk State College. Financial Aid can only be administered at one institution. Transient students seeking financial aid must do so through their home institutions. Polk State College transient students at other institutions may contact the Student Financial Services Office for coverage information.