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Satisfactory Academic Progress

Academic Progress for Financial Aid Eligibility

Each financial aid recipient at Western Tech must maintain satisfactory progress toward completion of their academic program to retain eligibility for federal student financial aid.

BACKGROUND:

Federal law and regulations require institutions of higher education to establish, publish, and enforce minimum academic standards for the continued receipt of Federal Title IV Financial Aid. This Policy and Procedure statement is applicable exclusively to determining eligibility for Federal Student Aid.

The College also maintains a separate academic progress policy which is measured at different points in the student’s program and applies to all students regardless of financial aid eligibility.  That policy is compliant with ACCSC accreditation criteria and TWC regulations (see P&P 4.3).

This official policy for Academic Progress for Financial Aid Eligibility is published in the College Catalog and a copy is posted to the Western Tech College website.  Any changes to this policy become effective for all students with the publication of a new catalog (or addendum), regardless of any student’s start date or program year.

POLICY:

Each financial aid recipient at Western Tech must maintain satisfactory progress toward completion of their academic program to retain eligibility for federal student financial aid.  “Credit Hour” and “Clock Hour” programs are defined in the College’s Academic Policies, which are published in the College Catalog.

Measurement Points: The measurement of Academic Progress for Financial Aid shall occur in increments which correspond to the “payment periods” for Federal Title IV Financial Aid.  Academic Progress shall be measured at the end of each payment period.  A payment period for a credit hour program is generally equivalent to one semester.  At each measurement, the student’s academic record will be evaluated against both a qualitative (grade average) standard and a quantitative (pace toward program completion) standard.

Additional “Maximum Time-frame” Standard:  Students are required to complete their programs within one and one-half times the normal program length. The maximum time-frame is reached when the student’s “attempted” clock or credit hours exceed one and one-half times the number of credit hours required to earn the degree or certificate in the program in which the student is currently enrolled.  A student who has exceeded 150% of the clock or credit hours in his/her program may be allowed to continue for no more than one additional payment period.  This payment period will not be considered eligible enrollment for financial aid unless the student is attending under an Academic Plan established as the result of a Mitigating Circumstances Appeal (see below).

Definitions: “Attempted” clock or credit hours include all scheduled clock or credit hours contained in the student’s academic history (transcript) at Western Tech (including transfer credits, advanced placement credits, proficiency hours, and all other hours accepted into the student’s program).  “Earned” clock hours include all “attempted” clock hours actually attended by the student, including any accepted transfer hours. “Earned” credit hours include all courses for which a passing grade has been issued or credit has been granted.

Consistency with Academic Policy:  All issues of grading policy, GPA calculation, etc. are calculated in accordance with Western Tech’s regular academic policies.

Applicability of Hours:  The maximum time-frame standard will consider all credits attempted at Western Tech, or accepted for transfer or proficiency credit.  Students who change programs may request that their maximum time-frame be re-calculated based solely on those hours that are applicable to the current program of study.  A determination of ineligibility based upon the maximum time-frame standard may be appealed based upon a mitigating circumstance.  Please refer to the “Regaining Academic Eligibility” section (below).

Transfer Students:  Accepted transfer credit /clock hours shall be considered as both “attempted” and “completed/earned” coursework for purposes of this policy.  However, since no grades are assigned to transfer coursework, it will not impact the student’s GPA.

Timing of Evaluations and Evaluation Process:  Academic progress is measured at the end of each payment period.  Grades listed as “in progress” or “incomplete” at the time of the evaluation will be considered attempted and not earned, but will not affect the GPA.

Data Corrections:  If a student’s academic record is corrected subsequent to the evaluation date, a student may submit a written request to the Student Financial Services Director for re-evaluation of the student’s financial aid eligibility.

Financial Aid Warning Status:  A student (Federal Student Aid recipient) whose academic record fails to meet either the qualitative or quantitative standard at the end of any payment period will be placed in Financial Aid Warning Status for the next payment period. Students placed in this status have one payment period to correct or improve the deficiency. Students in Financial Aid Warning Status are expected to seek academic advisement and assistance, and to take efforts to return to good academic standing. Students remain academically eligible to receive financial aid while in Financial Aid Warning Status.

