Academic Requirements for Receiving Financial Aid

For a printable version view the Financial Aid Academic Requirements (PDF).

Failure to abide by these regulations will adversely affect the student's federal financial aid eligibility.

  • In order to receive federal financial aid, the student must be degree-seeking (officially declare a major).
  • The student cannot receive federal aid for any courses not required in their declared major. Payment for courses taken outside the major will be the responsibility of the student. The only exception to this regulation is that students may take any necessary remedial courses. Additionally, electives required by the declared major still qualify for federal aid as long as they do not exceed the number of elective hours required by that major. If you have questions about whether or not a course qualifies, it is advised that you would meet with an advisor before enrolling in the course.
  • The student must stay enrolled and attending at least 60% of the term or they will be required to return the unearned portion of federal financial aid (See Return of Title IV regulations in the college Catalog).
  • The student must keep the required cumulative grade point average of 1.75 as a freshman (earned 1 thru 29 semester hours) or a 2.00 as a sophomore (earned 30 or more semester hours).
  • The student must have passing grades (D or above in at least 67% of attempted hours each term) (see Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy in the college Catalog).
  • The student may only repeat a course for which they have received a passing grade (D or above) ONE TIME.
  • The student can retake a failed or withdrawn course until a passing grade (D or above) is obtained. Once a grade of D or above is obtained, financial aid will not pay for further retakes even if their academic program requires a higher grade for admissions.
  • The student must complete their degree within 150% of the required number of hours for the declared major. For example, if a program requires 60 semester hours, the student can receive financial aid for up to 90 semester hours (see Maximum Time Frame regulations in the college Catalog).
  • All semester/quarter credit hours attempted, including transfer hours, count toward the number of hours that are counted toward the 150% Maximum Time Frame regulation.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

Federal regulations require that all student financial aid recipients must be degree or certificate seeking and must make Satisfactory Academic Progress toward achieving a certificate or degree within the required standards as set forth by the U.S. Department of Education. The standards apply to all semesters regardless of whether or not the student received financial aid for that semester.

The Satisfactory Academic Progress of each Southern State student is measured at the end of each semester. The student SAP is measured by three components as listed below:

  • Qualitative – Cumulative grade point average
    • A student with between 1 and 29 earned semester hours must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least a 1.75 or above.
    • A student who has earned 30 and above semester hours will be considered a sophomore and must maintain a 2.0 or higher grade point average.
    • Note: Graduation in certain programs require a minimum of 2.0 or higher, see individual academic programs for the required grade point average requirements.
  • Pace – Students must successfully complete a minimum of 67% of total attempted hours each term. Pace is calculated as cumulative successful hours/cumulative hours attempted. NOTE: Satisfactory grades consist of A, B, C, D, and S. Unsatisfactory grades are F, W, WI, N, U, and Y or any other grade that does not result in semester hour completion.
  • Cumulative Maximum Time Frame – The maximum amount of semester hours attempted toward obtaining the student's degree is known as Maximum Time Frame. The student must complete all course requirements within 150% of the required number of semester hours for their particular degree program. For example; a student is in a degree program that requires 60 semester hours to complete the degree program. The student may take up to 90 semester hours towards completion of that degree.

Withdrawals (W and WI grades): A grade of "W" is given when a student has enrolled, stayed enrolled through the drop period and officially withdrawals from a class. A grade of "WI" is given by an instructor who has a student who is not attending their class and has not officially withdrawn from that class, and has missed too much to continue in the class. Courses with the grade of "WI" or "W" still count in the Maximum Time Frame attempted but not earned.

Incomplete grades: Courses that are assigned an "I", or incomplete grade are included in the cumulative semester hours attempted, but not hours completed until the faculty turns in a grade of completion. The faculty will give the student the semester following the grade of Incomplete to complete the coursework. If the work is not submitted, the grade will be updated to an "F" grade and count as a non-completed course. "I" and "F" grades are calculated in the grade point average with zero quality points.

Repeated Courses: Federal aid students may retake a course one time only for grades "D" or above. Grades of F, W, WI, N, or U may be repeated more than one time, or until a passing grade has been achieved. An exception to this regulation would be if the course is required for selective admission into a program. Contact the financial aid office for assistance. The repeating of courses do affect a student's financial aid Pace and Maximum Time Frame adversely because each course is counted towards the number of hours attempted and the student only receives an additional 50% more semester hours over the required semester hours. The original title and grade will remain on the student's permanent record, but only the quality points from the course with the highest grade will be computed into the grade point average.

