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 Family Education 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 and spring semesters.
- 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 by passing an approved Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) test.
- 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.
- Male students – ages 18 through 25 – must comply with Selective Service Registration.
- 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.
- Students who change majors will be allotted the amount of time needed to complete the new program without regard to time spent in previous course work provided the student was making financial aid academic progress at the time of change.
- Students may receive financial aid for repeated courses only if the original grade in the course was below a “C.”
- 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 Stafford Loan must complete Loan Entrance Counseling regarding the rights and responsibilities of the student borrower and a Federal Stafford Loan 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.
Return of Title IV Withdrawal Policies
- Students who wish to completely withdraw from their courses must officially withdraw at the Registrar’s Office by completing a Withdrawal Form.
- Students who completely withdraw at or before 60% of the term will be processed through a Return of Title IV Funds Calculation. In conjunction with the FACTS & CERTIFICATIONS for receiving financial aid, if a student does not formally withdraw from a semester however mid-semester grades indicate all “F” grades, the Financial Aid Office will assume the student stopped attending and aid will be put on HOLD. For the hold to be lifted, the student must provide myPEAK copies of attendance and grade records for all classes registered to the Financial Aid Office. If a last date of attendance cannot be determined, a Return of Title IV funds may be calculated in accordance with regulations at the 50% point of the term. If it is determined that the student never attended any classes, the student is not eligible for aid. Any outstanding balance due to the College or the Department of Education will be the responsibility of the student.
- This calculation determines the percentage of financial aid the student has earned based on the number of days the student attended divided by the number of days in the enrollment period.
- The school will return the lesser amount of the aid to be returned as compared to the institutional charges multiplied by the percentage of unearned aid.
- The student will be responsible to pay any unpaid institutional charges incurred by the institution having to return Title IV funds.
- The student will also be responsible for returning a percentage of unearned financial aid. This amount will be the difference between the amount of Title IV aid due from the school and the amount of Title IV aid to be returned.
- The school must return funds to the following sources, in order, up to the total net amount from each source: Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan, PLUS, Pell Grant, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, Federal SEOG, and any other Title IV programs.
- The student or parent (in cases of a PLUS loan) must return funds by repaying funds to the following sources, in order, up to the total net amount disbursed from each source: Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan, PLUS, 50% of Pell, 50% of Federal SEOG, and 50% of any other federal grant program.
- The student will return loan amounts in accordance with the terms of the promissory note.
- If the student owes tuition and fees, the student will receive an invoice from the school.
- The Financial Aid Office will notify the student of the amount of any Federal Grants that must be repaid by the student.
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 $3667=$1074.43.
- The total federal aid unearned is $3667 – $1074.43=$2592.57.
- 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 $1843 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 $1843 x 70.7% = $1303.
- The amount to be returned in federal aid is the lesser of number 2 or number 3, which for this example is $1303. 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 $1303 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.