Financial Aid Policies

Satisfactory of Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal regulations require that Rhodes State College develop and enforce standards of academic progress prior to awarding students any federal financial assistance (HEA Sec. 484(c) [34 CFR 668.16(e), 668.32(f), 68.34]). A SAP review process evaluates whether a student is “making measurable progress toward completion of their course of study and eligible to continue receiving federal assistance.” All credit hours attempted, from a student’s first term of enrollment, at Rhodes State College must be included in the SAP review process, whether or not financial aid was utilized.

If a student is not in compliance with the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards, they are ineligible to receive the following:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Direct Stafford Loans
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loan
  • Federal Work-Study
  • Student Worker Wages

A student may still receive various scholarships, if he/she meets the eligibility and requirements for such scholarship awards.

Notification of Student Academic Progress

A student who fails to maintain satisfactory academic progress during a term will receive a warning status letter. The letter informs the students that failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress in any subsequent term will result in cancellation of federal aid. If after one term of warning status the student still has not corrected the SAP deficiencies, a cancellation letter will be mailed informing the student that his/her financial aid has been cancelled.

Auditing

Prior to the 15th day of the term, audited hours will not receive federal financial aid. After the 15th day of the term students who change to an audit will be subject to a return of Title IV Funds. Auditing a course(s) is not considered successful completion of the course(s)and will affect a student’s financial aid status.

Criteria for Determining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

The criteria used in determining student academic progress at Rhodes State College include:

  1. Grade Point Average (GPA)
  2. Credit Hours Attempted/Completed
  3. Maximum Time/Credit Hours for Program Completion

A. Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement

A student must maintain a minimum GPA based on the number of credit hours attempted. The minimum required GPA is:

Cumulative GPA Minimum Divisor Hours (Attempted Hours) Cumulative GPA
0-29 1.5
30-59 1.75
60+ 2.00

The GPA will be checked after each term. A student will be placed on warning status when he/she drops below the required Minimum Cumulative GPA hours. Failure to achieve Minimum Cumulative GPA in the subsequent term will result in the cancellation of all federal financial aid.

A.1.Options for Reinstatement of Financial Aid – GPA:

1. Submit a written appeal to the Office of Financial Aid if the failure to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress was due to extenuating circumstances. If an appeal is granted, the student’s eligibility for federal aid will be restored, but the student will be placed on conditional status until specific requirements of the approved appeal are met. If the appeal is denied, the student may submit additional written documentation or follow option 2 or 3.

- OR -

2. Complete a minimum of four (4) credit hours required within the academic major, with a 2.0 term GPA, without the use of Federal financial aid funds and maintain an accumulative GPA that meets the College’s GPA requirement. Students would then need to submit a letter to the Office of Financial Aid requesting a SAP review to determine if aid will or will not be restored. It may be necessary for some students to take more than four credit hours to reach the required financial aid minimum GPA.

- OR -

3. Make up any deficient hours and/or bring up college GPA to a 2.0 without the use of Federal financial aid funds. Once completed, submit written notification to the Office of Financial Aid, requesting a SAP review to determine if aid will or will not be restored.

B. Credit Hours Attempted/Completed

Students must complete 67% of all credit hours attempted each term. Students will be placed on warning status the first term in which their cumulative completion rate drops below 67%. Failure to raise the completion rate in the subsequent term will result in the cancellation of all federal financial aid. Successful completion is defined as receiving a letter grade “D” or higher or an “S”. For example, if a student registers for 12 credit hours in the Fall term and passes only 7 hours, the student would be placed on warning status for the Spring term. The student must then achieve the 67% completion rate for the Spring term. If the student does not complete at least 67% of registered credit hours, the federal financial aid will be canceled for the next term.

B.1. Options for Reinstatement of Financial Aid - Credit Hours

Attempted/Completed

1. Submit a written appeal to the Office of Financial Aid if the failure to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress was due to extenuating circumstances. If an appeal is granted, the student’s eligibility for federal aid will be restored, but the student will be placed on conditional status until specific requirements of the approved appeal are met. If the appeal is denied, the student may submit additional written documentation or follow option 2 or 3.

- OR -

2. Complete a minimum of four (4) credit hours required within the academic major, with a 2.0 term GPA, without the use of Federal financial aid funds and maintain an accumulative GPA that meets the College’s GPA requirement. Students would then need to submit a letter to the Office of Financial Aid requesting a SAP review to determine if aid will or will not be restored.

