Click here to Skip to main content
AskARC Logo
Support Services Banner Image

Course Applicability

Important Financial Aid Changes Effective Spring 2017 Registration

What is Course Applicability?

"Course applicability" is a term that refers to the fact that students receiving Federal Financial Aid are only eligible to receive Federal Financial Aid for courses that are part of their degree or certificate program.


Financial Aid Programs are regulated by complex and voluminous regulations. There is a long-standing requirement that a college not award federal financial aid for classes that do not directly apply to a financial aid-eligible degree or certificate program. Specifically, the Student Financial Handbook clarifies (34 CFR 668.2) and states, "you cannot award the student aid for classes that do not count toward his degree, certificate, or other recognized credential."

Institutional Liability

The financial risks associated with funding courses that are not course applicable could mean sanctions for American River College, including repayment of disbursed funds and possible loss of the college's ability to administer Title IV aid.

Why Now?

This is not a new requirement. The U.S. Department of Education has recently levied audit findings against several institutions for non-compliance with federal regulations regarding disbursement practices. Institutional scrutiny is at an all-time high to ensure accountability with Federal Financial Aid policies and regulations.

Fee Waiver 

Course applicability is a Federal requirement and therefore does NOT impact a student's eligibility for the California Promise Grant.

How Will it Work?

LRCCD has purchased course audit software, Highpoint, which will interface with an existing degree audit tool in the PeopleSoft system. This software ensures that the student's enrollment specifically meets the program's requirements for Federal Financial Aid. Any non-required units will not be eligible for disbursement.

Impacted Students

Using Fall 2016 as a test-group, we found approximately 25% of students receiving financial aid would have been impacted by having at least one class that did not meet course applicability requirements. It is expected that this percentage will continue in the Spring 2017 semester. 

Next Steps

Students who are using Federal Financial Aid will be notified following any enrollment activity if they have enrollment in courses that are not applicable to their certificate or degree program. This notice will inform the student that they cannot receive Federal Financial Aid for these course units but may still be eligible for the BOG Fee Waiver. 

Where to Go for Help

Students can visit the Welcome Desk in the Student Services building during the following hours:

Please arrive early, as the wait-list is first come first serve and fills quickly.

Click on month section to view hours.

May 3, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
May 6, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
May 9, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
May 13, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
May 15, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
May 16, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
May 17, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
May 20, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
May 22, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
May 23, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
May 24, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
May 28, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
May 29, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
May 30, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm


During these times, staff will be available to assist students with an evaluation of their enrollment if they believe the system has denied a course's financial aid eligibility in error. For assistance at the Natomas Center, please call (916) 485-6000.

It is also recommended that students understand how much Pell Grant they have used and how much Pell Grant they have remaining. Lifetime Pell usage is limited to 600% (equivalent to 12 full-time semesters). 

To calculate your Pell Grant usage visit:

For more information on the Pell Grant lifetime eligibility please watch this short video: