Code of Conduct for Student Financial Aid

Athens State University financial aid professionals are expected to always maintain professional conduct in all aspects of carrying out his or her responsibilities. In doing so, the Athens State University financial aid professional:

  • Ensures that the information he or she provides is accurate, unbiased, and does not reflect any preference arising from actual or potential personal gain.
  • Refrains from taking any action he or she believes is contrary to law, regulation, or the best interests of the students and parents he or she serves.
  • Is objective in making decisions and advising his or her institution regarding relationships with any entity involved in any aspect of student financial aid.
  • Refrains from taking any action for his or her personal benefit.
  • Refrains from soliciting or accepting anything of other than nominal value from any entity (other than an institution of higher education or a governmental entity such as the U.S. Department of Education) involved in the making, holding, consolidating or processing of any student loans, including anything of value (including reimbursement of expenses) for serving on an advisory body or as part of a training activity of or sponsored by any such entity.

Discloses to his or her institution, in such manner as his or her institution may prescribe, any involvement with or interest in any entity involved in any aspect of student financial aid.

Title IV Aid

Title IV funds are awarded to students under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student fails to complete the term, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds he or she was scheduled to receive.

The Title IV Programs included in this regulation are Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, TEACH Grant or Federal Direct Loans. Federal Work-Study funds are not included in this regulation. The federal refund regulations require Athens State University to determine the amount of aid “earned” by each Financial Aid Student receiving title IV aid and withdrawing from all of his or her classes prior to the 60% point in the term. Students completing 60% of the term are considered to have “earned” 100% of the Title IV funds he or she was scheduled to receive during the period.

Students earning a passing grade in at least one course for the term are not subject to the Return to Title IV Funds regulations.

Students are encouraged to check with the Office of Student Financial Services prior to withdrawing or dropping out of the term.

Calculations are performed based on the student’s official withdrawal date or for unofficial withdrawals, the last date of an academically related activity that the student participated in, the mid point of the term, or the date the school determines the student ceased attendance due to illness, accident, grievous personal loss or other circumstances beyond the student’s control. Unofficial withdrawals dates are determined by the faculty, identifying the last date of activity for courses where a student earned an ‘F’, ‘I’, or ‘W’.

The withdrawal date must be determined within 30 days of the end of the term, academic year or student’s program, whichever is earlier.

The institution must return the amount of Title IV funds for which it is responsible no later than 45 days after the date of the determination of the date of the student’s withdrawal. Athens State University offers all degree programs in a credit hour, term based format. As a credit hour, term based degree program, the following formula is used to compute aid to be returned:

(Days Enrolled/ Days in Term) x Title IV Aid Awarded and Disbursed = Aid Earned

Aid Disbursed – Aid Earned = Aid to be Returned (Any break of five days or more is not counted as part of the days in the term.)

Order of Funds to Return

  1. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  2. Federal Direct Subsidized Loans
  3. Federal PLUS Loans
  4. Federal Pell Grant
  5. Federal TEACH Grant
  6. Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant

If a student earned less aid than was disbursed, the institution would be required to return a portion of the funds and the student would be required to return a portion of the funds. Keep in mind that when Title IV funds are returned, the student borrower will owe a debit balance to the institution.

If a student earned more aid than was disbursed to him/her, the institution will owe the student a post-withdrawal disbursement, to be paid within 120 days of the student’s withdrawal.

This regulation does not limit the University’s Refund Policy.

Impact of Withdrawal on Financial Aid

Students earn financial aid based on the length of time they attend classes during each semester. The percentage of aid earned is determined by dividing the number of days a student was enrolled and active in courses by the number of days in the semester. Students must contact the Office of Student Financial Aid prior to initiating a withdrawal action.

Partial Withdrawal
If a student withdraws from one or more courses, but remains enrolled in others, the student is considered to have completed a partial withdrawal. The student will receive aid based on the number of courses (and semester hours) in which the student is still enrolled at the end of the drop/add period (generally the first week of the semester). If a student withdraws from one or more classes after this period but remains enrolled in at least one course, most of their financial aid will not change for the semester. However, withdrawals may affect the student’s Satisfactory Academic Progress and financial aid eligibility for future semesters. Questions about how a partial withdrawal may affect the student’s financial aid eligibility should be directed to the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Determining the Withdrawal Date for Complete Withdrawal
A student who officially withdraws from the University will have a withdrawal date determined by either the date the official withdrawal process began or the date the Admissions Office was officially notified of the student’s intent to withdraw. A student who does not officially withdraw will have an unofficial last day of attendance withdrawal date determined by the last date of any documented academically related activity (for example, attends class or submits work).

A student who does not attend any classes (not even one), as determined by the attendance verification process at the beginning of the semester, is considered not to be enrolled for the semester. This means that the student’s tuition and fee charges and financial aid are canceled for the semester.

Withdrawal Before the 60% Point
A student who withdraws from all courses before the 60% point in the semester, or fails all of the courses in which the student is enrolled during a semester, will have earned only a portion of the aid originally awarded. The financial aid award will therefore be prorated according to the percentage of the semester completed. This process is called “Return of Title IV Funds.”

