What You Need to Know
For Undergraduate Students, a full-time course load is defined as taking 12 or more credits. For Graduate students, a full-time course load is defined as taking 9 or more credits. If a student is making a change to their schedule during the semester, whether it be dropping below full-time status or adding up to full-time status, it may impact the amount of financial aid they are receiving.
Please review the information provided below on how each type of enrollment change impacts a student’s financial aid and progress. You can also download or pick up a brochure on Information for Students Considering Withdrawal .
If a student withdraws from a class during or after the add/drop period, there could potentially be a need to adjust the financial aid that was originally awarded. It is in a student’s best interest to contact the Office of Financial Aid to inquire about the possible impact a course withdrawal may have based on their individual enrollment status and the types of financial aid awarded.
Federal regulations require that if a student withdraws from all classes a Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation must be performed to determine how much of the student’s aid must be returned to the government. If a student drops all of his/her courses during the add/drop period, the full amount of their federal financial aid will be returned. The types of aid impacted are as follows:
- Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
- Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
- Federal Perkins Loan
- Federal PLUS Loan (Parent/Graduate Student)
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal SEOG
- Federal Teach Grant
- Federal Iraq Afghanistan Service Grant
- Federal Tuition Assistance (FTA)
The amount of aid that will possibly have to be returned is based on the exact date that is used to complete the R2T4 process. If the student has completed more than 60% of the period of enrollment, then the student has earned all Title IV funding (100%) and no federal aid has to be returned to the government.
Please note that if a student is appealing for an administrative withdrawal or is enrolled in sessions then there may be additional adjustments needed based on the change in enrollment reported by the Registrar's office.
The R2T4 policies govern only the amount of Federal Aid that must be returned in the case of a withdrawal. The amount of your actual charges (e.g., tuition, fees, etc.) is determined by our institutional policy, which can be reviewed in the University Refund Policy.
Students at West Chester University who receive all "Z" grades, which indicates that they ceased attendance at some point in the term, will be reviewed as “unofficial withdrawals”. Students with "NG" status will also be contacted in order to confirm they are intending to complete the work and earn a grade in the course in the given time.
For students who are reviewed as an unofficial withdrawal, professors will be contacted directly by the Office of Financial Aid to determine the last date of academic activity. The Office of Financial Aid will utilize the reported last date of academic activity in the Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculations. If a date cannot be determined by the professors, then the 50% mark in the term will be utilized as the default.
Students who choose to audit a course may also see a change in their financial aid award, even if the change to the “audit” status takes place in the middle of the term. This is due to the fact that for Title IV purposes, auditing a course does not count as an earned grade and therefore would not be taken into consideration when determining a student’s enrollment status.
For example, if a student was registered for 12 credits, but was auditing one, 3 credit course, they would be considered part-time since only 9 of the credits count for Title IV aid purposes. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have questions about how auditing coursework will impact your award.
The Pennsylvania State Grant (PHEAA) award will be adjusted based on institutional policy of refund/reduction in tuition charges for a full University withdrawal for the term.
For example, if you are withdrawing during the third week of the term at a 40% tuition charge you will only be eligible to keep 40% of your PA State Grant award for the term.
Students should be aware that withdrawing from all courses during a term could have an effect on their Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), which requires students to earn 67% of the credits they have attempted. Students should also be made aware that a return of funds to the federal government might create a balance due on their student account. Institutional policy dictates that all students that drop below half-time status for a term are required to complete Federal Exit Loan Counseling (Note: this does not mean you will not be able to be considered for financial aid in future terms if you re-enroll, but instead is an educational tutorial that should be completed online at studentloans.gov).
Students considering withdrawing from all their classes should considering making an appointment with the Office of Financial Aid to discuss their situation prior to their withdrawal.
Please review information on the implications of the Federal Shutdown for financial aid here.
- The U.S. Department of Education selects students for verification. Verification is a process for confirming the accuracy of the information students and parents provide on the FAFSA. West Chester University may also select students for verification when the FAFSA data or information received by the university appears incomplete or conflicting.
- THE ANTICIPATED FEDERAL AID IN YOUR PACKAGE IS A GOOD FAITH/BEST ESTIMATE. VERIFICATION MAY CHANGE THE VALUE OF THE AID OFFERED IN YOUR PACKAGE. TENTATIVE CREDIT RECORDED ON YOUR ACCOUNT SUMMARY MAY BE REMOVED AT ANY TIME DURING THIS PROCESS.
- AID WILL NOT BE POSTED/PAID TO YOUR ACCOUNT UNTIL THE VERIFICATION IS COMPLETE. THIS INCLUDES FUNDS NEEDED FOR OFF-CAMPUS EXPENSES.
- NOTE: When completing a FAFSA, students and parents who are able to utilize the "IRS Data Retrieval Tool" may be exempted from having to provide an IRS Tax Return Transcript to the West Chester University Financial Aid office.
