Financial Aid Policies
Financial Aid Policies
DETERMINING FINANCIAL NEED
In evaluating a student’s need for financial aid, several factors are taken into consideration. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) collects household and financial information for the student and the student's parents/family to calculate the expected family contribution or EFC. To determine financial need, the EFC is subtracted from the student’s cost of attendance. Cost of attendance includes tuition charges, housing and food allowance, books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.
RECEIVING FINANCIAL AID
Once you are accepted to Aquinas and we have determined your eligibility for financial aid, we will send you a Financial Aid Offer. A paper offer will be mailed to new students and continuing students will be notified by email to log into their Self Service portal for financial aid. This notification will list all the types and amounts of financial aid you are eligible to receive. It will also indicate if you are eligible to borrow under the federal student loan programs. If you would like to utilize the loans listed on the notification, please accept the loan in your financial aid portal via Self Service.
When Aquinas receives your FAFSA information, you may be selected for verification by the federal government. If so, we will email a request to you for additional documentation. We cannot determine your eligibility for financial aid or originate your loan until we receive the specified items. The deadline to complete verification for the school year is the last business day in November. Failure to meet this deadline could result in loss of federal and state aid. Unless otherwise indicated, all financial aid will be divided evenly between the two semesters of an academic year.
Institutional aid awarded upon acceptance to Aquinas will renew for traditional students up to 5 years or a bachelor’s degree provided the student is enrolled full-time (minimum 12 credits) and maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Institutional aid awarded to continuing education (CE) and graduate students will renew based on scholarship-specific requirements (employment-based) and maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
Federal and state scholarships and grant eligibility and renewal will be determined on a yearly basis provided by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
REVISION/CANCELLATION OF AWARDS
Financial aid awards may be revised for any of the following reasons:
- Your data and/or your parent data on the FAFSA was incorrect and the error has been corrected.
- Your FAFSA information was selected for verification.
- Your residency has changed.
- Your enrollment status has changed.
- You have declined one or more awards.
- We have been notified that you received other aid or had other resources (Veteran's Benefits, MET, outside scholarship, etc.) of which we were unaware when the previous awards were made.
- Your summer financial aid has been processed.
If you have questions about why an award has changed, please contact our office directly.
Students who do not officially drop a class or attend the class within the add/drop period will be administratively dropped from the class and assessed a fee of $150 per class. Financial aid may be adjusted in these instances. For students officially dropping a class, either before the class starts or within the add/drop period, there will be no additional charges.
Students are required to attend all scheduled courses throughout the semester in order to earn their financial aid. When a student withdraws from all classes for the semester, the Financial Aid Office is required to complete a Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation. This determination is in addition to and separate from any adjustment to tuition and charges for the semester. Any student who wishes to withdraw from the College or from the semester must complete a withdrawal form, available in the Registrar’s office.
RETURN OF TITLE IV FUNDS POLICY
The amount of the semester a student has completed as of the date of withdrawal is
calculated by counting the number of calendar days that have elapsed in the semester
and dividing that number by the total number of calendar days in the semester. Scheduled
breaks of five days or longer are excluded from the calculation. Students who complete
a course and then withdraw from or do not attend all remaining courses are considered
a withdrawal for the semester and a federal return calculation will be completed.
The amount of the semester completed by the student determines the earned and unearned amounts of aid. If the amount of federal aid already disbursed to the student’s account is greater than the amount the student earned, the unearned funds must be returned, by the College or the student or both. If the amount disbursed to the student is less than the amount the student earned, he or she may be eligible to receive a post-withdrawal disbursement of the earned aid that was not previously received. Students and/or parents will be notified of any post-withdrawal disbursement eligibility for student loan funds.
The unearned percentage of federal aid is multiplied by the charges for the semester and by the total amount of aid disbursed for the student; the College is responsible for returning the lesser of these two amounts. Students may be required to return any unearned aid less the amount returned by the College. Title IV funds are 100% earned if the withdrawal date is after the 60% point in the semester.
