Eligibility for Federal Financial Aid Policy

Eligibility for Federal Financial Aid Policy


Financial Aid Office


Director of Financial Aid


Student Recruitment and Admissions



Effective Date:


Review Date:


Implementation History:

Revised: September 2014, December 2013, August 2012, January 2012, December 2010, October 2009, May 2007, May 2005, and April 2003 Adopted: February 2002


Eligibility, Federal Financial Aid

Background Information:


To outline the eligibility for federal financial aid programs


Withdrawal: applies to an outcome of ZW or WD.


Award programs affected by the federal standards include:

  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal Perkins Loans
  • Federal College Work/Study
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG)
  • Federal Direct Loan Program; includes: subsidized and unsubsidized, the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) and the Graduate PLUS loan
  • Federal TEACH (Teach grant is for graduate students only)

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 progress to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid. The college's satisfactory academic progress (SAP) table is used to determine eligibility for federal aid programs.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Table

At the end of term number:A full-time student must have earned this number of credits:A half-time student must have earned this number of credits:
1 4


2 12 4
3 24 8
4 36 12
5 48 18
6 60 24
7 75 30
8 90 36
9 105 42
10 120 48
11 124* 54
12 NA 60
13   68
14   75
15   83
16   90
17   98
18   105
19   113
20   120
21   124*
22   NA

*For students matriculating September 8, 2014 or after, a degree plan may exceed 124 credits only to preserve the integrity of components that meet degree requirements. A full-time student still must meet all degree requirements by term 11. A half-time student must meet all degree requirements by term  21.

Students who do not accumulate the number of credits specified on the college's SAP table may still receive federal aid. However, if a student does not accumulate the minimum number of credits within the next enrollment, the student loses federal aid eligibility.

A student who is permitted to reenroll 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

GPA calculation is determined through the Academic Grading Policy. Students who opt to 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.

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 below.

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 college’s satisfactory academic standards and earn at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average in order to regain federal aid eligibility.

The Effect of Withdrawal

If a student withdraws from a course of study, 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 study 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 reduce the student’s award or require the student to pay back some of the federal financial aid already received. The Office of Fianancial Aid calculates such award adjustments individually using federal formulas. Further information may be obtained from the Financial Aid Office.

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 (for example, if you withdraw from the September Fall term and then enroll in the November Fall term you will not qualify for federal financial aid for the November Fall term). All financial aid will be adjusted using federal and state guidelines for the cycle in which you withdraw. The liability for tuition and fees is not dependent on the federal aid eligibility. Information about tuition and fee liability may be found online at www.esc.edu/studentaccounts.

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 Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, PLUS Loans, Perkins Loans, and Pell, SEOG, and TEACH grants.

In general, the 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 studies throughout a term. If a student completely withdraws from all studies 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 required for students attending classes less than 60 percent period of that term.

For example: a student enrolls with an enrollment period of 09/13/10-12/23/10. The enrollment period is 102 days. The student withdraws from all coursework on 11/01/10 – which is the 50th day of the enrollment period. The student has earned 49 percent of the Title IV aid awarded (days attended/enrollment period, or 50/102, which equals 49 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 11/14/10, 100 percent of the aid would be earned and no return calculation is required (11/14/10 would be day 63 of the term, so 62/102 equals 61 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: Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan, Federal Subsidized Direct Loan, Federal Perkins Student Loan, Federal PLUS Loan and Federal Graduate PLUS, Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG 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 Withdrawals

Appeal for Title IV Federal Financial Aid Eligibility

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:

  1. The dean of the center or program verifies the student’s academic eligibility.
  2. The mitigating circumstance committee determines if the request meets federal requirements for continued eligibility for federal financial aid.

The mitigating circumstance committee approves the appeal only if both parts of the process are complete and the academic and federal requirements are met. Students must submit the information required for both parts to the dean, using the required form.

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. If the appeal is approved, the student must complete the Financial Aid Academic Plan Agreement and then abide to that agreement for continued eligibility. Failure to do so will result in the student becoming ineligible for federal financial aid.

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% Rule

Federal regulations limit aid eligibility to 150% of the published length of the educational program. For example, given that a bachelor’s degree at Empire State College requires 128 credits, an Empire State College student pursuing a bachelor’s degree cannot be awarded federal aid for more than 192 credits attempted. For transfer students, the maximum is based on the number of transcript credits accepted by Empire State College plus the number of credits attempted at Empire State College.

Federal guidelines do not allow waivers for mitigating circumstances that would extend a student’s aid past the 150% 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.

Federal “C” Average Expectation

Federal guidelines require that a student achieve a minimum of a "C" average in order to maintain federal financial aid eligibility after 8 graded credits at Empire State College.

Repeat of Studies with Credit Awarded

A student may repeat a passed course once to earn a better grade if required for their academic program and still receive financial aid. The student must complete the Request to Repeat a Study request form. If this is done, both studies count as credit attempted in calculating SAP, but only the latest study grade will count in the calculation of credits earned toward the degree and in the GPA calculation.

Pell Grant Maximum Duration of Eligibility

Effective with the Summer 2012 term, students are limited to 12 full time semesters or the equivalent. Therefore, students who have already used 12 full time terms of the Pell grant will no longer qualify.

Notification of Ineligibility for Federal Financial Aid

The Financial Aid office notifies students regarding their ineligibility for further federal financial aid. Students may obtain information on their financial aid status by contacting the Financial Aid office.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations

34 CFR 668.22, 34 CFR 668.34.

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices

References: https://ifap.ed.gov/ifap/

Mitigating Circumstances - Financial Aid (PDF 77kB)

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