Financial Aid Policies

Overview of Financial Aid Programs


Cerro Coso Community College Financial Aid programs stem from a belief that student aid services should facilitate and foster the successful academic participation of students with financial need. As part of its commitment to help students have a positive college experience, the Financial Aid Office provides this information to help better understand financial aid. Deadlines and other important changes that may occur are listed on the Financial Aid webpage.

State and federal regulations allow community colleges participating in financial aid programs discretion when establishing college specific policies and procedures. This policy represents Cerro Coso Community College's current practices whenever state and federal regulations determine that policy decision-making is the responsibility of the college. We provide this information for students, prospective students, and parents to help make informed choices about financial aid options. This information is subject to change due to changes in federal or state regulations, college policy, or budgeting by any agency supplying financial aid funding.

Cerro Coso Community College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges,10 Commercial Blvd., Suite 204, Novato, CA 94949 (415) 506-0234 an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Commission on Recognition of Post-secondary Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education

Academic Year

Academic programs offered at Cerro Coso Community College are calculated in units and measured by semesters. Cerro Coso Community College establishes two 16 week semesters (fall and spring) and one summer semester (typically 8 weeks but may vary) per academic year. This meets the federal minimum academic year definition (30 weeks of instruction minimum).

For financial aid purposes, this definition is important because it affects how payment periods are calculated. Cerro Coso Community College makes financial aid payments based on the college's semester. A student's financial aid is calculated by semester.

Cost of Attendance

The Cost of Attendance (COA) refers to the average amount a full-time student enrolled in classes at Cerro Coso Community College can expect to spend during the semester. It is different for students living independently or at home, or who are residents of California or from another state.

The cost of attendance covers:

  • Tuition and Fees
  • Books and Supplies
  • Room and Board
  • Personal Expenses
  • Transportation

Determination of COA

Every year, Kern Community College Districts Financial Aid Directors review the California Student Aid Commission's most current Student Expenses and Resources Survey (SEARS). It is a broad survey of students' budgets and expenses from UCs, CSUs, community colleges, independent, and private career institutions. If the survey is not from the current year, it is adjusted for inflation.

Each year California legislators establish the cost for tuition per unit. The full-time enrollment units are used along with information about transportation fees. This sets the amount for tuition and fees while information from the SEARS is used to establish amounts for books and supplies and personal expenses.

The current Cost of Attendance can be found on Financial Aid page.

The cost of attendance is subject to change depending on legislative activity.

Financial aid is intended to assist with these costs, but rarely will cover the full amount. For this reason, it is important to be prepared and have a realistic expectation of what you will need to pay ‘out-of-pocket'.

Overview of Financial Aid Programs

Our freeze date is determined once a semester, on the main census date for the term. Units freeze for any financial aid student, defined as someone with a FAFSA on file for that term. Beginning Fall 2020, the process was modified that if a student did not have a FAFSA at their home college upon the freeze date, then their freeze date would occur the night after the FAFSA is received. This change also allows late start students to not be tied to the earlier freeze date, which might have been before they applied to the college or completed their FAFSA. Thus, the student's freeze date is either the main census date, or the date their FAFSA is received, whichever is later.

The Financial Aid Office has multiple programs available to students. Below is a brief description of the various sources of financial aid available:

  • California College Promise Grant (formerly known as the BOG Fee Waiver)—State-funded program designed to assist students who are California residents in meeting the cost of the enrollment fee charged at California community colleges. The California College Promise Grant (formerly known as the BOG Fee Waiver) is available to any California resident or AB 540 classified student who meets the financial eligibility requirements or qualifies through another program.

    NOTE: Beginning Fall 2016, students will be required to meet academic standing to receive the grant. Students not meeting academic standing will have one semester of warning before loss of grant eligibility.
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs Grant (BIA)—provides financial assistance to Native American students who enroll in full-time college programs. In order to qualify, a student must be at least one-fourth American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut. Those who believe that they qualify should contact the appropriate BIA area or agency office maintaining tribal records.
  • CAL Grants—the State of California sponsors the following awards under the Cal Grant Program: Cal Grants are disbursed in once per semester. Cal grant payments are disbursed according to the current enrollment status of the student at that time for the term. Disbursements from Cal Grant payments to student accounts are sent within 3 to 7 days of crediting the student account and verifying enrollment status.

