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. To fulfill this requirement, the student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for any federal aid. Each Polk State College student is required to complete the FAFSA, whether he or she plans to use federal aid or not.
A student must apply online for aid through the federal government’s website (https://www.studentaid.gov). The Student Financial Services Office on each campus can answer questions regarding the FAFSA.
The major categories of financial assistance programs include grants, loans, the College Work-Study Program, and scholarships.
A grant is a form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid (unless, for example, the student withdraws from classes and owes a refund, or the individual receives a TEACH Grant and does not complete his or her service obligation). A variety of federal grants are available, including Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.
The Pell Grant is a need-based federal aid program for undergraduates. Eligibility is determined by the U.S. Department of Education when the student completes the FAFSA. The maximum award is established by the federal government, and awards are prorated according to the number of credits in which the student is enrolled. Each Pell Grant recipient is expected to complete all courses successfully. A recipient who ceases to attend or who withdraws from any class(es) prior to the end of a term may be required to repay some (or all) of the grant award.
Applying for Federal Financial Aid
To apply for aid, a student must:
- Complete the FAFSA online (https://www.studentaid.gov).
- List the Polk State College’s school code (001514) as one of the school choices.
- 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 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.
Eligibility for federal financial aid is based on several factors:
In addition to other requirements, to retain federal aid each student is required to maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA), ensure a minimum of 67 percent cumulative completion for all attempted semester hours, and not exceed 150 percent of the semester hours required of the degree program as attempted coursework. The attempted semester hours include all remedial and transfer courses, as well as any course for which a grade of W, I, or F is received. No federal aid (including loan funding) is awarded to the student after attempting 90 semester hours in a 60-semester-hour major, or 180 semester hours in a 120-semester-hour major. More information about these standards can be found in Polk State College Procedure 5017: Standards of Academic Progress.
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’s mobile bank account by the end of the term. Awards are disbursed based on the number of financial-aid-eligible 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 indicate. This may affect how certain entities view a student’s full-time or part-time status. The student should refer to the program information and course description 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 at the College (i.e., enrolled in six or more credits).
TEACH Grants are federal grants for students in the education field who agree to teach for at least four academic years as highly qualified teachers serving low-income students in high-need fields. The four-year commitment (also known as the TEACH Grant service obligation) must be completed within eight calendar years of exiting college.
Florida’s largest need-based program provides aid to degree-seeking, undergraduate, resident students who demonstrate financial need and who are enrolled in eligible public or private postsecondary institutions. To be considered for this grant, a student must submit a completed (i.e., 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 at the College (i.e., enrolled in six or more credits).
The First-Generation Matching Grant Program (FGMG) is a need-based grant program available to degree-seeking, resident, undergraduate students who demonstrate substantial financial need and are enrolled in eligible participating postsecondary institutions. Eligible students have a parent(s) who has not earned a baccalaureate or higher degree.
Each participating institution determines its application procedure, deadlines, student eligibility requirements, and the award amount. This program is available at Florida state universities and Florida colleges (i.e., public community colleges).
The José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund is a need-based merit scholarship that provides financial assistance to eligible students of Hispanic origin who plan to attend Florida public or eligible private institutions.
To qualify, the student must submit an error-free Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA). Applicants are ranked by submission date, if necessary. The student must be of the Spanish culture, and born in (or have a natural parent who was born in) Mexico, a Hispanic country of the Caribbean, or Central or South America (regardless of race). Those whose families and heritage originate from Spain, Brazil, or Haiti are not eligible for consideration for this scholarship. Additionally, an eligible student must meet any other requirements set by the Florida Department of Education’s (FLDOE) Office of Financial Student Assistance (OSFA).
The College administers loans through both the Student Financial Services Office and through the Polk State College Foundation. The Student Financial Services Office administers Federal Direct-Subsidized, Unsubsidized, and Parent Plus Loans through the federal government. It is important for a student to understand that when borrowing money to attend college, the money must be repaid with accrued interest. Federal Direct Loans are long-term loans, requiring a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applications and information about these loans are available through the Student Financial Services Office (or online at https://studentaid.gov/). To be considered for federal loan programs, a student must complete the FAFSA. In accordance with the Polk State College default-avoidance plan, the student must earn an overall 2.0 GPA per term, complete 67 percent of the attempted courses per term, and have attempted less than 150 percent of the student’s program hours. A student aid package may include subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loan awards if the student meets eligibility for a loan. 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 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 Federal Work-Study Program (FWS), in which participants work on campus or in non-profit organizations in the community. A participating student may work up to a maximum of 20 hours weekly. Income earned through the FWS Program does not require repayment. The Student Financial Services Office provides additional information regarding this program.
