Due to federal financial aid regulations, Essex County College (ECC) developed a book voucher program, which is an advance of your financial aid refund that allows you to purchase books from the ECC Book Stores. The program is designed to assist students who are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant and with expected excess financial aid to buy books. Book vouchers allow students to charge their student account for the costs of required books. This book voucher is not a grant; neither is it funding in addition to your financial aid award(s), but is solely for the purpose of purchasing books and supplies. This means that the amount you spend using the book voucher will be deducted from your total excess financial aid funds. The credit may only be used at the ECC Main and West Essex Campus bookstores.
Not all students are eligible for a book voucher.
How do I know if I qualify?
The Office of Financial Aid determines if a student is eligible for the book voucher. In order to be eligible for a book voucher, a student must meet the following criteria:
- Must be admitted as a matriculated student.
- Must meet the general requirements for receiving federal and state aid.
- Must have a FAFSA on file
- Must have all required verification documents submitted to the ECC Office of Financial Aid.
- Must be registered for the semester/term.
- Must be awarded aid and have funds remaining from their awards, after all charges are paid in full.
How does the Book Voucher Program work?
Students who qualify will be directed to go to myecc.essex.edu to access their book voucher online. Information on how to participate in the Book Voucher Program will be posted on the financial aid website at www.essex.edu/fa. In addition to other requirements, you must have a credit balance from financial aid in excess of your tuition and other charges. If you elect to participate in the Book Voucher Program you are required to purchase your books from the ECC book stores on the Main and West Essex Campuses. Note: Participation in this program is optional. If you choose to opt-out of the program and not use this voucher you must complete an ECC Opt-Out Form, available online at www.essex.edu/fa/. You must submit your opt-out form to the ECC Office of Financial Aid within five (5) business days of your initial award date. Further, by selecting to opt-out or not using this voucher you hereby waive your eligibility to charge the cost of your books and supplies to your ECC account for the semester/ term.
How much can I receive?
If you qualify to participate in the book voucher program, the Office of Financial Aid will issue you a book voucher. You will go to myecc.essex.edu to view the voucher and the amount issued. To use the voucher, students must click on the book voucher tab and print two (2) copies of the book voucher. Take both copies to the ECC Book Store, one copy will be retained by the book store after you make your purchases. Maintain the other copy for your records.
Do I have to spend it all at once?
No. You can make several purchases at the book store until the expiration date or until you have spent the full amount of your voucher, whichever comes first.
What if I don’t spend the full amount of my voucher?
If you do not use the full amount of the voucher, you will only be charged for the amount that you spend at the ECC book store. Any excess funds not used at the book store will be refunded back to you.
Is the ECC Book Store Voucher Program mandatory?
No. You are not required to participate in this program – it is optional.
What do I need to do if I choose not to participate, or select to opt out?
You may select to opt out of the Book Voucher Program by completing and submitting the Book Voucher Opt-Out Form from Financial Aid Forms. Your completed form may be faxed to 973 877-3586.
Will I lose any of my excess financial aid funds if I opt out the Book Voucher Program?
NO – participation is optional. Students not participating in the Book Voucher Program will still be eligible for a refund of any excess financial aid.
How is “excess financial aid” calculated? Does it amount to the refund check I can receive after my tuition and other charges have been paid for aid I have been awarded?
Your excess financial aid is calculated by subtracting your total tuition and other fees from the total financial aid you have been awarded. Any funds that you have in excess of tuition charges and other fees will be considered excess funds.
What is the last day I can use the voucher?
The last day for you to use your book voucher will be printed on the book voucher and you will see when the book voucher is valid once you print it.
If your financial aid eligibility changes or your awards require re-calculation due to a change in your course schedule; you will be responsible for the balance created on your student account from this book voucher. If you do not receive financial aid or withdraw prior to receiving your financial aid, all outstanding charges including the books charged will be your responsibility.
Book Voucher Policy
Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education:
The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance to schools that we may use a variety of options to assist students in obtaining or purchasing books and supplies. They have suggested that these options may include cash disbursements, bookstore vouchers, stored value cards, school credit, check and EFT transfers to the student’s bank account. Essex County College has chosen to use the book voucher process for students to purchase books and supplies. Further, the U.S. Department guidelines state that if a student uses the way provided by the institution to get the books and supplies, the student is considered to have authorized the use of Title IV funds and does not need a written authorization for this purpose only. However, Essex County College does require students to sign off on an authorization, which is included on the voucher at the time of the purchase.
To ensure that students have timely access to books and supplies, the Book Voucher Policy at Essex County College is based on the guidelines and regulations of the U.S. Department of Education.
The ECC Book Voucher Policy
Book Vouchers are issued to students with funds remaining from their award(s) after all charges are paid in full. If the student meets this requirement, a book voucher is issued and posted on the ECC Portal. The students will be directed to access their account on the Portal, to determine if a voucher has been issued. If there is a voucher issued, the student must print two copies (one for the book store and one for their record) and must take both copies to the Book Store to purchase their books and supplies. Detailed information about the book voucher program is sent and posted for students through the Financial Aid Monthly Newsletter, which is emailed to all students and this information is also posted outside the office and on our website each semester/ term.
The policy for using the voucher is written on the voucher. The available book voucher amount is based on the student’s award at the time the voucher is issued. Changes to student’s initial semester enrollment (drops, withdrawal, not in attendance etc.) or changes in the student’s eligibility for aid will cause an adjustment to the available book voucher amount. The voucher is only valid for use in the ECC Main or West Essex Campus book stores. However, students always have the option of not using the book voucher program; they must then wait until the balance of their funds is disbursed later in the semester/ term. If they do not wish to use the voucher, they are responsible for purchasing their books and supplies until the balance of the funds are disbursed.
Book voucher availability for the semester/ term is approximately two weeks before the first day of classes. The book store maintains records of the amount charged by each student and submits this data to the Bursar. The book store provides this data to the Bursar and the Bursar deducts these charges from the student’s account.
Using the Book Voucher:
The Financial Office will make a determination and provide appropriate information to the eligible students. By using a book voucher, the student is authorizing Essex County College to deduct all bookstore charges from any amount of aid in excess of tuition and other charges. Excess financial aid awards will be reduced as a result of these charges. The student is responsible for paying all book store charges not covered by excess financial aid funds. Misuse of financial aid funds is in violation of federal regulations. No exceptions are made to this policy.
If the student’s financial aid eligibility changes or if awards require re-calculation due to a change in the student’s course schedule; the student will be responsible for the balance created on his/her student account from this book voucher. If the student does not receive financial aid or withdraw prior to receiving financial aid, all outstanding charges including the books charged will be the student’s responsibility.