Financial Aid Policies

Satisfactory Academic Progress for Students Receiving Financial Aid

In order to be eligible to receive financial aid, students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress toward the completion of a degree or certificate.  The standards for measuring progress follow Federal and Pennsylvania State government regulations.

Financial aid satisfactory academic progress (SAP) – A measure of a student‘s successful progression in his or her educational program that is required for Federal and Pennsylvania State aid programs. Regular evaluation of SAP results in a determination that a student is or is not academically eligible for continued financial aid.

Federal Programs

Definitions:

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Grade-Point Average (SAP GPA) –The calculated GPA used to measure academic performance when determining SAP. Refer to Section B below for more detail.

Pace of Completion – A percentage representing the rate of completion that a student is achieving toward the federal maximum 150% timeframe for completion of his or her educational program. Calculation is cumulative credit hours earned divided by cumulative credit hours attempted in the student’s educational program with a target pace of 66.67%. Refer to Section C for more detail.

Financial aid probation – A status assigned to a student who fails to achieve financial aid satisfactory academic progress and who has appealed and has had eligibility for federal aid reinstated.

Procedure for Federal Programs (Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work-study, Federal Direct Stafford Student Loan, Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan) and Private Alternative Loans, effective May 2011:

  1. Point of evaluation:
    1. SAP in four-year and two-year programs is evaluated at the end of each academic year (May).
    2. SAP in less than two-year programs is evaluated after each semester of attendance.
    3. All semesters of attendance will be considered, regardless of when the student first enrolled or first received financial aid.
  2. SAP GPA: 
    1. At each evaluation, the student must achieve a SAP GPA of at least 2.00. 
    2. Courses that will be calculated in the SAP GPA are all courses completed by the student or used in the student’s most recent educational program (at the time of the SAP review). 
    3. This calculation is done by dividing the number of grade points by the total number of credits for which the student has earned a grade of ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’, or ‘F’.
    4. The highest earned grade is used in cases where a student repeats a previously completed course.
    5. No other grades, such as for completed courses not needed for a student's program, are used in the calculation.
    6. SAP GPA is not calculated in the same manner as Graduation GPA.
  3. Timeframe and Pace of Completion
    1. Students may receive aid for a timeframe of up to 150% of the published credit hours for their educational program. For example, if a program requires 120 credit hours to complete, a student may receive financial aid for up to 180 credit hours in that program.
    2. Pace of Completion is calculated by dividing cumulative credit hours earned by cumulative credit hours attempted in the educational program. Pace of at least 66.67% is required to meet the 150% timeframe requirement. For example, a student who has earned 40 out of 50 credits attempted in her program has a pace of 4/5, or 80%.
  4. Course and Credit Requirements
    1. Only courses in the current educational program for which a student receives a grade of A, B, C, D, S are counted as credits attempted and earned toward SAP. Courses for which a student receives a grade of F, W, I, SP, Z, R, U or T are counted as credits attempted but not as credits earned toward SAP.
    2. Credit hours from another institution that are accepted toward a student’s current educational program are counted as both credits attempted and earned.
    3. Credits earned for repeated courses within a student’s educational program, as well as the original attempts, are counted in the Pace of Completion calculation. 