- Students will receive instructions via their WCU email account on how to complete this process. Submit ALL requested documents within 30 days of the date requested. Documents to confirm the data on the FAFSA may include, but are not limited to:
- IRS Tax Return Transcripts You are responsible for calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946 to order* a tax return transcript or via www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript. Tax return transcripts (see sample) are free and will take 5 to 10 days to arrive in the mail*.
- W-2 forms - obtain copies of W-2 forms from your employers.
- Confirmation of the number in your household and in college.
- Documentation of asset value and debt, (business, rental, and farm property).
- View the Frequently Asked Questions
Rights & Responsibilities
- You must be an accepted student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program of study.
- A student must be enrolled at least half time to receive aid from the Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized and Direct PLUS Loan programs. The Pell, TEACH Grant, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) programs don’t require half-time enrollment.
A student enrolled in elementary or secondary school is not eligible for aid from the Federal Student Aid programs, even if she is simultaneously enrolled in an eligible college program.
- High school diploma (this can be from a foreign school if it is equivalent to a U.S. high school diploma);
- GED (General Educational Development) certificate;
- Completed homeschooling at the secondary level as defined by state law; or Completed secondary school education in a homeschool setting which qualifies for an exemption from compulsory attendance requirements under state law, if state law does not require a home-schooled student to receive a credential for their education.
- Alternate qualifications include Ability-to-Benefit Alternatives and an academic transcript of a student who has succesfully completed at least a two-year program.
- U.S. Citizen (born or naturalized)
- A permanent U.S. resident with a Permanent Resident Card (I-551) A conditional permanent resident (I-551C)
- Or the holder of an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing the designations of Refugee, Asylum Granted, Parolee (I-94 confirms that you were paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired), Victim of Human Trafficking, T-Visa Holder (T-1, T-2, T-3, etc.), or Cuban-Haitian Entrant.
Male citizens and male immigrants residing in the U.S. aged 18 through 25 are required to register with the Selective Service System at www.sss.gov, with limited exceptions. This requirement applies to any person assigned the sex of male at birth.
Female students and male immigrants who entered the country at age 26 or older are exempted.
- SAP policy cannot be less than the federal minimum standard, and students must meet the requirements of the SAP policy to be eligible for federal financial aid.
- Every school's SAP standards include 3 components:
- Qualitative measurement component such as a grade point average (GPA): West Chester University requires a cumulative GPA of 2.0 by the end of the student's second year.
- Quantitative measurement component referred to as the student's pace: West Chester University's pace requirement is 67% of all attempted credits must be earned.
- Maximum time frame of program completion: West Chester University's undergraduate program completion maximum is 180 cumulative credits; graduate program completion maximum is 72 cumulative credits.
- Students concerned with academic challenges should contact the Early Alert Program. The mission of the Early Alert Program (EAP) is to provide early intervention through early indicators to students identified through multiple collegiate channels as needing additional academic and social support. For more information please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (610) 436-2187.
- Contact your loan servicer. The servicer may be able to work with you to develop a more flexible payment plan to get out of default as quickly as possible.
Not have a felony drug conviction for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid
A student is considered to be incarcerated if she is serving a criminal sentence in a federal, state, or local penitentiary, prison, jail, reformatory, work farm, or similar correctional institution (whether it is operated by the government or a contractor). A student is not considered to be incarcerated if she is in a halfway house or home detention or is sentenced to serve only weekends.
Incarcerated students are not eligible for FSA loans but are eligible for Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOGs) and Federal Work-Study (FWS). They are also eligible for Pell Grants if not incarcerated in a federal or state penal institution.
Student Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
You have the right to ask a school:
- The names of its accrediting organizations.
- About its programs; its instructional, laboratory, and other physical facilities; and its faculty.
- What the cost of attending is and what its policies are on refunds to students who drop out.
- What financial assistance is available, including information on all federal, state, local, private, and institutional financial aid programs.
- What the procedures and deadlines are for submitting applications for each available financial aid program.
- What criteria it uses to select financial aid recipients.
- How it determines your financial need. This process includes how costs for tuition and fees, room and board, travel, books and supplies, personal and miscellaneous expenses, etc. are considered in your budget. It also includes what resources (such as parental contribution, other financial aid, your assets, etc.) are considered in the calculation of your need.
- If you have a loan, what the interest rate is, the total amount that must be repaid, the length of time you have to repay the loan, when payments are to begin, and any cancellation and deferment provisions that apply.
- If you are offered a work study job, what kind of job it is, what hours you must work, what your duties will be, what the rate of pay will be, and how and when you will be paid.
- To reconsider your aid package, if you believe a mistake has been made.
- How the school determines whether you are making satisfactory academic progress, and what happens if you are not.
- What special facilities and services are available to the disabled.
You have the responsibility to:
- Review and consider all information about a school's program before you enroll.
- Pay special attention to your application for student financial aid, complete it accurately, and submit it on time to the right place. Errors can delay your receipt of financial aid.
- Provide all additional documentation, verification, corrections, and/or new information requested by either the Office of Financial Aid or the agency to which you submitted your application.
