FINANCIAL AID POLICY

1. PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to provide a framework and guidelines for establishing and managing the application, selection and review processes and procedures of the Cornerstone Financial Aid Programme. The Financial Aid Committee are the sole custodians of fund allocations.

The Financial Aid Programme is established to assist students, where possible, to access tertiary study and to succeed through the provision of financial assistance. Financial assistance is usually in the form of partial remission of fees and is dependent on the availability of funds and the criteria in section 6 below. The responsibility for financing the fees rests with the student, as specified in the Cornerstone Yearbook under Fee Structure.

2. FUNDING

Cornerstone provides financial aid from external funders as well as from internal resources as determined from time to time by Management. External funders include individual funders, organisations, trusts, churches or donors.  Selection criteria may be applied as specified by a particular donor in relation to their grant funds.

Financial Aid Students are not exempt from complying with the Financial Policy.

All students who receive funding from Cornerstone Institute and/or External Funders are required to complete the Financial Aid form.

As a private higher education institution, Cornerstone does not receive any financial assistance or subsidy from government.

We note that there are annually more applications than can be supported by the Cornerstone Institute Financial Aid Fund.  Students are advised to apply to other sources.

This policy is to be read in conjunction with the Financial Policy.

3. RESPONSIBILITY FOR IMPLEMENTATION

The Financial Aid Committee (FAC) has responsibility for the implementation and ongoing compliance of this policy. The FAC must comprise of at least the first five office bearers below and should ideally consist of all of the following:

  • Financial Manager (Chairperson)
  • Registrar
  • The CEO or his/ her representative
  • Financial Administrator
  • Director of Student Services
  • Student Representative Council member
  • A Faculty member
  • Financial Aid Officer
  • Advancement Officer
  • Alumni Representative
  • Board Representative
  • Any other staff members who can make a valuable contribution may be co-opted.

Financial Aid meetings occur no less than four times per year, using an agenda that must include:

  • A spreadsheet on the availability and allocation of funds from the Finance Office.
  • A funder report
  • Allocation of funds (if applicable)

4. ADMINISTRATION OF FINANCIAL AID

The FAC is responsible for the administration of the Financial Aid Programme.

The FAC reviews the process of awarding and administering financial aid on an annual basis, based on eligibility criteria (see section 6 below).

The FAC reviews the resources available for financial aid for the following year.

The financial aid file for each student, must comprise the following:

1. Completed Financial Aid Application Form

2. The bi-annual Funder Thank-you Letters

3. Personal Profile, updated when necessary

The latter two documents can be made available to funders and donors and lend support to any further financial aid allocations, with approval by the student as laid out in the Financial Aid Application Form.

A report will be provided bi-annually to Management which includes information about the allocation of financial aid.

Financial Aid is publicly promoted bi-annually and students apply via a formal application process.

Financial Aid applications for current students must be submitted by 31st October for the following year.

Financial Aid applications for new students applying for the January or July intakes must be submitted by the 31th January and the 30 June, respectively.

Funding is allocated when donations are available. Students must re-apply annually for continued eligibility for financial aid.

Some external funders or donors specify criteria for the awarding of their financial aid, e.g., academic excellence, a particular field of study or community involvement. The FAC is therefore obliged to ensure that students meet the eligibility criteria and will allocate the funds as per the funder’s request.

5. APPEALS

An Appeals Committee will be appointed by Management on a case-by-case basis.

A financial aid applicant who is not allocated funding, or a recipient whose funding is withdrawn, is entitled to lodge an appeal if they consider that their case has not been considered correctly or fairly.

In the case where an applicant has not been successful, the following process should be followed:

(1) They should seek explanatory feedback from the FAC in writing. Feedback from the FAC is expected to be provided to the student within five working days.

(2) If the student is dissatisfied with the explanation provided by the FAC, an appeal against the decision can be made in writing, outlining the grounds of the appeal and addressed to Management. Students may include any material lending support to their case with their appeal.