    Students on the schools Cal Grant Roster are awarded once their Pell is complete and packaged. At that time, students eligibility for the Cal Grant is determined. For example, if a student is enrolled in less than half time they would be ineligible to receive the Cal Grant . New and Renewal Cal Grant recipients are notified of their Cal Grants on their award notification on their student account InsideCC.
    • Cal Grant A—provides tuition for students from low- and middle-income families with financial need and academic ability attending a 4 year university. Cal Grant A recipients attending a California community college will have their awards reserved until they transfer to a 4-year college or university.
    • Cal Grant B—is intended to aid high potential students from low-income families. The student must be enrolled in a course of study which lasts at least nine months and be taking at least six units of course work. At Cerro Coso Community College, these programs are AA, AS and certificates that meet the nine month requirement.
    • Cal Grant C—is to help students from low- and middle-income families to attend vocational programs and schools. Students may apply if enrolled in vocational programs or designated manpower shortage occupations if such programs last between four months and two years. At Cerro Coso Community College , these programs are most AS degrees and certificates.
    A student can receive only one Cal Grant award. If you need further information on your program and qualifications, please call the financial aid office.
  • California Chafee Grant—Cerro CosoCC participates in the Chafee Grant Program. The California Chafee Grant is awarded to current or former California foster youth to help pay for college or career and technical training. A Chafee Grant is a federal and state funded grant subject to yearly availability of funds. To qualify, the student must:
    • Be a current or former foster youth
    • Have reached your 26th birthday as of July 1 of the award year
    • Have financial need
  • CARE Grants—Grant funded through the State of California and available to students meeting a specific academic and economic need. See Access Programs for more information.
  • The Federal Pell Grant—is a federal program designed to provide financial assistance to U.S. citizens or permanent residents currently enrolled in a post-secondary educational institution. Award amounts are based on Cost of Attendance, Student Aid Index (SAI), enrollment and total percentage of Pell already received.
  • Scholarships—Community individuals and organizations have contributed monies to develop various college scholarships. Please visit the Cerro Coso Community College Financial Aid scholarships page for more information on applying for scholarships.
  • Federal Direct Student Loans—The U.S. Department of Education's federal student loan program is the  William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. Under this program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. There are three types of Direct Loans available:
    • Direct Subsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education at a college or career school.
    • Direct Unsubsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students, but eligibility is not based on financial need.
    • Direct PLUS Loans are loans made to parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history must meet additional requirements to qualify.
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)—The SEOG is awarded to a limited number of students who have exceptional financial need with priority given to Pell Grant recipients. Grants are awarded to students with the lowest EFC and highest remaining unmet need. SEOG is awarded fall and spring semesters to ensure late applicants have an opportunity to receive SEOG. NOTE: SEOG funds are limited and there is no guarantee that all students with 0 EFC will receive SEOG.
  • Federal Work Study (FWS)—is a federally-funded program that provides part-time employment for students from low-income families. To be eligible, the student must complete the FAFSA and submit a Cerro Coso Community College Work-study application packet. Students must complete all verification and be eligible for Pell Grant to work under Federal Work Study.
  • Cerro Coso Community College Work Study—is an institutionally funded program that provides part-time employment for students. To be eligible, the student must complete the FAFSA and submit a Cerro Coso Community College Work-study application packet. Funds under College Work Study are limited and available pending annual college budgets.

    Note: All forms of student employment are subject to the following eligibility requirements:
    • Enrolled in at least one course
    • Maintenance of a minimum 2.0 GPA
    • Completion of less than 90 units
    For more information, see the Student Worker Handbook.