The Office of Student Financial Aid calculates the “Return of Title IV Funds” after receiving notification of a student’s withdrawal. The Office of Student Financial Aid must complete this process within 45 days of the date of a student’s withdrawal. Every student must be aware that when the University is required to return unearned funds to the Department of Education, the student’s tuition and fees may no longer be paid in full, and the student may have a balance due to the University. (However, if a student’s loan disbursement has been reduced, that portion will be returned to the Department of Education which will then reduce the student’s overall loan indebtedness. The student will not be responsible for paying back the portion of the loan that was returned to the Department of Education.)

It is the student’s responsibility to pay any outstanding balance owed to the University. A hold will be placed on the student’s account and they will not be allowed to register for classes until the balance is paid.

Example: A student is registered for 9 credits during the spring semester. The student’s original award was a Federal Pell Grant for $2082. The student stopped attending classes 3/11/13, completing 25 out of 105 days in the semester. The student earned 23.80% of the Pell Grant award, so University. An email notification is then sent to the student concerning the Return of Funds calculation and the balance due.

These regulations apply to students receiving assistance through the Pell Grant, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, Subsidized Stafford Loan, Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, and the Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students Programs.

Withdrawal After the 60% Point
If a student withdraws from all courses after the 60% point in the semester, the student has earned 100% of the aid awarded, just as if the student had completed the semester. However, withdrawal at this point could still affect future financial aid eligibility.

Repeated Courses

Federal Regulations limit the number of times a student may repeat a course and receive financial aid for that course.

  • A student may receive aid when repeating a course that was previously failed (received a 0.0), regardless of the number of times the course was attempted and failed.
  • A student may receive aid (if electing to repeat a previously passed course) one additional time.
  • Once a student has completed any course twice with a passing grade, he/she is no longer eligible to receive aid for that course.
  • If a student chooses to retake a course, and that course is not eligible for aid, the Office of Financial Aid will recalculate the student’s aid to exclude the credits for the repeated course from eligibility.
  • This rule applies whether or not the student received aid for earlier enrollments in the course.
Satisfactory Academic Progress

All undergraduate and graduate students must comply with the Federal Requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress as outlined below:

  1. You must maintain a cumulative 2.00 GPA.
  2. You must successfully complete 67% of all coursework attempted. All W’s, I’s, F’s, repeated coursework and audited coursework count as unsuccessful completions. See the Impact of Withdrawal on Financial Aid page for additional details.
  3. You must complete your first bachelor’s degree requirements within 150% of the usual time frame for degree completion. Athens State University generally requires 124 semester hours to earn a first undergraduate degree.
    • If you are seeking a second degree, you must complete the requirements within 130% of the time frame for the degree. An advisor’s plan of study is required to be on file in Financial Aid for all students pursuing an additional degree. You must follow this plan. Therefore, if the plan of study calls for an additional 66 hours of study, financial aid will be available for no more than 86 semester hours of credit beyond the first degree. The additional undergraduate degree must be one in which Athens State University will award an additional degree. This may not be an additional major or minor, but must be for a new degree program. For example, if you have a BS degree, the additional degree must be for a BA or BSED to be eligible for additional financial aid. You must maintain a 2.0 on all course work and complete 67% of all coursework attempted. If you do not follow your degree plan or you exceed 130% of the second degree, financial aid will be placed on MAX . No further aid will be available.
    • If you are seeking a state required teaching certification or certificate program you must complete the requirements within 130% of the time frame for the certification. An advisor’s plan of study is required to be on file in Financial Aid for all students pursuing course work toward a certification. You must follow this plan. Therefore, if the plan of study calls for an additional 24 hours of study, financial aid will be available for no more than 31 hours of credit. You must maintain a 2.0 on all course work and must complete at least 67% of all courses attempted. If you do not follow your degree plan or you exceed 130% of the second degree, your financial aid will be placed on MAX. No further aid will be available.

If at the end of a semester of enrollment, your completion rate is lower than 67% and/or your cumulative GPA falls below 2.00, your status will be WARNING. (See information below regarding WARNING status.) If at the end of your WARNING semester you fail to regain compliance with SAP, your status will be SUSPENDED. (See information below regarding how to appeal a SUSPENDED status.)

Student Appeals/Reinstatement Process
Please note: The process detailed below is for appeals related to the suspension and reinstatement of financial aid. Students who have also been suspended from the University for poor academic performance must file a separateappeal concerning the University suspension. Additional information on this process can be found in the Standards of Academic Performance policy.

Students on SUSPENDED status may submit an appeal for aid reinstatement due to extenuating circumstances. Student appeals must include:

  • A completed Federal Aid Suspension Appeal Form.
  • A typed explanation of:
    • Unusual or mitigating circumstances that you believe prevented or hindered you in making satisfactory academic progress; AND
    • What has changed and/or corrective actions and steps being taken to prevent future problems.
  • Supporting documentation relevant to the circumstances and your request for reinstatement of aid (e.g., doctor’s statements, hospital discharge records, death certificate, etc.).
  • A complete updated plan of study provided by your academic advisor.
  • RECOMMENDED: At least one letter of support from someone (not a family member) who can attest to the extenuating circumstances (e.g., medical doctor, clergy, professional, etc.).

