Federal Integrity Rules
Many students apply for, and depend on, financial aid to complete their program of study. Federal financial aid for students is intended to be used for educational expenses. The federal government has passed new regulations regarding financial aid that may impact eligibility and award. Students are advised of these changes to improve communication and alert them that the world of financial aid is changing.
The U.S. Department of Education developed new regulations, effective July 1, 2011, in response to the rapid growth of enrollment, debt load and student default rates of postsecondary institutions. The regulations are intended to strengthen the integrity of the federal student aid program and to ensure that taxpayer funds are used appropriately. The College is required to abide by these regulations.
Regulations include (but are not limited to):
Return of Federal (or Title IV) Funds and Attendance
Students must earn their grants by sufficient attendance and progress in classes. If a student does not attend or is a "no show," the student is responsible for paying back the grant funds.
Students who pass a course, which is required (or allowed) in their declared program of study on file with the College - known as a student’s major or program/plan - and elect to retake the course can receive Title IV (aka “federal”) assistance for retaking that course a maximum of one time. In the eyes of the federal student aid program, a grade of “D” is passing. Note: Some courses have prerequisites of a minimum grade of “C” earned in the prerequisite course.
Standards of Academic Progress (SOP) for Financial Aid
Federal financial aid is intended to help students attend college with the goal of completing a credential. Recipients are expected to attend classes, make progress toward their credential and do so in a fairly efficient manner. Ongoing eligibility for federal financial aid requires that students demonstrate satisfactory progress toward completion of the declared program of study. Ongoing eligibility requires the following:
While Standards of Academic Progress for Financial Aid have long been in effect, the new regulation requires institutions to review the standards more rigorously. For more information, visit the Standards of Progress Web page.
- Maintain at least a 2.0 GPA
- Successfully complete at least 67 percent of the coursework attempted. (Students who fail or withdraw from an excessive number classes fail to meet this criterion.)
- Complete the declared program of study within 150 percent of the published program length.
The following is not a new regulation, but one that the College will begin to enforce in Spring 2012:
Financial aid eligibility is calculated based only on courses required or allowed as electives in the student’s declared program of study.
It is critical that students have an educational plan and stick to it. Financial aid awards will be based only on the required and allowed courses in the declared program of study on file in a student record.
For more information about the federal Integrity Rules, visit www.nacua.org/documents/FR_ProgramIntegrityFinalRule.pdf.
Advice for Students
- Consult an educational advisor to get an educational plan in your first semester, and follow it. Only courses required or allowed in your declared program of study that is on file in your student record can be used to determine your financial aid award. Taking courses you don't need increases your costs and can derail or delay you from earning your credential.
- Attend classes and keep up with your coursework. Stack the deck in your favor to succeed. Consult an academic advisor about courses needed and amount of course load recommended in light of your other responsibilities.
- Don't bite off more than you can chew. A rule of thumb is that if you are working full-time, you should take no more than two classes at a time. It is better for you to take two courses and do well than to take three or four courses and withdraw or fail one or two of them.
- Take advantage of tutoring, academic advising and other services to support your success. Support services are available on each campus; make use of them proactively.