Cooperative Education ("Co-op") is a type of internship program which allows students to obtain professional work experience while still in college. It is a unique opportunity for students to apply their academic preparation to "real world" situations in business and industry. The co-op program will provide you with the chance to combine classroom study with paid professional employment directly related to your major and career goals (available for College of Computing and Informatics, William States Lee College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts & Science, and Belk College of Business). Students benefit from the co-op program in many ways.
Co-op work experiences provide students with an opportunity to:
- Explore career interests and goals.
- Use the workplace as your classroom.
- Gain professional development while getting paid.
Receiving Financial Aid for Co-op Programs
- Co-op students are enrolled in a zero-credit course that is documented on their transcript each semester they work in order to maintain their full-time status with the University.
- There is a $60 registration fee that will be applied to the student's account for each semester of work.
- According to federal guidelines, as long as a school determines the co-op program is equal to full-time status and the student is REQUIRED to take the co-op as part of their program, then the school is allowed to pay federal financial aid to these students.
- Because UNC Charlotte does not require students to complete a co-op program as part of their degree requirements, they are NOT eligible for financial aid in the term(s) where co-op is the only course taken.
Frequently Asked Questions for the Co-op Policy Change
- Why was I able to receive financial aid in the past when I enrolled in co-op programs?
The Office of Financial Aid at UNC Charlotte is always reviewing federal regulations to ensure compliance with federal guidelines. After reviewing the university’s co-op program, it has been determined that the co-op course is NOT REQUIRED for any program of study at UNC Charlotte. There are two conditions for co-op student(s) to be eligible for Title IV financial aid:
- The school has to consider co-op students to be the equivalent to full-time status.
- The co-op course has to be REQUIRED for their program of study.
- Since co-op is not required at UNC Charlotte, any student enrolled in a co-op course only would NOT be eligible for financial aid that given term.
- Will a student be eligible for financial aid if they register for other courses along with their co-op course during the same term?
If you are taking classes while you are doing the co-op program, you may be eligible for financial aid for those classes, but not the co-op. Contact the Office of Financial Aid to determine your eligibility.
- Will students have to begin repayment of their student loans in their co-op term since there is zero credit for the co-op program?
Co-op students are considered full-time status during the term(s) of the co-op course. Students will remain in an in-school deferment status for loan repayment purposes and will not have to begin repayment during their co-op term.
- Would co-op students be eligible for an alternative loan for the co-op term?
Yes. Co-op students are eligible for an alternative loan for the co-op term as long as they meet the lender requirements for the loan. The Financial Aid Cost of Attendance budget for the term would reflect full-time amounts; however the tuition and fee component would be adjusted to $60 for the co-op fee.
- Would co-op students be eligible for any type of scholarships?
Possibly. If the student meets the requirements of the scholarship then he/she would be able to receive it for the co-op term.
- Can co-op students receive the University’s health insurance during the co-op term(s)?
Undergraduate students, including Co-op students, who are enrolled in 5 or less hours are ineligible and are not charged the student health insurance premium.
- When will this new policy begin for co-op students?
Students who are only taking a zero credit co-op course for the Fall 2015 term will not receive financial aid for the FALL 2015 term.
- What can students do if they need assistance for living expenses, transportation expenses, etc.?
Co-op student can apply for an alternative loan if they meet the lender’s requirements. Students will need to check with their lender of choice to see if they qualify.