If you’re receiving financial aid grants or loans, you must attend your classes. Don’t drop or stop attending any class without consulting Student Financial Services. 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:
- Fall 2023: October 29
- Spring 2024: March 31
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 Financial Services.
Federal regulations require Title IV financial aid funds to be awarded under the assumption that a student will attend the institution for the entire period in which federal assistance was awarded. When a student withdraws from all courses for any reason, including medical withdrawals, they may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds that they were originally scheduled to receive. Students must attend at least 60% of any term federal aid is received to earn the entire amount disbursed at the beginning of a term.
The return of funds is based upon the premise that students earn their financial aid in proportion to the amount of time in which they are enrolled. A pro-rated schedule is used to determine the amount of federal student aid funds they will have earned at the time of the withdrawal. Thus, a student who withdraws in the second week of classes has earned less of their financial aid than a student who withdraws in the seventh week. Once 60% of the semester is completed, a student is considered to have earned all of their financial aid and will not be required to return any funds. Federal law requires schools to calculate how much federal financial aid a student has earned if that student:
- completely withdraws, or
- stops attending before completing the semester, or
- does not complete a Part of Term, (courses which are second half of a semester for which he/she has registered)
Based on this calculation, Plymouth State University (PSU) students who receive federal financial aid and do not complete their classes during a semester or term could be responsible for repaying a portion of the aid they received. Students who do not begin attendance must repay all financial aid disbursed for the term. The following policies will help you to understand that a withdrawal potentially affects students academically as well as financially. We encourage students to read all the information below prior to making a final decision.
Prior to withdrawing, students must inform the Academic Student Advocate of their intention to withdraw from the University, not an instructor, advisor, faculty secretary or any other University personnel. To do so, please submit a PSU Withdrawal form and book an appointment with the Academic Student Advocate.
To book an appointment, please stop in or call the Frost House, or contact the Academic Student Advocate & Policy Advisor directly.
Located Behind Blair Residence Hall
Dr. David Zehr
Academic Student Advocate & Policy Advisor
Phone: (603) 535-3294
- Academic policies on leaving PSU are available in the Academic Catalog: University Policies and Procedures
- The Plymouth State University’s refund policy is separate from the federal regulations to repay unearned aid. Whether or not a student receives a tuition/fee refund has no bearing on the amount they must repay to the federal aid programs. Contact Student Financial Services for further inquiries regarding tuition/fee refunds or learn more
- Students should review the Withdrawal section on the Frost House webpage if withdrawing from the University.
Students who receive federal financial aid must “earn” the aid they receive by staying enrolled in classes. The amount of federal financial aid assistance the student earns is on a pro-rated basis. Students who withdraw or do not complete all registered classes during the semester may be required to return some of the financial aid they were awarded. Institutions are required to determine the percentage of Title IV aid “earned” by the student and to return the unearned portion to the appropriate aid programs.
Regulations require schools to perform calculations within 30 days from the date the school determines a student’s complete withdrawal. The school must return the funds within 45 days of the calculation. The R2T4 calculation process and return of funds is completed by PSU’s Student Financial Services Office. For example, if a student completes 30 percent of the payment period, they earn 30 percent of the aid they were originally scheduled to receive. This means that 70 percent of the scheduled awards remain “unearned” and must be returned to the federal government. Once 60% of the semester is completed, a student is considered to have earned all of their financial aid and will not be required to return any federal funds.
The following formula is used to determine the percentage of unearned aid that has to be returned to the federal government:
- The percent earned is equal to the number of calendar days completed up to the withdrawal date, divided by the total calendar days in the payment period (less any scheduled breaks that are at least 5 days long).
- The payment period for most students is the entire semester. However, for students enrolled in Part of Term (courses which are not scheduled for the entire semester or term), the payment period only includes those days of the course) in which the student is registered.
- The percent unearned is equal to 100 percent minus the percent earned.
For students enrolled in Part of Term: A student is considered withdrawn if the student does not complete all of the days in the payment period that the student was scheduled to complete. Plymouth State University (PSU) will track enrollment in each class (courses in a program that do not span the entire length of the payment period combined to form a term, for example, summer sessions) to determine if a student began enrollment in all scheduled courses.
If a student officially drops courses in a part of term course while still attending a current course, the student is not considered as withdrawn based on not attending the later course. However, a recalculation of aid based on a change in enrollment status may still be required. Students who provide written confirmation to PSU at the time of ceasing attendance that they plan to attend another course later in the same payment period are not considered to have withdrawn from the term.
If the student does not provide written confirmation of plans to return to school later in the same payment period or term, PSU considers the student to have withdrawn and begins the R2T4 process. However, if the student does return to PSU in the same term, even if they did not provide written confirmation of plans to do so, the student is not considered to have withdrawn after all and is eligible to receive the Title IV funds for which the student was eligible before ceasing attendance. PSU’s Student Financial Services Office will then reverse the R2T4 process and provide additional funds that the student is eligible to receive at the time of return.
Institutional funds are earned and recalculated based on the pro-rated policy as described for federal financial aid funds. Tuition/fee refunds also affect the recalculation of institutional financial aid.