In the case of a student who wishes to appeal against a decision to have financial aid withdrawn, they must do so in writing to the FAC.  The appeal must be received within ten working days of the date of notification of the decision. Students may include any material lending support to their case with their appeal.  The FAC will escalate the appeal through Management, who will advise on the action steps to be taken. Management will consider the appeal and any decision that is reached will be final.

If an appeal is not lodged within the specified timeframe, the original FAC decision stands. The outcome of an appeal is provided to the student within twenty working days of receipt of the appeal. Students will be notified of any unforeseen delays in finalising consideration of an appeal.

In the case of financial aid that is withdrawn, the funding in question will be suspended until the outcome of the appeal process has been determined. In the event that no appeal against a withdrawal decision is lodged, the withdrawal decision stands and the recipient will not be entitled to re-apply for any further Cornerstone financial aid within the current year. If a withdrawal decision is upheld, the recipient will forfeit the remainder of the FAC funding for that year.

6. FINANCIAL AID CRITERIA

Applicants are considered for financial aid based on the following criteria. 

New Applicants (also read the additional criteria for all students)

  • The applicant has completed the financial aid application form and submitted all supporting documents before the application closing date.
  • The applicant is from RSA or from SADC.
  • The applicant has made the initial payment to Cornerstone as indicated in the fee structure and is compliant with arrangements for the outstanding balance of the tuition fees for the current year.
  • This is the applicant’s first year of tertiary education.

Current Students (also read the additional criteria for all students)

  • The student is not on academic probation
  • Students that have failed an academic year or modules may not re-apply for assistance for that same academic year or modules
  • The student has settled any outstanding balances of the previous year and made initial payments as indicated in the fee structure by 31st January. 

Additional criteria for all applicants

  • The student has signed the agreement and declaration form.
  • The student disclosed all necessary information that may influence the awarding of a bursary.
  • The student is taking at least 80 credits per year or 40 credits per semester. 
  • Indication of their own initiative to secure other funding
  • A willingness to provide community service inclusive of voluntary services to Cornerstone Institute by agreement and arrangement
  • The student’s compliance with the Financial Policy is compulsory.
  • No financial aid allocation will be made if the student does not comply with the fee policy in all respects. The fee policy supersedes the financial aid policy.

Qualitative criteria for all applicants would include:

  • Student’s attitude and conduct towards their educational journey
  • The students’ community involvement and commitment to social justice
  • The expected year of graduation
  • The financial need of the student
  • A financial and academic update

Additional eligibility criteria may be considered as per a donor’s requirements.

7. DISCLAIMERS

  • Only completed Financial Aid application forms with all supporting documents will be considered.
  • Only South African students and students from SADC countries may apply for financial aid.
  • The initial specified payment as indicated in the fee structure must be paid at registration to activate the approved funding.
  • Returning students have to ensure that their student account is up to date before they can be considered for financial aid for the next academic year.
  • All financial aid recipients are required to submit a bi-annual Funder Thank-you Letter to the Director of Student Services and to update their Personal Profile, to be made available for funders.
  • The student must commit to complete the qualification (failing which all monies granted must be repaid) and sign an undertaking accordingly.
  • Module failures as well as additional modules taken are not eligible for financial aid.
  • Failure of an applicant to disclose information that may influence the awarding of financial aid will result in cancellation of funds awarded.

FINANCIAL APPLICATIONS FOR 2020

New Applicants

January 2020 intake – Applications Open 1st August 2019 and close 31st January 2020

July 2020 intake – Applications open 1 February and close 30th June

Current Students

Opening date for 2020 Applications – 1st September 2019 and close 31st October 2019

Download a copy of the Financial Aid Application form here. Send completed application form with all supporting documentation to bursar@cornerstone.ac.za or drop it off at the Cornerstone Institute reception desk in a sealed envelope addressed to The Bursar.