Return of Federal (Title IV) Financial Aid
As a federal (Title IV) financial aid recipient, it is important to understand that there is a unique refund schedule for your financial aid that differs from the university refund schedule. Students who completely withdraw from classes (through successive dropping of courses until they are no longer registered or in a complete withdrawal from all courses at once) are subject to the Return of Title IV refund calculation as dictated by federal regulations.
Students who withdraw from all of their classes in a term may only keep the federal aid earned up to the point of withdrawal. Federal Title IV funds that were disbursed in excess of the earned amount must be returned.
If the calculation results in an amount to be returned to be greater than the amount that remains used on the student bill at the time of the calculation, UC will return the amount to the federal programs on behalf of the student, and the student must repay the funds to UC. Money owed to UC can restrict future registration until the balance is zero.
The university tuition refund schedule differs from the federal aid return of funds calculation. Withdrawal from classes may limit aid eligibility but may not adjust tuition charges.
Students who partially withdraw from courses for the term are not subject to a return of their federal aid but should be aware of aid recalculation implications.
Determination of Federal Aid Earned
Earned aid is determined based on the number of calendar days the student attended classes (i.e., the number of days in the term prior to the date of withdrawal) divided by the total number of calendar days in the term. The result is a percentage of federal aid funds that the student is entitled to keep. For example, a student who attends 20% of the term has earned approximately 20% of the total aid value that was disbursed to their bill.
Determination of Date of Withdrawal
Whether your withdrawal activity happens at once (a drop of all classes) or over a period of time (through successive dropping of classes until all have been dropped), a student who has a complete withdrawal from all coursework for a term is evaluated for return of aid based on a date of withdrawal. The date used will be the date associated with the withdrawal from your final course of the term or the last date of official withdrawal, whichever is later.
A student who takes specific action to drop or withdraw from a course for a term is an "official withdrawal." In these cases, UC will use the date of the drop or withdrawal.
A student who fails to officially withdraw or drop a course but ceases attendance in his or her coursework will be considered an "unofficial withdrawal" and assigned a UW for a final grade. UC will then use the midpoint of the term as the student's date of withdrawal.
It is important to note that a UW grade carries the same impact on a student's GPA as an F grade. It is in the student's best interest academically to officially drop or withdraw from classes rather than simply cease enrollment.
Return of Unearned Federal Aid
The total federal aid disbursed at the point of withdrawal less the earned amount constitutes the unearned aid that must be returned to the federal government within 45 days of the date it has been determined the student has withdrawn.
The university will allocate the return of unearned aid in the following order:
- Federal Unsubsidized Loan
- Federal Subsidized Loan
- Federal Perkins Loan
- Federal Parent or Graduate PLUS Loan
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal SEOG
- TEACH Grant
The total amount of aid returned may result in the student owing UC if the remaining aid does not cover charges for that same period of enrollment. For example, if a student lives in on-campus housing or received financial aid refunds prior to withdrawing from classes, a balance may be owed to UC even if the course withdrawals all occurred in the 100% tuition refund period. If a balance due is created, a service block will prevent future registration until it is paid.
Once the Office of the Bursar has completed the return of Title IV calculation, they will send the student written notice by mail detailing their revised eligibility.
Disbursements after Withdrawal
Normally a student’s Federal Title IV aid has posted while the student is still enrolled. However, in some cases, students may qualify for a disbursement of federal Title IV aid after completing the withdrawal process if the amount of aid they received was less than the amount they earned based on the return of Title IV calculation. This process is known as a “post-withdrawal disbursement.” If a student is determined to be eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement of either federal grants or federal loans, the Office of the Bursar will determine your eligibility for those funds within 30 days and notify you in writing of the available aid.
Students eligible for grant funds via post-withdrawal disbursement will automatically have those grant funds applied to their bill without needing to take any additional actions. Grant funds must be disbursed to your account within 45 days of your withdrawal, and you must be offered any available loan funds within 30 days. Students who are eligible for a post-withdrawal loan disbursement will have to notify UC in writing that they wish to receive the loans. Instructions for this written notification will be included in the letter sent by the Office of the Bursar. You must respond within 14 days to receive the loan funds as the university must meet certain federal requirements to secure those funds for you.
Students eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement will not necessarily receive those funds as a UC refund check. UC will use the post-withdrawal disbursement to cover any charges on the bill related to tuition, housing, or other institutional charges prior to issuing funds to the student. Any credit balance that may exist after the account is paid must be disbursed to you within 14 days.
Withdrawing from Classes
Students who have federal aid and who completely withdraw from classes (at once or over the course of the term) are strongly advised to speak with staff at One Stop Student Services (220 University Pavilion) or a branch campus financial aid unit. Just as you would speak with your college advisor about the academic ramifications of such actions, you should understand the financial consequences that will occur at (or soon following) the end of the term.
One Stop staff can further explain federal and university policies as well as estimate unearned aid amounts. One Stop staff can also highlight the Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress that may result in future aid eligibility concerns.