Staying Eligible: Losing Financial Aid for Unsatisfactory Academic Progress

Maintain a good GPA -- or lose financial aid.

By Kathryn Knight Randolph

July 22, 2016

Staying Eligible: Losing Financial Aid for Unsatisfactory Academic Progress

Where it concerns financial aid, most students believe that they only have to be needy in order to qualify for financial aid. While that is true, it’s not the only requirement. Students have to meet basic eligibility standards as well, which includes maintaining “satisfactory academic progress.”

Academic progress standards and monitoring are administered on a school-by-school basis. Each school will have a certain GPA minimum that students must maintain in order to continue receiving financial aid as well as scholarships, but it is usually at least a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale. They will also require that students stay on track to graduate within a specific timeframe. Falling behind schedule could result in loss of financial aid.

Typically, a school will provide a student with a warning if they slip within the bounds of unsatisfactory academic progress. The student will be placed under a sort of academic probation. If the student is unable to bring their grades up, the school will withdraw financial aid. However, in the event that the student is able to bring their grades up, the school will continue providing financial aid and scholarships.

Fortunately, students can work to regain eligibility. They can also repeal the decision if their grades slipped because of a sickness, injury or death in the family.

It’s important for students, in these cases, to meet with a financial aid officer. If a student receives a letter or email indicating that they’ve fallen below university standards, they should schedule a meeting with the financial aid office immediately. It’s best to be knowledgeable on the standards and processes rather than oblivious. It will likely result in losing eligibility and paying more for college; however, knowing the full extent of the issue as well as strategies for resolving it will help to ensure students get back on track.

If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay for a semester or two of college on your own, make your GPA a priority – it should be the most important component of your college career anyway. Losing financial aid could mean you’d have to pay the entire tuition bill on your own – or quit college altogether.

To be aware of satisfactory academic progress standards at your school, read the college’s handbook. There, you’ll find the school’s requirements and policy. Educating yourself on GPA minimums will help to prevent falling below the standards, keep your GPA satisfactory and the financial aid flowing.

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