Circumstances Affecting Eligibility
Financial aid eligibility begins with applying for aid but continues in a review of aid each term you are a student. With any aid source, Student Financial Aid has to determine if you continue to be eligible for the aid and make any adjustments that could be caused by your enrollment.
To be eligible for most aid sources, a student must be matriculated. Matriculation means you are in a degree-seeking program. Admission or continuation in a degree program is key as the intent of most aid is to help a student reach an educational goal that will help them with improved employment. While attending school as a non-degree student may be rewarding, few aid possibilities are directed for students outside of degree programs.
Seeking an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, or professional degree is supported by financial aid. However, some certificate programs, while degree-seeking, are not eligible for aid due to their limited time in school and limits on direct employment improvement. Students in certificate programs should speak with Enrollment Services about their eligibility.
Of course, being suspended from your academic program is a concern. And it also means loss of financial aid because you are no longer considered matriculated. Your academic advisor will also help you understand ruled to be in good academic standing for your program.
Most students receive their award offer prior to the start of the term. It is always helpful to have your aid in place ahead of the term to have aid assistance by the billing due dates. At the same time, you can be eligible for aid even after the term begins. Work with Enrollment Services in cases of later applications or process completion to know deadlines important for you to remain eligible for possible aid sources for the term.
Aid, when awarded, is generally awarded assuming a student will be full-time. There are some academic programs where full-time attendance is rare so aid is awarded as part-time. In all cases, your enrollment in a term has to be assessed when disbursing the funds to your bill. Some aid programs will need to be adjusted based on your enrollment, other aid may be limited only to full-time students, and most all aid requires at least half-time attendance. Part-time students should review their aid and associated adjustments based on enrollment so as to anticipate any changes in funding. Students in co-op programs should also understand how their aid will need to adjust based on in-class v. co-op terms.
Changes in enrollment, even after aid has been disbursed, may still cause aid adjustments. It is always helpful to limit your dropping and adding of classes once the term has begun. When making adjustments, consult Enrollment Services to better understand the affect on your awarded aid.
Terms and Conditions
Many aid programs have terms and conditions beyond matriculation and enrollment. For instance, most grant programs require undergraduate enrollment. Moving into a graduate program can mean the student is no longer eligible for grant aid – even if they have not been awarded a bachelor’s degree.
Similarly, scholarships can limit a student to specific academic programs (usually if awarded by the academic program) or UC-specific college. Talk with any scholarship provider to understand what terms and conditions exist for any scholarship awards you have.
The federal aid programs also want to see that a student is moving effectively toward their degree program. Having a good GPA is not enough. Students must also be progressing by finishing their coursework and achieving their degree within the timeframe expected. Institutional and state aid can also be limited if a student is not meeting academic progress standards.
Eligibility checks are most often reviewed at the time of disbursement. Disbursement is the process of moving your aid from your financial aid offer to your bill. Disbursement of aid begins no sooner than 10 days prior to the start of the term. Assuming you meet all eligibility requirements for the awarded aid will process against your bill.
Students who have later starts in the term for their classes will have their aid appropriately delayed as well.
All aid can be reviewed for eligibility adjustment even after it has disbursed and even if it has been processed as a refund. It is important that you understand how aid can be recalculated and work with Enrollment Services to learn of consequences before you take actions to change your enrollment.
Post-Enrollment Eligibility Loss
If you do not complete your aid process until after the term has ended, federal regulations can severely limit the aid that can be made available. Students should therefore do all they can to complete aid processes prior to the term starting or, when that is not possible, complete the process well within the term so as not to limit aid eligibility post-enrollment. Attending fall and having a block from registering spring due to non-payment is going to stop spring aid processing but also limit aid eligibility for fall if aid was not secured by term’s end. Staff at Enrollment Services can help you with options, but it is key to secure aid prior to or early in each term to avoid problems.