Federal financial aid (“Title IV funds”) is awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student withdraws, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds that the student was originally scheduled to receive. According to federal law, the Financial Aid Office must recalculate Federal Title IV financial aid eligibility for students who withdraw from all classes, drop out, are dismissed, or take a leave of absence prior to completing more than 60% of a quarter/semester. Federal Title IV financial aid and all other aid are viewed as 100% earned after that point in time. Withdrawal date is defined as the actual date the student began the institution's withdrawal process, the student's last date of recorded attendance, or the midpoint of the quarter/semester for a student who leaves without notifying the institution. Catawba is required to perform a Return to Title IV Calculation within 30 days of a student's official withdraw date. The Federal Title IV programs covered under this policy include Federal Pell Grant, Academic Competitiveness Grant, National SMART Grant, Federal SEOG, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Stafford Loans, and Federal PLUS Loan (Graduate Student or Parent). The North Carolina Need Based Scholarship is subject to return if the student earns less than 35% of his/her financial aid.
The school returns "unearned" Title IV funds that have been paid to the school to cover the student's institutional charges received from Title IV grant and/or loan programs. No additional disbursements may be made to the student for the enrollment period.
Return of Funds
Federal Title IV financial aid is returned in the order mandated by the U.S. Department of Education. No program can receive a refund if the student did not receive aid from that program. Funds must be returned within 45 days after the date of withdrawal determination. Return of funds required by the student for unearned aid is returned (repaid) in accordance to the terms of the loan on the promissory note. The order is as follows based on aid offered at Catawba College:
- Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan
- Subsidized Direct Stafford Loans
- Perkins Loan
- Direct PLUS (Graduate Student or Parent)
- Pell Grant
If it is determined that a student is eligible for Federal Title IV financial aid funds that have not been disbursed, grant funds that the student is eligible for will be disbursed first. Federal aid that the student is eligible for will be credited to the student's account for outstanding charges. If the student has no outstanding charges or if there is a balance due the student after disbursement, Catawba College will notify the student of his/her eligibility for the loans. The student must respond within 14 days of the date of the letter as to whether they want all, part, or none of the loan(s). If the student fails to respond within 14 days, no loan disbursement will be made.
Before calculating the amount of financial aid that must be cancelled, the following is taken into consideration:
- If a promissory note for a Perkins Loan or Stafford Loan has not been signed and submitted by the student prior to the withdrawal date, the loan(s) is automatically cancelled.
- If an entrance loan interview has not been completed by the student prior to the withdrawal date, the Stafford Loan is automatically cancelled.
- Students who have not completed verification are not eligible for financial aid and are not included under this policy.
Determination of Withdraw Date
The withdrawal date used in the return calculation of a student's federal financial aid is the actual date indicated on the official withdraw form that a student turns into the Registrar's Office or the date that Catawba Administratively Withdraws a student. If a student stops attending classes without notifying the College, the withdrawal date will be the midpoint of the semester or the last date of academic activity determined. Additional documentation supporting the last date of academic activity may be provided by the student if they verify a later date of attendance than determined by the College.
If a student receives financial aid, but never attends classes, the Financial Aid Office must return all disbursed funds to the respective federal and institutional aid programs.
Students Who Receive All Failing Grades at the End of a Term (Semester)
Financial aid is awarded under the assumption that the student will attend Catawba College for the entire term for which federal assistance was disbursed. When the student has failed to earn a passing grade in at least one class for the term, federal regulations require the school to determine whether the student established eligibility for funds disbursed by attending at least one class or participating in any Catawba academic-related activity. If the school cannot verify that the student attended Catawba, all financial aid must be repaid to the federal, state and institutional programs. The student's account will be charged and the student will be responsible for any balance due.
When the student has a combination of fail and withdraw grades for the term, Catawba will consider the student as an unofficial withdraw. Catawba will automatically determine the unofficial withdraw date as the mid-point of the semester and perform a Return to Title IV (R2T4) Calculation unless the student can provide documentation supporting the last date of academic activity beyond the mid-point. Any relevant federal, state, and institutional funds will be returned to the respective programs, and the student will be responsible for any balance due to Catawba.
If the student can prove to have participated in a Catawba class or academic-related activity past the 60% date, the student will not be required to return any disbursed financial aid.
Students who are able to verify attendance beyond Catawba's records may submit supporting documentation to the Financial Aid Office. The student must submit supporting documentation within 30 days from the last date of the term. Recalculations for aid eligibility will not be performed for documentation received after that date.
Repayment calculation process
Once grades are posted for a student who receives all failing grades, Catawba's Financial Aid Office will provide those students with a written notice to the student's permanent home address instructing that student to provide documentation that they actually attended class and participated in all academically related activities. Examples of valid documentation include but are not limited to: graded assignments, class notes, participation in online class discussions, etc. If the student does not provide this documentation within 30 days of the last day of the term (semester), Catawba's Financial Aid Office will consider that student as an unofficial withdraw and will perform a Return to Title IV Calculation using the semester mid-point date as the unofficial date of withdraw. All relevant funds will be returned to the federal, state and institutional programs, the student's account will be updated, and ultimately, the student will be responsible for any balance due to Catawba College.
Return of Title IV Funds — School of Evening and Graduate Studies (Modular Program)
These new regulations aim to provide for more consistent and equitable treatment of students who withdraw from a program measured in credit hours, regardless of whether courses in the program span the entire term or consist of shorter modules or 'blocks'. Students in the following program will be impacted:
Program Integrity Principles:
- Title IV funds are awarded to a student to attend an entire payment period or semester of enrollment, and the funds are intended to cover the student's educational and living expenses for the entire period.
- The law specifies that a student earns Title IV funds on a pro rata basis through 60 percent of a period based on the ACTUAL days completed. Documenting Attendance: For the purposes of federal and state financial aid programs, we must be able to document your active participation in an academic activity.
A student is considered to have withdrawn from a semester in which the student began enrollment if the student drops and/or withdraws from any scheduled courses or 'blocks' without completing:
- All of the days the student was scheduled to complete in the semester, in a credit-hour program.
- However, if a student provides written confirmation (Confirmation of Future Enrollment Form available at www.catawba.edu/finaid) to Catawba's Financial Aid Office at the time of dropping and/or withdrawing from a block stating that the student plans to attend another block later in the same semester, that student is not considered to have withdrawn.
- If a student does not resume attendance within the scheduled timeframe, the student is considered to have withdrawn as of the date on which attendance ceased.
- If a student does not provide written confirmation of plans to return to school later in the same term (semester), Catawba's Financial Aid Office must consider that student to have withdrawn and will perform a Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation to determine if any funds must be returned. However, if the student does return to school in the same semester — even if the student did not provide written confirmation of plans to do so — the student is not considered to have withdrawn and the school must reverse the R2T4 process and provide any additional funds the student is eligible to receive at the time of return.
The new rule replaces prior guidance provided in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-00-24 regarding student withdrawals in term-based programs that include courses shorter than the length of an entire term.