Code of Conduct for Student Financial Aid

Athens State University financial aid professionals are expected to always maintain professional conduct in all aspects of carrying out his or her responsibilities. In doing so, the Athens State University financial aid professional:

  • Ensures that the information he or she provides is accurate, unbiased, and does not reflect any preference arising from actual or potential personal gain.
  • Refrains from taking any action he or she believes is contrary to law, regulation, or the best interests of the students and parents he or she serves.
  • Is objective in making decisions and advising his or her institution regarding relationships with any entity involved in any aspect of student financial aid.
  • Refrains from taking any action for his or her personal benefit.
  • Refrains from soliciting or accepting anything of other than nominal value from any entity (other than an institution of higher education or a governmental entity such as the U.S. Department of Education) involved in the making, holding, consolidating or processing of any student loans, including anything of value (including reimbursement of expenses) for serving on an advisory body or as part of a training activity of or sponsored by any such entity.

Discloses to his or her institution, in such manner as his or her institution may prescribe, any involvement with or interest in any entity involved in any aspect of student financial aid.

Title IV Aid

REFUND REGULATIONS FOR STUDENTS RECEIVING FEDERAL TITLE IV AID (Financial Aid)
Title IV funds are awarded to students under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student fails to complete the term, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds he or she was scheduled to receive.

The Title IV Programs included in this regulation are Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, TEACH Grant or Federal Direct Loans. Federal Work-Study funds are not included in this regulation. The federal refund regulations require Athens State University to determine the amount of aid “earned” by each Financial Aid Student receiving title IV aid and withdrawing from all of his or her classes prior to the 60% point in the term. Students completing 60% of the term are considered to have “earned” 100% of the Title IV funds he or she was scheduled to receive during the period.

Students earning a passing grade in at least one course for the term are not subject to the Return to Title IV Funds regulations.

Students are encouraged to check with the Office of Student Financial Services prior to withdrawing or dropping out of the term.

Calculations are performed based on the student’s official withdrawal date or for unofficial withdrawals, the last date of an academically related activity that the student participated in, the mid point of the term, or the date the school determines the student ceased attendance due to illness, accident, grievous personal loss or other circumstances beyond the student’s control. Unofficial withdrawals dates are determined by the faculty, identifying the last date of activity for courses where a student earned an ‘F’, ‘I’, or ‘W’.

The withdrawal date must be determined within 30 days of the end of the term, academic year or student’s program, whichever is earlier.

The institution must return the amount of Title IV funds for which it is responsible no later than 45 days after the date of the determination of the date of the student’s withdrawal. Athens State University offers all degree programs in a credit hour, term based format. As a credit hour, term based degree program, the following formula is used to compute aid to be returned:

(Days Enrolled/ Days in Term) x Title IV Aid Awarded and Disbursed = Aid Earned

Aid Disbursed – Aid Earned = Aid to be Returned (Any break of five days or more is not counted as part of the days in the term.)

Order of Funds to Return

  1. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  2. Federal Direct Subsidized Loans
  3. Federal PLUS Loans
  4. Federal Pell Grant
  5. Federal TEACH Grant
  6. Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant

If a student earned less aid than was disbursed, the institution would be required to return a portion of the funds and the student would be required to return a portion of the funds. Keep in mind that when Title IV funds are returned, the student borrower will owe a debit balance to the institution.

If a student earned more aid than was disbursed to him/her, the institution will owe the student a post-withdrawal disbursement, to be paid within 120 days of the student’s withdrawal.

This regulation does not limit the University’s Refund Policy.

Impact of Withdrawal on Financial Aid

Students earn financial aid based on the length of time they attend classes during each semester. The percentage of aid earned is determined by dividing the number of days a student was enrolled and active in courses by the number of days in the semester. Students are strongly advised to contact the Office of Student Financial Aid prior to initiating a withdrawal action.

More Information >>

Repeated Courses

Federal Regulations limit the number of times a student may repeat a course and receive financial aid for that course.

  • A student may receive aid when repeating a course that was previously failed (received a 0.0), regardless of the number of times the course was attempted and failed.
  • A student may receive aid (if electing to repeat a previously passed course) one additional time.
  • Once a student has completed any course twice with a passing grade, he/she is no longer eligible to receive aid for that course.
  • If a student chooses to retake a course, and that course is not eligible for aid, the Office of Financial Aid will recalculate the student’s aid to exclude the credits for the repeated course from eligibility.
  • This rule applies whether or not the student received aid for earlier enrollments in the course.
Satisfactory Academic Progress

Athens State University has approved the following standards defining satisfactory progress, in accordance with regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education. Students will be notified by the financial aid office at the end of each semester if they are placed on Warning, Suspension, or become ineligible due to attempted hours. The financial aid office will update the student’s financial aid standing and adjust financial aid awards accordingly. Students should note this standing is separate from the academic standing.

