Thursday, April 16, 2009

FAFSA & Financing Your Future

Eligibility for federal and state student funding is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Students may receive state and federal grants, work study, and reduced interest loans.

The fastest and easiest way to file is online at

The first time you enter the FAFSA site, you will open an account to be used throughout your undergraduate years. You will apply for a Personal Identification Number, or PIN, to update your account. Keep your PIN in a safe, private place. Some sites on the internet mimic the FAFSA site, and will levy a fee to the filer. Do not pay a fee. FAFSA is, as its name implies, free.

Have your 2008 federal tax return at your side as you prepare your application for the 2009-2010 school year. FAFSA asks the applicant to enter the information from his or her most recently completed federal tax return on the secure site. The process can usually be done in one half hour. The 2009-2010 school year includes fall semester of 2009, and spring and summer sessions of 2010. If you filed as a dependent, you will need your parents’ federal tax form. The financial aid offices of EICCD can help you as needed.

Do not procrastinate. FAFSA applications may take a month or longer to process. Complete your FAFSA at the time you file taxes. If you have not already done so, COMPLETE YOUR FAFSA NOW.

Countless scholarships also exist to help finance your college education. Many publications are devoted to listing scholarships. The old maxim remains true, if a person wants to go to college, funding is available.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

About withdrawal

We hope your classes are going very well. Sometimes a class, however, does not go well. Maybe your circumstances have changed since the semester began, or you found a course much harder than expected. What are a student’s options in such situations?
As advisors, we urge the student who is not doing well in a course, to do everything possible to salvage it. The obvious starting place for help is the instructor. We have discussed the fine support services for online students in earlier newsletters. When a student realizes a course is not a proper fit, EICC provides for limited refund of tuition, usually until the end of the first or second week of a term.
The student unable to pass may withdraw from the course before a set deadline, to avoid a failing grade. For spring semester, the last day to withdraw from an online class is:
For 16-week classes – April 24, 2009
For second 8-week classes – May 1, 2009

Such withdrawals, while they are displayed on a transcript, do not affect grade point average. Withdrawals after the deadline are not permitted.

MERELY ENDING PARTICIPATION IN A COURSE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE WITHDRAWAL, and is probably the worst thing a student can do to his or her academic record, as the student remains financially responsible for a failed course. Proper withdrawal from a course can only be done through an Eastern Iowa Community College academic advisor.
According to federal guidelines, any course a student has registered to take is considered an attempted course. Students must successfully complete 67% of their attempted courses to remain eligible for financial aid.
Financial Aid department asked me to also issue the following reminder for students attending school in the fall:

Class registration

For accuracy’s sake, any matter as important as registration should not be done by phone.

Registration for Fall Semester, 2009, begins April 14. The date is fast approaching.

Recommended options for registering are:

1. Come to your local campus to register. Academic advising is also available by appointment.
Clinton area (563) 244-7004
Muscatine area (563) 288-6001
Scott area (563) 441-4181

2. Register yourself online through the e-bridge function of our website.

3. Send a letter or email, indicating your full name, date of birth, student identification number (or SSN), phone number, and the class to be added or dropped.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Backup your stuff

All assignments and correspondence should be backed up with an electronic copy, at least until you have received your final grade. You might find, for example, the need to offer proof of a completed assignment.

USB flash drives are notorious for losing data. To believe any computer disk is infallible could mean disaster.

To backup a file, right click on it and click copy. Then go to the storage location on your computer, again right click, and click to paste.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Your Online Library

Check out all the things to see and do at our Eastern Iowa Community College online library. We have a range of data bases for students in every discipline from Accounting to Zoology.

We have such offerings as encyclopedias, the Oxford Dictionary, and help with citing sources. A comprehensive list of downloadable audio books is also available. You will find our online library services comparable to those on any campus.

For some services you will need a library card, obtainable through the libraries of Clinton, Muscatine, or Scott community colleges, or any public library throughout the region.

All services are available through the convenience of your personal computer, day or night, from

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Proctored Exams

Some of our online courses feature proctored exams. A proctored exam is overseen to ensure integrity, and may be conducted at one of six locations in the Eastern Iowa Community College District. Locations and their phone numbers are found here:

About proctored exams:

1. Does your course require proctored exams? Such courses are designated with a “P” in the registration guide. If not sure, review the syllabus or contact your instructor. How many are required? Some instructors, for example, might require only a proctored midterm and final.
2. If your course requires proctored exams, has your instructor clearly explained how to set them up and where to take them? If you do not know the procedure, contact your instructor.
3. If scheduled for a proctored exam, call the test site to be sure the exam and proctor will be ready when you arrive.
4. Where is your exam site? Double check the time and location. Allow adequate travel time to be punctual. Being late can disqualify you.
5. Be sure you know the materials your instructor allows during the exam, such as notes or calculator. Proctors strictly follow the instructions given to them by faculty.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Communicating with Faculty

The format is online, but real people work at both ends as teachers and students. Communication is key to the experience.

How are you to contact your instructor? Some instructors use the Virtual Office option, a link found on the main page of your classroom site. Some prefer email, others the phone. Check the course syllabus to know the preferred method.

When corresponding with your instructor, post within your message the following: your first and last name, class and section number, phone number, and your campus of origin. Doing so helps your instructor to quickly identify you as the sender.