What Happens When You Withdraw From School

The Federal Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965 was amended in 1998 and new regulations were established with regard to Title IV student financial aid programs. Students earn their Title IV federal financial aid by attending classes and earning good grades. When a student is not enrolled through 60% of the semester or term, the “unearned” portion of their aid must be returned to the federal programs.

If a student withdraws from the university prior to completing the 60% of the semester or term, the financial aid office recalculates eligibility of Title IV funds. Recalculation is based on the percentage of earned aid using the following Federal Return of Title IV funds formula (scheduled breaks of five or more days must be excluded). For example, for a term that includes spring break, we would exclude nine days from the total number of days in the term and the number of days completed if withdrawal date is after spring break:

Percentage of semester or term completed equals

the number of days completed up to the withdrawal date

divided by the total days in the semester or term

The Withdrawal date is determined by the official date the student began the withdrawal process or notified the university of the intent to withdraw.

Example: Student A withdraws from Fall semester on September 28. The semester began on August 16 and ends on December 10. There are 119 days in the semester. The student attended 44 days in the semester. 

44 days /119 = 37%

Therefore the student has completed 37% of the semester and a return of Title IV calculation must be completed (37% < 60%).

If a student earned less aid than what was disbursed, the university would be required to return a portion of the funds and the student may be required to return a portion of the funds to the Department of Education or to re-pay the school for the amount of aid the university returned on behalf of the student.. 

If a student earned more aid than was disbursed to him/her, the university would owe the student a post-withdrawal disbursement which must be paid within 120 days of the student’s withdrawal date.

Any unearned federal financial aid must be returned to program funds up to the amount of assistance the student has received from the program, in the priority order established by regulation:

  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loan,
  • Subsidized Stafford Loan,
  • Federal Perkins Loan, Plus Loan,
  • Federal Pell Grant,
  • Federal SEOG,
  • and other Title IV programs.

Unofficial Withdrawals

If a student leaves the university without official notification, the university may establish a withdrawal date by using the midpoint of the semester or using the student’s last day of attendance as documented by an academically related activity.

If a student earns all F’s during a semester, it may be considered an unofficial withdrawal if the last date of attendance cannot be determined.