Undergraduate Standards

To be eligible for federal student aid, an undergraduate student must show Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward a stated degree goal. At Athens State University, a student’s academic progress is checked at the end of each semester. The student must meet each of the following standards of academic progress:

1. Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) (Qualitative Measure)

The minimum GPA for an undergraduate, degree-seeking student is a cumulative 2.00.

Note: Failure to meet this SAP standard will result in a Warning status for one semester. If the standard is not met after the completion of that Warning semester the status will change to Suspended. An appeal is then required for financial aid reinstatement. There will be no consecutive Warning statuses given to a student who does not meet multiple SAP standards in a semester.

2. Complete 67% of all hours attempted with passing grades (Quantitative Measure)

This completion percentage is called Completion Rate or Pace. Pace is calculated by dividing the total number of hours the student has successfully earned by the total number attempted. All withdrawals (W), Incompletes (I), Failing Grades (F), repeated coursework, and audited coursework count as unsuccessful completions. See the Impact of Withdrawal on Financial Aid page for additional details.

Example A: If you have attempted 15 credit hours and successfully complete 12 of those hours, withdrew from 3 hours, then your completion rate will be 12 hours earned divided by 15 hours attempted = 80 percent completion rate. You meet the measurable progress component of this requirement.

Example B: If you have attempted 15 credit hours and successfully completed 6 of those hours, and either failed, repeated, have an Incomplete in, or withdrawn from the other 9 hours, then your completion rate would be 6 divided by 15= 40 percent completion rate. You do not meet the measurable progress component of this requirement

Note: Failure to meet this SAP standard will result in a Warning status for one semester. If the standard is not met after the completion of that Warning semester the status will change to Suspended. An appeal is then required for financial aid reinstatement. There will be no consecutive Warning statuses given to a student who does not meet multiple SAP standards in a semester.

3. Complete a degree program with a reasonable length of time (Maximum Time Frame)

At Athens State University, a reasonable length of time for the completion of an initial undergraduate degree program is defined as no more than 150 percent of the normal time required to complete a degree program. The cumulative amount of hours accepted by the Athens State Registrar will be used for this calculation.

Example: If your degree requires that you complete 124 credit hours, then your reasonable length of time will be 124 hours x 150 percent = 186 hours. You will be within your reasonable length of time during your first 186 hours of attempted course work.

Important Note: If you transfer into Athens State University with 186 undergraduate hours or more you may be subject to Maximum Timeframe Suspension prior to beginning your courses here. You will be notified accordingly as this will require an appeal.

Failure to meet this SAP standard will result in a Maximum Time Frame Suspension. An appeal is then required for financial aid reinstatement. There is no Warning status semester given but students will be notified when they are nearing this limit.

Second Degree or Provisional Teaching Certification Seeking Students

If a student is seeking a second degree, they must complete the requirements within 130% of the time frame for the degree or financial aid eligible non-degree program. An approved plan of study is required to be on file in the Office of Student Financial Aid for all students pursuing an additional degree or initial financial aid eligible non-degree program. This plan must be followed. Additionally, both the qualitative and quantitative SAP standards must be met as written.

Graduate Standards

To be eligible for federal student aid, a graduate student must show Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward a stated degree goal. At Athens State University, a student’s academic progress is checked at the end of each semester. The student must meet each of the following standards of academic progress:

1. Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) (Qualitative Measure)

The minimum GPA for an undergraduate, degree-seeking student is a cumulative 3.00.

Note: Failure to meet this SAP standard will result in a Warning status for one semester. If the standard is not met after the completion of that Warning semester the status will change to Suspended. An appeal is then required for financial aid reinstatement. There will be no consecutive Warning statuses given to a student who does not meet multiple SAP standards in a semester.

2. Complete 67% of all hours attempted with passing grades (Quantitative Measure)

This completion percentage is called Completion Rate or Pace. Pace is calculated by dividing the total number of hours the student has successfully earned by the total number attempted. All withdrawals (W), Incompletes (I), Failing Grades (F), repeated coursework, and audited coursework count as unsuccessful completions. See the Impact of Withdrawal on Financial Aid page for additional details.

Example A: If you have attempted 15 credit hours and successfully complete 12 of those hours, withdrew from 3 hours, then your completion rate will be 12 hours earned divided by 15 hours attempted = 80 percent completion rate. You meet the measurable progress component of this requirement.

