The Education Amendments of 1976 require that institutions award federal financial assistance only to those students who, according to institutional standards, are in good standing and making satisfactory progress. The guidelines are established to encourage students to complete courses successfully. At Plymouth State University, students must be in good academic standing and be making satisfactory academic progress in order to be eligible for financial assistance.
Good academic standing (qualitative progress) is defined in the Academic Catalog under Academic Policies and Procedures. All degree candidates must maintain academic standing consistent with PSU’s graduation requirements, which is based on a graduated scale (see Academic Catalog) with a 2.0 GPA required for graduation. Continuing students’ quantitative progress (credits earned) will be reviewed once a year prior to the award/disbursement of financial aid for the next academic year. Readmitted students’ quantitative progress will be reviewed at point of re-entry. Satisfactory Progress, for full-time undergraduate baccalaureate is outlined on the following chart.
|Number of Years Enrolled||1||2||3||4||5|
|Minimum # of credits student is expected to earn each year||15||18||24||24||24|
To graduate in four years Bachelor degree students need to earn an average of 15.25 credits per semester for 8 semesters. Any and all credits attempted and completed while enrolled at PSU count towards meeting Standards of Academic Progress. PSU expects that full-time students are capable of earning more credits in succeeding semesters. For example, we expect the following minimums:
- 1st Semester – 6 Credits
- 2nd – 4th Semesters – 9 Credits
- 5th – 11th Semesters – 12 credits
Summer and Winterim credits earned are included in the annual minimums. Less than full-time enrollment periods will be considered on a pro-rata basis. For an undergraduate program (bachelor degree), the maximum time frame for aid eligibility may not exceed 150 percent of the published length of the educational program (bachelor – six years).
Incomplete, withdrawn or repeated courses will be appropriately counted as indicated on the student’s academic transcript in determining number of credits earned. Completion of non-credit courses will count in determining satisfactory progress.
Students who are not successfully completing courses at the minimum levels as outlined on the chart are not making satisfactory academic progress. Such students will not receive further financial aid until satisfactory progress status is achieved.
- Transfer Credit Satisfactory Academic Policy: Courses transferred to PSU from other institutions will be included in the number of credits earned. Transfer credits will be converted to semester equivalents (ie 12 credits count as one semester) to determine the number of semesters completed for satisfactory academic progress review.
- Second Degree Satisfactory Academic Policy: Undergraduate Degree Students seeking a second undergraduate degree will be considered making satisfactory academic progress at the start of the second degree coursework. Only coursework required to complete the second degree will be considered as part of the student’s eligible program.All Plymouth State University credits attempted and all credits transferable towards a Plymouth State University program of study are counted toward the 150% maximum time frame. This means that students pursuing a second (or more) baccalaureate degree remain eligible until they’ve reached 150% of the published length of their current program.
- Previous PSU Student: Student A attended only PSU, and completed a first baccalaureate degree. Student A is pursuing a second baccalaureate degree at PSU, which requires a minimum of 120 credits to complete. In order to maintain satisfactory academic progress for financial aid, Student A must complete the second degree program within 150% of the number of credits required.120 credits X 150% = 180 creditsAll credits Student A previously attempted at PSU count towards the maximum 180 allowable credits for financial aid. This means that if Student A previously attempted 120 credits at PSU, she/he has 60 credits within which to complete the second baccalaureate program in order to maintain satisfactory academic progress for financial aid purposes.Second degree students must maintain a 70% completion rate.
Students who reach this timeframe will have an opportunity to appeal the decision.
Students pursuing a second undergraduate degree are eligible only for federal student loans at the undergraduate level.
- First undergraduate degree from a different institution: Student B attended XYZ University and transferred to a PSU program that requires 120 credits to complete. Student B completed 120 credits at XYZ University. However, only 100 XYZ University credits count towards Student B’s program of study at PSU. Since, under PSU’s financial aid satisfactory academic progress rules, students must complete their program of study within 150% of the minimum credits required, Student B has 80 credits (180 maximum minus 100 transferred credits) within which to complete the program of study and maintain satisfactory academic progress for financial aid purposes.
