Academic Requirements for Receiving Financial Aid

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 College Success (PSYC 1108) and 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.
  • If the Advisor approves a course substitution, a written statement must be given to the Office of Financial Aid to verify the course change for auditing purposes. It is the student's responsibility to supply this document to the Office of Financial Aid.
  • 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 30 semester hours) or a 2.00 as a sophomore (earned 31 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  • The student can retake a failed or withdrawn course until a passing grade (D or above) is obtained.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).
  • A student may appeal the Maximum Time Frame regulation no more than two times if the student has a change of major or extenuating circumstances that caused the student not to finish their degree within the 150% requirement.
  • 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 Financial Aid Policy

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 terms regardless of whether or not the student received financial aid for that term.

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

  • Qualitative – Cumulative grade point average
    • A student with between one and 30 semester hours must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least a 1.75.
    • A student who earned equal to or greater than 30 semester hours must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.0.
    • 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 (formally known as progress) – completing a required percentage of credit each term, i.e. hours attempted versus hours earned. To meet the progress requirement, a student must complete 67% of the hours attempted (courses enrolled after drop/add).

    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 credit hour completion.
  • Cumulative Maximum Time Frame – The maximum amount of credit hours attempted toward obtaining the student's degree. The student must complete all course requirements within 150% of the required number of credit hour for their particular degree program. For an example; a student is in a degree program that requires 100 credit hours to complete. The student may take up to 150 credit hours towards completion of that degree. This allows for a maximum of 15 credit hours of remedial credit hours and a few possible repeated courses to maintain the appropriate degree requirements.

How Withdrawal (Grades of W & WI) Affect the Student's Record

A grade of W is given when a student has enrolled, stayed enrolled through the 100% of a 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 still counts in the Maximum Time Frame evaluation.

Incomplete Grades: Courses that are assigned an I, or incomplete grade are included in the cumulative credit hours attempted, but not hours completed until the faculty turns in a grade of completion. Typically, the faculty will give the student a specified amount of time to complete the incomplete course. If the student fails to complete the course according to the agreed upon time, the grade will roll over into a failing grade and count as a non-completed course. The usual allotted extended time to complete is one consecutive term following the term with the incomplete grade.

Repeated Courses: Federal financial aid students may retake a course that has already been assigned a grade of A, B, C, D, F, W, N or U. Grades of W and WI may be repeated more than one time, but not more than two times. 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 credit hours over the required credit 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 credit hours are reviewed by the Office of Admission. Transfer hours count in both the attempted and completed hours in the evaluation towards the financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy. The Transfer credit hours 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 Records Office at the time of graduation evaluation.

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

Bridge Courses: If a student need additional credit hours because they are transferring to another university and the new university requires additional coursework that can be provided at Southern State, the student may complete a Maximum Time Frame Appeal Form with documentation from the accepting university, listing the additional required courses they will accept from Southern State. The documentation from the accepting university must be on university letterhead.

Consortium Student's Procedure: Students who are taking classes at more than one institution during the same term and who wants to have their financial aid based on the combined number of credit 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: A process for a student who wishes to have certain terms expunged from their academic record. The rules surrounding this college policy can be found in the Registration area of the Catalog. By expunging certain records from the student's academic record does not automatically clean up a student's Satisfactory Academic Progress. Students who do a Clean Slate with the Records Office may appeal their Satisfactory Academic Progress by completion the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form. Additional documentation may be required based on the reason for the appeal. Contact the Financial Aid Director for additional information concerning the Clean Slate process.

Consequences of Not Meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policies & Regaining Eligibility

Students who fail to meet any of the required three components of the SAP (GPA, PACE or Maximum Time Frame) when measured at the end of each payment period will suffer consequences as outlined below:

  • If a student fails to meet the SAP Policy for one semester, he/she will be placed on an Academic Warning Status as outlined in the Catalog. 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 on 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 to the Office of Financial Aid.
  • If the Academic Probation Appeal is accepted, the student will be required to meet with the Student Advising Center to create an academic plan. 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.
  • Non-financial aid students may continue to register and attend courses during the Academic Warning and Academic Probation Status (self-pay); however, if the student continues not to meet the Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress, they will be dismissed from the college.