Example B: If you have attempted 15 credit hours and successfully completed 6 of those hours, and either failed, repeated, have an Incomplete in, or withdrawn from the other 9 hours, then your completion rate would be 6 divided by 15= 40 percent completion rate. You do not meet the measurable progress component of this requirement

Note: Failure to meet this SAP standard will result in a Warning status for one semester. If the standard is not met after the completion of that Warning semester the status will change to Suspended. An appeal is then required for financial aid reinstatement. There will be no consecutive Warning statuses given to a student who does not meet multiple SAP standards in a semester.

3. Complete a degree program with a reasonable length of time (Maximum Time Frame)

At Athens State University, a reasonable length of time for the completion of an initial graduate degree program is defined as no more than 150 percent of the normal time required to complete a degree program. The cumulative amount of hours accepted by the Athens State Registrar will be used for this calculation.

Example: If your degree requires that you complete 30 credit hours, then your reasonable length of time will be 30 hours x 150 percent = 45 hours. You will be within your reasonable length of time during your first 45 hours of attempted course work.

Important Note: If you transfer into Athens State University with 45 graduate hours or more you may be subject to Maximum Timeframe Suspension prior to beginning your courses here. You will be notified accordingly as this will require an appeal.

Failure to meet this SAP standard will result in a Maximum Time Frame Suspension. An appeal is then required for financial aid reinstatement. There is no Warning status semester given but students will be notified when they are nearing this limit.

Second Graduate Degree Seeking Students

If a student is seeking a second graduate degree, they must complete the requirements within 130% of the time frame for the degree. An approved plan of study is required to be on file in the Office of Student Financial Aid for all students pursuing an additional degree. This plan must be followed. Additionally, both the qualitative and quantitative SAP standards must be met as written.

Overview of SAP Statuses

WARNING – The first semester a student does not meet one of the standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress, they will be placed on Warning status. During the warning semester, the student will continue to be eligible to receive Title IV aid. After a semester of warning, a student who does meet the minimum standards will be placed on a financial aid suspension. A student will not be eligible for Title IV financial aid until an appeal is approved (process outlined below.)

SUSPENDED – After attending one semester on Warning status, if a student does not meet the required completion rate or required GPA(s), they will be placed on a Suspended status. While suspended, a student is no longer eligible to receive any financial aid until the required standards are met or an appeal is successfully approved.

MAXIMUM TIME FRAME SUSPENSION (MAX) – This status is awarded when a student meets the allotted percentage of degree or program completion. While on MAX status, a student is no longer eligible to receive any financial aid until an appeal is successfully approved. Students may wish to discuss with their advisor the option of a first undergraduate degree in an Individualized Degree Program with the hours on their transcript.

PROBATION – After being placed on a Suspended or MAX status and financial aid has been reinstated through a successful appeal process, the student is again eligible to receive federal financial aid. This status is generally only for one semester and quite often will carry conditions and/or stipulations for continued eligibility. Probation may be for longer than one semester if an approved academic plan is in place. If placed on Probation after MAX, the student is no longer eligible to change their degree program or financial aid eligibility will be revoked.

SAP Appeal and Reinstatement Process

The process, detailed below, is for appeals related to the suspension and reinstatement of financial aid only. Students who have also been suspended from the University for unsatisfactory academic performance must file a separate appeal concerning the University suspension. Additional information on this process can be found in the Standards of Academic Performance policy or here: https://www.athensstate.org/studentforms/

A student has two options to seek to regain federal financial aid eligibility

  • Regain Satisfactory Academic Progress by completing courses that raise the Completion Rate and/or cumulative GPA to the outlined standards using payment methods other than federal financial aid.
  • Complete a Financial Aid Suspension Appeal form and submit all required supporting documentation for consideration.

Appeal Requirements

  • A written explanation of the unusual or mitigating circumstances that the student believes prevented or hindered them in making satisfactory academic progress or completing their degree within the allowable timeframe; Include what has changed or the corrective actions being taken to prevent future problems.
  • Supporting documentation by indicating below which situation(s) applies:
      1. Medical: If a personal medical problem contributed to the failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress, attach documentation from a medical professional from whom the student received advice or treatment.
      2. Death/Illness: If the death or illness of an immediate family member contributed to the lack of academic progress, attach appropriate copies of medical records, death certificate, obituary etc.
      3. Military Service: If the student withdrew due to military service, provide documentation.
      4. Other Circumstances: Clearly state the circumstances (not listed above) in the written explanation and provide appropriate documentation. Example: Courses on a student’s academic record at Athens State University do not apply toward their current degree; include current Degree Works Report.