New for the upcoming 2018-2019 Academic Year:
Undergraduate students must meet the following SAP criteria:
- Minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.00
- Minimum completion rate of 67%
- Maximum time frame of 150% of defined academic length for bachelor’s degree programs.
All degree candidates must maintain academic standing consistent with PSU’s graduation requirements, which are based on a graduated scale with a 2.0 cumulative grade point average.
The completion rate is calculated by dividing total attempted credits by total earned credits. A student’s completion rate must stay above the required percentage to be considered satisfactory for this component. To graduate in four years (eight semesters), bachelor’s degree students must complete an average of 15 to 15.5 credit hours per semester for eight semesters.
Attempted credits include successfully completed courses with non-passing grades, incomplete courses, withdrawn courses, transfer credits and repeated courses. Earned credits include successfully completed courses and transfer credits. Audited coursework is not included in attempted/earned credits or GPA.
The maximum time frame is calculated by multiplying the published program length by 150 percent. Example: Published program length of 120 credits X 150% = 180 credits maximum time frame allowed to complete degree requirements. Implication: A student has attempted(not necessarily earned) 180 credits and has now exhausted his/her eligibility for financial aid.
A Financial Aid Officer will inform students by letter regarding non-eligibility for financial aid. If students choose not to appeal, reinstatement for financial aid consideration will occur when students attain the necessary credits on the chart, by earning credits above the semester minimums and/or attending a summer or Winterim session(s).
If there have been mitigating circumstances which have prevented satisfactory progress, a student must complete the steps on the checklist that was mailed to them in order to appeal the decision. These steps include:
- A signed Letter of Appeal which addresses the following:- Explain why you did not make satisfactory academic progress
– Explain in detail what changes have occurred (or will occur) that will allow you to make satisfactory academic progress in the future.
– OPTIONAL: Any documentation you feel will support your appeal. You might want to document difficulties you experienced which prevented your progress in the past. Or you might want to document a solution to past troubles. Documentation could be a letter from someone with whom you have been working who can support your appeal letter (Doctor, Counselor, Instructor, Advisor, Minister, etc.) Or documentation could be something to verify a past event (hospital records, accident report, etc.)
- Online Financial Awareness Counseling at https://www.studentloans.gov. Notification will be automatically sent to us once this process is completed.
Once both steps have been completed and required documentation received, the PSU SAP Appeal Committee will review your appeal and a decision will be made within two weeks.
At the time of review, the student’s appeal will either be approved to continue financial aid eligibility (normally based on mitigating circumstances with actions required each term aid is awarded) or denied.
If the student’s appeal is denied, communications will be provided on how eligibility may be restored. Until satisfactory progress status is met, a student will not have access to any federal, state and PSU aid, including grants, scholarships, loans and/or federal work study employment.
In some cases, matriculated students may wish to repeat a course, either to increase their GPA or replace a failing grade. This may effect their financial aid eligibility for the course itself or for future terms. Only classes which will count toward meeting degree requirements are eligible for financial aid.
Repeating a FAILED Course:
Federal guidance allows FULL-TIME students to use Federal aid to repeat previously failed coursework; however, the credit hours of any failed course will be counted in Satisfactory Academic Progress (Undergraduate or Graduate) calculations. The repeated course will also count as part of a student’s enrollment status for the payment period they are repeating.
Repeating a PASSED Course:
If a matriculated FULL-TIME student is repeating a previously PASSED course, federal guidance allows student to repeat and receive aid ONE-TIME. All hours of any courses attempted will count in all Satisfactory Academic Progress calculations. PSU academic guidelines will count the last repeated course for GPA purposes. Therefore, if a student earned a letter grade of “D” and then repeated this course and received an “F”, the “F” would replace the previously earned “D” for purposes of determining a student’s new GPA.
