Silver State Opportunity Grant Program
Initial Silver State Opportunity Grant awards for Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 will be made between July 1 and July 8, 2016. In order to be eligible for an award at that time, a student must have: completed a FAFSA with an eligible institution listed; turned in any necessary documents to the financial aid office to complete his/her file; be enrolled in 15 credits as a degree-seeking student; and meet all other program eligibility requirements, detailed below. In addition, if a student is selected for verification, the financial aid office must have completed the file review and any necessary corrections before awarding SSOG. The timeframe required for a school to complete verification varies, and can take up to several weeks after paperwork is submitted; therefore, the 2016-17 FAFSA should be filed and all supporting documentation should be turned in to the financial aid office as early as possible.
As of the initial awarding date, each campus will award available funds in the order of need, beginning with eligible students who have a zero EFC (Expected Family Contribution)--and therefore the most need--and working up to higher EFCs (up to a maximum of 8500) until funds are exhausted. There are not sufficient funds to award all eligible students.
The Silver State Opportunity Grant Program (SSOG Program) is a state-supported financial aid program created by the 2015 Legislature pursuant to Senate Bill 227 (Chapter 387, Statutes of Nevada 2015). Under the SSOG Program, need based grants will be awarded to eligible low income students who are college-ready to pay for a portion of the cost of education at a community college or state college within the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). This unique program is built on a shared responsibility model and guided by a philosophy for awarding grant aid based on the total cost of attendance (tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other living expenses) being shared by partners (the state, federal government, family, and the student).
The 2015 Legislature appropriated funds to support the program under Senate Bill 514 (Chapter 534, Statutes of Nevada 2015). The sum of $2.5 million for Fiscal Year 2015-16 and $2.5 million for Fiscal Year 2016-17 were appropriated to NSHE for the purpose of the SSOG Program.
The SSOG Program is designed to ensure eligible low-income students can afford to go to college. Unfortunately, Nevada is last in the nation in terms of college affordability with respect to median family income for students attending two year institutions. The total unmet need for all Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) institutions in 2012-13 was $434.5 million, based on Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filers who enrolled and completed their financial aid files. This unmet need figure represents the unfunded gap that students must make up on their own to cover the total cost of education. The reality is that many low income students cannot make up that unfunded gap and therefore choose not to pursue a degree or credential.
Students from low-income families are a growing share of K-12 and higher education enrollments in Nevada. Students from the lowest income families have the lowest high school graduation rates, the lowest college continuation rates, and the lowest bachelor’s degree attainment rates. Nevada’s participation rate for students from low income families was 44th in the nation at 28.6 percent in 2012—well below the national average of 39.4 percent (Postsecondary Education Opportunity, September 2013, College Participation Rates for Students from Low-Income Families by State, 1993-2012). The SSOG Program is an aggressive first step to encouraging more low income students to attend college and earn a degree or credential of value.
Who is Eligible?
Eligible institutions include NSHE community colleges and state college:
To be eligible for an SSOG award, a student must:
- Be enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certificate;
- Enroll in at least 15 credit hours that apply to the student’s chosen program of study;
- Be college ready based on placement or completion of entry-level, college-level mathematics and English*;
- Be classified as a resident for tuition purposes;
- Meet institutional Title IV financial aid satisfactory academic progress requirements; and
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of 8500 or less.
*To be considered "college-ready" for the purpose of SSOG Program eligibility, a student must be 1) currently or previously enrolled in a 100 or above level mathematics and English course, 2) placed into a college-level course under institutional placement policies for placement into at least Math120 and English 101, or 3) previously successfully completed remedial coursework (evident by a C or better in Math 096 and/or English 098).
Completion of the FAFSA is a critical step toward receiving an SSOG award. Funds for the SSOG Program are limited and are awarded to the students with the most financial need first. In other words, funds are awarded to eligible students in ascending EFC order, starting with 0 EFC up to 8500 EFC, until funds are exhausted. Financial need is based on the expected family contribution is determined through completion of the FAFSA.
Students who have previously earned a bachelor’s degree are not eligible for the SSOG award.
How is the Award Calculated?
The SSOG program is modeled on a shared responsibility philosophy for awarding grant aid where the award is based on the total cost of attendance (tuition and fees and living expenses) being shared by partners (the state, federal government, family, and the student). The shared responsibility model is based on best practices and described in detail in a report published by the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, titled States in the Driver’s Seat: Leveraging State Aid to Align Policies and Promote Access, Success, and Affordability.
|State|| Total Cost
The SSOG award amount is calculated by subtracting from the total cost of attendance the student contribution; expected family contribution (determined from completion of the FAFSA); and federal awards received (including the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and the federal TEACH grant). The amount remaining, up to $5,500 annually, is the SSOG award amount.
The total cost of attendance varies by student living circumstance (living off campus, living on campus [GBC only], or living with parent). It is calculated by the institutions based on a federal methodology provided for in 20 U.S.C. § 1087 II. For the purpose of the SSOG award calculation, a single cost of attendance based on the average of all eligible institutions is used for each housing category.
2015-16 Total Cost of Attendance*
for the Purpose of the SSOG Program
|Living off campus and not with parent||$18,233|
|Living with parent||$12,088|
|Living on campus||$15,175|
|*Based on the average of COA amounts for the eligible institutions|
2016-17 Cost of Attendance and Student Contribution update coming soon.
As the principle beneficiary, the student is expected to contribute toward his/her own education costs. The student contribution for 2015-16 is set at $5,500 and is based on the expectation of a reasonable work commitment (15 hours of employment throughout the year less estimated federal income tax). The reasonable work commitment is solely used for the purpose of determining the student share under the SSOG calculation and should in no way be construed as requiring a student to seek or obtain employment as a condition of eligibility for the SSOG award. The student share may be covered by a number of other sources, including but not limited to: student earnings or savings; private, institutional, state or federal scholarships (including the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship); veterans educational benefits; student loans; and financial assistance from family or friends.
Students who receive an SSOG award remain eligible for future semesters providing they complete a minimum of 15 credits during the semester they received the award and continue to meet Title IV Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements. However, SSOG awards are made according to program requirements on an annual basis, and maintaining eligibility is not a guarantee of receiving an SSOG award in future years. SSOG recipients who wish to receive an award in subsequent years are encouraged to file their FAFSA and complete all additional requirements as early as possible (see “2016-17 Awards,” above).
Students who receive an SSOG award and either do not complete 15 credits or fail to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress lose eligibility for future semester, except as provided below. Students who are not making Satisfactory Academic Progress may appeal with the financial aid office at their institution and, if their appeal is approved, will be eligible for continued SSOG funding. However, not completing 15 credits is not an appealable condition. Students may regain eligibility for SSOG funding in future semesters by completing 15 credits in a single semester without the grant and maintaining Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress. Regaining eligibility, however, is not a guarantee of receiving an SSOG award in future semesters.
In order to receive the SSOG award, a student must complete the FAFSA. Students under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status may complete the FAFSA and may receive the SSOG award. While the institution will receive FAFSA data for a DACA student, the institution cannot identify if a student has DACA status or not. Therefore, DACA students must self-identify to the financial aid office and provide a copy of their I-797 in order to be considered for an SSOG award. If you are a DACA student, go to the Financial Aid office at your institution and tell the office you want to be considered for the award .