Transfer credits: Transfer hours are reviewed by the College Registrar's Office. Transfer hours count in both the attempted and completed hours in the evaluation towards the financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy. The Transfer grade point average does not affect the SSCC grade point average. The transfer hour applicability to the student's major will be determined at the time a student is evaluated for a possible Maximum Time Frame Appeal for Federal Financial Aid purposes. The applicability is also evaluated by the College Record's Office at the time of graduation evaluation.

Additional Degree: Students who are enrolled in a second degree program who may need additional semester hours of eligibility must appeal to Financial Aid by completing the Maximum Time Frame Appeal. Documentation is required to accompany the MTF appeal as to why the student needs a second degree, i.e. cannot find a job in the area of the first degree. The approval or denial is solely the decision of the Financial Aid Office and the decision is final.

Consortium Students: Students who are taking classes at more than one institution during the same semester and who wants to have their financial aid based on the combined number of semester hours may obtain a form known as a Consortium Agreement from the DEGREE GRANTING institution. The Consortium allows the student to receive financial aid from the degree granting institution based on the combined credit hours being taken from both institutions. The degree granting or HOME school will process all financial aid, measure SAP, and all other federal requirements and the visiting institution or HOST school agrees to not disburse any financial aid to this student, but notify the HOME school of any withdrawals or academic progress issues. The HOST school will also send the grade transcript to the HOME school at the end of each grading period.

Clean Slate: Southern State Community College has a Clean Slate Policy which allows students to petition to have prior grades expunged from their academic record. Financial aid recipients who petition for a clean slate for any prior coursework as outlined in the Clean Slate Policy are still subject to meeting all requirements of the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards listed above. All attempted courses are considered in the evaluation of both qualitative (grade point average) and progress. Students may appeal their satisfactory academic progress to the financial aid office

Consequences of not meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policies and Regaining Eligibility: Students who fail to meet any of the required two components of the SAP (GPA or PACE) when measured at the end of each semester:

  • If a student fails to meet the SAP Policy for one semester, he/she will be placed on an Academic Warning Status. Students who are placed on Academic Warning will be notified of their academic status and will be allowed to continue to receive federal financial aid for the next semester of enrollment.
  • Students who fail to meet the SAP Policy for the second consecutive semester will be placed an Academic Probation status. While on Academic Probation, the student is not eligible to receive any financial aid unless the student submits a Request for Academic Probation Appeal and must also meet with the Student Advising Center to create an academic plan. The Academic Probation Appeal and Plan can both be done at your advising meeting. As long as the student continues to make Satisfactory Academic Progress according the financial aid policies and the approved Academic Plan, the student may continue to register, attend and receive financial aid as long as financial eligibility is determined.
  • If the student fails to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards as outlined in the Academic Plan the student will no longer be eligible for federal financial aid at Southern State Community College unless the student is able to regain satisfactory academic progress without use of federal financial aid.

Regaining Eligibility: Maximum Time Frame Federal regulations require a student to complete their degree program within 150% of the required number of credit hours for the student's particular program, i.e., the student's major requires 60 credit hours for completion; the federal financial aid will pay for up to 90 credit hours for program completion for that major. There are times when a student has extenuating circumstances that will cause a student to not be able to complete their degree within the 150%, i.e., change of major, or transfer hours. The Office of Financial Aid will monitor the Pace in which the student is heading toward completion. When it appears that the student cannot complete their program within the 150% time frame, the Office of Financial Aid will notify the student of the Maximum Time Frame issue. The student may complete a Maximum Time Frame Appeal process giving proof of what situation caused the student to not be able to complete their program within the required time frame. Additional documentation may be required for evaluation. The Registrar and Financial Aid Director will evaluate the circumstance and determine the coursework still needed to complete the student's program. The student will be notified of the approval or denial along with a listing of the remaining classes required to complete their program. At that point, the student may ONLY take the courses approved by the Registrar. Additional courses taken may void the appeal and the financial aid may be revoked.

Payment Policy

All registered students must make payment or arrangements to pay with our Business Office or have their Financial Aid Application submitted to the Office of Financial Aid by the deadline date listed on the Academic Calendar. Arrangements to pay include financial aid, an approved third party agreement, or a completed deferred payment plan.

Students registering during the late registration period (listed on the Academic Calendar) must make payment, or arrangements to pay, at the time of registration.