- OR -

3. Make up any deficient hours and/or bring up college GPA to a 2.0 without the use of Federal financial aid funds. Once completed, submit written notification to the Office of Financial Aid, requesting a SAP review to determine if aid will or will not be restored.

C. Maximum Time/Credit Hours for Program Completion

Students must complete the degree requirements within 150% of the required hours for their degree program. Students lose eligibility for future awards after the term in which they exceed the maximum hours. To determine the maximum allowable hours for a specific program of study (major) refer to the Rhodes State College Catalog, note the total hours required for the program and multiply that figure by 1.5. All hours attempted are considered when determining financial aid eligibility, whether or not financial aid was received. Regardless of where the hours were attempted, Rhodes State College Satisfactory Academic Progress policy will apply. These hours include developmental courses, repeated courses, transfer courses and courses from which a student withdraws. Students transferring to Rhodes State will have their eligibility determined after all transfer credits have been applied to their academic record.

C1. Options for Reinstatement of Financial Aid - Maximum Time/Credit Hours for Completion

1. Submit a written appeal to the Office of Financial Aid to initiate an appeal for an extension beyond the maximum time/ credit hours with evidence of extenuating circumstances, a one-time only major change, or pursuit of a second Associate Degree. Students who have been granted an appeal for maximum time/credit hours for program completion cannot take additional classes that are not listed on their educational plan. This appeal will be evalated each term to make sure students have successfully completed those classes on the educational plan. If a course needs to be repeated, financial aid will not be available. Students who have already completed an Hours Appeal and completed one associate degree can appeal for a second degree. The classes from the first degree, which do not apply to the second degree, will be subtracted from the attempted hours. This also includes transfer credits that would apply to the second degree. Students seeking a third associate degree are not eligible for federal financial aid.

D. General Appeals Procedures for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

  1. A student may appeal satisfactory academic progress two (2) times while enrolled.
  2. A student must submit a complete written appeal letter to the Office of Financial Aid with supporting documents relevant to circumstances surrounding events which lead to the situation. Additionally, an Educational Planning Form must be created with an academic or faculty advisor. The Educational Planning Form must prove that, if followed, the student is able to meet SAP standards by the end of the subsequent term.
  3. The unusual or extraordinary circumstances listed below will be reviewed as possible causes which may have prevented the student from making satisfactory academic progress with appropropriate documentation::
    1. Family difficulties, such as divorce or illness;
    2. Interpersonal problems with friends, roommates, significant others;
    3. Difficulty balancing work, athletics, family responsibilities, etc, and school; and
    4. financial difficulties
  4. If the appeal the student must address what specific changes have occurred in his/her situation that will allow the student to achieve satisfactory academic progress at the next end-of-term evaluation.
  5. If an appeal is granted, the student will be placed on conditional status and will have specific requirements to meet in order to maintain federal aid eligibility.
  6. Successful completion of course work is defined as a letter grade. Acceptable grades for awarding federal financial aid are listed in the catalog under Registration in the student handbook. Unacceptable grades include: W, WP, WF,I, E, R (Audit) or U.
  7. The GPA requirement for SAP is determined at the end of each term. Grade changes within a term will not change your SAP status, but will determine your status for the next term of attendance.

Withdrawals and Return of Federal Financial Aid

As part of the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, Congress passed provisions governing what must happen to federal financial assistance if students completely withdraw from school in any term. The law assumes that students “earn” federal financial aid award directly in proportion to the number of days of the term attended. For example, if a student completes 30% of the term, he/she earns 30% of the assistance he/she was originally scheduled to receive. This means that 70% of the scheduled awards remain unearned and must be returned to the federal government. Once a student completes more than 60% of the term, he/she can be said to have earned all (100%) of the assistance. If he/she withdraws from the College (either officially or unofficially) or ceases attendance in all courses before completing 60% of the term, he/she may have to repay any unearned federal monies that were already disbursed. Any award money students have to return is considered a federal overpayment. They must either repay that amount in full or make satisfactory arrangements with either the College or the Department of Education to repay the amount. Students must complete these arrangements within 45 days of the date of the College’s notification of overpayment status or risk losing eligibility for further federal financial assistance. In addition, students may owe the College money for tuition that was originally covered by financial aid funds.

Repeating Courses

Department of Education will allow for repeating any coursework previously taken in the program as long as it is not a result of:

  • More than one repetition of a previously passed course
  • Any repetition of a previously passed course due to the student failing other coursework