Students are encouraged to contact not only their academic advisor regarding PSU academic consequences but also a member of the Financial Aid Team if they are planning to repeat any coursework. They will want to be sure they understand how retaking courses will be treated by PSU academics as well as financial aid as required by federally mandated Satisfactory Academic Progress policies.
If you’re receiving financial aid grants or loans, you must attend your classes. Don’t drop or stop attending any class without consulting the Financial Aid Team. Changes in your enrollment level and failing grades may require you to repay federal financial aid funds.
Federal regulations require you to repay a portion of financial aid funds if you withdraw from all classes before satisfying the 60 percent completion rule for the enrollment term.
PSU Undergraduate fall and spring semesters 60 percent dates for 2017-2018 are:
•Fall 2017: after November 2017
•Spring 2018: after April 2018
It is important to recognize that there are potentially two forms of financial aid that may be refunded if a student withdraws: federal and institutional funds. If the university requires the student to withdraw, there will be no refund. For more information on PSU’s Refund Policy, please contact Student Account Services.
Students can download the Leave of Absence & Return form or pick up a copy at the Student Academic Advocate Office in the Frost House.
Students may request a leave of absence from studies for one or two consecutive semesters’ absence from Plymouth State University (this policy applies only to continuous fall and spring semesters; winter and summer sessions are not considered to be a part of a student’s regular continuous enrollment). A leave of absence is appropriate if the student intends to return to the University following a temporary absence for compelling reasons, which may include but are not limited to:
- Military service
- Family emergencies
- Medical reasons
Eligible students who apply for and receive a leave of absence retain their status as an active student which guarantees retention of their PSU email account, access to myPlymouth, and the ability to register online. No readmission application or fees are required if the student re-enrolls for a fall or spring semester immediately following the leave of absence. If there is no intent to return to the University, or if a student is unable to return following the leave of absence period, the regular withdrawal procedure should be followed.
Financial Aid Implications: If a student currently receives financial aid, their financial aid award will be reevaluated as a result of the leave. If the date of the leave precedes the start of classes, the financial aid will simply be cancelled. If the date of the leave is after the start of classes, the financial aid award will be adjusted according to federal regulations and institutional policies. The decision to take a leave of absence will not affect a student’s eligibility for financial aid upon his or her approved return as an active student. However, students must adhere to all published deadlines in applying for financial aid before returning.
Repayment on your loans begins after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Generally you have a grace period before you have to begin repayment. The grace period is a determinate length of time when no payments are due. You can start repaying during the grace period and save some money in the long run.
- Federal Perkins Loans – the grace period is nine months.
- Federal Direct Loans – the grace period is six months
- Federal PLUS Loans – repayment begins 30 to 45 days after the final loan disbursement.
NOTE: You are responsible for beginning repayment on-time, even if you do not receive information from your lender or servicer.
Eligibility for a Leave of Absence
- The student must be matriculated during the semester in which the leave of absence is requested.
- The student must be in good academic standing.
- The student must not be subject to university initiated disciplinary action.
- The student must have no restrictions/holds on their registration.
- The student must provide documentation to support the leave of absence request.
Additional Conditions for a Leave of Absence
- Students have the right to request a leave of absence more than once, but may not exceed a total of two years for all approved requests.
- Students have the right to return earlier than the initially agreed upon return date.
- Students who do not return to Plymouth State University at the end of the leave of absence period will be withdrawn from the University and must follow all procedures for readmission if, in the future, they seek to re-enroll as a matriculated student.
- Students are not eligible to receive financial aid payments from the University during the leave of absence period.
- Plymouth State University will report any student granted a leave of absence as “approved leave of absence” in response to inquiries for enrollment verifications.
- Students may not live in on-campus residential facilities, attend classes, or seek/maintain university sponsored employment during a leave of absence. Students may not enroll in winterim or summer sessions if those alternative sessions fall within the time period of the requested leave of absence.