Step 1: Student’s Title IV information
PSU’s Student Financial Services Office will determine:
a. The total amount of Title IV aid disbursed for the semester in which the student withdrew. A student’s Title IV aid is counted as aid disbursed in the calculation if it has been applied to the student’s account on or before the date the student withdrew.
b. The total amount of Title IV aid disbursed plus the Title IV aid that could have been disbursed for the semester in which the student withdrew.
Step 2: Percentage of Title IV aid earned
PSU’s Student Financial Services Office will calculate the percentage of Title IV aid earned as follows: The number of calendar days completed by the student divided by the total number of calendar days in the semester in which the student withdrew. The total number of calendar days in a semester shall exclude any scheduled breaks of more than five days. Days Attended ÷ Days in Enrollment Period = Percentage Completed. If the calculated percentage completed exceeds 60%, then the student has “earned” all the Title IV aid for the enrollment period.
Step 3: Amount of Title IV aid earned by the student
PSU’s Student Financial Services Office will calculate the amount of Title IV aid earned as follows: The percentage of Title IV aid earned (Step 2) multiplied by the total amount of Title IV aid disbursed or that could have been disbursed for the term in which the student withdrew (Step 1-A).Total Aid Disbursed x Percentage Completed = Earned Aid.
Step 4: Amount of Title IV aid to be disbursed or returned
- If the aid already disbursed equals the earned aid, no further action is required.
- If the aid already disbursed is greater than the earned aid, the difference must be returned to the appropriate Title IV aid program. Total Disbursed Aid – Earned Aid = Unearned Aid to be Returned.
- If the aid already disbursed is less than the earned aid, then PSU’s Student Financial Services Office will calculate a post-withdrawal disbursement (PWD). This aid will be disbursed to the student within 90 days of school’s determination that student withdrew and credit student’s account for any outstanding current period charges from grant funds before loan funds. PSU will notify the student in writing of any PWD eligibility within 30 days of school’s determination that student withdrew and provide information on type and amount of funds. The student will have the option to accept/decline all or part within 14 days of notice.
For financial aid purposes there are two types of withdrawals: Official and Unofficial.
- Official withdrawal from PSU by the student. The current academic year’s policy Withdrawal Refund Policy can be found in Plymouth State University’s Academic Catalog – Student Withdrawal Refund Policy. Graduate Students should use the Registrar’s Graduate Add or Drop/Withdrawal Form.
- Federal financial aid regulations consider a student to be an unofficial withdrawal if the student receives all fail (E/F) grades or a combination of all fail (E/F) and withdraw (W) grades for the term.
The withdrawal date used in the return calculation of a student’s federal financial aid is the actual date indicated on the official drop form. If a student stops attending classes without notifying PSU, PSU will contact instructors in an attempt to identify a last day or any academic-related activity or use the midpoint of the semester (PSU does not require attendance to be recorded by instructors). 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 PSU.
Unless a student completes 60 percent of the term in which federal aid was disbursed, the student will be required to return all or part of the financial aid disbursed in the term. This applies to students who have officially (including medical), or unofficially withdrawn. If your college has a different start and end date for the payment period, contact the Student Financial Services Office for the 60 percent completion date.
If a student receives financial aid, but never attends classes, the Student Financial Services Office must return all disbursed funds to the respective federal and institutional aid programs.
If the student has not officially withdrawn but 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 financial aid. Eligibility is based on if the student attended at least one class or participated in any PSU academic-related activity. All disbursed funds must be returned to the respective federal and institutional aid programs if the student cannot prove that he/she began attendance. For more information regarding this topic, see the section below, "Students who receive all failing grades at the end of the term."
Financial aid is awarded under the assumption that the student will attend Plymouth State University (PSU) 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 PSU academic-related activity.
If the school cannot verify that the student attended PSU, all financial aid must be repaid to the federal 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 failed and withdraw grades for the term, financial aid will attempt to identify the last day of any academic-related activity or use the mid-point in a term, if a date is unavailable. The student’s account will be charged, and the student will be responsible for any balance due.
If the student can prove to have participated in a PSU class or academic-related activity past the 60% date, the student will not be required to return any disbursed financial aid. The student’s account will be updated and the student will be responsible for any other charges that may have been applied to their account. Students who are able to verify attendance beyond PSU’s records may submit supporting documentation to PSU's Student Financial Services Office. The student must submit supporting documentation within 30 days from the last date used to determine aid eligibility. Recalculations for aid eligibility will not automatically be performed for documentation received after that date.
Once grades are posted for the student who receives all failing grades, PSU will review aid eligibility and return all unearned aid back to the federal and institutional programs and the student’s account will be charged. The Student Financial Services Office will mail a notification letter with the repayment amount(s) to the student’s mailing address. The student’s account will be updated, and the student will be responsible for any balance due. A statement reflecting these charges will be sent to the student by the Student Financial Services Office.
Examples of Plymouth State University (PSU) academic-related activities include but are not limited to physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students.