- Read and understand all forms that you are asked to sign and keep copies of them.
- Accept responsibility for the promissory note and all other agreements that you sign.
- If you have a loan, notify the lender of changes in your name, address, or enrollment status.
- Perform in a satisfactory manner the work that is agreed upon in accepting a college work study job.
- Know and comply with the deadlines for application for aid.
- Know and comply with your school's refund procedures.
Financial Aid eligibility is based on a formula established by Congress that takes into account family income, certain assets and expenses that are required (taxes), necessary (basic living expenses) and related to earning income (employment-related expenses). In addition there are eligibility requirements students must meet to receive financial aid, including successful academic progress. For additional information or to schedule an appointment please contact the Financial Aid office at (610) 436-2627 or via email@example.com.
Your educational expenses may be in excess of the standard Cost of Attendance used to determine your aid package. If you have documentation to support these expenses you may request an adjustment to your cost of attendance – A Budget Adjustment.
Many students feel they are independent for various reasons. How you answer the questions in the dependency section of the FAFSA determines your dependency status according to federal law.
Where there are extenuating circumstances students may appeal their dependency status. Exceptions are made only when adequate documentation of extenuating family circumstances exists.
Complete and submit an Appeal to Be Independent Form , complete the request carefully. You may need to request a Dependency Override again if you cannot answer the questions on the FAFSA as an Independent student, in the following year.
Note: The school you plan to attend must submit the Dependency Override on your behalf. West Chester University will not honor a Dependency Override authorized by another institution.
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (CCRAA) expanded the definition of "independent student" to include youth who are 1) unaccompanied and homeless, or 2) unaccompanied, self-support, and at-risk of homeless at any time during the award year in which they submit the FAFSA. The CCRAA uses the McKinney-Vento Act's definitions of
- "homeless" which, includes youth who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. It also uses "at-risk of homelessness" to refer to students whose housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate.
- "unaccompanied" which includes youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.
The U.S. Department of Education has defined "youth" to mean 24 or younger.
If you do not have an unaccompanied homeless youth determination but believe you qualify for one please contact Tori Nuccio, Single Point of Contact for Unaccompanied Homeless & Foster Youth at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also contact Tori Nuccio if you have a determination and would like to learn more about the WCU Promise Program. Learn more about the West Chester University Promise Program: Support Unaccompanied Students 365 Days of the Year .
Should your family's circumstances change after you submit your FAFSA you may have grounds for a "Professional Judgment"evaluation. For added insight please see our FAQs concerning this topic.
If you or your parents have unusual circumstances that affect the ability to contribute money to the cost of your attendance at WCU (for example, high medical expenses), you may complete an Unusual Circumstance Worksheet in order to have your aid application reconsidered.
If you or your parents have experienced loss of income since reporting the FAFSA data you may request a Special Circumstance Review by scheduling a phone appointment with our office, in order to have your aid application reconsidered.
Frequently Requested Forms for Professional Judgment and Special Situations
Each student will be reviewed for progress annually after the spring semester. A student must meet the following requirements in order to satisfy the academic progress policies for Federal and State financial aid. Failure to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in accordance with these standards will result in the loss of financial aid until such time as the student is again maintaining satisfactory academic progress.
A student must meet the following requirements in order to be making satisfactory academic progress and have an aid package containing Federal Title IV financial aid generated on their behalf.
- Successfully complete 67% of the total cumulative attempted and transfer credits. This includes any credits for which the student remained enrolled past the Drop/Add period.
- Have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.00 by the end of the fourth (4th) term (this includes summer and winter sessions).
- Undergraduate students may receive aid for up to 180 cumulative credits attempted. In addition to these requirements, there are lifetime limits for the Federal Pell Grant Program for undergraduate students.
- Graduate students may receive aid for up to 72 cumulative credits attempted.
Students denied financial aid for non-compliance may appeal that denial through the SAP Academic Appeal Process.
Courses taken at other institutions will be used in the determination of satisfactory progress only if they are accepted for transfer to WCU and count toward the student's degree. Credits transfer, but grades do not.
The following definitions are used in the academic progress assessment:
- Credits Attempted: Credits for which a grade of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F, P, W, AU or NG has been received.
- Successfully Completed Credits: Credits for which a grade of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, or P has been received. Grades of F, NG, AU, W, Y, Z AND grades in repeated courses do not count as successfully completed credits.
After students are determined by PHEAA to be eligible for a state grant, the Financial Aid Office determines if they are maintaining satisfactory academic progress. Students may receive a maximum of 8 full-time semester grants (or its equivalent). PHEAA state grant progress is reviewed annually after the spring semester. To qualify, students must:
- Successfully complete a minimum of 12 new credits for each full-time semester of PHEAA grant received during the preceding academic year.
- Successfully complete a minimum of 6 new credits for each part-time semester of PHEAA grant received during the preceding academic year.
If you believe that you have grounds to request an exception to this policy, complete and submit a State Grant Program Academic Progress Exception Form .