Being on Financial Aid Probation
Students at universities across the world find themselves in a position of need when it comes to figuring out a way to pay for all of the expenses associated with their college education. Rising tuition costs paired with pricey room and board as well as many other unforeseen fees and expenses, like off-campus food and books, make affording college a difficult endeavor for many. Because a higher education is so notoriously expensive, many students turn to financial aid as a means to the end of finishing their degree. Financial aid plays an integral role in college education for many students. Without the help of financial aid, they simply could not attend college at all.
What Is Financial Aid Probation?
Many financial aid packages come with the stipulation that students maintain a certain level of academic performance, indicated by their GPA or some other measure. When a student fails to meet these academic standards, he or she can apply for a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) appeal and, if they are approved, they will then be put on financial aid probation.
This probation period will include careful monitoring of the student’s academic progress. During this time, the student on financial aid probation must clearly show that they are putting forth greater effort toward their academic studies, demonstrated by improved marks in most cases. If a student fails to demonstrate this kind of improvement, he or she might lose their financial aid altogether.
Each school has their own policy regarding satisfactory academic progress in order to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid. If your grade point average, or GPA, drops below what your school considers acceptable, your federal aid may be suspended.
What Happens When Financial Aid Is Suspended?
After financial aid probation, or a warning period, if you still fail to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid per your school’s policy, your funding will be suspended. During suspension, you will not receive any financial aid, and you cannot apply for further aid as long as your status stays the same. Students are required to incur the cost of college on their own while suspended. The student may have to pay back funds on a prorated basis if classes weren’t completed, and once suspended, the debt repayment grace period can start.
Steps to Take After Suspension
If your federal financial aid has been suspended, don’t panic. There are steps you can take as well as an appeal process. Students can submit an appeal for reinstatement of aid, citing the reason for dropping out of eligibility. Many times, there are extenuating circumstances that may have led to a failure to meet satisfactory academic progress, and if you can prove that you are currently in a position to be academically successful, you may have grounds for an appeal. Unexpected events like a death in the family, illness, military duty, and injury may all be examples of circumstances that could be considered for an appeal. Contact your school’s financial aid office for more information on their specific appeal process and policies.
What Happens if I Drop From Full-time Status to Part-time Status?
Many loans are based on full-time student status in order to receive the maximum benefits. If you drop below full-time status, you risk an aid adjustment. This can be a prorating of funds based on how much of the semester you completed at full-time status or a suspension of funds altogether, depending on the type of loan. If a full-time student status is required and not sustained, you may have to pay back funds issued and enter into your repayment grace period.
If Your GPA Drops Too Low
Many schools adopt the Department of Education’s recommendation that these satisfactory levels be around a “C” average, or a GPA of at least 2.0. Usually, you are also required to pass at least 67 percent of your classes. Schools set certain times in which they evaluate academic progress, and if you fall below their standards for receiving financial aid, you will be placed on probation, which is a warning period typically lasting a semester.
During that time, you still receive financial aid and have a chance to raise your grades. Failure to raise them in the allotted time will suspend your financial aid. Check with your school’s financial aid office to determine what they consider satisfactory academic progress for maintaining federal financial funds.
Losing Full-Time Status
If you drop down from a full-time student to a part-time student, this can also affect your federal financial aid. Many student loans granted by the government require that you maintain full-time student status, usually between 12 and 18 credits a semester, in order to receive maximum funds.
If you complete part of the semester at full-time status, your aid will be prorated, and you may be required to refund part of your funding. A general rule of thumb is that you can estimate your prorated funds based on the number of days in the semester that you completed. For example, if you complete 30 days, you will receive about 30 percent of your funding.
Part-time status is generally considered between 6 and 11 credit hours, and your aid eligibility is affected if you drop to this level. If you don’t average more than 11 credits a semester, your financial aid may be suspended.
Dropping below 6 credits is considered less than half-time status. If you drop below this level, your funds may be suspended and your repayment grace period can start.
Failure to Meet the Maximum Time Limit Condition
Satisfactory academic progress is also measured by each school in the time allotted to finish certain degree programs and the number of credits earned per year. Progress is considered by the length of time it should take you to receive your degree. Students who drop to non-degree conditional status or enroll as non-degree risk losing or not being eligible for federal financial aid. Federal regulations also state that a student should complete at least 67 percent of the credits they attempt and demonstrate progress toward their degree or certificate each year.
Each degree program carries its own set of stipulations for minimum credits required as well. Schools stipulate a maximum timeframe in which you can complete your degree or certificate measured by the credits attempted and the number of credits required for their degree completion. Failure to meet these time constraints can result in suspension of financial aid.
Ways to Resolve Financial Aid Probation
If you are on financial aid probation, consider yourself lucky – you haven’t lost your financial aid, you have been given an opportunity to maintain your financial aid, and this probation can serve as a wake up call for you to ensure that you get the most out of your college education as possible. Meeting the academic standards expected of you in order to keep your financial aid isn’t just an arbitrary rule. This standard will help you to deeply develop your mind, hone your expertise, and contribute more vastly to your field once you finish school and launch your career.
You can resolve your financial aid probation by working hard toward your studies. You will need to demonstrate that you are working harder than ever before in order to keep your financial aid. Exhibiting this kind of academic improvement might require a multifaceted effort on your part. In order to resolve your financial probation as quickly and efficiently as possible, consider doing the following:
- Devote a specific time daily to your studies. Instead of just squeezing your studies in on the go, learn to prioritize them. If you set aside a consistent time period for your studies, this will help you to prioritize them naturally as you won’t be able to commit to any other type of activity during that allotted time.
- Find a study group. You might benefit from joining a study group. Study groups not only help students to grow academically together, but they also help you to make friends who are also serious about their studies, which can have a great overall impact on your academic improvement.
- Get a tutor. If you recognize that you are truly struggling in a certain area, or even in all areas, some one-on-one tutoring might shift you back into gear. You can find a tutor through your school or even online.