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How can a Student Pay for College after Losing Student Aid Eligibility due to Unsatisfactory Academic Progress?

Mark Kantrowitz

October 11, 2010

I went to a 2-year community college and was covered fully under financial aid and got to go for free. Later I was told because of a poor GPA that I could no longer attend unless I paid for college myself. But I can’t afford to pay for college on my own. I would like to go to a different college and want to know if I would qualify for financial aid there. Will the cancellation of my financial aid at the community college affect my eligibility at the next college? — Lauren S.

Each college evaluates whether you are making satisfactory academic progress according to its own policy. However, your grades at the first college will affect your eligibility at the second college at least to the extent that the transfer credits are applied toward the educational program at the second college. (The second college can have a policy that counts all of the work from a previous school toward the satisfactory academic progress determination even if it does not apply toward the college’s educational program.)

Similarly, if a student changes majors or degree programs, a college must include in the satisfactory academic progress determination any classes that count to the new major or degree program. The college has the option of excluding credits attempted and grades earned that do not count toward the new major or degree program.

The treatment of transfer credits is discussed in the college’s written satisfactory academic progress policy.

Some students transfer to another college or switch majors in order to bypass the 150% maximum timeframe restrictions in a college’s satisfactory academic progress policy. However, students who do this often accumulate excessive debt, in part because it takes them longer to finish. (Students who lose federal student aid eligibility often have to borrow the full college costs from private student loan programs until they regain eligibility. This can be expensive.) Try to minimize your student loans as much as possible, as is easy to borrow too much.


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