Eligibility for Federal Financial Aid
Award programs affected by the federal standards include:
- Federal Perkins Loans
- Federal College Work/Study
- Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized)
- Federal Graduate PLUS Loans
- TEACH grant
Good Academic Standing
Good academic standing standards for satisfactory academic progress and grade point average must be met in order to be eligible to receive federal financial aid.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Students must make satisfactory academic progress to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid. The graduate satisfactory academic progress (SAP) table is used to determine eligibility for federal aid programs.
Students who do not accumulate the number of credits specified on the graduate SAP table may still receive federal aid. However, if a student does not accumulate the minimum number of credits within the next 9 credits of enrollment, the student loses federal aid eligibility.
A student who is permitted to re-enroll because of an exception to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy is not eligible for federal financial aid. However, if there are mitigating circumstances, the student may appeal as described in the mitigating circumstance section.
Grade Point Average
Students who receive grades must maintain a minimum G.P.A. of 2.0 after having completed 8 graded credits at Empire State College. If after earning 8 graded credits, the G.P.A. falls below 2.0 and the student can restore the G.P.A. with 16 graded additional credits, the student is eligible to receive federal financial aid. If the student cannot, or does not, restore the G.P.A. to 2.0 after earning 16 additional graded credits, s/he is ineligible for federal financial aid. Students who receive narrative-only evaluations are not required to meet the G.P.A. expectations.
A student who is permitted to re-enroll because of an exception to the G.P.A. expectations is not eligible for federal financial aid. However, if there are mitigating circumstances, the student may appeal as described later.
It is important to note that the graduate programs require a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
Regaining Federal Financial Aid Eligibility
A student who is academically dismissed and is subsequently reinstated by the college must accumulate the number of credits required to meet the graduate satisfactory academic standards and earn at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average in order to regain federal aid eligibility. However, it is important to note that the graduate programs require a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
The Effect of Withdrawal
If a student withdraws from a course, his/her enrollment status (full or part time) and/or SAP rate may be affected, depending on the effective date of the withdrawal. Each of these may in turn affect federal aid eligibility.
In calculating enrollment status and rate of academic progress, “credits attempted” is the number of registered credits after day 28 of the enrollment term. Thus, the date of withdrawal affects whether the credits are counted in the number of credits attempted. For example, if a student first enrolls for 12 credits and then withdraws from one 4-credit course on or before day 28, the enrollment status for the term changes to part time and the progress rate is calculated on 8 credits attempted. If the student withdraws after day 28, the enrollment status for the term is still full time and the progress rate is calculated on 12 credits attempted.
Withdrawal at any point in the term may result in a reduction of financial aid. If this occurs, students will be required to pay back any funds for which they no longer quality. Student Financial Services calculates such award adjustments individually using federal formulas. Further information may be obtained from Student Financial Services.
The Effect of Withdrawal from All Studies
Withdrawal from the college prior to the end of an enrollment term will cause you to use a full financial aid award period’s eligibility. You will be ineligible for additional financial aid of the same type if re-enrolling within the same financial aid award period. All financial aid will be adjusted using federal and state guidelines for the cycle in which you withdraw.
In accordance with rules established by the U.S. Department of Education, schools must adhere to provisions regarding the treatment of Federal Title IV Financial Aid for students that withdraw from school completely for any term. These rules govern all federal loan and grant programs, including Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans.
In general, the new law assumes that a student must earn federal financial aid awards directly in proportion to the number of days of the term attended. In other words, a student earns financial assistance as they complete their courses throughout a term. If a student completely withdraws from all courses during a term, the college must calculate the portion of the total scheduled financial assistance earned. If the student received (or the college received on behalf of the student) more assistance than was earned, the unearned excess funds must be returned to the federal programs.
The portion of federal loans and grants the student earned is calculated on a percentage basis comparing the total number of calendar days in the term to the number of days completed before withdrawal. (Scheduled breaks of five consecutive days or longer are excluded from the calculation.) The calculation for unearned aid is not required for students attending up to the 60 percent period of that term.
