How does withdrawal and attendance affect my financial aid eligibility?
Title IV (Federal) funds are offered to a student based on the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the funds were offered. When a student drops, withdraws or ceases to attend class, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of the funds they were originally scheduled to receive. The Federal Return of Title IV (R2T4) Funds policy mandates that students who officially or unofficially withdraw from all classes are only eligible for the amount of aid earned up to the time of withdrawal.
Pell Attendance Requirement
Federal regulations require that you begin attendance in each class you are enrolled in for purposes of the Federal Pell Grant program. If you don’t begin attendance in all of the classes in which you are enrolled, your Federal Pell Grant may be reduced.
Effect on Loan Repayment
If NIU determines a student has withdrawn from all courses or ceases to attend at least half-time, we must update the student’s status in the National Student Loan Data System. The student will no longer have an in-school status or qualify for an in-school deferment. If the student has never entered a repayment status, the grace period will begin as of the reported withdrawal date.
Tuition and Fee Restricted Aid
Other Grants, Scholarships and Private Aid.
Under qualifying circumstances, NIU reduces (refunds) original tuition and fee charges when a student drops or withdraws from courses based on the date of the drop/withdrawal. Learn more on the Office of the Bursar website.
Tuition and fee restricted aid including but not limited to the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grant, the Illinois Veterans Grant, the Illinois National Guard Grant, the Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver, NIU Tuition waivers and offers will be reduced if the aid exceeds remaining tuition and fee charges.
You might also become ineligible for part or all of the assistance from other sources, such as merit-based scholarships and scholarships from private donors. The donor or organization will be contacted to determine how they want funds to be handled.
Return of Federal Financial Aid (Title IV) Funds
A student recipient of Federal Title IV funds (i.e., Federal Pell, SEOG or TEACH grants or Perkins, Direct or PLUS loans) who withdraws from the school before completing 60% of the term is subject to the Return of Title IV Calculation to determine the percentage of Title IV funds required to be returned to the federal government. The Return of Title IV calculation is a federally mandated formula to determine how much federal funding was "earned" up to the time of withdrawal.
The Title IV funds that were disbursed in excess of the earned amount must be returned to the federal government by the school and/or you. If you received a refund from financial aid, which was to be used for education-related personal expenses or housing expenses, you may be required to return a portion of those funds to the schoool. This portion represents funds that were intended to pay your education-related expenses through the end of the semester. The amount to be returned to the school will be determined by your institutional costs, refunds you might have received for non-school expenses and the funds that must be returned to the government.
Types of Withdrawals
- University Withdrawal – Officially withdrawing from all courses for a semester.
- Course Withdrawal – Officially withdrawing from one or more courses but maintaining enrollment in at least one course.
- Unofficial Withdrawal - Ceasing to attend all courses without officially withdrawing or earning credit in at least one course.
NIU performs the federal return calculations for University Withdrawals and Unofficial Withdrawals.
- University Withdrawal calculations are processed throughout the semester as students withdraw.
- The withdrawal date is the date the student initiates the withdrawal process.
- Unofficial Withdrawals are identified at the end of the semester by reviewing grades and attendance. Attendance is reviewed for students who do not officially withdraw but fail to earn a passing grade for a semester. If NIU cannot document attendance in at least one course, the return calculation is required.
- The withdrawal date is the midpoint of the semester unless a later attendance date can be documented.
- Students who have a combination of grades that are all W, WP, WF, N, F, I, U or any other NIU grade that does not result in earned hours, are reviewed.
More information is available on University and Course Withdrawals policies and procedures.
How is Attendance and Last Day of Attendance Determined?
The amount to be returned to the federal government will be calculated from the date you officially withdrew from classes or, in the case of an unofficial withdrawal, the last date you were involved in an academically related activity. An official withdrawal occurs when a student follows the published process for withdrawing from the school prior to the end of the term.