Need Based and Non Need Based Federal and State Financial Aid

Cerro Coso has a full array of aid programs. Some are need based and some are non need based as determined by the information provided and verified on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Cerro Coso Scholarship Application.

Eligibility and Distribution of Need Based Aid

A student's need is the difference between the student's budget and the Student Aid Index. If a student has need, all attempts should be made to meet need with available funds. Need should be first met with any outside grant or scholarship funds, student qualified for (i.e., PELL, BOGG, CAL Grant). Exception: Policy on BIA for eligible Native Americans is to award all other possible aid before sending funding request to BIA. After all possible outside sources of aid have been considered and the student still has remaining need campus based aid (if available) should be awarded in the following order until full need is met or allowable maximums on each program has been met:

  3. CARE GRANT (If eligible per CARE regulations)

How to Apply for Financial Aid

This information can be found online at Applying Financial Aid.

Eligibility for Financial Aid

To be eligible, you must:

  • be a U.S. Citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • have registered with Selective Services (males)
  • be attending a participating school
  • be working towards a degree or eligible certificate
  • be making satisfactory academic progress
  • not owe a refund on a Federal grant or be in default on a federal education loan
  • have a financial need
  • have a Social Security Number (SSN) for Federal Aid
  • have been determined AB540 eligible by Admissions and Records for California funded aid. ( Board of Governors waiver and Cal Grants)

In addition:

  • Students enrolled in school less than half time may be eligible for Federal Pell Grants.
  • Conviction of drug distribution or possession may make a student ineligible.

Distribution of Financial Aid

PELL Grant: Disbursements are made three times per semester.

Disbursements for summer semester Pell are made in one lump sum.

  • SEOG Grant: Once per semester.
  • CARE Grant: Once per semester.
  • CWS: Monthly on or about the 10th.
  • CAL GRANT: Once per semester.
  • BIA Grant: Once per semester.

The disbursement schedule is available at the top of the Financial Aid page.

Student Workers

Cerro Coso Community College has many opportunities for students to gain work experience while obtaining their educational goals. For a list of opportunities, and to apply, please visit the Career Center webpage

Requirements for student workers are outlined in the Student Worker Handbook.

Student Loan Information

Direct Loans are low-interest loans for you and/or your parents to help pay for educational expenses. The lender for Direct Loans is the U.S. Department of Education rather than a bank or other financial institution. Loans are a form of financial aid that must be repaid with interest. Visit the Direct Loans page for more details.

Rights and Responsibilities of Aid Recipients

Student Responsibilities

It is YOUR responsibility to:

  • Review and consider all information about the school's program before you enroll
  • Complete all application forms accurately, including your application for student financial aid.
  • Accurately report all information on your documents. Errors can result in delayed receipt of your financial aid. Intentional misreported information on your application forms for Federal Financial Aid is a violation of the law, and is considered a criminal offense subject to penalties under the U.S. Criminal Code.
  • Return all documentation, verification, corrections, and /or new information requested by the Financial Aid Office.
  • Read and understand all forms that you are asked to sign.
  • Perform the work that is agreed upon in accepting a Federal Work Study award.
  • Know and comply with the deadlines for application or renewal.
  • Know and comply with the school's refund procedure.
  • Make satisfactory academic progress.

Student Rights

You have the right to:

  • Know what financial assistance is available, including information on all Federal, State, and institutional financial aid programs.
  • Know the deadlines for submitting applications.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (SAP) For Financial Aid Programs

Federal regulations require that all students who receive federal financial aid make Satisfactory Academic Progress (also referred to as SAP throughout this policy and the Office of Financial Aid website) toward achieving a certificate or a degree. For financial aid purposes, progress is measured by the student's cumulative grade point average, percentage of units earned in relation to those attempted, and the length of the academic program.

SAP will be checked for all students after every semester, regardless of whether financial aid was received. Progress is evaluated based on all courses taken at Porterville College, Bakersfield College, and Cerro Coso College plus transfer units from prior colleges/universities.