The appeal documentation must be provided to the Office of Student Financial Aid no later than 30 days prior to the tuition payment deadline for the upcoming semester. Failure to provide all documentation within the prescribed dates will result in a delayed determination.

Once the Financial Aid Office has made a decision on your appeal, you will be notified via your Athens State University email account. If you have an approved appeal, your status will be PROBATION. Many times, conditions are required. Generally, PROBATION continues until you have regained SAP, provided you have no W’s, I’s or F’s in the enrollment periods of the probation. Failure to follow all conditions related to your probationary status will result in financial aid being terminated.

You may appeal the decision of the Financial Aid Office, with an additional typewritten letter, to the Financial Aid Committee. The Committee will review the appeal and notify the student via Athens State University email account. The committee reviews appeals once per term, near the beginning of the term. Decisions of the committee are final.

If your appeal is denied or you decide not to appeal, you must complete the hours necessary and achieve the grades required to return to compliance with SAP.

Special Note to students on MAX status: You may wish to discuss with your advisor the option of a first degree in liberal studies with the hours on your transcript.

Low Completion Ratio or Failure to Achieve 2.0 Athens State University and Overall GPA
Warning Status – The first time you fall short of meeting the required completion ratio or GPA(s), your status isWARNING. You remain eligible to receive financial aid while in WARNING status. A WARNING status is for one semester only.

  1. SUSPENDED Status – After attending one semester on WARNING status, if you do not meet the required completion ratio or required GPA(s), your status becomes SUSPENDED status. You are no longer eligible to receive any financial aid until the required standards are met. You must successfully appeal to regain eligibility.
  2. MAX Status – If you receive a MAX status, you are no longer eligible for financial aid.
  3. Probation Status – After being placed on a SUSPENDED status, AND you have successfully appealed and financial aid has been reinstated, the student is eligible to receive financial aid. This status is only for one term and quite often will carry conditions and/or stipulations for continued eligibility.
Student Eligibility for Aid Related to Conviction for Possessing or Selling Illegal Drugs

Students convicted of a federal or state offense of selling or possessing illegal drugs that occurred while a period of enrollment for which they were receiving federal Title IV student aid are subject to loss of eligibility for Title IV aid. The period of ineligibility, which begins on the day the student was convicted and continues for one year, two years, or indefinitely depending upon the nature of the drug-related offense and the number of convictions and federal regulations.

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when he successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program. Further drug convictions will make him ineligible again. Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain aid only after successfully completing a qualified rehabilitation program or if a conviction is reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record so that fewer than two convictions for sale or three convictions for possession remain on the record. In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility. It is the student’s responsibility to certify successful completion of a rehabilitation program.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the student to:

  1. Review and consider all information about a school’s program BEFORE enrolling.
  2. Pay special attention to the application for student financial aid, complete it accurately, and submit it on time to the right place. Errors can delay or prevent receiving aid.
  3. Know all the deadlines for applying or reapplying for aid and meet them.
  4. Provide all documentation, corrections, and/or new information requested by either the Student Financial Aid or the agency to which the application was submitted.
  5. Notify the university of any information that has changed since application was made for financial aid.
  6. Read, understand and keep copies of all forms requiring signature.
  7. Repay any student loans he/she has. When a student signs a promissory note, he/she is agreeing to repay the loan.
  8. Attend an entrance and exit interview at the university if you have a Federal Direct Student Loan.
  9. Notify the university of any change in name, address, or attendance status. If a student has a loan, the student must also notify the lender of any changes.
  10. Satisfactorily perform the work agreed upon, if employed for a federal work-study job.
  11. Understand the university’s refund policy as outlined in this publication.

The student has the right to ask a university:

  1. The names of the university’s accrediting and licensing organizations.
  2. A copy of the documents describing the institution’s accreditation or licensing.
  3. About its programs, its instructional, laboratory, and other physical facilities, and its faculty.
  4. What the cost of attending is, and what its policy is on refunds to students who drop out.
  5. What financial assistance is available, including information on all Federal, state, local, private and institutional financial aid programs.
  6. Who its financial aid personnel are, where they’re located, and how to contact them for information.
  7. What the procedures and deadlines are for submitting applications for each available financial aid program.
  8. How it selects financial aid recipients.
  9. How it determines financial need, including cost of education and resources available.
  10. How much of one’s need, as determined by the university, had been met.
  11. How and when one receives financial aid.
  12. To explain each type and amount of assistance in the financial aid package.
  13. What the interest rate is on any student loan, the total amount to be repaid, when length of time for repayment and when
  14. Repayment must start, and what cancellation or deferment provisions apply.
  15. If offered a federal work-study job – what kind of job it is, what hours are to be worked, what the duties will be, what the rate of pay will be, and how and when wages will be paid.
  16. To reconsider an aid package, if the student believes a mistake has been made, or if enrollment or financial circumstances have changed.
  17. How the university determines whether a student is making satisfactory progress, and outcomes of unsatisfactory progress.
  18. What special facilities and services are available to persons with disabilities.
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