Federal programs included in the Return Calculation are the Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, TEACH Grant, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, Unsubsidized Direct Loan, Subsidized Direct Loan, Direct Grad PLUS Loan and the Direct Parent PLUS Loan.
Earned Aid is based on the percent of the term attended and Unearned Aid on the percent not attended. A student who withdraws at the 40% point of the semester has earned 40% of eligible aid and 60% of eligible aid is unearned. The number of completed days (days prior to withdrawal date) is divided by the number of days in the term to determine the percent completed. Students who attend through or past the 60% point have earned 100% of eligible aid.
Eligible aid is the aid that has been or could have been disbursed.
- Total eligible aid x the earned percentage = earned aid
- Total eligible aid – earned aid = aid that must be returned
- Total Institutional Charges x unearned % = amount NIU will return
- Aid that must be returned – amount NIU returns = amount reported as a student return
Any unearned Title IV aid must be returned to the federal government within 45 days of the date of the determination of your withdrawal. Any unreturned loan funds must be repaid in accordance with the terms of the student's promissory note(s). Funds are returned by repaying the following sources in order up to the net amount received from each source:
- Unsubsidized Direct Stafford loans (other than PLUS loans)
- Subsidized Direct Stafford loans
- Direct PLUS loans (parent or graduate)
- Federal Pell Grants
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
- Federal SEOG
- Federal TEACH Grants
Federal guidance defines attendance in a course as an activity academically related to the course.
Examples of activities that constitute attendance:
- physically attending a class or lab,
- submitting an academic assignment,
- taking an exam,
- interactive tutorial or computer assisted instruction that is part of course delivery, or
- participating in an online course discussion related to course content.
Examples of activities that do not substantiate attendance:
- logging in to a course shell without active participation,
- downloading course material, and
- academic advising.
If attendance or the last day of attendance in a course with a withdrawal, incomplete or non-passing grade must be determined and the course has a Blackboard section, Blackboard will be reviewed to determine if a grade, recording of a course activity or attendance confirmation exists.
If the course does not have a Blackboard section or Blackboard does not document attendance, the instructor will be contacted to confirm the last day of attendance.
If the instructor does not confirm attendance, the Pell recalculation and R2T4 calculation will assume the course was not attended.
The student may appeal a determination of non-attendance or the last day of attendance by submitting proof of a course activity, such as a graded test, to the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office.
If a student has accepted Title IV, HEA financial aid by the date of the withdrawal, but the financial aid has not disbursed, the student may be eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement. If the amount disbursed to the student is less than the amount the student earned, and for which the student is otherwise eligible, he or she is eligible to receive a post-withdrawal disbursement for the earned aid that was not received.
Under these circumstances, an R2T4 calculation must be performed to determine whether the student is actually eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement. NIU must make this determination within 30 calendar days after the student withdraws.
The following conditions apply when processing a post-withdrawal disbursement:
- A student must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress according to NIU and federal policy.
- A student must have accepted aid by the date of the withdrawal.
- If, before the student’s withdrawal date a loan offer has been accepted, the loan must also have been originated by NIU.
If a student is eligible for a Post-Withdrawal Disbursement of loan funds, they will be offered to the student within 30 days of the date the school determined the student withdrew. Students will be given a minimum of 14 calendar days to respond to the post-withdrawal disbursement offer. Generally, accepted loan funds will be disbursed within two weeks of the date the student responds and all information and documents, including entrance counseling and the master promissory note if required, are complete. Loan funds accepted must be disbursed within 180 days of the date the school determined the student withdrew.
Any Title IV grant funds a student is due as part of a post-withdrawal disbursement will be disbursed within 45 days of the date the school determined the student withdrew. NIU may automatically use all or a portion of the post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds for tuition and fees. However, NIU needs the student’s permission to use the post-withdrawal grant disbursement for all other school charges. If the student does not give his/her permission, the student will be offered the funds.
If Title IV funds that are part of a post-withdrawal disbursement create a credit balance, the balance will be issued to the student within 14 days.