      Note: A student may receive federal financial aid a maximum of two (2) times when repeating a previously passed course (taken at Penn College or transferred in).
    4. Only courses applicable to a primary educational program (major) are considered for students enrolled in dual degrees, dual (multiple) majors, and minors.
    5. Non-credit courses and credits earned through Advanced Placement, Credit for Life Experience, or College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) are not counted in determining Pace of Completion or SAP GPA.
    6. Developmental credits are included except for any that are not needed for a student’s most recent program.
  5. Program changes:
    • A student who changes programs two or more times (enters a third different program) is ineligible for aid pending further review by the Director of Financial Aid or designee.
  6. Financial Aid Unsatisfactory Academic Progress – Ineligibility:
    • A student who does not meet the above conditions for SAP is no longer eligible to receive federal financial aid and may not be eligible for  private alternative loans. Eligibility for federal aid and private alternative loans is restored when the student again demonstrates SAP.
  7. Appeal Process for Financial Aid Probation
    1. A student may request reconsideration of eligibility for financial aid based on death of a relative, injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstances that prevented the student from achieving SAP. The student must submit a detailed, written appeal to the Financial Aid Office which includes the following information:
      • Full name and Penn College Student ID number.
      • An explanation of why the student failed to achieve SAP.
      • An explanation of what has changed in the student’s situation that will allow the student to demonstrate SAP by the end of the next semester.
      • Details that define the student’s plan to ensure future SAP.
      • The course numbers, if any, of courses that you plan to repeat.
    2. The appeal must be submitted by the student via the Financial Aid Office site on myPCT Portal.
      Contact the Financial Aid Office with any questions.
    3. The Director or designee may request documentation to support the appeal and may also request a face-to-face meeting with the student.
    4. Appeals should be submitted promptly. An appeal received and/or reviewed after a semester for which a student was ineligible because of SAP will not enable a student to receive a Federal Pell Grant, FSEOG, or Federal Work-study for that prior semester. The same is true for Federal Direct Loans unless a student is enrolled in a semester (during the same academic year) following the one s/he requests Direct Loan funds.
    5. The Director or designee will inform students in writing and usually by e-mail of the decision on the appeal. This notification will include any conditions under which an exception has been made or will explain the reason for denying the appeal and detail the action necessary for a student to regain eligibility. A student may request a review of this decision in a meeting between the student, the Director of Financial Aid, and the Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid.
  8. Grade Changes
    • The Financial Aid Office will not be aware of any changes to a grade that occur after the SAP review. It is the responsibility of a student who is notified of a grade change to inform the Financial Aid Office if s/he believes the change will impact the most recent SAP review. At that time, the Financial Aid Office will determine what impact, if any, a grade change will have on the student's most recent SAP review.
  9. Academic Probation and Academic Renewal
    1. A student on Academic Probation or Renewal as defined by Academic Affairs may continue to receive financial aid but is subject to the requirements for SAP as defined above. The Financial Aid Office will not require a separate appeal letter from the student.   The appeal documentation will reside in the Academic Affairs office for Program Review and auditing purposes.

