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 the suspension of federal aid. If after one term of warning status the student still has not corrected the SAP deficiencies, a suspension letter will be mailed informing the student that his/her financial aid has been suspended.

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 MinimumDivisor 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 probation 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 three (3) 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 suspension 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 suspended 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 probation 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 three (3) 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 evaluated 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 appropriate 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
    5. 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.
    6. If an appeal is granted, the student will be placed on probation status and will have specific requirements to meet in order to maintain federal aid eligibility.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.

    Return of Title IV (R2T4) and Withdraw Policy

    R2T4 Policy

    Federal regulations require Title IV financial aid funds to be awarded under the assumption that a student will attend the classes the student has registered for at Rhodes State College, for the entire period in which federal student aid is awarded. When a student withdraws from a class or classes for any reason, including medical reasons, he/she may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds that he/she was originally scheduled to receive.

    Students begin “earning” their federal financial aid the first day of their class. Students who do not begin attendance in a class or classes may be required to repay all financial aid disbursed for the term. When a student drops classes, audits classes, fails all classes, or a combination of all three, a Return of Title IV (R2T4) calculation will be completed. The R2T4 process calculates how much a student has earned while attending their class/classes. 

    When completing the R2T4 calculation we must use the student’s date of withdraw. To determine the date of a student’s withdraw and the percentage of aid earned, Rhodes State College will use:

    • the date of the official withdraw given to the Registrar’s Office,
    • the date a student dropped his/her classes using his/her STARS Online account, or
    • the last date of attendance in a class or classes a student was registered for.


    Drop or Withdraws Before Disbursement

    If a calculation is ran before disbursement (generally during the 6th week of courses), a student may be eligible for a post-withdraw disbursement.

    A post-withdrawal disbursement awards financial aid to students who have dropped their classes before the disbursement date (generally the 6th week of the term) and have not yet received a financial aid disbursement.  The student can receive financial aid that they have earned but not yet received.  A letter is mailed out to the student informing him/her of the possible disbursement. The student must then submit the bottom portion of the letter with their written acceptance of the post-withdraw disbursement. This authorization must be received within 15 business days of the date on the letter.

    Drop or Withdraws After Disbursement

    If the calculation is ran after disbursement and the results show that the student did not attend or complete 60% of the term, whatever the student has not earned, must be returned and will be removed from the student’s account. Any award money students have to return is considered a federal overpayment.

    In accordance with federal regulations, returned Title IV Funds are allocated in the following order:

    1. Direct Unsubsidized Loans
    2. Direct Subsidized Loans
    3. Direct PLUS Loans (Parent)
    4. Federal Pell Grants
    5. Federal SEOG
    6. Other Federal Sources of aid
    7. Other State, Private and Institutional Aid.

    Overpayment

    Any amount of unearned grant funds that the student must return is called an overpayment. The maximum amount of a grant overpayment the student must repay is half the grant funds that were received or scheduled to receive. The student does not have to repay a grant overpayment if the original amount of the overpayment is $50 or less. The student will be notified of any grant overpayment within 30 days of the date the school determined the student withdrew.

    The student will receive a letter explaining the reason for the removal of the federal funds as well as an official repayment letter from the Rhodes State College Business Office. The student is required to pay any returned federal funds to Rhodes State College or the U.S. Department of Education and must make payment arrangements within 45 days of the date of the notification letter of overpayment status, or risk losing eligibility for future federal financial assistance. In addition, students may owe Rhodes State College money for tuition and fees that was originally covered by the returned financial aid funds.

    If the calculation shows the student has attended past the 60% of the term, they have earned 100% of their federal financial aid and no funds will be returned.

    Example 1: John is a student, enrolled in the fall term for 12 credit hours in Nursing at Rhodes State College. His classes begin August 23rd and end on December 8th (108 days in the term). John’s total costs for the term are $2434.10 (tuition, fees, and books) and he is awarded $3335.00 in federal aid (Federal Pell Grant and Federal SEOG). So John would receive $900.90 in excess federal aid during the 6th week of class.

    However, John officially withdraws from his classes online on September 12th (attending 21 days) because of a family emergency. John withdrew from his classes before disbursement therefore, the Financial Aid Office will run a Return of Title IV calculation and John may be eligible for a post-withdraw disbursement.

    Per the calculation, John attended 19% (21 days ÷ 108 days = 19%) of the term and earned $633.65 of his federal student aid (19% X $3335.00 = $633.65). John will be notified of this possible post-withdraw disbursement via a letter through the US Postal Service. He will need to return his authorization statement within 15 days of the date on the post-withdraw letter to Rhodes State College to be awarded the post-withdraw funds.

    Example 2: Eric is a student who is enrolled for 6 credit hours in Dental Hygiene at Rhodes State College. His classes began on May 10th and ends on July 19th (71 days in the term). Eric’s total costs for the term are $979.00 (tuition, fees, and books) and he is awarded $2343.00 in federal aid (Direct Subsidized Loan and Pell Grant). Eric receives $1364.00 in excess financial aid during the 6th week of class.

    Eric contacts the Registrar’s Office and withdraws from his classes on June 16th (the 38th day of classes). The Financial Aid Office is given his withdraw record and uses June 16th as his last date of attendance. After running the Return of Title IV calculation it is determined that Eric has earned 53.5% or $1253.51 ($2343.00 X .535 = $1253.51), and will need to return 46.5% or $1089.49 of his Federal Subsidized Loan ($2343.00 - $1253.51 = $1089.49).

    Example 3: Savannah is a student who is enrolled for 9 credit hours in Digital Media at Rhodes State College. Her classes begin on August 23rd and end on December 8th (108 days in the term). Savannah’s total costs for the term are $1607.34 (tuition, fees, and books) and she is awarded $2220.00 in federal aid (Federal Pell Grant). Savannah received $612.66 in excess federal aid during the 6th week of class.

    Savannah stops attending all her classes and does not notify the Registrar’s Office of her withdraw. At the end of the semester Savannah’s professors assign all 'E' grades.

    Savannah is considered an unofficial withdraw as she did not notify the college she was withdrawing. Using her last date of attendance, per the Attendance Tracking (instructors’ reporting) on STARS Online, Savannah stopped attending her classes on October 27th. This means we will use October 27th as her last date of attendance and complete a Return of Title IV calculation.

    Savannah attended 66 days of the fall term or 66 days ÷ 108 days = 61%. Per the calculation, Savannah attended past 60% of the term and has earned 100% of her federal aid.

    Withdrawn for Non-Attendance Policy

    Per federal law (34 C.F.R 668.21 ©) Rhodes State College must monitor enrollment activity for students who receive Title IV funding. Rhodes State College instructors are mandated to report attendance for their classes before the 15th day of class to verify the students are attending the classes they have scheduled within the term.

    Once the students who are withdrawn for non-attendance are determined by the Rhodes State College Records Department (usually during the 6th week of the term), a report of students who are withdrawn for non-attendance, within that term, is emailed to the financial aid advisor in charge of Pell.

    If a student was found to be withdrawn for non-attendance, we will adjust their financial aid hours to reflect the hours the student was on the 15th day of classes and re-calculate their federal aid awards.  For example, a Federal Pell Grant recipient student was registered for 12 credit hours at the beginning of the term and was awarded $1885.00 in Pell Grant funds. However, the student never attends a 4 credit hour course, which causes the student to be withdrawn for non-attendance in that 4 credit hour course. Based on this information, the student’s 15th day hours would be 8 (instead of 12) and will reduce his Federal Pell Grant from $1885.00 to $943.00

    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