Students whose financial aid application is not dated by the posted deadline cannot charge their tuition without setting up the Deferred Payment Plan. Late FAFSAs will not be processed in time for the normal financial aid disbursement to student accounts during the fifth week. FAFSAs received by the deadline will be given priority for payment.

Students that do not pay, or make arrangements to pay, by the posted deadline will be dropped from classes. Once a student is dropped from a class, any waitlisted student for that class will automatically take the place. If a student chooses to re-register, they must make payment at that time for any course that is still available.

Pell Grant Policies

Pell Regulations

The institution must receive an ISAR/SAR with an official EFC 2023-2024) or SAI (2024-2025 and forward) with a processed date prior to a student's last day of enrollment.

Pell Grant Recalculation Regulations

Southern State has a policy of disbursing aid after the official college drop/add period. This is referred to as the college's census date. However, for Pell Grant purposes only, there are some regulations that require the recalculation of the Pell Grant after the census date.

Required Pell Recalculations After Census Date

If the student's EFC/SAI changes due to corrections, updating or an adjustment, and the EFC/SAI change would change the amount of the Pell award, the college must recalculate the Pell award for the entire award year.

A student selected for verification cannot increase their eligibility based on a corrected output document that the student receives during the late disbursement period (definition outlined above). For example, if a student submits a reprocessed SAR during the late disbursement period (the student is not enrolled) and the SAR has a lower EFC/SAI which would increase the Pell Grant, the college cannot recalculate the Pell Grant based on higher award. The college will change the needs analysis based on the new EFC/SAI, but the Pell Award will be based on a lower amount. However, if the correction reduces the student's eligibility, we must recalculate based on the reprocessed EFC/SAI.

If the college receives the reprocessed SAR after the end of the payment period for a student who is still enrolled, the college must pay the Pell Grant retroactively for any completed payment periods within the award year (if the student was eligible for payment during the payment period). However, the college can only base a retroactive disbursement on completed hours. For example, if the student has enrolled full-time at the beginning of fall term but dropped to half-time status by the end of the term, the retroactive disbursement must be based on the completed (half-time status). For purposes of this regulation, completed hours include earned F's and incompletes. Students selected for verification have different guidelines listed below.

The college must pay a student retroactively for any completed payment periods within the award year if the student was eligible for payment in those periods. Thus, if the college does not receive a valid ISAR/SAR for a student until the spring term, but the student was also enrolled and eligible for a disbursement in the previous fall term, that student must be paid retroactively for the previous term if the student is currently still enrolled.

Pell Recipients Selected for Verification

If a student is selected for verification and submits all documentation and the funds are disbursed during the semester, the student's Pell Grant will be based on hours locked in at the college's census date and the valid EFC/SAI.

If the student selected for verification submits verification documentation after the term has ended and is still enrolled, the amount of disbursement will be based on the valid EFC/SAI and the hours attempted at the college' census date.

If the student is no longer enrolled or ceases to be eligible, the student can submit verification documentation and receive a late disbursement (120 days after the last date of enrollment). However, the amount of disbursement will be based on the highest EFC/SAI and hours completed, regardless.

Refund Policy

When withdrawal procedures are followed, Southern State will refund fees within a reasonable period of time according to the following schedule.

Withdrawal completed:

  • Before the start of the semester — 100% Refund
  • By the last day of the second week of the semester — 100% Refund
  • After the second week of the semester — No Refund

Any flexibly scheduled course (course beginning with an "F" prefix) receives a 100% refund during the first 20% of the course only.

Return of Title IV Funds Policy

For a printable version view the Return of Title IV Funds Policy (PDF).

Federal financial aid (Title IV funds) is awarded under the assumption that a student will attend SSCC for the entire payment period. In the event that a student totally withdraws from or ceases attendance in Title IV eligible courses, SSCC is required to determine the portion of federal financial aid the student earned for that payment period. The process to review and calculate the earned amount of federal aid is called "Return of Title IV Funds." If a student has not earned all of the awarded federal aid they may be responsible to return unearned aid to SSCC or the US Department of Education (ED). Failure to return unearned aid will result in loss of future eligibility for any Title IV financial aid.

Title IV funds include:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Federal Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
  • Federal Direct Loans (student and parent PLUS)

SSCC's payment period is a semester. Courses that are scheduled for a period of weeks less than a full semester are considered modules.

