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Title IV-E BSW/BSSW Tuition Assistance Program: Frequently Asked Questions

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The following information is intended to provide an overview of Title IV-E BSW/BSSW Tuition Assistance Program procedures. Guidelines and policies are subject to change. Participants should consider the terms and conditions in their signed Program Agreement as authoritative.

Participation

Who is eligible to participate?
Is selection into the program competitive?
How do I apply to the Title IV-E BSW/BSSW Tuition Assistance Program?
What are my responsibilities as a program participant?
Can I take summer classes?
Whom do I contact with questions or for additional information?

Payment

What does the program pay for?
Will this affect my financial aid from other sources?
What is the payment process?
How are payments made?
When can I expect payment?
What if I do not receive payment at the expected time?
How much is the financial assistance and what is it used for?
Why do I see an account balance after having submitted all required paperwork?

Agreement

What is the employment obligation to DCS upon completion of my degree?
How do I apply for employment with DCS?
How quickly will I be hired by DCS after graduation?
What employment benefits do program participants receive?
Where will I work?

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Who is eligible to participate?

The Title IV-E BSW/BSSW Tuition Assistance Program is intended for undergraduate students in their final 2 years of study who have chosen to enter the social work profession. Specifically, a candidate should desire to work directly with vulnerable children and families as a front-line case manager for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) upon graduation. For additional information, please see "Eligibility" on the Title IV-E Tuition Assistance Program Home Page.

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Is selection into the program competitive?

DCS will evaluate the pool of applications and make selection decisions based on factors such as the availability of funds, regional employment needs, and candidate strengths as relayed in the application (see "Applying for the Title IV-E BSW/BSSW Tuition Assistance Program" under "Forms and Information").

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How do I apply to the Title IV-E BSW Tuition Assistance Program?

The information you will need to apply to the program is located on the Applying for the Title IV-E BSW/BSSW Tuition Assistance Program page under "Forms and Information". Please take care to fully complete and submit by the deadlines listed all application materials to avoid disqualification or payment delays.

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What are my responsibilities as a program participant?

There are both academic and administrative responsibilities for program participants. General responsibilities are outlined as a part of the "Eligibility Requirements" and "Program Guidelines" on the Title IV-E BSW/BSSW Tuition Assistance Program Home Page. For a detailed view of student responsibilities, please read the Program Agreement.

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Can I take summer classes?

Yes, participants can receive tuition and financial assistance up to 12.0 credit hours. Please note that aid for summer counts toward one of the student’s four (4) semesters of aid that can be received for obtaining a BSW through this program. Like any other semester, students must participate full-time. If a student takes less than 12.0 hours during the summer, the student’s financial assistance will be reduced in proportion to 12.0 hours (e.g., a student taking 9.0 hours would receive 75% of the summer funding).

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Whom do I contact with questions or for additional information?

Please pose all inquiries about requirements, process, and procedure about the program to:

Department of Children’s Services
Title IV-E Tuition Assistance Program
c/o Sirena Bragg – Program Manager
Cordell Hull Building 7th Floor
436 6th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234
615-253-6821
IV-E_Tuition.EI-DCS@tn.gov

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What does the program pay for?

The program pays for tuition/approved fees for a full-time BSW student. For students attending public universities, tuition/approved fees are paid based on enrollment as noted on their university’s annually published fee schedule. For students attending private universities, tuition/approved fees are paid up to a "tuition cap," which is based on the highest rate charged by public in-state universities. Students attending private universities are personally responsible for paying any tuition and/or fees that exceed this cap.

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Will this affect my financial aid from other sources?

The tuition and financial assistance issued to you through this program will form a part of the student's overall financial aid package. The university financial aid office will consider all sources of funding available to the student and will not allow combined sources to exceed the cost of your attendance. This might mean that the level of funding issued through this program or from other sources could be adjusted.  It is recommended that consultation with the university's financial aid office for specific information regarding personal circumstances is recommended.

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What is the payment process?

Program participants receive two types of funding: (1) tuition/approved fee payments and (2) financial assistance to be used for books and supplies.

Tuition/approved fees: Each semester, a letter is sent to participants’ universities requesting that their tuition/approved fees be billed to DCS rather than to the student. This request is issued upon receipt of the program participant’s complete class schedule for the term and current documentation (e.g. grades from previous semesters), and it serves as confirmation of attendance and secures participants’ class schedule. Later, approximately mid-way through the semester (university time frames vary), universities will bill DCS for tuition/related fees (note: until the university bills DCS for your tuition/related fees and those are paid, you might see a balance on your account). To ensure timely payment, please take care to register early and submit all paperwork as requested.

Financial assistance: After all application materials, schedules and grades have been received, DCS will issue funds which will be forwarded to the student's university account. Usually, funds are posted to the student’s account within 2 weeks of authorization. To ensure timely payment, please take care to register early and submit all paperwork as requested.

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How are payments made?

All payments are made directly to the student’s university and are credited to his or her university account. For specific details on where to retrieve payments, students should contact their university's Bursar/business office.

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When can I expect payment?

If a student registers by the deadlines listed under "Important Dates" on the Title IV-E BSW Tuition Assistance Program Home Page and all documentation (e.g., class schedule and grades) has been received by DCS by specified timelines, the funds should be posted by the first day of class. Failure to register and submit paperwork by the deadlines posted could result in delayed payments. Tuition/related fee payments are not made until later in the semester when the university bills them to DCS.

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What if I do not receive payment at the expected time?

Students should contact the Title IV-E Programs Manager with questions related to payment after having contacted their university Bursar's office to identify the issue.  Please note:  Federal law prohibits the release of specific account information to parties other than the student.

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How much is the financial assistance and what is it used for?

Program participants receive funds for each semester that they receive aid. The amount of funds is subject to change from year to year. Please contact the Title IV-E Programs Manager for the current amount. The funds are intended to provide financial support for non-tuition/related fee expenses associated with participation in the program—e.g., living expenses, travel, and textbooks (there is not a separate payment associated with any of these expenses).

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Why do I see an account balance after having submitted all required paperwork?

Students might see a balance on their account until their tuition is paid to the university by DCS. Tuition payments are not actually paid until later in the semester when the university bills DCS. Until the university receives the check from DCS, a balance might be noted on the account. (see "What is the payment process")

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What is the employment obligation to DCS upon completion of my degree?

Upon graduation, students will owe the Department six (6) months of employment for every semester of aid received with a minimum of 18 months and up to 24 months.

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How do I apply for employment with DCS?

Please consult the "Applying on the Graduate Associate registry with DCS" presentation (coming soon) on the Title IV-E Tuition Assistance Program Home Page for a guided tour through the application process. Students should contact the Title IV-E Program Manager as soon as possible with questions or concerns.

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How quickly will I be hired by DCS after graduation?

Graduates can expect to be hired by the Department within 90 days of graduation.

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What employment benefits do program participants receive?

Graduates of either the Title IV-E Tuition Assistance Program are hired by DCS as a Case Manager 1; they are paid, however, at the Case Manager 2 level, which is a difference of approximately $3000 annually.

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Where will I work?

DCS will make every effort to allow graduating students to work in the region/site of their choice. There is no guarantee, however, that program participants will be placed according to their preference; graduates might have to relocate to another region in TN, even if that is not their choice. The needs of DCS will determine the location of assignment.

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