Maintaining Your Financial Aid

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Every school participating in Federal Student Aid programs (Title IV) must monitor its students to ensure that they are meeting satisfactory academic progress towards a degree (associate; bachelors or masters). Highlands University reviews SAP at the end of each payment period or semester (Fall, Spring and Summer).

Satisfactory academic progress means that you must make adequate grades and receive credit for a reasonable number of hours within a designated time frame.

There are 3 measures for academic progress:
Qualitative (GPA)
Pace of Progression
Maximum Time Frame

GPA Requirements:
Undergraduate (1 – 120 attempted hours) 2.0 cumulative GPA
Students with the Lottery Scholarship will still be required to maintain 2.5 GPA in order to continue with theirs scholarship.
Graduate 3.0 cumulative GPA
Pace of Progression Hour Requirements:
Undergraduate (1 – 120 attempted hours) 67% passed
Graduate (attempted hours) 67% passed
Second Bachelor’s Degree (attempted hours) 67% passed

Pace of Progression 

The pace of progression is calculated by dividing the number of passed credit hours by the total number of attempted credit hours. Note: hours attempted include grades of:  A, B, C, D, F, W, I, AU, S, NP, PR, R, etc.

Transfer Students: All transfer credit hours from another institution that are accepted for credit and posted to the student’s academic transcript at Highlands University from other colleges/ universities will be considered part of the pace of progression and maximum time frame as outlined within this information.

Incomplete Grades: Incomplete grades are given at the discretion of the course instructor – only when circumstances beyond the student’s control prevent completion of course requirements within the established time. A student must have completed 60% of the course before an incomplete grade can be considered.  The student requests an “I” in lieu of a final course grade from the instructor, whose approval is required. The instructor reports the “I” and files a form with the office of the registrar documenting the work requiring completion and any other conditions.  An “Incomplete” not completed within one calendar year automatically becomes an “F” for both undergraduate and graduate students.  (The instructor has the option of setting a terminal date of less than one year.)  Students should NOT re-register for a course in which they have an “I”; if they do so, the “I” will become an “F” at the time when a grade is awarded in the re-registered course. Incomplete grades are calculated in the attempted hours for pace of progression and maximum time frame.

Repeated Courses: A student may repeat any course the most recent grade received will be used in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average. Each time the course is taken, the credit hours will be calculated in the completion rate and the maximum time frame. Course Repeat Forms are available in the office of the registrar and must be completed by students who are repeating a course. The student’s transcript will be coded to reflect that the course was repeated, and their cumulative grade point average will be adjusted. A student may repeat a failed course until it is passes; however, only one repeat course could be funded with Title IV aid if a student previously passed the course. Keep in mind each time you attempt the course will be calculated in your maximum time frame.

Course Withdrawals: If a student wishes to withdraw from a course during the term, this withdrawal will still be counted as “attempted” in the overall calculation of credit hours toward the completion rate and the maximum time frame. Student must officially withdraw from individual courses through the registrar’s office and under the time frames published each semester in the schedule of classes. Students who find themselves unable to appear in person must contact the Registrar by phone, letter, e-mail or FAX to request assistance in completing the process of a course withdrawal. If withdrawal from school occurs within the drop period, this course will not appear on the transcript for that term.  If withdrawal occurs after the drop period, grades of “W” are entered for the classes.  The “W” for the withdrawal is counted in the attempted hours of a student’s academic progress which reflects in their completion rate and maximum time frame.

Change in major/ program: Students who change their major are subject to the 150% rule of the degree requirement. The change is considered to be accommodated within the additional 50% “cushion” beyond the degree requirement.

Pursuit of additional program(s): Once a student completes their degree, the student may pursue another degree. Credit hours previously earned that apply to the new program may affect the maximum time frame toward completing the new program. All grades previously earned will be used in the qualitative measure of academic progress. Students who are pursuing a second bachelors degree may need to file an appeal with the financial aid committee for a manual review of academic progress. Be sure to include your new program of study.

Maximum Time Frame

Students who have reached 125% of their degree requirement will be placed on a financial aid warning status. Students may appeal this status and provide a current degree check with a detail degree plan to complete the remaining requirements. Each program will be defined in the catalog as to how many credit hours it requires in order to obtain the degree (refer to the catalog).

Degree Required Hours 125% MTF 150% MTF
Undergraduate Degrees:
4 Year Program 120 Hours 150 Hours 180 Hours
5 Year Program 160 Hours 200 Hours 240 Hours
Associates Degrees 63 Hours 79 Hours 95 Hours
Graduate Degrees:
All Graduate Degrees 52 Hours 65 Hours 78 Hours
Approved Certificate Programs
All Approved Certificate Programs 12-24 Hours 15 Hours 25 Hours

Financial Aid Warning

Student can fail to meet the required criteria for Pace of Progression or GPA and be allowed to receive financial aid for one following semester. If student fails to meet the criteria at the end of the following semester, their financial aid will be suspended.

 (Suspension) and Appeals

Your academic records and financial aid disbursements are reviewed each semester to determine your eligibility for future aid. If you fall below the minimum grade point average or accumulate fewer credit hours than required for Satisfactory Academic Performance, you will be suspended from receiving financial aid and may file an appeal or reapply when your academic status has improved.

Notification and Appeal Process: Students who fail to meet the minimum standards of academic progress will be sent notification via email. Students who have mitigating circumstances are encouraged to submit an appeal. Examples of mitigating circumstances are (but not limited to) death of a relative, an injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstance (subject to documentation) that prevented you from making satisfactory academic progress.

The Financial Aid Appeal Request Form is available in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship as well as in the on-line documents on the university website. You are asked to provide reasons and evidence why you did not maintain Satisfactory Academic Performance and provide evidence of your solution in order to remedy the situation. At the beginning of each semester appeals will be reviewed. All decisions made by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships are final! Financial Aid Packaging will not be completed until appeals are resolved by the Office of Financial Aid.

Return of Federal (Title IV) Financial Aid for Students Who Withdraw (Officially and Unofficially)

Title IV is the series of federal regulations that govern the federal student aid program for education. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and the university are directly responsible to the federal government and must account for all of the money sent by the federal government to the university for individual student aid. As a student who receives financial aid, you are also accountable for all the money you are given.

Thus, if you withdraw from the university (officially or unofficially), you may have to pay back all or some of the financial aid you did not earn. It may be determined that you owe the federal programs or you owe the school. It is very important to return any funds that are due, because you will not be able to receive any other financial aid at this school or any other until these funds are repaid.

If a student has received any of the following aid programs (in this order) the R2T4 process must be completed: Direct Unsubsidized Loans; Direct Subsidized Loans; Federal Perkins Loans; Direct PLUS loans; Federal Pell Grant; Federal SEOG; and in some cases State grants.

Official Withdrawals:
Official Withdrawals occur when a student initiates the process of withdrawing from all classes at the university.  The student must go through a series of offices and obtain signatures before this withdrawal is processed. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will use the date that the student uses to begin the process of withdrawing as the last date of attendance and will calculate the Return to Title IV based on that information.

Unofficial Withdrawals:
At the end of each term, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will receive a roster from the registrar’s office that lists all students who did not complete any credit hours.  If a student receives all F’s in their courses, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will utilize the roster provided by the Registrar’s Office to determine the  unofficial withdrawal date to calculate the Return to Title IV, if applicable.