Financial gains and Financial aid

MCCC’s capital campaign received a surprise at the March 25 Board of Trustees meeting.

The capital campaign is a fundraising effort to help pay for the new Career Technology Center.
Douglas Chaffin, President and CEO of Monroe Bank & Trust and chairman of the capital campaign, presented a report to the Board on the CTC building’s outlook.

“It’s a huge resource to our campus,” Chaffin said.

The surprise was unveiled at the end of his presentation when MB&T pledged $50,000 toward the campaign’s goal. Board members and several people from the audience clapped and stood in appreciation.

“You guys are our customers as well,” Chaffin said just before he revealed the award. “We’re absolutely welded at the hip of the college.”

The Foundation at Monroe County Community College has now raised more than 85 percent of its target of $17 million for the CTC center, according to the press release. So far, the college has accumulated $14.59 million for the project.

A breakdown of the funds shows the state contributing $8.5 million, while $4.25 million was given by the college and $1.84 million by individuals and businesses. The college still has yet to raise $2.41 million, according to the report.

Chaffin commended the college for its extensive line of programs. Approximately 50 percent of MB&T’s employees have either graduated with a degree or taken training courses at MCCC, he said.

Another large donor, DTE Energy, also received recognition at the meeting.

DTE energy recently contributed $1 million toward the campaign.

Josh Myers, coordinator of external and development affairs, presented updates on the campaign’s overall progress.

“It was a critical moment for our campaign,” he said.

Myers also showed a promotional video detailing the new building’s features and DTE’s involvement in the project.

Judith Hamburg of concerned citizens of the Whitman Center brought two issues to the board.

Hamburg expressed an “explicit need” for a director at the Whitman Center.

The former director for the center, Sandy Kosmyna, retired prior to the fall semester.

“No business, high school or college can function without a director,” Hamburg said.

“We need this to happen. You can make this happen,” she said to the board.

Not only is Whitman lacking a leader to handle the affairs of the center, but biology and chemistry classes have also been non-existent, she said.

Alice Dewey, a lifelong learning student who takes classes at Whitman, voiced her concern.

“We would like you to put these on our list of priorities,” she said. “So don’t forget us when you get into the biology and chemistry area in the future.”

Later in the meeting, Suzanne Wetzel gave an updated report on the CTC building.

“We’re only a few months away from when we’ll actually be moving in,” she said.

Wetzel said the building is on schedule and on budget.

“Everything’s moving along to move into the building soon,” she said.

Valerie Culler, director of Financial Aid, presented a report on “Pell runners or Pell jumpers” — students who are eligible to receive Pell grants and student loans, but drop out of their courses.

The students often do not return to finish their degree, she said. Instead, they keep the leftover money, which often exceeds their tuition. These individuals then enroll in different colleges to receive more funds.

Culler added that when students are caught committing this act, the community colleges are left to pay back some of those funds to the Department of Education.

“Anytime a student has received federal financial aid and fails to successfully complete any coursework, the Department of Education requires that the school complete a calculation to determine what percentage of aid the student earned, based on how long the student attended. Any aid that is unearned, the school is responsible for returning to the Department of Education,” she said.

“There has been a lot of media attention about students not completing their coursework,” she said.

There is another side to the argument, however, she said

“A student who has to withdraw from all their classes for legitimate reasons because of a serious illness is going to be caught in this figure,” she said.

“You have students who have very legitimate reasons. The Return of Title IV funds calculation has to be completed for any student who does not successfully complete any of the courses in the semester, regardless of the reasons why that happened. A student must complete more than 60 percent of the semester to fully earn their financial aid,” she said.

“We’ve been seeing an increase in the dollar amount of financial aid we administer,” she said.

Factors such as a sluggish economy and more students who are heading back to school add to the uptick in aid, she said.

Culler said that preventative measures have been set in place by the Department of Education. The procedures identify students who enroll in several schools and receive financial aid.

“We will look at their student loan and Pell Grant history,” she said. “The financial aid office has records where the student received financial aid.”

Culler said that this tracking procedure has been recently set in place by the Department of Education for all institutions.

She emphasized that they are not trying to isolate students, but this policy must be followed through, according to federal regulations.