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Losing Your Tuition Aid Because of a Drop in GPA? What to Do

Jan 3, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

By federal law, universities must establish a minimum standard of academic progress for students who receive federal financial aid. Nationwide, if your grade point average drops below a 2.0 for two semesters, you may lose your federal financial aid benefits. However, some universities impose stricter standards for federal aid, as well as different GPA standards for other grants and aid given by the school itself or private foundations.

If you’re in danger of losing your financial aid because of a low GPA, don’t panic. There are several steps you can take. Here are a few.

Know the GPA requirements

Financial aid GPA requirements can be difficult to keep track of, as they vary from school to school and between different types of aid. If you suspect you might have some trouble meeting GPA requirements, visit your school’s financial aid office and get a rundown of all the GPA requirements for the different loans and grants you have. If you know the types of grades you’re expected to maintain ahead of time, you can keep track of your progress as your first semester progresses—and catch yourself early if you start getting in trouble academically.

Stressed Student

Getting a notice that you’re about to lose your financial aid because of a drop in GPA can be scary. But the last thing you should do is panic. 



Work with a counselor

Most colleges will rescind aid only after two semesters of bad grades, and your college can be expected to notify you the first semester your GPA drops below the expected level. So you have a chance to rectify the situation before your GPA drops for two straight semesters—without losing your aid immediately. If you want to keep it, however, you’ll need to take action. Start by partnering with an academic advisor who can help you reorganize your class schedule for the next semester, develop better study habits, and figure out the appeals process if needed. If you can bring your GPA up above the required low point for the second semester, you may be out of trouble.

Appeal the decision

If your financial aid is going to be rescinded because of your GPA, you should try to appeal the decision. Most schools have a formalized appeals process that requires you to submit your objection in writing, either by mail or email. While every school has different expectations, you will probably be asked to provide details on extenuating circumstances that made it impossible for you to keep up a good grade point average. Providing documents on medical issues, injuries, a death in the family, pregnancy, depression, or other issues that may have affected your grades will help.

Most of the time, you will be able to appeal school decisions directly to the school. In some cases, however, you may have to submit your appeal to a separate agency or foundation providing the funding for your aid. Talk to your academic advisor for more information on the appeals process for your particular situation.

If your appeal is approved, you will probably be put on academic probation. This means you’ll be able to keep your financial aid for the time being, but you’ll have to meet some basic expectations which will vary depending on your situation and your school’s policies.

Bring up your GPA

If your appeal is not approved, your only option may be to work to bring up your grade point average—without financial aid. A semester without financial aid can be difficult for any student, and you may need to take out private loans to make ends meet during this time.

Getting a notice that you’re about to lose your financial aid because of a drop in GPA can be scary. But the last thing you should do is panic. Go to your academic counselor and formulate a strong plan for getting your grades back up. If that doesn’t work, try the appeals process—and be sure to document any legitimate mitigating circumstances that may have contributed to your academic struggles. Losing your financial aid could mean taking out expensive private loans to cover tuition—or having to transfer to a less expensive school—so the effort to maintain your grade point average is worth it.



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