All R2T4 calculations are completed within 30 calendar days of the date of determination of withdrawal. Funds are turned to the US Department of Education within 45 calendar days of the date of determination. If a student is required to return funds to the US Department of Education (an overpayment), the student will be notified within 45 days of the date of determination. The student must repay the amount of the overpayment to the College in full within 45 calendar days of the date of the notice, or the debt will be referred to the US Department of Education for collection. In all overpayment situations, the student’s overpayment status will be reported to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Students in overpayment are not eligible for federal financial aid at any institution.
FEDERAL FUNDS ARE RETURNED IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER, BOTH BY THE COLLEGE AND THE STUDENT:
- Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans
- Subsidized Federal Direct Loans
- Direct Grad PLUS Loans
- Direct Parent PLUS Loans
- Pell Grants
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
- Federal SEOG
- TEACH Grant
Students will receive a written notice of any federal funds returned by the College. Invoices for any balance owed to the College will be sent out according to Business Office policy. Any funds left on account at the College as a credit balance at the time of withdrawal will be used first to satisfy unpaid charges owed the College.
At the end of every semester, students who withdrew unofficially from the College (that is, stopped attending all classes before the end of the semester) may be required to have a return of federal funds calculation performed if the documented last day of attendance or educational activity, as reported by the faculty, was on or before the 60 percent point in time of the semester. The calculation procedures outlined above are then followed, and the student is notified of any federal funds returned on his or her behalf. If it is determined that a student never attended a class or classes, the financial aid will be reduced according to the student’s revised enrollment status.
Examples of R2T4 calculations are available from the Financial Aid Office.
SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS (SAP)
Students are required to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward their degree. SAP includes a review of cumulative GPA standing, degree program progress (“maximum timeframe”), and completion rate (“pace”). All withdrawals, incomplete grades, and repeat coursework are taken into consideration when determining SAP. Incompletes and withdrawals are counted as attempted credits, but not completed. Transfer credits are counted as both credits attempted and credits completed, but do not affect the cumulative grade point average. Nontraditional awarding of credit, including credit by exam (AP, IB, CLEP, etc.) and credit for life experience, is counted as both credits attempted and credits completed, but does not affect the GPA. Standards of satisfactory academic progress apply to all students, regardless of enrollment status or program. All credit hours for which a student has incurred a financial obligation are considered.
Student records will be reviewed for SAP at the end of each semester. Students are considered to meet SAP if their pace, or total credit hours successfully completed divided by the total credit hours attempted is at least 67% and they meet the Aquinas cumulative GPA standards below:
- After 12 credits (Aquinas plus transfer credit), 1.80 Aquinas GPA
- After 24 credits (Aquinas plus transfer credit), 1.90 Aquinas GPA
- After 36 credits (Aquinas plus transfer credit), 2.00 Aquinas GPA
- After 12 credits (Aquinas plus transfer credit), 1.80 Aquinas GPA
- After 36 credits (Aquinas plus transfer credit), 1.90 Aquinas GPA
- After 60 credits (Aquinas plus transfer credit), 2.00 Aquinas GPA
- Maintain a 3.00 Aquinas GPA regardless of the number of credits completed.
Students who do not meet the required standards will receive a financial aid warning notice. While on a warning status, students are eligible to receive financial aid. They may only remain on warning status for one semester. Students that are still below standards for a second semester will have all financial aid canceled. Students may appeal the loss of financial aid under the appeal policy outlined below.
All students who receive financial aid must complete their program within 150 percent of the normal program length, as measured in credit hours. If a student cannot complete their degree within this timeframe, or are exceeding this timeframe, they are subject to the loss of financial aid, which can be appealed following the procedure outlined below. The maximum timeframe will be adjusted on an exception basis for students who transfer in credits, change their majors or enroll in a subsequent degree.
SAP APPEAL AND REINSTATEMENT
Students who have lost financial aid eligibility for failure to maintain SAP will be notified in writing of the cancellation of financial aid. Students with mitigating circumstances wishing to appeal their status may do so, in writing, to the Financial Aid Office, by the deadline listed on their notification. Mitigating circumstances may include, but are not limited to: illness or injury of the student or immediate family member; death of a relative; or other extenuating circumstance. A committee will evaluate the appeal and determine whether the student will be allowed to continue to receive financial aid on either a Probation or Academic Plan status.