In order to assure that students make progress toward earning a certificate or degree both in terms of number of units completed and cumulative GPA, our school employs the following financial aid satisfactory progress policy:

  1. Academic Requirements
    Students meeting all of the following requirements are considered to be acceptable for SAP and can be considered for financial aid or reinstatement of financial aid:
    1. Qualitative Measure - Maintain a minimum cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.00. A, B, C, D, and F grades are used to calculate a student's GPA.
    2. Quantitative Measure (Pace of Progression) - Receive credit for at least 67% of the total units attempted. Withdrawals (W), Incompletes (I or IP), No Credit (N, NC, or NP), Report Delay (RD) and Failing (F) grades are considered units attempted. Transferable units accepted by the institution from prior colleges or universities will be included when determining a student's pace of progression.
    3. Maximum Timeframe - Have attempted less than 150% of the maximum cumulative units required for completion of their program, for example: Most degree or transfer programs require 60 units or more to graduate; the maximum time frame to complete the program would be 90 attempted units.
      1. Up to 30 units of remedial coursework will be excluded from the student's cumulative units attempted.
      2. Repeated coursework and courses disregarded under Academic Renewal/Grade Forgiveness will be NOT excluded from units attempted. Students may only receive federal financial aid funding for one repeat of a previously taken course.
      3. All transferred units accepted by the institution from prior colleges or universities will be included when determining a student's maximum time frame.
      4. If, at any point in time, it is determined that the student cannot complete their course of study within the maximum time frame, the student will be immediately disqualified from future financial aid for the remainder of his or her program, even if he or she is meeting the current SAP standards outlined above.
  2. Financial Aid Warning
    If a student does not meet all cumulative academic requirements outlined in Section I at the end of a graded semester, the student will be placed on WARNING status. Students who are placed on WARNING status may continue to receive financial aid for one semester, after which the student must meet the requirements outlined in Section I. Students who complete a semester on WARNING must have their academic progress reviewed before their financial aid eligibility for the following semester is determined.
  3. Financial Aid Suspension
    If a student does not meet all cumulative academic requirements outlined in Section I at the end of the FINANCIAL AID WARNING semester, or it is determined that the student will not be able to graduate within 150% maximum time frame limit, the student will be placed on financial aid SUSPENSION. Generally, a student who is suspended from financial aid may reestablish financial aid eligibility by meeting all cumulative SAP criteria outlined in Section I.

    Students placed on SUSPENSION status are not eligible to receive financial aid except for a BOG fee waiver, if eligible. Students who complete a semester on SUSPENSION will have their academic progress reviewed for the next semester.
  4. Financial Aid Warning/Suspension Email Notification
    Students are notified by email when placed on warning or suspension. These emails are generated just after the SAP process is run in Banner and weekly thereafter. The email directs the student to the student portal InsideCC where it states what their status is and links to appeal pages if necessary.
  5. Appealing Financial Aid/Reinstatement of Financial Aid
    Students placed on SUSPENSION or at Max 90 units, may file an appeal for consideration of reinstatement of financial aid eligibility. The following are examples of reasons an appeal may be approved:
    • Unable to complete their course of study within the maximum time frame because of a change of academic major
    • Documented serious injury, illness, or medical condition requiring doctor's care
    • Death of an immediate family member (copy of death certificate required)

    The following are not considered extenuating circumstances beyond a student's control:
    • Personal problems not requiring professional intervention
    • Poor time management
    • Transportation problems
    • Unaware of academic progress policies or other college requirements
    • Not following assessment test recommendations
    • Not following an Academic Counselor's recommendations
    • Child care problems
    • Extenuating circumstances over several semesters

    To file an appeal, the student must submit a Petition for Reinstatement of Financial Aid with a statement indicating the circumstance(s) that prevented the student from making SAP and what has changed to allow the student to make SAP during or by the next evaluation period, documentation to support extenuating circumstance and an approved Educational Plan. Supporting documentation must be submitted for any semesters where there was a lack of progress.