The Florida Work Experience Program (FWEP) is a need-based program providing eligible Florida students work experiences to complement and reinforce their educational and career goals. Each eligible participating private college, university, Florida college (public community college), career center or educator preparation institute determines its own application procedures, deadlines, student eligibility requirements, and award amount.
Many nonprofit and private organizations offer scholarships to help students pay for college. This type of free money, which is sometimes based on academic merit, talent, or a particular area of study, can make a real difference in helping a student manage his or her educational expenses.
The Student Financial Services Office on either the Winter Haven or Lakeland Campus can provide information about these scholarships. Additional financial assistance is made available through the generosity of private donors.
In addition to these scholarships, the Polk State College Foundation awards and administers private endowed scholarships. These scholarships are awarded annually, with applications accepted February 1 through the middle of March of each year. Applications for endowed scholarships are available online only. For more information about endowed scholarships and the application process, a student can visit the Polk State College Foundation website. Any applicant who does not have access to a home computer may use one in the TLCC on the Winter Haven or Lakeland Campus to apply. The student 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; they are advertised throughout the year on the Polk State College Foundation website as “third-party scholarships.” Information is available through 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 and its students, faculty, and staff, as well as 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 enhanced educational programs promising academic excellence, personal growth, cultural development, and meaningful employment. To fulfill this commitment, the Foundation continually seeks donations of cash, securities, and property, as well as deferred gifts. The Polk State College Foundation serves as the direct-support organization for the College and encourages donors to direct funding for private scholarships to:
Polk State College Foundation, Inc.
999 Avenue H, N. E.
Winter Haven, Florida 33881
A donor should include contact information, the recipient student’s name or the scholarship fund that he or she wishes to contribute toward, and any other specific instructions. A student who receives a private scholarship 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. Additional information regarding donations and the process of becoming a donor can be found on the Foundation website.
Many academic-merit, specific-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 outside resources and with 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, and the likelihood of acceptance is much greater than with open-competition funds.
High School Academic Scholarships
Polk State College awards scholarships to academically outstanding students from all accredited high schools in Polk County. A High School Academic Merit Scholarship pays the student’s matriculation fees for two years, provided the student maintains Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Certain maximum dollar amounts apply.
High School Service Scholarships
Polk State College awards scholarships to dedicated students to who provide volunteer services to high school classmates during the senior year and serve as student ambassadors while attending Polk State College. The high school juniors chosen for these awards must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA and have a documented record of community service hours.
The High School Service Scholarship pays a student’s matriculation fees for two years, provided Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is maintained. The scholarship pays for up to 60 credit hours taken within two years. Additional information about these scholarships is available from high school counselors during the spring of the junior year.
Several scholarships are awarded each year to students displaying specific 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 Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is maintained. The student Financial Services Office (or the relevant skill area of the College) can provide more information about this type of scholarship.
Qualified students athletess are invited to apply for scholarships available to individuals participating in Polk State College’s Varsity Sports Program. Scholarships are awarded in accordance with the rules published by the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA) and the appropriate Polk State College District Board of Trustees rule. Participating varsity sports include men’s baseball and basketball, as well as women’s volleyball, soccer, and softball. The Athletics Office can provide more information about this opportunity and team tryouts.
Honors Program Scholarships
Polk State College provides scholarships for students participating in the Honors Program. An Honors Program Scholarship pays some or all of a student’s matriculation fees, provided Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is maintained. A student must be eligible for admission into the Polk State College Honors Program and take Honors courses to qualify for the scholarship. Further information about admission requirements for the Honors Program and its scholarship can be found on the Honors Program website.
The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program establishes lottery-funded scholarships to reward Florida high school graduates for high academic achievement. Polk State recognizes four categories of Bright Futures Scholarships:
Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans (CSDDV) are available for dependent children and un-remarried spouses of qualified Florida veterans. General eligibility requirements can be found at the Florida Student Financial Aid site (https://www.floridastudentfinancialaidsg.org/PDF/factsheets/CSDDV.pdf).
Besides aid from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), the federal government offers several other financial aid programs. These programs include:
Polk State College participates in various Veterans’ chapters and assists Veteran Students with selection of classes, applying for benefits, and certification of course enrollment. The College website provides more information about these benefits and services (https://www.polk.edu/admission-aid/veteran-information/).
Each Transient Student is responsible for covering all expenses while attending Polk State College. Financial Aid can only be administered at one institution. A transient student seeking financial aid must do so through the home institution. A Polk State College transient student who is attending another institution as a transient may contact the Student Financial Services Office for coverage information.