- Students are responsible for understanding all implications of a leave of absence, including but not limited to the following:
- Potential loss of financial aid
- Potential loss of health coverage
Steps for Returning from a Leave of Absence
A student returning from a leave of absence reactivates their matriculation by contacting the Registrar’ Office.
- We hold you in our highest regard and will treat you with respect, sensitivity, and honesty.
- We will greet you with a smile.
- We will keep all your financial information in the strictest of confidence.
- We will do all we can to help you within the legal limits of PSU, state, and federal regulations.
- When you call us on the telephone, we will greet you with our names and a smile in our voice.
- If at any time you are dissatisfied with our service, please ask to speak with a supervisor.
As a student you have the right to:
- know what financial assistance is available to you, including all federal, state, and institutional financial aid programs.
- know the deadlines for submitting applications for applicable financial aid programs and the process required.
- know how your financial need is determined, including how cost of attendance budgets are developed.
- know what resources are considered in the calculation of your financial need, and how much of your need as determined by Plymouth State University has been met.
- an explanation of the types of aid contained in your financial aid award as well as how to retain eligibility for those funds (if applicable).
- request a review of your current financial situation if you meet certain criteria based on changes since filing the current aid year FAFSA application.
- know what portion of your aid package is grant or gift aid, and what portion must be repaid. In addition, you have the right to know interest rates, total amount to be repaid, procedures for repayment, when repayment begins, and how long you have to repay the loan.
- know the criteria for continued financial aid eligibility, including guidelines for the determination of Satisfactory Academic Progress as defined by the Department of Education.
- know the method and frequency of financial aid disbursements.
- be aware of your ability to pay any institutional charges based on your available financial aid and personal resources.
- review and understand the terms and conditions of your financial aid award.
- complete all requirements accurately, in a timely manner, and by the appropriate deadlines.
- advise us if you intend to enroll less than full time for any given term so that your aid can be properly adjusted and disbursed.
- advise us if you plan to change your enrollment status (i.e. from full-time to part-time, or vice-versa). Generally, only students enrolled at least six hours or more are eligible for financial aid. Please note that students who enroll for three hours (or more) may be eligible for Federal Pell Grants, limited to high need students only.
- advise Student Account Services (formerly the Bursars Office) of all non-PSU scholarships received. These are awards which were not part of your original PSU financial aid package but have since been awarded to you. Please click here for forms and instructions on how to report these scholarships.
- fill out the FAFSA application completely and accurately. If selected for verification you will provide all requested documents in a timely manner, and ensure that all submitted materials are complete and accurate. Falsification of information on application forms for federal financial assistance is considered a criminal offense, and you may be subject to penalties under the U.S. Criminal Code.
- read and understand all forms that you are asked to submit or sign, realizing that you are legally responsible for all agreements that you sign.
- advise us if you plan to graduate mid-year. Aid awards are based on each term a student normally would enroll during the academic year.
- be advised that outside scholarships may, or may not, affect your current financial aid award. PSU’s policy for treatment of outside scholarships is that they will first be used to meet “unmet” need, then any adjustments will be made in the following order:
a. adjustment to Federal College Work-Study eligibility,
b. adjustment to Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized Loans, and finally,
c. adjustment to any need-based institutional grants
- know and comply with all policies and procedures of Plymouth State University.
As a condition for receiving federal financial aid funds, you must notify us in writing of any of the situations or conditions listed above. Changes in your aid may be required due to these conditions. Failure to report these conditions may result in cancellation of aid.
NASFAA has published the following Code of Conduct to guide all financial aid professionals in their work. The complete text of the NASFAA statement is available in PDF format. If you have questions, please contact the Financial Aid Team.
Code of Conduct for Institutional Financial Aid Professionals
An institutional financial aid professional is expected to always maintain exemplary standards of professional conduct in all aspects of carrying out his or her responsibilities, specifically including all dealings with any entities involved in any manner in student financial aid, regardless of whether such entities are involved in a government sponsored, subsidized, or regulated activity.
