US Federal Loans - Refund Policy and SAP
Satisfactory academic progress
All students applying for or receiving US Federal Aid (subsidised, unsubsidised and PLUS) must progress satisfactorily towards completion of a chosen academic programme in order to remain eligible to receive Title IV Direct Loans. We also request this from students receiving loans from private lenders or Veterans Aid.
You should ensure you have read the relevant full policy on academic progression, which applies to all students and is available within the Student Regulations
Satisfactory progression to retain Title IV Direct Loans however is entirely separate from the academic requirements to remain on your programme of study and does not guarantee the outcome of your programme.
Duration of study
Students may not receive aid once they have taken more than 150% of the normal duration of the programme to complete their studies. This applies to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Periods of interruption will not count towards this calculation. If a student has attended part of the programme below full time, then this calculation will be based on the Full Time Equivalent of their studies (eg 2 years at 50% will count as 1 year FT study).
Undergraduate students are expected to maintain satisfactory progression through their course of study. If a student's average marks drop below an equivalent of 2.0 GPA (grade C- or Pass) the student will be given a Financial Aid Warning until the next disbursement, by which time their grades will be expected to be at the required level. This information will be collated by the Student Funding Team contacting individual course teams. If the marks do not meet the required standard at the next attempt the student will be suspended for the purpose of financial aid. If the student does not proceed on their course of study and fails at the next attempt then Financial Aid will be suspended. No progress confirmation is required for the first disbursement for a student's programme of study.
Postgraduate students are expected to maintain satisfactory progression through their course of study. Enquires will be made with the academic teams to check they are progressing towards a good pass in the required time frame and to verify attendance before financial aid cheques are due for disbursement. An examination result of Pass is sufficient for disbursements made after results have been published and for the first disbursement of the following year.
No progress confirmation is required for the first disbursement for a student's programme of study. If the student is not progressing, then the student will be given a Financial Aid Warning. If at the time of the next request the student is not progressing then the student's financial aid will be suspended.
Pace of completion
Students are expected to successfully complete 75% of courses attempted. Students failing to meet this requirement will be issued with a Financial Aid Warning.
Students repeating a year or credits need to pass at the next available opportunity in order to regain eligibility for Federal Aid.
Students will be informed by email if they are given a Warning or if financial aid is probated or suspended. Students may appeal for extenuating or unforeseen circumstances.
Financial Aid Warning
Students that fail to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) will firstly be issued with a Financial Aid Warning. This warning will last for one semester, during which time a student can still receive financial aid. Students that fail to regain SAP by the next disbursement will no longer be eligible for Aid, unless they are successful in an appeal (see below).
A student that has their federal aid suspended but continues their course under their own means and subsequently meets SAP standards will be entitled to regain a probationary status and apply for or receive loans.
Students that fail SAP after a period of probation cannot receive aid unless they are successful in a further appeal and develop an academic plan approved by their course team. Students that have exceeded the 150% time limit on their programme cannot receive federal aid and cannot be reinstated at any point.
Satisfactory progression to retain Title IV, HEA programme loans is entirely separate from the academic requirements to remain on your programme and does not guarantee outcome of your programme. The University expects all its students either receiving or not receiving Title IV assistance to remain in good standing at the institution with regard to academic progression. This applies to all students equally.
SAP will be checked with our Registry and/or your academic department before any loan funds are released to you.
Return of US Federal Loans as a result of withdrawal (Title IV Policy)
US federal aid regulations mandate a Return to Title IV Funds (R2T4) calculation when a student receiving Title IV financial aid (US Direct Loans - subsidised and unsubsidised, Parent PLUS loans or Grad PLUS loans) withdraws from the University. The amount of Title IV funds due for return as a result of a withdrawal is calculated independently of the tuition fee liability charged by the University. For details on the general Fees Policy, please visit the Student Regulations page.
If a student never attends, ceases enrolment, or withdraws from all courses in the semester and the student received US federal financial aid, the college must determine if these funds are required to be returned to the US government within 45 days of the date of withdrawal (as per the date on your withdrawal form).