Determination of Attendance:

Definition of attendance: A student is considered to have established attendance with at least one of the following academically related activities:

  • Physical class attendance where there is the direct interaction between instructor and student
  • Submission of an academic assignment
  • Examination, interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction
  • Study group assigned by the school
  • Participation in an online discussion about academic matters (excludes introductory posts)
  • Initiation of contact with the instructor to ask questions about an academic subject

Logging into Canvas is NOT considered academic in nature and therefore should not be used to report attendance.

Student Never Established Eligibility for Federal Financial Aid – Title IV Aid

The R2T4 requirements do not apply to a student who never establishes eligibility for Federal Financial Aid. A student who never attends any classes, or for whom Southern State Community College cannot document attendance in at least one Title IV eligible class, is not eligible for federal financial aid. Any aid disbursed based on anticipated enrollment must be returned to the applicable Title IV programs (this includes anticipated aid used to purchase books and/or supplies from the campus bookstore).

Determination of Withdrawal Date

Students may withdraw from classes up to and including the week before final exams by giving written notice of their intent to the Department of Student Affairs. Courses withdrawn after the drop/add period will be assigned a grade of "W".

Faculty may request to withdraw students who have missed more than 20% of the total scheduled classes by completing the Faculty Initiated Withdrawal Form. A faculty-initiated withdrawal will result in a final grade of 'WI'.

The withdrawal date for R2T4 calculation review is the later of one of the following:

  • The date the student began the institution's withdrawal process or officially notifies the college's Records Office of their intent to withdraw: or
  • The last known attendance at a documented academically-related activity (i.e. exam, a tutorial, computer-assisted instruction, academic counseling, academic advisement, turning in a class assignment, or attending a study group that is assigned by the institution); or
  • The midpoint of the period for a student who leaves without notifying the institution.

The student may rescind his or her withdrawal if the student declares in writing his or her intent to complete the period of enrollment and continues attendance. However, if the student does then withdraw before completing the period, the withdrawal date is the later of:

  • The date the student first (originally) notified the institution; or
  • The last date of attendance at a documented "academically related activity".

Determination of Earned Aid

Determination of earned aid for students enrolled in all full-semester courses

During the first 60% of the payment period (semester), a student earns Title IV funds in direct proportion to the length of time they remain enrolled. To determine how much aid was earned, the number of days completed, the total number of days in the semester, and the total federal aid award is taken into consideration. A student who remains enrolled beyond the 60% point earns all aid for the period.

Determination of earned aid for students enrolled in at least one course offered as a module **Effective July 1, 2021,**

To determine if a student is considered withdrawn and subject to the R2T4 calculation, the following have to be considered:

  • Is the student still enrolled in an active, Title IV eligible course for the payment period?
  • Did the student complete all graduation requirements for their program of study?
  • Did the student successfully complete, with passing grades, Title IV eligible coursework in a module or combination of modules that consist of 49% or more of the countable days in the semester?
  • Did the student successfully complete, with passing grades, Title IV eligible coursework equal to or greater than what the school considers to be half-time enrollment (6 credit hours) for the semester?
  • Did the student confirm attendance in writing for a Title IV eligible course(s) for a later module in the semester?

If the answer is "yes" to any of these questions, a student is not considered to be withdrawn and no R2T4 calculation is required.

R2T4 Calculation

The Financial Aid and Business Offices are responsible for the Return of Title IV Funds process.

Step One: Determine the number of days attended, and divide by the number of days in the period. The result is the percentage of days completed by the student.

NOTE: Enrollment percentage will be determined by the number of days in the semester (including weekends) divided by the number of days enrolled (including weekends). However, scheduled breaks five days long would be excluded from the calculation.

Step Two: Multiply the total accepted and eligible federal aid award by the percentage of days completed by the student. The result is "earned aid".

NOTE: Enrollment in modules will affect this step of the calculation. In addition, federal loans cannot be included in total aid if they are not accepted or if Entrance Counseling and/or the Master Promissory Note are incomplete or expired. First-time student loan borrowers who do not complete the first 30 days of the term will not be eligible to have loans included in the calculation of earned aid.

Step Three: Subtract earned aid from disbursed aid. The result is unearned aid.

If earned aid exceeds disbursed aid, additional funds may be disbursed (Late Disbursement). Additional disbursements are not allowed if the amount of earned aid is LESS than the total Title IV aid disbursed before the institution's determination that the student withdrew.

The responsibility to repay unearned aid is shared by the institution and the student in proportion to the aid each is assumed to possess. The institution's share is the lesser of:

  • The total amount of unearned aid; or
  • Institutional charges multiplied by the percentage of aid that was unearned.

