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Changes in Financial Aid Eligibility

Renewal FAFSA

After your initial application for financial aid (FAFSA), you must submit a renewal FAFSA each year to continue receiving aid. If there are any changes in household size, number of family members in college, or financial changes, your award will increase or decrease accordingly.

In addition, there are variations from year to year in the financial aid funds available from federal, state, and/or institutional sources. These variations may require adjustments to awards.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

If you receive federal, state, or institutional financial aid, you must maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) throughout your program in order to maintain eligibility. These are minimum requirements – some financial aid programs may have higher academic standards for continued eligibility

  • At the end of each semester, including summer, Financial Aid Services monitors SAP for all students regardless of whether or not you receive aid.
  • To meet the UMass Amherst academic status standards, you must maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.0 and maintain the necessary credit hours to ensure graduation within ten semesters as an undergraduate.
  • If you do not maintain these standards you will, at a minimum, be placed on financial aid warning for one semester. Then, if you do not meet the academic status standards after a warning period, you may become ineligible to receive federal, state and/or institutional financial aid.
  • If you lose financial aid eligibility, you must go through an appeal process, which must be approved by Financial Aid Services for financial aid to be awarded.
  • For additional information review the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy and Appeal Form available on the Forms section of the website.

Verification of FAFSA Information

When you apply for financial aid through the FAFSA, some of your information is verified with different federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration (for verification of Social Security Numbers and citizenship status). If the information you provide does not match federal agency databases, the discrepancy must be resolved through the financial aid office before you can receive financial aid.

  • Incoming freshmen and transfer students: You will receive a financial aid award to aid you in making your decision, but those funds will not disburse until all discrepancies are resolved. If left unresolved, the financial aid award will eventually be canceled.

Income information may also be verified using the verification worksheet and IRS tax return transcript. See more information under Apply for Aid.

Census Date

Each term the financial aid office will finalize your enrollment at the end of the add/drop period each term. During summer term this window is shorter. This date is referred to as census date for financial aid. Your financial aid may be adjusted as a result of a change to your enrollment. You will be sent an email if your award is updated. You could owe additional money to the university if your award is reduced.

Withdrawing from the University

Students intending to withdraw from all classes must complete a Withdrawal Form. Visit the Dean of Students Office web site for more information on the types of withdrawals and a list of FAQs regarding the withdrawal process. Once the form is completed and submitted, the student is considered “officially withdrawn.”

Return of Title IV Funds - How a full withdrawal affects federal financial aid

Title IV Federal financial aid is awarded to students under the assumption that a student will attend the institution for the entire enrollment period (semester) in which the aid is awarded. When a student withdraws from all courses, for any reason, including medical reasons, the student may not be eligible for the full amount of federal aid originally awarded. Students who receive federal financial aid and do not complete their classes during a semester could be responsible for repaying a portion of the aid they received. Students that did not begin attendance must repay all financial aid disbursed for the term.

How the federal financial aid adjustment calculated

Students “earn” their Title IV federal financial aid by attending classes they are enrolled in during the term. The amount of “earned” aid is based on the percentage of the term the student attended. Once UMass is notified that the student has withdrawn, the earned percentage is calculated by dividing the number of calendar days in the semester (less any scheduled breaks of 5 days or longer) by the number of days attended. If the earned percentage is 60% or more, the student is considered to have earned all aid and no federal aid adjustment is necessary.

The adjustment calculation uses the last day the student attended classes or the Last Date of Attendance.

The date that the student submits the withdrawal form or otherwise notifies UMass of his/her withdrawal is known as the Withdrawal Date. Any adjustments to financial aid will be completed within 45 days of the withdrawal date.

The calculation of Title IV federal financial aid funds earned by the student has no relationship to the student’s incurred institutional charges.

Treatment of unearned federal aid

The amount of “unearned” federal aid (100% minus the earned aid percentage) is returned to federal programs in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan
  2. Subsidized Federal Direct Loan
  3. Federal Perkins Loan
  4. Graduate Federal Direct PLUS Loan
  5. Parent Federal Direct PLUS Loan
  6. Federal Pell Grant
  7. Federal SEOG Grant
  8. Federal TEACH Grant
  9. Other Titive IV programs, as applicable

Federal Work-Study earned compensation will not need to be repaid. Students may not continue to work in a work-study position once they cease attendance or drop below six credits. 

Unofficial Withdrawal

Unofficial withdrawal from the university occurs when the student registers for courses for a term and either never attends any classes or stops attending all courses at some point during the semester without completing and submitting the withdrawal form. If you are receiving federal financial aid, the university is required to adjust the aid in the same manner as an official withdrawal.