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Financial Aid Refund/Withdrawal Calculations

The Higher Education Act of 1998 passed new provisions governing what must happen to a student’s federal student aid if they completely withdraw from school in any semester. The policy governs all federal grant and loan programs, including Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG, Federal Direct Loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized), and Federal Plus Loans to parents. Southern Vermont College institutional funding (SVC grants/scholarships) are not governed by this policy. Instead, they are prorated in accordance with the tuition charge for which the withdrawing student is responsible.

In general, students “earn” their financial aid awards directly in proportion to the number of days of the semester attended. If a student completely withdraws from school during a semester, the school must calculate, according to a specific formula, the portion of the total scheduled financial assistance the student has earned and is, therefore, entitled to receive up to the time of withdrawal. If a student receives more assistance than they earn, the unearned excess funds must be returned to the source from which it came.

If a student has completed more than 60% of the semester, they have earned 100% of their aid. If the student withdraws from the College (either officially or unofficially) before completing 60% of the semester, they may have to repay any unearned federal monies that were already disbursed. The Financial Aid Office will determine the date corresponding to the 60% completion of each semester, and examples of the Title IV Refund Formula results will be available by contacting the Financial Aid Office.

A student’s withdrawal date will be determined by the College as the date they began the College’s withdrawal process, or the date they officially notified the College of the intent to withdraw, or the student’s last date of attendance at an academically-related event as documented by the College.

If the student has received excess funds that must be returned, the College shares with them the responsibility of returning those excess funds. The College’s portion of the excess funds to be returned is equal to the lesser of the entire amount of the excess funds or the student’s total tuition and fee charges multiplied by the percentage of unearned funds, depending upon whether the unearned funds were used to pay College charges or were refunded directly to the student.

If the College is not in possession of all the excess funds, the student must return the remaining amount. Any loan funds that the student must return must be repaid according to the terms of the promissory note. If the student must return grant funds, the law provides that the amount they must repay is to be reduced by 50%. This means that only half of any excess funds received must be returned. If the return of unearned assistance causes any portion of the student’s tuition and fees to become uncovered, the College will bill them. In such cases, the student will be required to make arrangements with the Business Office to pay the balance.


The law specifies how the school must determine the amount of Title IV program assistance that the student earns if they withdraw from school. The Title IV programs at Southern Vermont College that are covered by this law are: Federal Pell Grants, Direct Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOGs).

Though the student’s aid is posted to their account at the start of each period, funds are earned as they complete the period. If the student withdraws during their payment period or period of enrollment (the school can define these and tell the student which one applies to them), the amount of Title IV program assistance that the student has earned up to that point is determined by a specific formula. If the student received (or the school or parent received on the student’s behalf) less assistance than the amount that the student earned, they may be able to receive those additional funds. If the student received more assistance than was earned, the excess funds must be returned by the school and/or the student.

The amount of assistance that the student has earned is determined on a pro rata basis. For example, if the student completed 30% of their payment period or period of enrollment, they earn 30% of the assistance  originally scheduled to receive. Once the student has completed more than 60% of the payment period or period of enrollment, they earn all the assistance that they were scheduled to receive for that period.

If the student did not receive all of the funds was earned, they may be due a post-withdrawal disbursement.

If the student’s post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, the school must get their permission before it can disburse them. The student may choose to decline some or all of the loan funds so that they don’t incur additional debt. Their school may automatically use all or a portion of the student’s post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds for tuition, fees, and room and board charges (as contracted with the school). The school needs the student’s permission to use the post-withdrawal grant disbursement for all other school charges. If the student does not give their permission (some schools ask for this when a student enrolls), they will be offered the funds. However, it may it may be in the student’s best interest to allow the school to keep the funds to reduce their debt at the school.

There are some Title IV funds that the student was scheduled to receive that cannot be disbursed to them once they withdraw because of other eligibility requirements. For example, if the student is a first-time, first-year undergraduate student and has not completed the first 30 days of their program before they withdraw, they will not receive any Direct Loan funds that they would have received had they remained enrolled past the 30th day.

If the student receives (or their school or parent receives on their behalf) excess Title IV program funds that must be returned, their school must return a portion of the excess equal to the lesser of:

1. the institutional charges multiplied by the unearned percentage of the student’s funds, or

2. the entire amount of excess funds.

The school must return this amount even if it didn’t keep this amount of the student’s Title IV program funds.

If the student’s school is not required to return all of the excess funds, the student must return the remaining amount.

Any loan funds that the student must return, they (or their parent for a Direct PLUS Loan) repay in accordance with the terms of the promissory note. That is, the student makes scheduled payments to the holder of the loan over a period of time.

Any amount of unearned grant funds that the student must return is called an overpayment. The maximum amount of a grant overpayment that the student must repay is half of the grant funds they received or were scheduled to receive. The student does not have to repay a grant overpayment if the original amount of the overpayment is $50 or less. The student must make arrangements with their school or the Department of Education to return the unearned grant funds.

The requirements for Title IV program funds when the student withdraws are separate from any refund policy that their school may have. Therefore, the student may still owe funds to the school to cover unpaid institutional charges. The student’s school may also charge them for any Title IV program funds that the school was required to return. The student should review the school’s refund policy.

SVC Refund Policy:
Refund of Tuition, Room, and Board
Students dismissed by the College during the semester for academic or disciplinary reasons are not eligible for a refund of tuition or room and board charge.

Refunds are based on the official Withdrawal Leave of Absence date (approved). Students who officially Withdraw or take a Leave of Absence are allowed a refund according to the schedule below*:

•    100% refunded from the first day of class through the last date of Add/Drop at 5:00 p.m.
•    75% refunded seven (7) calendar days after the Add/Drop date at 5:00 p.m.
•    50% refunded fourteen (14) calendar days after the Add/Drop date at 5:00 p.m.

On the 15th calendar day after Add/Drop there will be no refunds of Tuition or Room and Board charges.

Information regarding the Withdrawal/Medical Leave of Absence policy and procedures can be found in the College Catalog.

*Approved medical withdrawal room and board refunds will follow the above refund schedule; however, tuition will be pro-rated.

The student’s school can also provide them with the requirements and procedures for officially withdrawing from school. See the information in the SVC Catalog on the Web.

If a student has questions about their Title IV program funds, they can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FEDAID (1-800-433-3243). TTY users may call 1-800-730-8913. Information is also available on Student Aid on the Web.

Academic Eligibility for Federal Title IV (Federal Student Aid) Programs

Satisfactory Academic Progress:

Students need to remain in good standing, meet certain academic requirements, and maintain satisfactory academic progress to continue to be eligible to receive Federal Title IV funds (federal financial aid).

Another federal regulation which affects eligibility for Federal Title IV (federal financial aid) is called the 150% rule. This means that a student has 150% of the time allotted to complete their degree or program. For example, a student pursuing a 4-year degree, must complete that degree in 6 years or they will lose all financial aid eligibility.

Other SVC Financial Aid Information

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