How to withdraw
If a student wished to withdraw then they should firstly speak to their course leader. If withdrawal is deemed to be the best option for the student then they (with the academic) will complete a formal withdrawal form, which will include an agreed last date of attendance. It is this date which will be formally recorded as your last date as an enrolled student (and will therefore be used for the below calculations). This form will trigger all other processes surrounding your withdrawal.
Treatment of Title IV funds in the event of withdrawal or Leave of Absence (LOA)
When a student withdraws, the Student Funding Team will calculate the amount of Title IV program assistance that has been earned up to that point, using a formula provided by the US Department of Education. If applicable, loan funds must be returned in the following order:
- Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans
- Federal Direct Subsidized loans (undergraduates only)
- Federal PLUS and Grad PLUS loans
The date of withdrawal used for R2T4 will normally be the date stated on your withdrawal sheet (see above). For an unapproved LOA, it will be the date the student began the LOA, unless the LOA was requested retrospectively, in which case the date agreed with your academic team may be used. The amount of loan funds earned is calculated as follows:
Number of study days completed / Total number of study days in payment period
Once the student has completed more than 60% of the payment period, all the assistance that the student was scheduled to receive for that period is considered to have been earned. As an example:
- If the student completes 40% of the payment period, he or she has earned 40% of the assistance they were originally scheduled to receive within that loan period
- If the student has completed 60% of the payment period, he or she has earned 100% of the assistance they were scheduled to receive
If the student received more assistance than was earned, the excess funds must be returned to the US Department of Education by the University and/or the student. If the student received (or the University received on the student's behalf) less assistance than the amount earned, the student may be able to receive those additional funds as a post-withdrawal disbursement. The requirements for Title IV program funds when students withdraw are separate from the University's refund policy. Therefore, the student may still owe funds to the University to cover unpaid institutional charges. The University may attempt to collect from the student any Title IV program funds that the University is required to return.
Students who do not attend even initial lectures or seminars are ineligible to receive any Title IV funds and all loan proceeds will be returned to the US Department of Education. The student will be liable for any fees or outstanding balances owed to the college or University.
Unofficial absences and withdrawals
An unofficial withdrawal occurs when a student ceases to attend the University, but the University has not received notice of this from the student. The Student Records Team then advise the Student Funding Team of any unofficial withdrawals of federal loan recipients. For R2T4 purposes, the US Loans Team will use as the date of withdrawal either:
- The last date of attendance as determined by the attendance records
- The last verifiable date of attendance at an academically-related activity
The unofficial withdrawal will then follow the normal procedure for returning Title IV loan funds, as stated above.
Approved leave of absence (intermission)
In order to qualify as an approved LOA for the purposes of federal aid (negating the need for the University to perform a return calculation), the LOA must meet the conditions outlined below and must be requested via the completion of an Intermission Request form:
- The LOA must be approved by the University
- The situation described as the reason for the LOA must be one that leads to a reasonable expectation that the student will return from the LOA within the allowed time frame
- The LOA, together with any additional leaves of absence, must not exceed a total of 180 days in any 12 month period, including days in which university is not is session
- The student must resume training at the same point in the academic programme that he or she began the LOA
- The LOA must be requested in advance, unless unforeseen circumstances prevent the student from doing so (for example, injury or illness)
- The University must inform the student of the possible consequences a withdrawal may have on the student's loan repayment terms, including exhaustion of the student's grace period
A student granted an LOA that meets the criteria stated above is not considered to have withdrawn, and no return calculation is required.
During the LOA, the University will not charge the student any additional institutional charges, the student's financial need will not increase, and therefore, the student will not be eligible for any disbursements of Federal Student Aid. A student who is granted an approved LOA maintains in-school status for Title IV loan repayment purposes.
The start date of the LOA for federal loans purposes is the date that the LOA comes into effect. Where an LOA is requested retrospectively, the date recorded by Student Records may be used.
If a student does not return from an approved LOA, or the LOA does not qualify as an approved LOA, the student will be deemed to have withdrawn for the purposes of federal aid and R2T4 will be required. One possible consequence of not returning from an LOA is that a student's grace period for Title IV program loan repayments might be exhausted.