Proof of participation:
- Exams or quizzes
- Computer-assisted instruction
- Completion of an academic assignment, paper or project
- Participating in an online discussion about academic matters
- Initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course
- PSU required study group where attendance is taken
Documentation not acceptable as proof of participation:
- Student’s self-certification of attendance that is not supported by school documentation
- Verification of Enrollment form issued by the Registrar’s Office
- Living in PSU housing
- Participating in the school’s meal plan
- Participating in academic counseling or advising
These new regulations aim to provide for 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.
Program integrity principles
- Title IV funds are awarded to a student to attend an entire payment period or period of enrollment, and the funds are intended to cover the student’s educational and living expenses for the entire period.
- Federal law specifies that a student earns Title IV funds on a pro-rated basis through 60 percent of a period based on the actual days completed. For the purposes of federal aid programs, PSU must be able to document a student’s active participation in an academic activity.
- A student is considered to have withdrawn from a payment period or period of enrollment in which the student began enrollment if the student ceased attendance in all scheduled courses without completing all of the days the student was scheduled to complete in the period.
- However, if a student provides written confirmation to PSU before ceasing attendance that the student plans to attend another course later in the same period, the student is not considered to have withdrawn. For a nonstandard-term or non-term program, the next course the student plans to attend during the period must begin within 45 days after the end of the course the student ceased or failed to attend in order for the student not to be considered 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 period, a school considers the student to have withdrawn and performs a return of Title IV funds (R2T4) calculation to determine if any funds must be returned. However, if the student does return to school in the same period — even if the student did not provide written confirmation of plans to do so — the student is not considered to have withdrawn and is eligible to receive Title IV funds for which the student was eligible before ceasing attendance. PSU must reverse the R2T4 process and provide any additional funds the student is eligible to receive at the time of return.
- The rule impacts all programs offering courses shorter than an entire term, including semester-based programs with a summer term consisting of two consecutive six-week summer sessions.
As a result of a withdrawal, students who received federal funds will be required to repay “unearned” aid. The repayment calculation is performed utilizing the federal government’s repayment calculation: “Treatment of Title IV Funds When a Student Withdraws from a Credit-Hour Program.” Specific details can be found on the order of return of title IV funds in Step 6 (by School) and Step 10 (by the student) on this worksheet. The amount of the assistance earned is determined on a pro-rated basis. For example, if a student completed 30% of the term, they have earned 30% of the assistance they were originally scheduled to receive. Once a student has completed more than 60% of the term, the student earns all the assistance they were scheduled to receive for the term.
Student Notification of Payment
A notification letter from PSU’s Student Financial Services Office will be provided outlining the amount(s) returned to the appropriate federal and institutional program(s) on the student's behalf and will subsequently bill the student's account. A statement reflecting these charges will be provided to the student. The student is responsible for all charges and overpayments resulting from a Return of Title IV calculation.
Federal regulations provide that 50% of the unearned amount of all federal grants is protected by the federal calculation (see steps 9 and 10 of the federal government’s repayment worksheet). Any grant amount subject to repayment will be billed to the student’s account by Student Financial Services as an overpayment.
The federal repayment calculation also has additional loan amounts that the student and parent may be responsible to return directly to the U.S. Department of Education (see step 8 of the federal government’s repayment worksheet).
Important: Anytime a student is enrolled less than part-time the grace period begins. The student’s grace period for loan repayments for Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized Loans will begin on the day of the withdrawal from the school. If the student is not enrolled part-time for more than 6 months, the loans will go into repayment. The student must contact the U.S. Department of Education (ED) or their lender(s) to make payment arrangements. Loans must be repaid by the loan borrower (student/parent) as outlined in the terms of the borrower’s promissory note. The student should contact the lender if they have questions regarding their grace period or repayment status.
The student and the school are both responsible for returning unearned federal financial aid to the federal government. The student will be billed for any amount due as a result of the return of federal aid funds (R2T4) calculation.
PSU’s Student Financial Services Office (SFS) will notify students of any funds needing to be repaid. The student/parent will be permitted to repay loans based on the terms of the Master Promissory Note (MPN) which usually consists of scheduled payments to the holder of the loan over a period of time. Students will also receive notice from SFS regarding repayment of institutional funds. If the student owes any money to PSU resulting from the return of federal or institutional funds, the student will be billed by SFS.
Plymouth State University’s responsibilities in regard to the Return of Title IV funds
- Providing each student with the information given in this policy;
- Identifying students affected by this policy and completing the Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) calculation;
- Informing the student of the result of the R2T4 calculation and any balance owed to PSU as a result of a required return of funds;
- Returning any unearned Title IV aid that is due to the Title IV programs and, if applicable, notifying the borrower’s holder of federal loan funds of the student’s withdrawal date;
- Notifying student and/or Plus borrower of eligibility for a Post-Withdraw Disbursement, if applicable.
Student’s responsibilities in regard to the Return of Title IV funds
- Becoming familiar with the Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) policy and how withdrawing from all courses effects eligibility for Title IV aid; and
- Resolving any outstanding balance owed to the PSU resulting from a required return of unearned Title IV aid.
All institutional aid provided by Plymouth State University is based on need and/or academic achievement. Any change in enrollment status may cause the amount of the award to be recalculated. Credit balances will not be released to a student until institutional aid has been repaid.