Pennsylvania State Grant Program (PHEAA)

Pennsylvania State Grant Program Satisfactory Academic Progress (PHEAA SAP) Policy (subject to revision by PHEAA)

PHEAA Satisfactory Academic Progress (PHEAA SAP):

  1. Students must successfully complete at least 12 credits for each full-time semester and at least 6 credits for each part-time semester in which PHEAA Grants were received.
  2. Developmental (remedial) credits, in many instances, do not count toward the credits required for PHEAA SAP. Remedial credits can only count toward PHEAA SAP if taken during a semester for which a student was granted a Remedial Exception and used toward the minimum number (12 for full-time or 6 for part-time) of credits needed.
  3. A course previously passed during a semester with a PHEAA Grant will not count in the PHEAA SAP calculation if taken and passed again.
  4. PHEAA mandates the responsibility of checking PHEAA SAP to the institution of attendance. As a result, students typically initially receive an award notification from PHEAA before the Financial Aid Office can review for PHEAA SAP.

PHEAA SAP will be evaluated beginning in May (after grades are posted for the Spring Semester) for all students who previously received one or more PHEAA Grants, have a Financial Aid Application for the current or upcoming year, and have been tentatively awarded a PHEAA Grant for the upcoming year.

  1. Students who were awarded a PHEAA Grant(s) during the previous academic year, including summer semester, will be evaluated for credits earned during that year.
  2. Students who were awarded a PHEAA Grant(s) prior to the previous academic year will be evaluated for credits earned during and since that year.
  3. The Financial Aid Office must review official college transcripts with final grades to determine PHEAA SAP for students whose most recent PHEAA Grant(s) was received while at another institution. It is the responsibility of students to ensure that an official transcript from a prior institution(s) is mailed to the Financial Aid or Admissions Offices.
  4. PHEAA Grants received 10 or more years prior to the current academic year are exempt from the PHEAA SAP review.
  5. Students are responsible to inform the Financial Aid Office of any grade change that occurs after the PHEAA SAP review if s/he believes the change will impact the most recent review.
  6. Students who have not achieved PHEAA SAP will be ineligible for PHEAA Grants until the semester after they have earned additional credits to demonstrate PHEAA SAP. Any 'additional' credits must be non-developmental and must be earned from an approved Pennsylvania State Grant or Federal Title IV institution in order to be considered toward PHEAA SAP.
  7. Students who believe that they had mitigating circumstances that prevented them from achieving SAP may appeal PHEAA's academic progress decision. Appeals must be made in writing and are reviewed only by PHEAA. As part of the appeal process, students first need to contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

Non-Pennsylvania State Grant programs may have different Satisfactory Academic Progress guidelines. Students should refer to their state grant award letters for program-specific requirements.

Federal Policy Regarding Federal Student Aid and Drug Law Convictions

A student convicted of a federal or state drug offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving Title IV (federal) financial aid is ineligible for federal student aid (FSA).*

The period of ineligibility for FSA funds
Possession of illegal drugs Sale of illegal drugs
1st offense 1 year from date of conviction 2 years from date of conviction
2nd offense 2 years from date of conviction Indefinite period
3rd offense
and beyond
Indefinite period Indefinite period
 

* Exceptions include any conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from a student's record, a conviction received as a juvenile (unless the student was tried as an adult), and any conviction for an offense that did not occur when a student was receiving Title IV aid.

Reference: U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Handbook. (2015-16, Volume 1, Chapter 1, pp. 1-15 to 1-16)

Federal Title IV Refund Policy

Definitions

Payment period – the total number of calendar days that a student is scheduled to complete prior to ceasing attendance, including breaks in enrollment of less than five days.Note: During fall or spring semester, the entire semester is usually the payment period.

Module – a course that does not span the entire payment period.

Withdrawal -- a student is considered to have withdrawn if the student does not complete all the days in the payment period that the student was scheduled to complete prior to ceasing attendance.

Payment period completed – the total number of calendar days within the payment period that a student completed prior to ceasing attendance, including breaks in enrollment of less than five days.

Percentage of the payment period completed – 'payment period completed' divided by 'payment period'.

Academically-related activity – an exam, tutorial, online instruction (not just logging on), submitting an assignment, or attending a study group assigned by the College. Academic counseling and academic advising are not considered academically-related activities.

Policy/Regulation

When a student withdraws, ceases attending, or is administratively withdrawn during a semester, the College is required by Federal regulation to determine the amount of Title IV grant or loan assistance (Federal Pell, FSEOG, Federal Direct Stafford Loan, Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan) that the student earned as of the student's withdrawal date. The unearned portion of the Title IV aid must be returned to the appropriate Title IV program(s).

Determining enrollment status for Return of Title IV Funds

Adjustments to a student's enrollment status made after the student ceases attendance have no bearing on the Return of Title IV Funds requirements.

