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APPLICANT FAQ’s

Q: What is the Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program?

A: The Bright Futures Grant Program is a ”last dollar in” educational tuition assistance program for Weld County residents who graduate from high school starting with the class of 2016, GED recipients who earn their GED after January 1, 2016, and Honorably Discharged US Veterans. The program is funded by donations by taxpayers. Residents and businesses who donate, will receive up to a 100% tax credit on their county portion of taxes, based on half of their donation amount. The purpose is to provide financial assistance to qualifying Weld County residents who pursue post-secondary education or training from a Title IV accredited higher education institution or certified training program. There are no restrictions concerning program selection.

Q: Why offer this program to the graduates of Weld County high schools and eligible veterans?

A: For the following reasons:
• Education is an important key to financial well-being and self-sufficiency.
• It allows Weld County to differentiate itself from other counties.
• It provides a real meaningful and tangible opportunity for all students.
• It will help develop a better educated and skilled workforce for Weld County’s employers.

Q: What are the terms of the grant?

A: This grant provides up to 4 years of tuition and fees for post-secondary education.  The student must begin within 2 years of the high school graduation or G.E.D. certification date and the post-secondary education must be completed within six years of the high school graduation or G.E.D. certification date, with the exception of military service.  This education must be pursued per the legibility requirements listed above.  The Bright Futures program is subject to available funds.

Q: Who is on the Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program Advisory Board?

A: The Advisory Board is comprised of a minimum of fifteen members. The standing members are representatives from Upstate Colorado Economic Development; K-12 Weld County Superintendent of Schools; Aims Community College financial aid professional; and including a minimum of twelve Weld County citizens. The Weld County Treasurer shall be an ex-officio member of the Advisory Board.

Q: Do I need to fill out the FAFSA application?

A: Yes. A completed FASFA must be included with your application.
For more information, and to apply online visit www.fafsa.ed.gov.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

Q: What are the eligibility criteria for the grants?

A: All students who graduate from high school starting in 2016, who are legally residing in Weld County, and have been residents of Weld County for at least two of the last four years; one of those years being the year of graduation from high school. (Enrollment and residency must be continuous.)
· “High School” means any public high school, charter school, private school, or home schooling domiciled in Weld County.
· A Weld County resident graduating from high school outside of Weld County also qualifies.
· An individual earning a GED after January 1, 2016, in lieu of graduating from high school who has resided in Weld County two years prior to the application date; one of those years being the year of receiving a GED.
· Any Honorably Discharged Veteran who graduated from a Weld County high school since 2006 and currently resides in Weld County.
· Admitted to and enrolled at any higher education institution or certified training program.
· Must make regular progress toward a degree or certification.
· Must maintain a 2.0-grade point average at the post-secondary institution.
· Complete a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester to receive full benefit.
· If the GPA drops below 2.0, a student may be reinstated if he/she is able to bring their GPA back to at least a 2.0
· There is no family income cap on the program.

Q: Will students who live in a neighboring district and apply to a Weld County high school under the Schools of Choice Agreement be eligible for this award?

A: No, it is only available to Weld County residents.

Q: Will students who attend a Weld County high school and transfer out of the system prior to graduation be eligible?

A: No.

Q: Is there an appeal process for students during their senior year, especially for hardship cases, such as, custody, death in family, foster care placement, etc.?

A: Yes. All appeals shall be heard by the Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program Advisory Board. All decisions of the Advisory Board are final.

Veteran Eligibility Requirements

Q: As a Military Veteran, how do I qualify for the Bright Futures program?

A: Veterans must meet the same criteria as all other students in the program. In addition, the following apply:

• Must have been a resident of Weld County at least two of the last four years of high school; one of those years being the year of graduation from high school. (Enrollment and residency must be continuous.)

• No longer on active duty. (Exception: Guard and Reserves that are Weld County residents)

• If you graduated from a high school outside of Weld County, you must have been a resident of Weld County at the time of graduation, as well as at least two of the last four years of high school.

• If you qualify by receiving a GED while in uniform or after discharge you must have entered military service from Weld County and resided in Weld County for two years prior to entering military service.

• Veterans need to provide their DD214 (or NGB-22), as proof of services and discharge classification.

Q: I am a Veteran returning to reside in Weld County. How do I establish proof of residency and apply for this program?

A: Returning Veterans need to provide their DD214 (or NGB-22), which shows discharge classification. The Veteran needs to provide proof of re-establishing residency in the County (e.g. utility bill, lease, property ownership, etc.)

