Academic Progress Policy
The Higher Education Act requires that a student be maintaining satisfactory academic progress in the course of study he/she is pursuing in order to receive financial aid under the student financial assistance programs authorized by Title IV of the Act. These programs include the Federal Pell Grant, FSEOG, the Federal Work-Study Program, and loans under the Federal Direct Loan Program. Pennsylvania Highlands Financial Aid Office measures academic progress both quantitatively and qualitatively. The Financial Aid Academic Progress Policy includes maintaining a certain grade point average (GPA) in accordance with the College’s academic standing policy, successfully completing at least two thirds (67%) of all attempted credits, and program completion within a 150% time frame.
In compliance with current federal regulations, the Financial Aid Office:
- Checks student academic progress at the end of the fall semester, spring semester, and summer session.
- Includes all withdrawals and incompletes as non-completed coursework, which will affect financial aid academic progress. (Courses with an “I” (incomplete), “W” (withdrawal) or an “F” grade will be considered as courses attempted but not successfully completed.)
- Sends financial aid “warning” status correspondence to students in danger of losing financial aid due to academic standing.
- Sends financial aid “suspension” status correspondence to students who fail to make financial aid academic progress.
Conditions for receiving financial aid:
- Students must demonstrate that they are qualified to enroll in postsecondary education by having a high school diploma or general Educational Development (GED) certificate, or admitted through Ability-to-Benefit.
- Students must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a matriculated student working toward a degree, certificate, or diploma.
- Students must meet satisfactory academic progress standards in accordance with the College’s academic standing policy and the Financial Aid Academic Progress Policy.
- Students must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen with a valid social security number.
- Students sign a statement on the FAFSA or FAFSA Renewal that certifies that they will use federal student aid for educational purposes only.
- Students cannot be in default on a federally funded loan or owe a refund on a federal student grant.
- Students officially withdrawing from the institution should contact the Financial Aid Office prior to withdrawing to determine the impact on their financial aid.
- Students making satisfactory progress can apply for financial aid for up to 150% of the total credits for his/her program, as long as they can graduate within the 150% timeframe.
- Students may not receive financial aid for audited courses.
- Students must be enrolled for at least six credit hours for most financial aid programs. Only certain Federal PELL grant recipients are able to receive financial aid at a less than half-time status.
- Students applying for a Federal Direct Loan must complete Loan Entrance Counseling regarding the rights and responsibilities of the student borrower and a Master Promissory Note (MPN).
- Students with unusual circumstances, which may have affected financial aid academic progress, may file an appeal to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee.
Federal Aid Refund Policy
If a student needs to completely withdraw for the term and has received federal aid, they are required to contact the Financial Aid Office in person or by phone. The Financial Aid Office will inform you of the Return of Title IV process and the required funds that you may be responsible to pay back.
The Financial Aid Office is required by federal statute to recalculate federal financial aid eligibility for students who withdraw (officially or unofficially), drop out, are dismissed, or take a leave of absence prior to completing 60% of a payment period or term. The federal Title IV financial aid programs must be recalculated in these situations.
** If a student, who began attendance and has not officially withdrawn, fails to earn a passing grade in all of their courses offered over an entire period, the institution must assume, for Title IV purposes, that the student has unofficially withdrawn, unless the institution can document that the student completed the period. For students awarded a non-passing grade, the student’s last day of attendance (LDA) is entered with their F grade, to determine whether a student who received all “F” grades withdrew. If one instructor reports that the student attended through the end of the period, then the student is not a withdrawal. If it is determined that the student never attended any classes, the student is not eligible for any aid.**
If a student leaves the institution prior to completing 60% of a payment period or term, the Financial Aid Office recalculates eligibility for Title IV funds. Recalculation is based on the percentage of earned aid using the following Federal Return of Title IV funds formula:
Percentage of payment period or term completed = the number of days completed divided by the total days in the payment period or term. (Any break of five days or more is not counted as part of the days in the term.) This percentage is also the percentage of earned aid.
Funds are returned to the appropriate federal program based on the percentage of unearned aid using the following formula:
Aid to be returned = (100% of the aid that could be disbursed minus the percentage of earned aid) multiplied by the total amount of aid that could have been disbursed during the payment period or term. Please see example.
If a student earned less aid than was disbursed, the institution would be required to return a portion of the funds and the student may be required to return a portion of the funds. Keep in mind that when Title IV funds are returned, the student borrower may owe a debit balance to the institution and/or The Department of Education.
We must return Title IV funds to the programs from which the student received aid during the payment period or period of enrollment as applicable, in the following order, up to the net amount disbursed from each source:
- Unsubsidized Direct Loans (other than Direct PLUS Loans)
- Subsidized Direct Loans
- Direct PLUS Loans (parent or graduate)
- Federal Pell Grants for which a return of Title IV funds is required
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, for which a return of Title IV funds is required
- FSEOG for which a return of Title IV funds is required
- TEACH Grants for which a return of Title IV funds is required Under the September 2, 2020 final regulations, the order of return of Title IV funds was slightly modified with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.
Example of Return of Title IV Calculations
Below is an example of the Return of Title IV calculations used to determine the amount of unearned aid a student would be expected to repay based on the date of withdrawal.
John Doe contacted the Registrar’s Office on January 26 to do a complete withdrawal from the College. The term began on January 5 and is 75 days long. John has attended 22 days and has earned 29.3% of his financial aid (22 divided by 75 days = 29.3%). John received in aid:
- Federal Stafford Loan: $1,167
- Parent PLUS Loan: $1,500
- Pell Grant: $1,000
- Total Aid Spring Term: $3,667
- The amount of federal aid earned by the student is 29.3% x $3,667=$1,074.43.
- The total federal aid unearned is $3,667 – $1,074.43=$2,592.57.
- The second calculation determines percentage of amount unearned based on school charges for tuition and fees/or book charges (if applicable). John was charged on his student billing account $1,843 in tuition and fees. Percentage of unearned aid for this second calculation is 100% – 29.3%=70.7%, therefore based on the tuition and fee charges for the term $1,843 x 70.7% = $1,303.
- The amount to be returned in federal aid is the lesser of number 2 or number 3, which for this example is $1,303. This is the amount that must be returned from John’s federal financial aid.
- Federal guidelines determine the order of aid types to be reduced: Stafford Loans, parent PLUS Loans, and then Pell Grant for John until $1,303 has been repaid. Therefore John’s aid will be reduced to:
- Federal Stafford Loan: $1,167
- Parent PLUS Loan: $1,500 – $136 = $1,364
- Pell Grant: $1,000 – $0 = $1,000
- Total Returned: $1,303
The total returned amount reflects the amount to be billed to John’s student billing account from his financial aid. Any refunds from tuition that are determined and applied to his account may affect the amount that John owes for spring term.