For example: a student enrolls with an enrollment period of 05/21/08 to 09/02/08. The enrollment period is 105 days. The student withdraws from all coursework on 07/03/08 - which is the 44th day of the enrollment period. The student has earned 42 percent of the Title IV aid awarded (day attended/enrollment period, or 44/105, which equals 42 percent). Whatever percentage of the term the student attends is the percentage of Title IV that is earned. Once the student exceeds the 60 percent point of the enrollment period, the student has earned 100 percent of the Title IV aid. In the above example, if the student withdrew as of 07/24/08, 100 percent of the aid would be earned and no return calculation is required (07/24/08 would be day 65 of the term, so 65/105 equals 62 percent - which is beyond the 60 percent point of the term).
Unearned federal financial assistance must be returned to program funds up to the amount of assistance that the student has received from the program in the priority order established by regulation: Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, Subsidized Stafford Loan, Federal Perkins Student Loan, Graduate PLUS Loan and other Title IV programs. The school takes the responsibility on behalf of the student to return unearned federal financial aid assistance funds that were applied directly to institutional charges. Institutional charges at the college that are no longer covered by financial assistance immediately become the responsibility of the student. The student is also responsible for return of unearned federal financial funds that were disbursed directly to him/her. To prevent undue hardship, allowances have been made if the unearned assistance repayment owed by the student is due to a loan program. Funds due for repayment to a loan program permit the student to repay according to the terms of the promissory note. In addition, if the student is directly responsible for repayments of unearned assistance to a federal grant program, only one-half (50 percent) of the calculated repayment is required.
The Effect of Administrative Withdrawal
Federal guidelines establish attendance expectations. An administrative withdrawal (ZW) outcome may reduce the student’s award or require the student to pay back some of the federal financial aid already received. The amount depends on the last date of contact or attendance and the federal programs involved. Further information may be obtained from Student Financial Services.
Occasionally, students do not meet the good academic standards for reasons beyond their control or because of mitigating circumstances such as serious family problems or extended illness. Under such circumstances, a student may appeal for continued eligibility for federal financial aid.
Approval of a federal financial aid appeal is not automatic. Usually students may only appeal for his/her most recent enrollment. Approval of an appeal occurs in two parts:
- Students must complete the Appeal for Federal Title IV Financial Aid Eligibility form and submit it with appropriate documentation to the dean. If approved academically by the dean, then the request is reviewed by the Mitigating Circumstance Committee to determine eligibility for financial aid. In certain instances, a student may regain academic eligibility but not financial aid eligibility.
- The Mitigating Circumstance Committee determines if the request meets federal requirements for continued eligibility for federal financial aid.
The Mitigating Circumstance Committee has the authority to approve a financial aid appeal request. However, that approval is dependent on the verification of the student’s academic eligibility. The dean is responsible for determining the student’s academic eligibility. If the dean determines that a student does not meet academic eligibility requirements, the Mitigating Circumstance Committee cannot approve the appeal.
Students are rarely granted more than one appeal for mitigating circumstances.
Note: the appeal has no direct effect on enrollment eligibility, which is an academic determination upon which the appeal approval is contingent.
Federal 150 Percent Rule
Federal regulations limit aid eligibility to 150 percent of the published length of the educational program. For example, an M.A. degree at Empire State College requires 36 credits, an Empire State College student pursuing an M.A. degree cannot be awarded federal aid for more than 54 credits attempted.
Federal guidelines do not allow waivers for mitigating circumstances that would extend a student’s aid past the 150 percent limit.
Final Enrollment Term
Federal regulations do not allow a student in the final enrollment term to receive federal aid for studies that are not required to complete a degree.
Notification of Ineligibility for Federal Financial Aid
Student Financial Services notifies students regarding their ineligibility for further federal financial aid. Students may obtain information on their financial aid status by contacting Student Financial Services.