Friday, February 17, 2006

LCC maximum credit limit to raise its ugly head again

for the first time in many terms, I thought I was not going to have to deal with financial aid issues. It was actually starting to seem too good to be true, but not to be disappointed I got this in the mail today.

As explained in the instructions, per federal regulations a student is expected to complete a two-year program within 150 attempted credits.
"students who have exceeded or are nearing these maximum time frames are considered to be not a advancing towards graduation within a reasonable period of time."

Now let's look at the facts in this particular case.
Yes as of this term, I have 175 ATTEMPTED credits on file.
"Attempted [LIFETIME] credits include audits, transfer credits, incompletes, dropped courses and repeated or failed classes."[source]

1977 I earned 78 ATTEMPTED credit hour at Lane community college
Between 1995 and the year 2000,my last job hired LCC to provide on-the-job training offering college credits
In addition to one term that I took on campus to enrich my training.

That now brought the total of ATTEMPTED credits to 82 credits when I returned to Lane in 2003. Therefore, so it did not take long for me to reach my first maximum credit limit. Keep in mind that it does not matter HOW the classes were paid for. It is the ATTEMPTED amount of credits that they look at.

The appeals process...

"if you are required to appeal, your financial aid eligibility may be extended beyond the maximal credit limit for EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES ONLY. The following are examples of valid reasons to appeal for an extension. They are not intended to be all-inclusive:
*You change a major (see generally only one program change would be approved).
*Your program is over 50 credits for a one-year program or 100 credits for a two-year program.
*You were required to take developmental and/or prerequisite courses.
*You have transferred credits that do not apply to your lane program.
*Other extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis"

Imagine my surprise. I just began my program working towards a dual degree to be completed in two years time and now I have to a file an appeal to be able to continue my program. Here is the other kicker, at the time I was not on financial aid.

I was forced to cancel one of my degree programs.

Late 2005, I made a phone call to the Federal department of education. These are the people who administer and make the rules for these programs and I asked him about my particular situation. He confirmed the federal regulations that Lane quotes but the question is what is considered a "timely manner".

When I explained to him my particular circumstances even he could not understand how credits so old could be used against me.

"colleges and universities must follow the minimum federal guidelines however they are allowed to add to those requirements"

The point, both the University of Oregon and Lane community college considers those credits as part of their financial aid considerations. If I had not gone to Lane community college and acquired those credits, then I would have been allowed to have a NORMAL college experience when I returned to school in 2003 instead of spending so much time practically every term having to deal with the administrative issues from those old credits.

I will give Lane community college kudos for one thing versus University of Oregon, LCC appeal process at least in my particular case let me to go through the program even though I was LIMITED more than others on my selection of courses. According to an a financial adviser at University of Oregon, their appeal process will go for a maximum of several months extension.

oh, since I am within 12 credits of graduating, I will not be filing for another appeal, however it is clear that for success of continuing on with my education beyond my Associates degree would require non-federal loans and scholarships to guarantee success.

what could have prevented all of this turmoil? A simple audit of the transcripts eliminating outdated credits that no longer apply to anything when I first applied to the college.
if you have stories that you would like to share in addition to this issue, please note the links to the left and join our roundtable discussion.


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