    The Financial Aid Office reserves the right to limit the number of academic appeals a student may file to one appeal per semester. Once denied, the student may not be allowed to submit another appeal for that semester. All decisions made by the Financial Aid Committee or Director are final and there is no higher appeal process.

Reinstatement of Satisfactory Academic Progress

Financial aid eligibility may be reinstated when a student raises their cumulative GPA to a 2.00 and achieve a cumulative completion rate of 67% of all units attempted. Reinstatement of financial aid eligibility may also occur upon approval of a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal.

Financial Aid Probation status is only granted upon the approval of a Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal. Students may receive financial aid for one term. Students on PROBATION must meet the following requirements each semester to maintain financial aid eligibility:

  • meet SAP standards by the end of that semester to remain eligible for subsequent financial aid
  • be enrolled in and attending an eligible program for the purpose of completing a certificate program, an AA/AS degree, or transfer requirements
  • follow an approved Educational Plan

Failure to follow the Education Plan or SAP for the probation semester will result in students termination of Financial Aid. Once a student is terminated, they are no longer eligible for appeals or future aid at the Kern Community College District. (Bakersfield College, Cerro Coso Community College, or Porterville College)

Maximum Time Frame Extension Appeal Process

Students have the right to request an extension of their financial aid eligibility if they exceed or expect to exceed the maximum units allowed for their degree or certificate. Students will need to complete an appeal form and include an Educational Plan. Submission of an appeal does not guarantee approval.

If an appeal is approved, coursework will be limited to courses required for the completion of the certificate or degree. In addition, a student must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00 and successfully complete all courses listed on their Educational Plan. Failure to meet the requirements of the approved maximum time frame appeal will result in suspension of financial aid eligibility.

If a Maximum Time Frame Appeal is denied, the decision made by the Financial Aid Committee or Director is final and there is no higher appeal process.

Return to Title IV

Return to Title IV Funds Policy for Kern Community College District (Bakersfield, Porterville, and Cerro Coso Colleges):

The College will determine the amount of federal financial aid a student has earned in accordance with federal law. Federal financial aid (“Title IV funds”) is awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student withdraws, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds that the student originally received. Recipients of federal programs are subject to the Return of Title IV funds requirements. Students who receive federal financial aid and do not attend any classes will be required to repay all of the funds they have received to the college. Students who withdraw from all classes prior to completing more than 60% of the semester will have their financial aid eligibility recalculated based on the percentage of the semester completed and will be required to repay any unearned financial aid they have received. Failure to repay unearned funds could result in a hold on students account and loss of federal aid eligibility nationwide.

The Financial Aid Offices will run a report (RWRTIL4) every weekly to identify students who were paid Title IV funds and have completely withdrawn from school prior to the 60% enrollment period. This will ensure the college is in compliance of notifying the student within 30 days of official withdrawal. Official withdrawal is the date the student officially withdraws from class OR the last day of participation the instructor submits when dropping or assigning an F grade.

  • If a student drops courses or withdraws from all courses prior to the 60% date, the "Amount of Aid already disbursed" and the "Amount of Aid earned” according to the drop date will be determined. Aid award will be adjusted at the second disbursement to award student the remainder of award earned. If the student was determined to have been paid an overaward that cannot be reconciled in another disbursement, the student will be required to return funds to the school and/or the Department of Education. Students that owe the college or Department of Education will be sent a letter of notification. Failure to return funds by the due date stated on the letter will result in ineligibility to receive financial aid nationwide and/or a hold on student accounts preventing further registration.
  • This is the order that funds are returned:
    1. Unsubsidized Direct Loans
    2. Subsidized Direct Loans
    3. Direct PLUS Loans
    4. Federal Pell Grants
    5. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
    6. FSEOG
  • If a student receives a withdrawal and/or Fs in all classes during a semester, it is assumed that the student did not actively participate in classes and the student may owe a repayment of aid based on the last day of attendance/participation submitted by the Instructor. Last day of attendance in online classes is submission of assignments, taking test or participating in discussions. Logging in does not qualify as active participation. Active participation in on ground classes is attendance in class. The college will notify the student of the overpayment and the student must repay the Financial Aid Office within the allowable 45 days to maintain eligibility for aid.
  • If the student overpayment is not paid within 45 days, the Financial Aid Office will forward a Student Overpayment Referral to the U.S. Department of Education and/or charge the student account.
  • If the R2T4 calculation results in a credit balance on the student's account, it shall be disbursed as soon as possible on the next disbursement period, typically within a week, no later than 14 days after the calculation.