Institutional charges are tuition, course fees, and required books/supplies purchased with federal student aid from the campus bookstore. The calculation assumes that Title IV funds are directly disbursed to a student only after all institutional charges have been covered and that Title IV funds are the first resource applied to institutional charges. Institutional charges are those assessed prior to the student's withdrawal, not a reduced amount that might result from any institutional refund policy.

The student's share is the difference between the total unearned amount and the institution's share. The institution's share is allocated among the Title IV programs, in an order specified by statute before the student's share:

  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
  • Subsidized Stafford Loan
  • Parent Plus Loan
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

After the student's share is fully allocated among the Title IV programs, the amount owed to a grant program is reduced by 50%.

The unearned Title IV funds must be returned to ED no later than 45 calendar days after the institution determines that the student withdrew. At SSCC, the institution returns all shares of unearned aid to the Department of Education. Any subsequent balance created due to this return of unearned aid is the responsibility of the student to make payment arrangements with SSCC's Business Office within 45 days of notification. Any remaining, earned loan funding still functions under the terms and conditions of the master promissory note.

Post Withdrawal Disbursements (PWD)

If a student completely withdraws from classes prior to their federal financial aid being fully disbursed, a calculation is completed to determine the amount of financial aid earned and is subsequently owed to the student in the form of a Post-Withdrawal Disbursement (PWD). If the student is due a portion of their grant funding in the PWD, SSCC will apply the earned funds to the student's account up to the outstanding balance. Written notification will be sent to the student regarding their PWD if:

  • There is no outstanding balance owed to the institution
  • The PWD of grant funding exceeds the outstanding balance
  • A PWD of direct loans is owed

The PWD of grants exceeds the outstanding balance, or if a PWD of loans is owed. The student must respond to the Financial Aid Office within 14 days, in writing, to accept these earned funds. If the student does not authorize within 14 days the grant and/or loan will be canceled on the student's behalf.


Example One:

Sarah enrolls as a first-year, first-time undergraduate for the 2021 Fall semester, which begins on August 23, 2021. On September 13, the Records Office confirmed that Sarah had established attendance in all of her Fall classes. On September 15, Sarah begins the school's official withdrawal process. The school determines Sarah completed 20 percent of the payment period and has, therefore, earned 20 percent of her Title IV aid.

Sarah withdrew before completing the first 30 days of her program of study, and the first disbursement of her loan was scheduled for September 25. Because the school does not originate first-time borrower Direct Loans until the 31st day (September 24 for the Fall semester), the loan is not considered aid that could have been disbursed when Sarah withdrew from classes.

Aid Offered for Period:

  • $3,248.00 Federal Pell Grant
  • $150.00 SEOG
  • $1,732.00 Direct Subsidized Loan (net proceeds)

Anticipated Aid (August 23, 2021):

  • $3,248.00 Federal Pell Grant
  • + $150.00 SEOG l
  • $3,398.00

Ineligible Aid:

  • $1,732.00 Direct Subsidized Loan subject to 30-day delayed disbursement

Earned Aid:

$ 3,398 x 20 % = $ 679.60
Disbursed Aid Percentage Completed Earned Aid

Example Two:

Chrystal, a federal aid recipient, enrolls for 15 credit hours Spring semester. The dates of the Spring semester are January 10, 2022 through May 7, 2022. The semester includes a Spring Break that begins March 6 and ends March 13; classes resume March 14. In January, Chrystal missed two weeks of classes due to illness. Feeling overwhelmed by all the coursework she must make up; she officially withdraws on January 28. What percentage of Chrystal's Title IV aid for the semester did she earn?

Number of calendar days in the semester = 110 (excluding the 9-day scheduled break)

Number of calendar days attended = 19

19 days attended
110 days in semester = 0.1727 = 17.3%

Title IV Loan Code of Conduct

Southern State participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loan Program. The Office of Financial Aid will process loans at the students request if eligible through the federal financial aid programs.

I. Southern State does not have revenue-sharing arrangements with any lender. Advisory boards will not receive compensation from a lender.

II. Employees in the Office of Financial Aid are prohibited from receiving gifts from lenders, guaranty agencies or loan servicers.

III. The Office of Financial Aid does not contract with any lender and does not receive any staffing assistance from lenders.

IV. The Office of Financial Aid at Southern State will process loans in a timely manner.

V. Students will be advised to borrow loans through the federal student loans programs. Private loans will not be packaged or offered from any specific private lender.