Aid Like a Paycheck

San Jacinto College is testing two ways of refunding financial aid after tuition, fees, and any other charges to the College are paid.  Some students will receive a single deposit approximately 30 days after the start of the term. Other students will receive their financial aid refund deposits approximately every two weeks throughout the semester through a program called Aid Like A Paycheck. In this program, students may receive their first biweekly deposit as early as three weeks into the term. Your total expected aid amount will be the same regardless of which way you receive your financial aid refund.  Students will receive an email telling them which way they will receive their financial aid refund.

San Jacinto College is enacting this new program to help students better manage their financial aid money throughout the semester and maintain a good balance between work hours and school. The overall goal is to support students throughout the semester so they can stay enrolled and successfully complete their courses.

Below is a comparison of both refund methods. Keep in mind that all aid disbursements and refunds will be adjusted throughout the semester according to actual enrollment and charges made to your account at the bookstore or otherwise.

Single Disbursement

If you are awarded financial aid, you will receive a notification of your award via email as soon as it is awarded. This award information is also instantly available online in your SOS account. Please note: Award information in SOS is based on full-time enrollment, i.e., being enrolled and attending 12 credit hours. If your enrollment changes, your refund will change as well.

If you receive your financial aid award before payment deadlines, tuition and fees may be charged directly to grants, Direct Stafford Loans, and some scholarships, up to your eligibility.

If you have financial aid remaining after tuition and fees have been deducted, you can charge your books and supplies on a schedule posted at the San Jac Bookstores. There is a 24-hour delay before those funds will be available in the bookstore account.

After all charges (including tuition, fees, books, and supplies) have been paid, or if your financial aid is posted after registration has ended, a refund will be sent to your San Jac Card.

In this method, you will receive your financial aid refund in a single deposit to your San Jac Card approximately 30 days after the start of the term.

Standard Disbursement Infographic

Aid Like A Paycheck

After paying off all registration charges as outlined above (ie. tuition, fees, books, and supplies), you may receive your financial aid refund in multiple deposits every two weeks if your total refund is more than $800.  You will be on this refund schedule for fall and spring semesters only, through 2017. Specifically:

  1. If your financial aid refund is more than $800 after paying tuition and fees and making purchases at the bookstore, you will be scheduled to receive seven deposits to your San Jac Card approximately every two weeks during the semester. These biweekly deposits may start as early as three weeks into the term.
  2. If your financial aid refund is less than $800 after paying tuition and fees and making purchases at the bookstore, you will receive a single deposit to your San Jac Card.

Aid Like a Paycheck Payment Infographic

Your refund payment schedule may change throughout the semester. To learn about the different ways your refund amount may change, please see the diagram under the Receiving Funds menu on the Managing Your Aid page of our website.

If you have any additional questions about financial aid or your financial aid refund payment schedule, please contact a San Jacinto College financial aid advisor. Contact information for financial aid advisors can be found on the Advisors section of our Financial Aid web page. If you believe that receiving financial aid refunds in transfers approximately every two weeks may cause you unnecessary hardship, you may contact a financial aid advisor at your nearest campus.

For the most up to date information on your financial aid award and your specific financial aid refund payment schedule, please check your SOS account.

San Jacinto College is also testing which method of refunding financial aid works best in helping students manage their finances and succeed in college. As part of this study, San Jacinto College will share your student records data with a research organization called MDRC. These data include personal identifiers, such as name and contact information, enrollment in college, courses attempted and completed, grades, and financial aid receipt. In the future, researchers may contact you to ask questions about financial aid and your experiences in college. Information that MDRC and San Jacinto College collect for the study will be kept confidential and will be used for research purposes only.  If you have questions about the study, or you don’t want to be contacted or your data to be shared, please contact MDRC at alap@mdrc.org. Whether or not you remain in the study, you will always have access to financial aid or any other San Jacinto College services.

Confidentiality:

Information that MDRC and San Jacinto College collect for the study will be kept confidential and will only be used for research purposes only.  Paper research records that include identifying information such as names, addresses, or Social Security Numbers will be kept in locked filing cabinets or locked offices at MDRC and San Jacinto College. Computerized research data will be kept in password-protected files. All paper and computerized files containing identifying information will be destroyed at the end of the study.

What is Aid Like a Paycheck?

Aid Like A Paycheck is a new program being tested at San Jacinto College.  The Aid Like A Paycheck program:

  • Disburses financial aid refunds every two weeks, evenly throughout the semester – like a paycheck
  • Includes Pell Grants, federal loans and state aid (TEOG and Texas Grant)
  • Tuition, fees, books and supplies are fully covered up front – any remaining financial aid is disbursed biweekly as a refund
  • Does not change total expected aid or refund amount.

Why is San Jacinto College testing Aid Like A Paycheck?