THE STUDENT’S APPEAL MUST INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
- The reason why the student failed to meet the SAP standard(s) AND
- What has changed in the student’s situation to allow them to meet the SAP standards AND
- Supporting documentation.
Appeals will not be reviewed without all of the criteria outlined above.
If an appeal is approved and financial aid is reinstated, the student will receive aid on either a Probation or Academic Plan status. A student on Probation is required to regain SAP standing by the end of the next semester (“probationary semester”); the terms of the probation will be included in the notice to the student when the appeal is approved.
If a student cannot regain SAP standing by the end of the probationary semester, the student will be placed on an Academic Plan status. The Academic Plan is structured to assist the student in regaining SAP status by a projected point in time not to exceed the maximum timeframe. The specific terms of the Academic Plan will be included in the notice sent to the student when the appeal is approved, and will include 100% completion (no W or F grades) and a minimum 2.0 semester GPA.
Written notification of the appeal committee’s decision will be emailed to the student within the timeframe specified in the SAP notice.
Student progress will be reviewed every semester while on an Academic Plan. If a student fails to meet the requirements of the Academic Plan, they will become ineligible for financial aid. A student may not appeal SAP using the same reason more than once. Neither paying for one’s classes nor sitting out for a term affects a student’s academic progress status, so neither is sufficient to reestablish aid eligibility.
There are unique situations where financial aid administrators can modify data related to FAFSA information. A student may have both a special circumstance and an unusual circumstance. Financial aid administrators may make adjustments that are appropriate to each student’s situation with appropriate documentation. A valid FAFSA must be on file to consider any professional judgment. Submission of a special or unusual circumstance does not guarantee an adjustment will be made. These circumstances must be reviewed annually and do not automatically carry over year to year. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.
While the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is intended to determine the amount a family can reasonably be expected to pay toward a student's college costs, circumstances occasionally arise that make the FAFSA data an inaccurate picture of the family’s current resources. The Special Circumstances allows us to evaluate your current financial circumstances to determine if there is additional aid eligibility.
Examples of Special Circumstances that may be reviewed:
- Retirement of dependent student's parent
- Divorce/Death of dependent student's parent
- Parent's loss of employment/benefits or a reduction in income
- IRA rollover or other one-time income (non-recurring payments)
- Private secondary school tuition paid (not including the college student)
- Reduction of untaxed income (child support or Social Security income)
- High unreimbursed medical expenses in the base year (the tax year reported on your FAFSA)
Examples of Special Circumstances that will NOT be reviewed:
- Increase in standard living expenses
- Purchasing material items such a car, home appliance, vacations, second homes, etc.
- Reduction of assets
- Credit issues, lines of credit changes, previous loan debt, etc.
- Medical bills paid by health insurance or reimbursed by health care coverage
The FAFSA determines dependency status based on a series of questions, however, financial aid administrators can make an adjustment to dependency in unique circumstances, more commonly referred to as dependency override.