Q: I was discharged with a General Discharge. Am I eligible for this program?

A: Veterans whom received discharges that classified as General Discharge are eligible for this benefit. For simplicity, the program terminology identifies Veterans with Honorable Discharge as eligible for the grant, but it is understood to include those individuals who received General Discharges. Individuals whom received discharges classified as Entry Level Separation, Other Than Honorable, Bad Conduct, or Dishonorable are NOT eligible for this program. In addition, the Veteran must meet all of the other program eligibility criteria.

Q: I am currently an active duty member of the Guard. Am I eligible as an active duty member or do I need to wait until discharged?

A: Yes. Active Guard and Reserve members that meet the high school graduation criteria and are current residents of Weld County are eligible to use this benefit. However, the time limit of 10 years to use this benefit still applies.

I meet the eligibility criteria and was Honorably Discharged from active duty service after 2016. How long do I have to use this program?

A: You have 10 years after discharge to use this program.

Q: Will this program interfere with my GI Bill benefits?

A: No. Weld County Bright Futures Grant will be paid directly to the educational or training institution. Funds will be paid a maximum of three times per year. Payments will be paid after the drop/add period of the Fall, Winter, Summer/Spring semester as defined by each educational institution, generally at the same time that other grant funds are billed.

If you are a Veteran receiving GI Bill benefits, Weld County Bright Futures Grant will offset any shortfalls associated with tuition. Any refunds will be paid directly back to the Weld County Bright Futures Grant program.

NOTE: Some Veterans may be unable to use the Weld County Bright Futures Grant concurrently with their version of the GI Bill. This would be due to the GI Bill benefit covering the full amount of tuition. In those cases, the Weld County Bright Futures Grant can be retained for use after the GI Bill benefit is exhausted. However, the 10-year rule still remains.

Is there an appeal process for the residency timeline, time in service, etc?

A: Yes. All waiver requests shall be considered by the Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program Advisory Board. All decisions of the Advisory Board are final.

HIGHER EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

Q: What are the eligible Title IV accredited higher education institutions or certified training programs?

A: Title IV eligible institutions, including:
• Any accredited four-year college or university
• Any accredited community college
• Any accredited technical college
• Any accredited trade school programs
• Any accredited online training programs or higher educational program (approved by program administrator)
· “High School” means any public high school, charter school, private school, or home schooling domiciled in Weld County.
· A Weld County resident graduating from high school outside of Weld County also qualifies.
· An individual earning a GED after January 1, 2016, in lieu of graduating from high school who has resided in Weld County two years prior to the application date; one of those years being the year of receiving a GED.
· Any Honorably Discharged Veteran who graduated from a Weld County high school since 2006 and currently resides in Weld County.
· Admitted to and enrolled at any higher education institution or certified training program.
· Must make regular progress toward a degree or certification.
· Must maintain a 2.0-grade point average at the post-secondary institution.
· Complete a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester to receive full benefit.
· If the GPA drops below 2.0, a student may be reinstated if he/she is able to bring their GPA back to at least a 2.0
· There is no family income cap on the program.

A: All students who graduate from high school starting in 2016, who are legally residing in Weld County, and have been residents of Weld County for at least two of the last four years; one of those years being the year of graduation from high school. (Enrollment and residency must be continuous.)
· “High School” means any public high school, charter school, private school, or home schooling domiciled in Weld County.
· A Weld County resident graduating from high school outside of Weld County also qualifies.
· An individual earning a GED after January 1, 2016, in lieu of graduating from high school who has resided in Weld County two years prior to the application date; one of those years being the year of receiving a GED.
· Any Honorably Discharged Veteran who graduated from a Weld County high school since 2006 and currently resides in Weld County.
· Admitted to and enrolled at any higher education institution or certified training program.
· Must make regular progress toward a degree or certification.
· Must maintain a 2.0-grade point average at the post-secondary institution.
· Complete a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester to receive full benefit.
· If the GPA drops below 2.0, a student may be reinstated if he/she is able to bring their GPA back to at least a 2.0
· There is no family income cap on the program.

Q: Are vocational schools eligible?

A: All certification or degree programs in the trades that are Title IV eligible programs are qualified. Private apprentice programs are not eligible.

Q: Can the grant be transferred to a private college or out-of-state vocational training program?

A: Yes.

Q: Are there additional requirements that must be met after the initial award?