Post-Withdrawal Disbursements

When the total amount of the Title IV grant and/or loan assistance earned as of the withdrawal date is more than the amount that was disbursed to the student, the difference between the two amounts will be treated as a post-withdrawal disbursement. If a post-withdrawal disbursement includes Loan funds, the school must get student permission before it can disburse them. If a post-withdrawal disbursement includes Grant funds, the school may automatically use all or a portion of them for tuition, fees, and room and board charges (as contracted with the school). The school needs student permission to use the post-withdrawal grant disbursement for all other school charges. If a student does not give permission, the funds will be offered. In both cases, it may be in the student's best interest to allow the school to keep the funds in order to reduce any debt owed to the school.

Post-Withdrawal Disbursement of Grant Funds

A post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds will be applied towards outstanding semester charges on the student's account and may pay up to the amount of the allowable charges (i.e., tuition and fees). Any remainder of grant aid will be paid to the student. The student will be notified within 30 days of the date of determination of withdrawal of the post-withdrawal disbursement. Student has 14 days from the date of notification to respond to college. A refund will be sent within 45 days of the date that the college determined that the student withdrew.

Post-Withdrawal Disbursement of Loan Funds

A post-withdrawal disbursement of loan funds may be paid if the student is eligible to receive the funds. The student (or parent if a PLUS loan) will be notified within 30 days of the date of determination of withdrawal of the opportunity to accept all or a part of the post-withdrawal disbursement. Upon receipt of a timely response from the student (or parent) (14 days from date of notification), the Cerro Coso Community College will disburse the loan funds within 180 days of the date of determination of the student's withdrawal date. Loan funds will be applied towards the outstanding semester charges on the student's account and may pay up to the amount of the allowable charges (i.e., tuition and fees). Any remainder will be paid directly to the student (or parent).

The Cerro Coso Community College maintains the right to decide whether or not to make a post-withdrawal disbursement in the event that the student responds after 14 days of the date that the notification was sent. If the Cerro Coso Community College decides not to make this post-withdrawal disbursement, it will inform the student in writing.

Ability to Benefit

Students enrolling for the first time after July 1, 2012 must have a High School Diploma, GED or state equivalent, including recognized home schools, to be eligible for any federal financial aid. Students will no longer have the option to pass an ATB test or to successfully complete 6 degree applicable units to gain eligibility for federal financial aid. Students who were enrolled in a higher education institution prior to this date and passed an approved ATB test may be eligible.

Financial Aid Fraud

Every year, millions of prospective college students seek creative ways to finance the markedly rising costs of a college education. In the process, they sometimes fall prey to scholarship and financial aid scams. On November 5, 2000, Congress passed the College Scholarship Fraud Prevention Act of 2000 (CSFPA). The CSFPA enhances protection against fraud in student financial assistance by establishing stricter sentencing guidelines for criminal financial aid fraud. It also charged the Department, working in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with implementing national awareness activities, including a scholarship fraud awareness site on the ED Web site.

According to the FTC, perpetrators of financial aid fraud often use these telltale lines:

  • The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.
  • You can't get this information anywhere else.
  • I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship.
  • We'll do all the work.
  • The scholarship will cost some money.
  • "You've been selected by a 'national foundation' to receive a scholarship" or "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.

To file a complaint, or for free information, students or parents should call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or visit

Contact Information for Obtaining Financial Aid Assistance

This information can be found on the Financial Aid page.