The PSU Financial Aid Team adheres to the following Code of Conduct as developed by our national association (NASFAA.org):
1. No action will be taken by financial aid staff that is for their personal benefit or could be perceived to be a conflict of interest.
- Employees within the financial aid office will not award aid to themselves or their immediate family members. Staff will reserve this task to an institutionally designated person, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
- If a preferred lender list is provided, it will be compiled without prejudice and for the sole benefit of the students attending the institution. The information included about lenders and loan terms will be transparent, complete, and accurate. The complete process through which preferred lenders are selected will be fully and publicly disclosed. Borrowers will not be auto-assigned to any particular lender.
- A borrower’s choice of a lender will not be denied, impeded, or unnecessarily delayed by the institution, even if that lender is not included on the institution’s preferred lender list.
- No amount of cash, gift, or benefit in excess of a de minimis amount shall be accepted by a financial aid staff member from any financial aid applicant (or his/her family), or from any entity doing business with or seeking to do business with the institution (including service on advisory committees or boards beyond reimbursement for reasonable expenses directly associated with such service).
2. Information provided by the financial aid office is accurate, unbiased, and does not reflect preference arising from actual or potential personal gain.
3. Institutional award notifications and/or other institutionally provided materials shall include the following:
- A breakdown of individual components of the institution’s Cost of Attendance, designating all potential billable charges.
- Clear identification of each award, indicating type of aid, i.e. gift aid (grant, scholarship), work, or loan.
- Standard terminology and definitions.
- Renewal requirements for each award.
4. All required consumer information is displayed in a prominent location on the institutional web site(s) and in any printed materials, easily identified and found, and labeled as “Consumer Information.”
5. Financial aid professionals will disclose to their institution any involvement, interest in, or potential conflict of interest with any entity with which the institution has a business relationship.
Code of Conduct regarding Lenders
Plymouth State University, as a participant in federal loan programs, is required to have a code of conduct applicable to the institution’s officers, employees, and agents. The code of conduct requirements are set forth in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) signed into law on August 14, 2008. The Code of Conduct Related to Student Loan Activities is a requirement specific to certain transactions and activities related to financial aid matters. In addition, the law includes requirements related to publication of the code and annual disclosures.
Reason for Policy
The HEOA program participation agreement, which must be executed by all institutions participating in Title IV financial aid programs including student loan programs, requires a code of conduct with which the institution’s officers, employees, and agents shall comply. Such code must prohibit a conflict of interest with the responsibilities of an officer, employee, or agent of an institution with respect to such loans, and include the provisions set forth in the HEOA related to conflicts. The law further specifies that the code shall be displayed prominently on the institution’s website and that all institutional officers, employees and agents with responsibilities related to such loans be annually informed of the provisions of the code of conduct.
Plymouth State University hereby adopts the following provisions from the HEOA, Section 493 as its Code of Conduct Related to Student Loan Activities and will annually inform all institutional officers, employees, and agents with responsibilities for student loan activities and decisions of the provisions of this code. Note that where language in the law references financial aid office, it has been replaced with Plymouth State University Financial Aid Team.
(1) BAN ON REVENUE-SHARING ARRANGEMENTS
(A) Prohibition — The institution shall not enter into any revenue-sharing arrangement with any lender.
(B) Definition — For purposes of this paragraph, the term ‘revenue-sharing arrangement’ means an arrangement between an institution and a lender under which —
- a lender provides or issues a loan that is made, insured, or guaranteed under this title to students attending the institution or to the families of such students; and
- the institution recommends the lender or the loan products of the lender and in exchange, the lender pays a fee or provides other material benefits, including revenue or profit sharing, to the institution, an officer or employee of the institution, or an agent.
(2) GIFT BAN
(A) Prohibition — No officer or employee of the institution who is employed in the Plymouth State University Financial Aid Team office, or an individual who has been assigned by the Plymouth State University President with supervisory authority over the Director of Financial Aid or who otherwise has responsibilities with respect to education loans, or agent who has responsibilities with respect to education loans, shall solicit or accept any gift from a lender, guarantor, or servicer of education loans.