A: Yes. Applicants must demonstrate, after the first semester and all following semesters, the following:
a. Make regular progress toward a degree or certification as defined by Satisfactory Academic Standards of the school.
b. Must maintain a 2.0 grade point average at the post-secondary institution.
c. Students must complete 16 hours of community service within Weld County anytime during the year.

Q: What happens if the student fails to meet the requirements? Is the grant no longer available?

A: The first semester a student fails to meet the academic requirements, the student is immediately placed on probation.The student would not receive the grant the next semester, but would be able to apply for an appeal to reinstate if their GPA is brought back up to satisfactory in that following semester.

Q: Do you allow a credit limit waiver if the program requires more than 130 credit hours (not counting dropped or failed classes or those credits required for a minor or second major)?

A: Yes. All waivers shall be considered by the Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program Advisory Board. All decisions of the Advisory Board are final.

WHAT DOES THE GRANT PAY FOR?

Q: When will grant funds be available?

A: Funds will be dispersed beginning with the Fall semester for qualified recent high school graduates, GED recipients, and eligible Honorably Discharged US Veterans. Funds will continue to be available to all students who meet the eligibility requirements.

Q: How are grant funds distributed?

A: All funds will be paid directly to the educational or training institution. Funds will be paid a maximum of three times per year. Payments will be paid after the drop/add period of the Fall, Winter, and Summer/Spring semester as defined by each educational institution, generally at the same time that other grant funds are billed.
Any refunds due to the grant will be paid directly to the Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program.

Q: Are deposits required to secure enrollment covered?

A: Deposits will not be paid separately. Most college and universities want the student to pay cash deposits in order to assure that they are serious about attending their institution. If there are excess funds after the Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program pays, the school will refund the excess to the student’s account at that time.

Q: What is considered to be mandatory fees?

A: Mandatory fees are those required to be paid by all students attending a particular university/college. Application fees, contact hour fees and fees which are course specific (such as lab fees for science and computer classes, etc.), or fees assessed based on the number of credit hours enrolled are not covered.

Q: Are application fees covered?

A: No. Application fees are not covered. However, many institutions will waive the application fee if it is requested because of financial hardship.

Q: How long do students have to use the Weld County Bright Futures Grant?

A: This grant program provides up to four (4) years of educational financial assistance for post-secondary education. The students must be a full-time student, taking 12 credit hours per semester to receive full benefit. Please see next question for exceptions during summer school.
Four years shall be defined as the receipt of a bachelor’s degree or 130 credit hours towards a degree, whichever occurs first. The post-secondary education must be completed within 10 years of the date of high school graduation. Exceptions to this requirement are granted for military service.

Q: Is study abroad covered?

A: Study abroad is covered only if the program is administered by the college or university the student is attending. The only costs that are covered are the normal tuition costs for the credits taken abroad. No extraordinary tuition or expenses are covered.

FUNDING FAQ

Q: How is the Bright Futures Grant Program funded?

A: Weld County established a workforce development program using a property tax incentive payment or credit for any taxpayer who contributes to a county workforce development fund (Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program) for the purpose of providing tuition assistance to high school graduates, GED recipients, and Honorably Discharged US Veterans in Weld County who pursue higher education or training from a Title IV accredited higher education institution or certified training program.

Q: Who are the donors?

A: Residents and businesses who donate, will receive up to a 100% tax credit on their county portion of taxes, based on half of their donation amount. Any donation amount is acceptable. Donations from non-Weld County property tax payers are accepted, but a property tax credit cannot be granted unless the donor pays property taxes in Weld County.

Q: How long will the Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program be available?

A: It is planned that the Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program will be a long-term program offered by Weld County. Any funds donated to the Weld County Bright Futures Grant Program Trust Fund must be used for this program. Ongoing funding of the program using tax credits will be a decision that the Board of Weld County Commissioners will have to make annual with the adoption of the Weld County budget. Consideration of continued funding of the program and the amount of the benefit will be done on an annual basis. Benefit awards to students will be done one year at a time.

Q: Are there limits on the amount a student can receive annually and over the ten-year period?

A: Annually, the Weld County Commissioners will set the maximum annual amount a student can receive. The target amount is the full-time student tuition and mandatory fees paid by an in-district student at Aims Community College. The maximum a student can receive over the ten year period is the total annual amount of the first four years the student participated in program. The years do not have to be four consecutive years.
The annual period for the program shall be August 1st to July 31st each year. The Bright Futures program is subject available to funds

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