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What happens with Financial Aid if you withdraw from a class?

It's not so much the financial aid going forward that you need to worry about - it's the financial aid that you already received.

If you received Pell or other grant funding, you will be required to pay at least some portion of that money back to your school if you drop a class.

When you drop a class, the financial aid office is required to use a somewhat complicated formula that determines what portion of your grant funds have been "earned". Your school must return the remainder, the "unearned" portion, to the Department of Education, and the school is required to bill you for that amount. Your school has no leeway to "forget about it". Reimbursement is part of the financial aid rules.

To simplify things a bit, the school will count the number of days in the semester, and the number of days you remained registered for this class. If, for example, you submit your "drop" paperwork on the 27th day of a 130 day semester, you will have been registered for 27/130 of the course, or about 21%.

If the course "cost" $1000, financial aid will determine that you have earned 21% of that $1000 (which is $210), and the remaining $790 would be classified as "unearned". Your school gets to keep a little bit of that $790 to cover their expenses, but most of the $790 has to be returned to the Department of Education, and your school will bill you for a good part of that amount.

Here's where the situation can affect your future aid...

When you owe your school a refund of federal financial aid funds, you are not eligible to receive any additional funds until either:

You have paid the entire balance owed or
You and the school have agreed on a repayment plan, and you begin actively making the promised payments.

Before you drop the course, stop by financial aid, and ask them to calculate how much you are going to be required to repay. One of the complications of receiving financial aid is that it makes it more difficult to drop classes - and especially - to withdraw from school.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.