Many students receive financial aid refunds – the grant and loan money that remains after tuition and fees are paid. These refunds are typically disbursed in a single deposit each semester.  Students who do not budget their refund to last throughout the semester may end up working long hours to cover their living expenses after their refund is spent.  Also, if students withdraw from classes, they may have to return funds to the college before being allowed to re-enroll (known as Return to Title IV).  In both cases, students may take on more work, leaving them less time to study.  Aid Like A Paycheck is designed to help students budget and manage their expenses more effectively, help make financial aid refunds last throughout the semester, and keep a good balance between work and school.

How was I selected to be in Aid Like A Paycheck?

Students with 0 – 14 credit hours are selected to participate in Aid Like A Paycheck through a process called random assignment. Random assignment is like a lottery or pulling a name from a hat. Your assignment is made by a computer and is not based on your personal characteristics or background. 

What’s in it for students?

Aid Like A Paycheck has potential benefits for students both in the short-term and the long-term.

Short Term:                                                                     

  • Budget aid more effectively
  • Balance time between work and school 
  • Experience less financial stress 
  • Develop budgeting and financial skills

LongTerm: 

  • Pass more courses
  • Earn more credits
  • Stay in school
  • Decrease Returns of Title IV funds if you withdraw early

How many refund disbursements will students in Aid Like A Paycheck receive each semester?

The goal of Aid Like A Paycheck is to disburse 7 roughly equal refund deposits throughout the semester. Deposits are expected to start as early as 3 weeks into the term and end before final exams.  However, your enrollment status, class schedules, attendance, bookstore purchases, and loans may cause your disbursement schedules and/or refund amounts to change as shown in the diagram below:

Aid Like a Paycheck Refund Diagram

How long will students stay in Aid Like A Paycheck?

Students in the Aid Like A Paycheck program are expected to remain in the program for fall and spring semesters through 2017.   

Where can I find out how much my biweekly refund will be and when I will get it?

Your award information is instantly available online in your SOS account. Please note: Award information in SOS is based on full-time enrollment, i.e., being enrolled and attending 12 credit hours. If your enrollment changes, your refund will change as well. Students with questions about Financial Aid or their SOS account information should contact a Financial Aid Advisor.

I’m in Aid Like A Paycheck, so why did I only get one refund disbursement this semester?

If your total financial aid refund – after tuition, fees, and other charges to the college are paid – is less than $800, then you may only receive one refund disbursement in the semester.  However, you may receive biweekly disbursements in future semesters if your total refund is larger.

Why was one of my Aid Like A Paycheck refund disbursement less than expected or zero?

Aid Like A Paycheck refund amounts may change due to the following circumstances:

  • Changes in enrollment: Adding or dropping a class may change your overall financial aid award for the semester.
  • Bookstore charges: When you purchase items at the bookstore with financial aid funds, your available award and refund decreases. 
  • Part of Term (POT) classes: Due to the way financial aid is processed, if you are enrolled in classes that begin after the start date of the semester – called Part of Term (POT) classes – your refund amount may change throughout the semester, and your deposit may be delayed until the start date of future POT classes.
  • You haven’t activated your San Jac Card yet, delaying your deposit.
  • You haven’t specified a preferred disbursement method (ex. SanJac Card, personal banking account, paper check).
  • Loans: Students must be enrolled and attending 6 credit hours or more before loans can start to disburse.  In addition, first time borrowers must wait until 30 days after the start of the term to receive their loan deposits.

Can I change the way in which I receive my refund (single deposit or Aid Like A Paycheck)?

No. Students cannot change the way in which they receive their refund (either single deposit or biweekly).  However, if after being selected to receive Aid Like A Paycheck, you experience unusual and extenuating circumstances, you should see a Financial Aid Advisor. If a Financial Aid Advisor thinks it is appropriate, you may be able to submit an appeal (with supporting documentation) to receive any remaining financial aid refund in a single deposit sum. If approved, you will receive a single deposit sum for the current semester only.  In future semesters, you will continue to receive biweekly refund deposits (provided your initial refunds is above $800 or your biweekly deposits remain over $75 per deposit).

What exactly is the Aid Like A Paycheck Study?

San Jacinto College is testing which way of refunding financial aid works best in helping students manage their finances and succeed in college.

As part of this study, San Jacinto College will share your student records data with a research organization called MDRC. These data include personal identifiers (e.g. name and contact information), enrollment in college, courses attempted and completed, grades, and financial aid receipt. In the future, researchers may contact you to ask questions about financial aid and your experiences in college. 

Information that MDRC and San Jacinto College collect for the study will be kept confidential and will only be used for research purposes.    If you have any questions about the research study, use of your data, or MDRC, please email ALAP@mdrc.org or visit mdrc.org.

What is MDRC?

MDRC is a national education and social policy research firm with 40 years of experience designing and testing programs and policies to improve the lives of low-income people. For over ten years it has partnered and produced rigorous research with community colleges across the nation. For more information about MDRC, go to www.mdrc.org.  For further information about Aid Like A Paycheck, go to www.mdrc.org/project/aid-paycheck

Can I be removed from the study?

Yes. If you have questions about the study, or you don’t want to be contacted or your data to be shared, please contact MDRC at alap@mdrc.org.

What’s the timeline for this evaluation?

Aid Like A Paycheck Timeline