Students who correct the deficiency by raising their GPA and completion rate above minimum standards will be removed from Financial Aid Warning Status and returned to good academic standing at the end of the Financial Aid Warning Status payment period.

Financial Aid Suspension Status:  Students who are in Financial Aid Warning Status and do not correct the deficiency by meeting both the qualitative or quantitative standards at the end of the Financial Aid Warning Status payment period will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension Status and lose eligibility for future financial aid.

Mitigating Circumstances Appeal:  A student who is placed on Suspension Status can appeal the suspension based upon mitigating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances are defined as circumstances beyond the student’s direct control that led to, or substantially contributed to, the student’s academic difficulty.  Examples include the death of a relative, injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstances. Appeal letters should include a complete description of the circumstances that led to the academic difficulty, how those circumstances have changed, and a plan for future academic success.  Copies of any available supporting documentation should also be included.

Appeals are reviewed by a committee led by the Student Financial Services Director. The Appeals Committee will render a decision on each appeal and notify the student in writing.  Decisions made by the Appeals Committee are final and are not subject to further appeal.

Financial Aid Probation Status:  If an Appeal is approved, a student will be placed on Financial Aid Probation Status.  Students in Financial Aid Probation Status remain eligible for federal student aid for one additional payment period.  If the student does not return to good academic standing at the end of that probationary payment period, he/she will lose future financial aid eligibility.

Regaining Eligibility for Financial Aid Other than Through Appeal:  Suspended students who do not submit an appeal or for whom an appeal is denied, may regain eligibility for federal student aid by making up the deficiencies (regaining good academic standing) by completing coursework at Western Tech as a student in Financial Aid Suspension Status without benefit of student financial aid.

Return to Good Standing Once a student has returned to good academic standing, any previous academic difficulty, warning, or probation shall have no future bearing on the student’s status.  Hence, such students will have benefit of all provisions of this policy, including a Financial Aid Warning Status payment period.

PROCEDURE:

Administrative Process:  Evaluation of progress will occur shortly after the posting of final grades each payment period.  Once grades have been finalized, the Student Financial Services Office will review all each student’s cumulative academic performance and perform the eligibility analysis.  Students with a status other than “good standing” are coded in the College’s SIS system.

Notification Letters:  Upon completion of analysis, the Student Financial Services Office will create and send notification letters to the affected students.  A copy of each letter will be stored in the appropriate student’s file.  Warning letters will re-iterate the Academic Progress for Financial Aid Eligibility policy and remind students that failure to meet the standards at the end of the following payment period will result in loss of eligibility.

Notification letters for are sent as a courtesy.  Failure to receive a notice does not absolve a student from responsibility or entitle them to any special consideration.  Students are expected to be aware of their own academic status.

Responsibility The responsibility for monitoring and enforcement of this policy rests with the Student Financial Services Director.

Student Financial Services Office staff will work proactively with the Registrar to ensure timeliness and accuracy of Academic Progress actions, will provide any relevant information/documentation to assist students in the appeal/re-admission processes, and will remain available to assist students with questions.

The Student Financial Services Director serves as the primary contact with students regarding the appeals process and questions of eligibility.  The Director serves as a mentor to students throughout the appeals process – discussing the reasons for the student’s difficulty and making referrals to appropriate on-campus services to help prevent future problems.

Committee Appointment:  The Student Financial Services Director shall appoint at least two additional members of the Appeals Committee, who will serve on an ad hoc basis.

Notice of Committee Decision:  Once the Appeals Committee has made a determination on an appeal or re-evaluation request, the Student Financial Services Office will produce a letter to each student indicating the committee’s determination.  File copies of all determination letters (including copies of the original appeal/re-evaluation request letter and supporting documentation), will be maintained in the student’s academic file (for audit purposes) and noted in the College’s SIS system accordingly.

 

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