  • If prior to ceasing attendance, a student drops modules that have not yet started, the dropped modules will not
    be included when determining the student's payment period. Eligibility for Title IV funds may need to be recalculated.
  • If a student drops modules that have not yet started, after ceasing attendance in all courses, the dropped modules will be included in determining the student's payment period.
Withdrawal date determination (in general)
  • The date the student officially notifies the Registrar's Office, in writing or in person, of his or her intent to withdraw or,
  • The date the student begins the official withdrawal process in the Registrar's Office.
  • If the student ceases attendance without providing official notification to the Registrar's Office, the student may be administratively withdrawn and the withdrawal date will be one of the following:
    • The date the student last attended class or participated in an academically-related activity.
    • The mid-point date of the student's payment period.
Withdrawal date determination for students taking one or more modules and no courses that span the entire semester
  • If a student fails to complete all modules scheduled for a semester, the student is considered a withdrawal at the time the student ceases attendance.
  • If a student withdraws from a module but indicates in writing to the Financial Aid Office that he or she will attend a later module during the same semester, the student is not considered a withdrawal.
    • If the student fails to attend the later module, the date of withdrawal reverts to the original withdrawal from the prior module. The later module will be included in the period of enrollment.
  • Without written confirmation of the student's intent to attend a later module in the same semester, a student who withdraws from a module or has ceased attendance is considered a withdrawal.
  • If a student begins but fails to complete the final module(s) in a semester, the student is considered to have withdrawn.
  • If a student receives a failing grade for the final module(s) in a semester, the College must determine if the student ceased attending and is therefore considered a withdrawal.
  • The Return of Title IV Funds process will begin as soon as possible after it is determined that a student has withdrawn or ceased attendance. If the student returns for a later module in the payment period, the Return of Title IV Funds will be reversed.
Earned and unearned Title IV financial aid
  • Based on the withdrawal date, the College determines the percentage of the payment period completed.
  • Earned Title IV aid is calculated using the percentage of the payment period completed.
    • If a student completes more than 60% of the days he or she was scheduled to complete, the student is considered to have earned 100% of the Title IV grants or awards for the semester.
    • Earned Title IV aid may not be sufficient to cover the College charges and a balance due may result.
  • Unearned Title IV aid is the remaining Title IV aid that the student did not earn based on the date of withdrawal.
    • All unearned Title IV aid must be returned to the specific Federal program.
Repayment

The responsibility to repay the unearned Title IV funds to specific Federal programs is shared by the College and the student.

  • Federal regulation requires that Title IV financial aid be used to cover only the length of time the student was enrolled before withdrawal, dismissal, or ceasing attendance.
  • The College's share is the lesser of:
    • The total amount of unearned Title IV funds; or
    • Institutional (College) charges incurred for the billing period multiplied by the percentage of aid that was unearned.
  • The College's share is allocated among the Title IV programs in the following order of return:
    1. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
    2. Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan
    3. Federal Direct PLUS Loan
    4. Federal Pell Grant
    5. Federal SEOG
    6. Other Title IV assistance for which a return of funds is required
  • The student's share is the difference between the unearned Title IV funds and the College's share.
  • Timeframe for the Return of Title IV Funds to the Federal programs:
    • Return of Title IV Funds process will begin as soon as possible after it is determined that a student has withdrawn or ceased attendance.
    • The College must determine the withdrawal date for a student who withdrew without providing notification no later than 30 days after the end of the semester.
    • The College must return funds no later than 45 days after the date the College determined that the student withdrew.

Important Information about PHEAA's Distance Learning Policy

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has a distance learning (education) policy for its Pennsylvania State Grant program. The policy can impact students in two ways:

1. Students enrolled in an online program of study are ineligible for PHEAA Grants. These Penn College distance learning programs are ineligible: PDA/BDA, BAM, PDD/BDD, BHI, NRB/BSN/BNS, BDM, BDT, and BWM.

2. For students enrolled in all other programs of study: If you take more than 50% of your credits as distance learning you are ineligible for PHEAA Grants. As of the Summer 2013 Semester, PHEAA's Distance Learning policy requires colleges to measure the percent of credits that students enroll in on a semester basis. (Previously, the College calculated distance learning credits on a program basis.) At least 50% of a student's credits each semester must be 'in the classroom' to remain eligible for a PHEAA Grant, assuming all other eligibility requirements are met.

Semester examples
Classroom Credits Distance Credits Eligible for PHEAA?
Lamar 7 7 Yes*
Shawn 8 7 Yes*
Amy 7 8 No

*If Lamar or Shawn drops or withdraws below seven classroom credits, they will become ineligible because their distance learning % will rise above 50%..