Regaining Eligibility: Academic Probation

To regain eligibility of federal financial aid while on the Academic Probation Status, the student may appeal their probation status by submitting a request to the Office of Financial Aid. If approved students will be required to create an academic plan with the Student Advising Center. The Academic Plan will create a plan for success and allow the student to regain their eligibility within the stated guidelines of the Plan. If the student is able to return to classes according to the Academic Plan, the student will regain federal financial aid on a Provisionary Status. As long as the student meets the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards, he/she will continue to receive federal financial aid. However, if the student fails to meet the standards, as defined in the Academic Plan, he/she will lose their eligibility for all federal financial aid at Southern State permanently, with no further appeals allowed.

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 100 credit hours for completion; the federal financial aid will pay for up to 150 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, transfer hours. The Office of Financial Aid will monitor the Pace in which the student is heading towards completion. When it appears that the student can not complete their program within the 150% time frame, the Office of Financial Aid will notify the student of the Maximum Time Frame issue.

As with most federal financial aid regulations, 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 remaining class 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 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 can not 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 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 changes due to corrections, updating or an adjustment, and the EFC 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 can not 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 which would increase the Pell Grant, the college can not recalculate the Pell Grant based on higher award. The college will change the needs analysis based on the new EFC, 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.

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.

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 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 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

Students who receive Title IV financial aid (Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Grant, and Federal Direct Loans) who do not complete their classes for a period of enrollment (semester) will be responsible to return unearned aid back to the Department of Education. Failure to return unearned aid will result in loss of future eligibility for any Title IV financial aid. Please see the Academic Calendar for exact Return of Title IV date.

I. There is no longer a concept of earned or unearned institutional charges, only earned and unearned aid.

II. During the first 60% of the payment period (semester), a student "earns" Title IV funds in direct proportion to the length of time during the period he or she remains enrolled. To determine how much aid was "earned," a "snapshot" approach is taken when the institution is aware that the student withdrew. A student who remains enrolled beyond the 60% point earns all aid for the period.

III. Unearned Title IV funds, other than Federal College Work Study, must be returned back to the Federal Student Aid Programs. Unearned aid is the amount of disbursed Title IV aid that exceeds the amount of Title IV aid earned.

IV. If earned aid exceeds disbursed aid, additional funds may be disbursed (Late Disbursement). Additional disbursements are precluded if the amount of earned aid is LESS than the total Title IV aid that was disbursed prior to the date of the institution's determination that the student withdrew.

V. 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 in the calculation.

VI. The withdrawal date is:

  • First, the date the student began the institution's withdrawal process or officially notifies the college's Records Office of their intent to withdraw: or
  • Second, 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
  • Third, the midpoint of the period for a student who leaves without notifying the institution.

VII. The formula 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" comprise the amounts that had been assessed prior to the student's withdrawal, not a reduced amount that might result from an institution's refund policy.

VIII. 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.

IX. The student's share is the difference between the total unearned amount and the institution's share.

X. 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

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

XII. The institution must return its share of unearned Title IV funds no later than 30 days after it determines that the student withdrew.

XIII. Students return their share of unearned aid attributable to a loan under the terms and conditions of the promissory note.

XIV. The student will have 45 days after notification of the Return of Title IV funds, to set up a satisfactory repayment option with the institution for the student's share of unearned aid attributable to a grant (after the 50% reduction).

XV. After 45 days have lapsed, the account will be turned over to the Department of Education for an overpayment of Title IV funds. Students who owe an overpayment of Title IV funds are INELIGIBLE for further disbursements through the Title IV federal financial aid programs.

XVI. 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".

XVII. Post withdrawal disbursement: If a student completely withdraws from classes prior to financial aid being disbursed, a calculation is completed to determine the amount of financial aid the student earned. If the student is due a portion of their financial aid after this calculation the College will apply the earned funds within 30 days of the determination of the student's withdrawal to the student's tuition, fees, books or supplies if the funds earned were grant funds. If the financial aid disbursement includes student loans the financial aid office will notify the student in writing of available funds and the student must contact the financial aid office within 14 days of the notification to grant permission for any student loan disbursements. If the student does not authorize the student loans within the 14 days the loan will be cancelled. First time student loan borrowers who do not complete the first 30 days of the term will not be eligible to receive any student loan funds.

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.