 

  • An updated plan of study may be required.

 

RECOMMENDED: At least one letter of support from someone (not a family member) who can attest to the extenuating circumstances (e.g., medical doctor, clergy, professional, etc.).

Note: Circumstances related to the typical adjustment to college life such as working while attending

school, financial issues related to paying bills and car maintenance/travel to campus, are not always considered as extenuating for purposes of appealing suspension of financial aid.

Timeline

The appeal documentation must be provided to the Office of Student Financial Aid no later than 30 days prior to the tuition payment deadline for the upcoming semester. Failure to provide all documentation within the prescribed dates will result in a delayed determination.

Once the Office of Student Financial Aid has made a decision on an appeal, the student will be notified via their Athens State University email account. If they have an approved appeal, the status will be Probation. Failure to follow all conditions related to a probationary status will result in financial aid being terminated.

Important Note: If a student previously had their financial aid suspended and they are appealing for a second time, the appeal and all supporting documents will be sent to the Financial Aid Suspension Committee. The Committee will review the appeal and notify the student via an Athens State University email account. The Committee’s decision is final and there will be no further appeal reviewed for that financial aid suspension case. The Committee reviews appeals on an intermittent basis.

If an appeal is denied or the student decides not to appeal, they must complete the hours necessary and achieve the grades required to return to compliance with SAP.

Student Eligibility for Aid Related to Conviction for Possessing or Selling Illegal Drugs

Students convicted of a federal or state offense of selling or possessing illegal drugs that occurred while a period of enrollment for which they were receiving federal Title IV student aid are subject to loss of eligibility for Title IV aid. The period of ineligibility, which begins on the day the student was convicted and continues for one year, two years, or indefinitely depending upon the nature of the drug-related offense and the number of convictions and federal regulations.

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when he successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program. Further drug convictions will make him ineligible again. Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain aid only after successfully completing a qualified rehabilitation program or if a conviction is reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record so that fewer than two convictions for sale or three convictions for possession remain on the record. In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility. It is the student’s responsibility to certify the successful completion of a rehabilitation program.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES
It is the responsibility of the student to:

  1. Review and consider all information about a school’s program BEFORE enrolling.
  2. Pay special attention to the application for student financial aid, complete it accurately, and submit it on time to the right place. Errors can delay or prevent receiving aid.
  3. Know all the deadlines for applying or reapplying for aid and meet them.
  4. Provide all documentation, corrections, and/or new information requested by either the Student Financial Aid or the agency to which the application was submitted.
  5. Notify the university of any information that has changed since the application was made for financial aid.
  6. Read, understand, and keep copies of all forms requiring a signature.
  7. Repay any student loans he/she has. When a student signs a promissory note, he/she is agreeing to repay the loan.
  8. Attend an entrance and exit interview at the university if you have a Federal Direct Student Loan.
  9. Notify the university of any change in name, address, or attendance status. If a student has a loan, the student must also notify the lender of any changes.
  10. Satisfactorily perform the work agreed upon, if employed for a federal work-study job.
  11. Understand the university’s refund policy as outlined in this publication.

STUDENT RIGHTS
The student has the right to ask a university:

  1. The names of the university’s accrediting and licensing organizations.
  2. A copy of the documents describing the institution’s accreditation or licensing.
  3. About its programs, its instructional, laboratory, and other physical facilities, and its faculty.
  4. What the cost of attending is, and what its policy is on refunds to students who drop out.
  5. What financial assistance is available, including information on all Federal, state, local, private, and institutional financial aid programs.
  6. Who its financial aid personnel is, where they’re located, and how to contact them for information.
  7. What the procedures and deadlines are for submitting applications for each available financial aid program.
  8. How it selects financial aid recipients.
  9. How it determines the financial need, including the cost of education and resources available.
  10. How much of one’s need, as determined by the university, had been met.
  11. How and when one receives financial aid.
  12. To explain each type and amount of assistance in the financial aid package.
  13. What the interest rate is on any student loan, the total amount to be repaid, when the length of time for repayment and when
  14. Repayment must start, and what cancellation or deferment provisions apply.
  15. If offered a federal work-study job – what kind of job it is, what hours are to be worked, what the duties will be, what the rate of pay will be, and how and when wages will be paid.
  16. To reconsider an aid package, if the student believes a mistake has been made, or if enrollment or financial circumstances have changed.
  17. How the university determines whether a student is making satisfactory progress, and outcomes of unsatisfactory progress.
  18. What special facilities and services are available to persons with disabilities.