(B) DEFINITION OF GIFT
- In General — In this paragraph, the term ‘gift’ means any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, stock, or other item having a monetary value of more than a de minimus amount ($25 per year). The term includes a gift of services, transportation, lodging, or meals, whether provided in kind, by purchase of a ticket, computer hardware, printing costs or services for which the recipient pays below-market value, payment in advance, or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.
- Exceptions — The term ‘gift’ shall not include any of the following:
(I) Standard material, activities, or programs on issues related to a loan, default aversion, default prevention, or financial literacy, such as a brochure, a workshop, or training.
(II) Food, refreshments, training, or informational material furnished to an officer or employee of an institution, or to an agent, as an integral part of a training session that is designed to improve the service of a lender, guarantor, or servicer of education loans to the institution, if such training contributes to the professional development of the officer, employee, or agent.
(III) Favorable terms, conditions, and borrower benefits on an education loan provided to a student employed by the institution if such terms, conditions, or benefits are comparable to those provided to all students of the institution.
(IV) Entrance and exit counseling services provided to borrowers to meet the institution’s responsibilities for entrance and exit counseling as required by subsections (b) and (l) of section 485, as long as —
(aa) the institution’s staff are in control of the counseling, (whether in person or via electronic capabilities); and
(bb) such counseling does not promote the products or services of any specific lender.
(V) Philanthropic contributions to an institution from a lender, servicer, or guarantor of education loans that are unrelated to education loans or any contribution from any lender, guarantor, or servicer that is not made in exchange for any advantage related to education loans.
(VI) State education grants, scholarships, or financial aid funds administered by or on behalf of a State
- Rule for Gifts for Family Members — For purposes of this paragraph, a gift to a family member of an officer or employee of an institution, to a family member of an agent, or to any other individual based on that individual’s relationship with the officer, employee, or agent, shall be considered a gift to the officer, employee, or agent if —
(I) the gift is given with the knowledge and acquiescence of the officer, employee, or agent; and
(II) the officer, employee, or agent has reason to believe the gift was given because of the official position of the officer, employee, or agent.
(3) CONTRACTING ARRANGEMENTS PROHIBITED
(A) Prohibition — An officer or employee who is employed in the Plymouth State University Financial Aid office or who otherwise has responsibilities with respect to education loans, or an agent who has responsibilities with respect to education loans, shall not accept from any lender or affiliate of any lender any fee, payment, or other financial benefit (including the opportunity to purchase stock) as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement or other contract to provide services to a lender or on behalf of a lender relating to education loans.
(B) Exceptions — Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as prohibiting —
- an officer or employee of an institution who is not employed in the institution’s Plymouth State University Financial Aid office and who does not otherwise have responsibilities with respect to education loans, or an agent who does not have responsibilities with respect to education loans, from performing paid or unpaid service on a board of directors of a lender, guarantor, or servicer of education loans;
- an officer or employee of the institution who is not employed in the Plymouth State University Financial Aid office but who has responsibility with respect to education loans as a result of a position held at the institution, or an agent who has responsibility with respect to education loans, from performing paid or unpaid service on a board of directors of a lender, guarantor, or servicer of education loans, if the institution has a written conflict of interest policy that clearly sets forth that officers, employees, or agents must excuse themselves from participating in any decision of the board regarding education loans at the institution; or
- an officer, employee, or contractor of a lender, guarantor, or servicer of education loans from serving on a board of directors, or serving as a trustee, of an institution, if the institution has an interest policy that the board member or trustee must excuse themselves from any education loans at the institution.
Violations of university policies, including the failure to avoid a prohibited activity or disclose a conflict of interest in timely manner, will be dealt with in accordance with applicable university policies and procedures, which may include disciplinary actions up to and including termination from the institution.
Policies posted and updated October 2013