U.S. Department of Education Regulations
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 at 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 which include (but are not limited to):
- Return of Federal (or Title IV) Funds and Attendance
Students must earn their financial aid 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 all funds attributed to that course. Also, if a student does not attend past the 60% point of the payment period (module or term), a Return to Title IV calculation must be performed which could result in the requirement that a student repay some of those funds.
- Retaking Coursework
Students who pass a course and elect to retake the course can receive Title IV (aka "federal") assistance for retaking that course a maximum of one time. According to the federal rules, a grade of "D" is passing. Note: Some courses have prerequisites of a minimum grade of "C" earned in the prerequisite course.
- Educational Planning
Students should consult with an educational advisor to obtain an educational plan during their first semester. Only courses required or allowed in the declared program of study listed on a student's record can be used to determine the financial aid award. Taking courses that are not required or allowed for a degree increases out-of-pocket costs and can delay earning a degree or credential.
- Academic Record Holds
Outstanding obligations to the College that are not satisfied will result in academic record holds being added to student accounts. Evidence of any outstanding requirements will result in a hold(s) being placed on student accounts. Academic record holds may restrict or limit course enrollment and/or the release of transcripts, diplomas, or related credentials. Students should monitor their student accounts for any academic record holds and resolve any hold(s) prior to the next semester.
- Standards of Academic Progress (SAP) for Financial Aid
Federal financial aid is intended to help students attend college with the goal of completing a degree or credential. Recipients are expected to attend classes, make progress toward completing their selected program of study 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:
- 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 of classes fail to meet this criterion);
- Complete the declared program of study within 150 percent of the published program length.
While Standards of Academic Progress for Financial Aid has long been in effect, the new regulation requires institutions to review the standards more rigorously. For more information, visit the Standards of Progress website.
- Financial aid eligibility is calculated based only on courses required or allowed as electives in the student's declared program of study. This does not include any additional hours required to meet Seminole State College's Residency requirement.
It is critical that students obtain an educational plan and adhere to it. Financial aid awards will be based only on the required and allowed courses in the declared program of study listed on the student's record.
More information about the Federal Integrity Rules is available online through the Federal Register.
Financial Aid Eligibility
Students are alerted with important information about required and allowed courses listed for their specific program of study, but it is ultimately the student's responsibility to consult with their Academic Advisor to ensure that they are taking the correct courses. Messages may be sent to the student's Message Center, and in some cases, students will receive a pop-up message in their MySeminoleState account requesting permission to continue registration if a course for which they are attempting to enroll is outside their program/plan. This process will:
- Assist students in avoiding classes not needed for graduation;
- Alert students to courses that will not be counted in determining enrollment levels for financial aid purposes.
Students who wish to use financial aid awards to pay for tuition must accept their aid and sign a deferment request electronically each term of enrollment. Students must carefully read the eligibility criteria associated with each financial aid program awarded to determine the required enrollment levels necessary to receive the awards. By signing a deferment, payment for all classes in which a student enrolls, including classes that are not financial aid eligible, will be deferred to the due date. If a student's enrollment at the end of the add/drop period does not contain the minimum number of financial-aid-eligible courses needed for aid disbursement, he/she will be ineligible for aid and will be required to pay out of pocket for all of the classes.
If a student chooses to enroll in classes that are not financial aid eligible based on the program of study, he/she should consult with a Financial Aid Specialist or a Student Success Specialist prior to the end of the add/drop period to determine how this will affect his/her aid eligibility and excess hours for their degree or program. For more information, visit the Financial Aid website or call 407.708.2045.