Developmental credits, in most cases, cannot be used toward the calculation. Only when a student has been granted a Remedial Exception for a semester can (some) developmental credits be included in the calculation. PHEAA policy permits Remedial Exceptions when:

  • A full-time student has 6-11 non-developmental credits.
  • A part-time student has 3-5 non-developmental credits.
  • A student's prior number of Remedial Exceptions** is not greater than .50 for full-time students or .75 for part-time students.
Examples with developmental credits
  Total Credits Developmental Credits Remedial Exception? Classroom Credits Distance Credits Eligible for PHEAA?
Courtney 15 3 No
(full-time with 12 non-developmental)
6 6 Yes
Jon 15 3 No
(full-time with 12 non-developmental)
5 7 No
Marissa 12 6 Yes
(full-time with 6 non-developmental)
6 6 Yes

**0.50 = 1 full-time semester exception. Students with prior Remedial Exceptions can view the cumulative total of exceptions from the 'PHEAA Breakdown' section of the 'View Financial Aid Information' page of SIS.

Hybrid Courses

Hybrid courses combine classroom and distance learning and are identified by Penn College course section numbers of 98 or 99. As long as a hybrid course consists of 50% or more classroom instruction, it is considered (by PHEAA) as a classroom course. Hybrid courses that consist of more than 50% distance learning instruction are considered as distance learning courses. Refer to the instruction breakdown provided for hybrids on the College 'Course Offerings' information provided on the Registrar's Web page and my PCT Portal page.

If you have questions about PHEAA's Distance Learning policy and/or how it might impact your eligibility for PHEAA Grants, don't hesitate to contact the Financial Aid Office.

PHEAA's Distance Education Pilot (DE) Program

This PHEAA program began in the Fall Semester of 2013. It allows students taking primarily distance education classes to be considered for special 'DE Pilot' state grant awards. Penn College recognizes the importance of distance learning to many students, so we are happy to participate. Students who are ineligible for 'regular' state grant awards due to either of the two reasons explained in the above policy and who meet all other PHEAA eligibility criteria are nominated by the Financial Aid Office for DE Pilot awards. We identify students eligible for nomination; students do not need to contact the Financial Aid Office.

There is limited funding for the DE Pilot Program so please understand that neither PHEAA nor the Financial Aid Office can guarantee that any student nominated for a DE Pilot award will receive it. Distance education students need to be taking classes only in their official program(s) of study to be considered for nomination.

Federal Policy Regarding Repeated Coursework

A student may receive Federal financial aid (Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work-study, Direct Stafford Student Loan, Direct Parent PLUS Loan) a maximum of two (2) times when repeating a previously passed course (taken at Penn College or transferred in). In other words, once a student has passed a course the student has one additional attempt to complete the same course and still be eligible to receive Federal financial aid for that course.

What if I withdraw from a course the 2nd time I attempt it, after passing it the first time? Is the course eligible for Federal aid if I attempt the course a 3rd time?

Yes. A withdrawal is not a 'completed' attempt.

Does it matter whether I received Federal financial aid the first time I passed the course that I want to repeat?

No. Federal aid cannot be awarded for a course that you passed once, completed in a 2nd attempt, and plan to take a 3rd time, regardless of whether you previously had Federal aid or not.

If I am eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and I schedule 14 credits and 3 of my credits are impacted by this policy, what happens to my Pell Grant?

We must base your Pell Grant award on 11 (14 total minus 3 ineligible) credits, and your account will be credited with a 3/4-time Pell Grant.

If I am eligible for a Federal Direct Loan and I schedule 7 credits and 3 of my credits are impacted by this policy, what happens to my Loan?

We must base your eligibility on 4 (7 total minus 3 ineligible) credits. Since a minimum of 6 credits is required to be eligible for a Direct Loan, we will cancel your Direct Loan.

Contact Financial Aid

  • Address
    • Pennsylvania College of Technology
      DIF 108
      One College Avenue
      Williamsport, PA 17701