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.
SAP is checked prior to each disbursement, but also at the end of each year, prior to funding applications for the new academic year. This includes a check with academics, to confirm attendance and a check of marks/grades.
Duration of study (Quantitative Requirements)
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).
To appeal the financial aid suspension, a student must, within 14 calendar days of notification, submit to the Finance Department a signed and dated email of appeal explaining why he or she shouldn't have Financial Aid suspended. A student may appeal due to an emergency condition (e.g., health, family, catastrophe, etc.) and state what has changed in their situation that will allow them to meet Satisfactory Progress. Documentation verifying the situation may be requested. The appeal will then be considered and a decision rendered, which is relayed to the student within two weeks of the student's appeal. Please send your appeal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial Aid probation
If a student's appeal against suspension is successful then the student's good standing will be placed on probation for the payment period. A student that has their Federal Aid suspended but continues the course under their own means and subsequently meets Satisfactory Academic Progress (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 supervisor. Students that have exceeded the 150% time limit on their programme cannot receive Federal Aid and cannot be reinstated at any point.
Attainment standards (Qualitative Requirements)
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.
|Change to enrolment||Does it count towards SAP measurement?|
|Period of approved intermission||No, it does not count towards SAP measurement.|
|Change of course (internal transfer)||If elements of the old course contribute towards the new course, then credit hours will be included in the quantitative standard. When all elements of the new course are unrelated to the old course, then credit hours will not be included in the quantitative standard.|
|Withdrawal or non-completion of a course and later re-enrolment||If a student withdraws in the middle of the academic year, any credit hours completed will be counted in the quantitative standard.|
|Repetition or reassessment due to academic failure||Yes, any credit hours already completed will be counted in the quantitative standard.|
|Transfer in Falmouth||Yes, any credit hours already completed before transferring will be counted in the quantitative standard.|
Return of US Federal Loans as a result of withdrawal (Title IV Policy)
If a student who receives Title IV funding withdraws, interrupts ('intermission') for more than 180 days or drops below half time attendance, Falmouth University will follow the requirements of returning funds laid down by the US Dept of Education, which is applied alongside the university withdrawal and refund policy. The Finance Office will use the worksheets as provided by the US Department of Education to determine how much of the loan may be retained and how much must be returned. Full details on this can be found in the document below.
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.
If a student who drops below half-time is not a withdrawal; therefore there is no need to perform an R2T4 calculation. If a student goes below half-time before the disbursement/starting of the program, they should be qualified for the Title IV funds.
Students must inform the Finance Department of any changes as soon as possible, and only in exceptional circumstances will post-withdrawal disbursements be considered. Such payments will need to be in alignment with USDE policy.