Examples of Unusual Circumstances that may be reviewed:
- Victims of human trafficking
- Refugee or asylum status
- Parent abandonment or incarceration
- Abusive family environment
- Incapacitated parent(s)
- Both parents are deceased after filing FAFSA
- Unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of being homeless
Examples of Unusual Circumstances that will NOT be reviewed:
Parent(s) do not claim you as a dependent on tax return
Parent(s) do not help you pay for college
No longer living with parents (unless due to one of the above circumstances)
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
As a financial aid recipient, you have a right to:
- Know what financial aid is available at the college, including federal, state and institutional programs
- Understand how your financial aid eligibility was determined and how financial aid will be disbursed
- Understand the eligibility criteria for financial aid awards, and the criteria for retaining financial aid awards
- Understand your financial aid offer and how to accept or decline financial aid awards
- Expect that your financial aid records, including your parents’ financial records (if applicable), will be kept confidential in accordance with FERPA and information security requirements
- Receive information about your student loan, including the interest rate, origination fee, loan servicer, deferment and repayment options
- Request an additional review of financial aid eligibility based on Special or Unusual Circumstances
- Request an adjustment to the Cost of Attendance for childcare or disability expenses
As a financial aid recipient, you are responsible for:
- Supplying complete and accurate information in a timely manner
- Using financial aid funds solely for educationally related expenses
- Completing student loan entrance counseling before you receive your first loan disbursement, if required
- Reporting to Aquinas any additional outside aid such as scholarships, stipends, employer reimbursement and tuition waivers
- Reporting any change in your name, address, social security number, and other information to Aquinas promptly
- Maintaining satisfactory academic progress
- Repaying any overpayment of financial aid
- Completing student loan exit counseling when you graduate, withdraw or drop below half-time enrollment
- Repaying any loan you receive
- Reporting any portion of grants and scholarships that exceed tuition, fees, books, and supplies as taxable income when filing your federal income tax return
STUDENT LOAN CODE OF CONDUCT
1. PROHIBITION OF FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
Neither the school nor its employees will accept anything of more than nominal value from any lending institution, guaranty agency, or loan servicer. This specifically includes revenue-sharing arrangements and payments or gifts for preferred lender/guarantor/servicer status, and the provision of printing and mailing at below-market prices. It also includes gifts or donations to students or the school and other grants, scholarships or prizes.
2. PROHIBITION OF GIFTS AND TRIPS
School employees may not accept gifts of more than nominal value from any lending institution, guaranty agency, or loan servicer. This includes payments and reimbursement for lodging, meals and travel to conferences, meetings or training seminars.
3. ADVISORY BOARD RULES/COMPENSATION
School employees are prohibited from receiving anything of value for serving on an advisory board , commission or group of any lending institution, guaranty agency, or loan servicer. Employees are also prohibited from any type of consulting arrangement or contract to provide services to or on behalf of a lender, guaranty agency, or loan servicer relating to education loans (except for reimbursement for reasonable expenses).
4. PREFERRED LENDER GUIDELINES
The school’s preferred lender list must be based solely on the best interests of the students or parents who may use the list without regard to financial interests of the institution. The school will not assign a lender, guaranty agency, or loan servicer to first-time borrowers.
5. PREFERRED LENDER DISCLOSURE
On all preferred lender lists the school will clearly and fully disclose the criteria and process used to select preferred lenders, guaranty agencies, or loan servicers and inform students and parents that they have the right and ability to select the lender of their choice regardless of the preferred lender list. The school will not delay or deny a loan based on a student’s choice of lender, guaranty agency, or loan servicer nor steer borrowers to particular lenders, guaranty agencies, or loan servicers.
6. LOAN RESALE DISCLOSURE AND OPPORTUNITY LOAN PROHIBITION
No lending institution, guaranty agency, or loan servicer may appear on a preferred lender list if the lender has an agreement to sell the loans to another lending institution, guaranty agency, or loan servicer without disclosing this fact. In addition, no lending institution may bargain to be a preferred lender, guaranty agency, or loan servicer with respect to a certain type of loan by providing benefits to the institution as to another type of loan (opportunity loans, except that the institution may offer loans to international students, at fair market rates, who would be otherwise unable to secure a domestic loan).
7. CALL CENTER AND STAFFING PROHIBITION
The school must ensure that employees of lending institutions, guaranty agencies, or loan servicers never identify themselves to students as employees of the institution. No employee of a lending institution, guaranty agency, or loan servicer may ever work in or provide staffing to the school’s financial aid office.
The Family Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law which states that a written institutional policy must be established and that a statement of adopted procedure covering the privacy rights of students must be available. The purpose of the law is to require institutions to maintain the confidentiality of student education records.
Aquinas College conforms with the requirements of the law. For further information concerning access to student records, please contact the Registrar’s office; email email@example.com, call (616) 632-2871, or visit Hruby Hall, room 30.
If students wish to complete a FERPA form, it can be turned into the Student Accounts office.