Fall, 2017

 

A Sonography student taking 6-11 credits can receive $1,500/yr or $3,000/yr if taking 12+ credits. They can apply each year for a maximum of $6,000 aggregate loans. Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering “but what’s the catch?” Well, according to the College Foundation of NC, the borrower must complete his or her Approved Education Program, obtain certification or licensure from the applicable licensing board, and work in a Qualified Position in North Carolina. There is NO specific county or establishment required or specified. Employment as a Sonographer anywhere in the entire state of NC is acceptable!  The newly graduated student is expected to find a job within 3 months of graduation, but if unable to do so, they can easily fill out a deferment application which covers them up to 24 months. Once the borrower is working in a full time position for one year or two years in a part-time position, a simple “Loan Forgiveness” form submission is all it takes to erase ONE full year of loans received! As the name of the program states with its title, “Forgivable Education Loans for Service”, these loans are forgivable.  However, if one doesn’t complete their degree, or never follows through with the other very basic conditions, then he/she will be forced to repay the loans PLUS 8% interest.

This is truly a no-brainer! I implore every single Sonography/Pre-Sonography student to take advantage of this help and to submit an application in January.  This is a legitimate program and something that all instructors/students should be aware exists! I’ve created a very detailed and easy to read FAQ sheet on this subject, so please feel free to contact me for more information. Thanks! ☺

You can read more about the process on www.CFNC.org.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q. Is this a “financial need only” type of program?
A. NO! FELS is open to everyone, whether they show financial need or not! Applicants will need to meet the other basic requirements though, such as:
-be a legal NC resident
-have at least a 2.80 GPA at the time of application
-currently enrolled for at least 6 credit hours
-must not be in default, or owe a refund, to any federal or State loan or grant program
-must not already receive other educational help from the state (ex. North Carolina Community College Grant
♣ North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarship
♣ North Carolina Need-Based Scholarship Program).
(PELL grants are NOT considered state funding, so those are not an issue)

Q. Can PRE-sonography students apply?
A. Any pre-sonography student can apply, however, preference is given to those who have already been accepted or are currently in the program. Also, PRE-sonography students who are approved will NOT receive any funding until they become officially accepted into their program.

Q. How can I apply?
A. The application and rules to apply can be found here: www.cfnc.org/FELS

Q. What is the minimum GPA required to APPLY for FELS?
A. 2.80 GPA to apply. Once they’re in the program they must maintain the required GPA deemed necessary by their school (ex. CFCC Sonography min GPA of 2.5). If the student gets dropped from the program, then he/she will be responsible for repaying the FELS loan WITH 8% interest that started accruing from the time of disbursement. (Note: the interest is subject to change every year).

Q. Is it first come first serve?
A. YES. If everyone meets the criteria, then it is a first come first serve type of process; however, there are two types of students who will get “priority”. Those students who were previously awarded FELS are given priority over newbies, and students who are currently in their program (or were recently officially accepted) are given priority over those who are still taking pre-requisites. Other than that, it doesn’t matter who has a higher GPA, who has more financial need, etc.

Q. Is this like other student loans given out by the federal government?
A. NO, this is a different type of funding. It is a mix of state funding, federal grants, NC education lottery $, and several other avenues. The annual budget for NC education is decided on by the NC general assembly. It is then the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority that determines the specific budgets towards the various college grants/scholarship programs available through the state. They also create the specific budgets amounts for each FELS-approved program.

Q. How much money are we talking here? How are the funds dispersed?
A. Currently, a student in the program may receive $1500/yr if taking 6-11 credits, or $3000/yr if taking 12+ credits. The payments will split between two semesters. (So, $750/semester, or $1500/semester).
Once approved, the school receives the funds. If there is no debt or balance owed by the student.. then the school will release the funds during “refund” time. Here is how mine went: I applied in late April, was approved in June, the funds were sent to the school late august, and then I received them via direct deposit from the school during refund-time (mid-late September).

Q. When does the application period open/close?
A. Usually opens in January, and closes on March 1st.

Q. What If the student fails the program or never completes it?
A. They will have to repay the loan amount in cash PLUS 8% interest (interest amounts can change each year).

Q. Is there a set number of people that can receive FELS funds in a specific industry each year?
A. Not exactly. Since everyone’s status is varied, the number of approved people each year can fluctuate. There IS, however, a budgeted $ amount that the state must not go over (and even that number can be changed each year according to the annual budget). (Side note: I was unable to get a certain dollar amount from my research on the Sonography budget, but it has never really been an issue either. Funding has typically always been available for those who met the criteria)

Q. How long after graduation does the borrower need to begin working in order to avoid default?
A. The new graduate is expected to begin working 90 days after graduation. IF they cannot find a job, or another problem arises, they can easily fill out the single page deferment application which will keep them from going into default  (defaulting will take away their right to ever have loan forgiveness).

Q. If the new graduate can’t find a job, how long will the deferment cover them?
A. If the reason is due to not finding employment, the deferment can last for 2 years! The borrower needs to be mindful though, and be actively looking for available job opportunities.

Q. When should FELS be notified about employment?
A. Within the FIRST 30 days!!! If not, the borrower will not be eligible for loan forgiveness! Never just let things go.. always update FELS in order to avoid ineligibility. Change in address? Notify FELS! Change in employment? Notify FELS!

Q. How long must the borrower live/work in the state of NC?
A. As long as necessary to have their loans forgiven. Generally speaking, if they received only 1 yr. of FELS funding (either $1500 or $3000), then they will only be required to WORK in NC for 1 year (if in a fulltime work position) or 2 years (if in a part-time work position). Technically speaking, one could live outside of NC, but would still have to WORK here for the duration of the loan forgiveness.

Q. How many people in the Sonography program received FELS funding last year?
A. The most recent data available was found on the NC general assembly website and it showed that only ONE person received FELS in 2015-2016 for the Sonography program. I have tried to find out more information on whether this was due to lack of applicants, lack of funding, lack of eligible applicants, etc.. but I had no such luck in having that question answered. I am going to assume (just from my own general observation) that it is due to a lack of applicants secondary to a lack of awareness about the program. That’s what really prompted me to do all of this research and get the word out!! So, don’t turn down free money and make sure you/your students apply!! ☺

Here is the full breakdown of 2015-2016 FELS funding:
http://www.ncleg.net/documentsites/committees/JLEOC/Reports%20Received/2016%20Reports%20Received/Forgivable%20Loan%20Fund%20Report%202015-16.pdf

Here are the FULL rules of the FELS program:
http://www.ncseaa.edu/pdf/Rules_FELS.pdf 

General FELS details:
http://www.ncleg.net/documentsites/committees/JointAppropriationsEducation/2017%20Session/2017_03_14/2_NCSEAA_Financial_Aid_Programs_Presentation.pdf