A hypothetical case: "John" receives a $2000 Pell Grant for the semester and uses $1000 for tuition. John drops out one-fourth of the way through the semester. Under the new rule, John has only "earned" 25 percent of his grant. The college is required to return all of John's "unearned" aid that went toward tuition (75 percent, or $750). John is personally required to pay back 50 percent of his unearned aid that didn't go toward tuition. Because he dropped out one-fourth of the way through the semester, John earned $250 of his $1000. Fifty percent of the remaining amount ($750) is $375, which is what John owes.Complicated? You Bet. If you're concerned about whether you may owe money in the future, the Department of Education has provided universities with software and worksheets to help calculate how much money students may owe. Why Is This Rule in Effect? In an introduction to the regulations, the Department of Education explains: "Aid is awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend an institution for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student ceases academic attendance prior to the end of that period, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of funds that the student was originally scheduled to receive."