We’ve all suffered through a boring class or lecturing teacher. If this happens in college, you might be tempted to drop the class from your schedule completely.
But if you’ve already received financial aid after submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), dropping a class could threaten it. With the average full-time student receiving $14,400 in aid during the 2016-2017 academic year, according to The College Board, this loss could seriously hinder your ability to pay for school.
So, before you upset your FAFSA by dropping a class, you first need to find out how your financial aid could be impacted. Although the details might vary from college to college, here’s why your class schedule matters when it comes to financial aid.
How are the FAFSA and dropping a class related?
Federal financial aid is available to just about anyone who’s a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and enrolled in a qualifying school. To get your hands on federal student loans, grants, or work-study, you must fill out and submit the FAFSA.
But the eligibility requirements for financial aid don’t end once you submit the FAFSA. In order to keep your aid year after year, you must maintain “satisfactory academic progress” throughout your college career.
So, what is satisfactory academic progress? It’s usually defined in two ways. You must do the following:
Be on track to finish your degree on time. This means you’re taking enough classes and earning enough credits each year to graduate within a defined period of time.
Earn passing grades in your courses. For most schools, this means you’re maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Some colleges allow you to drop a class without consequence in the first week or two of the semester. But after that period, your schedule is pretty much fixed. If you drop a class after that period, you could lose credits and hurt your GPA.
Dropping a class, then, can disrupt your academic progress and, as a result, cause you to lose your financial aid.
Every college uniquely defines satisfactory academic progress
Although the Office of Federal Student Aid requires you to maintain satisfactory academic progress to keep your aid, it’s actually up to each college to set a standard.
You’ll need to check with your school’s financial aid office to learn how many credits you need to take each semester, as well as what GPA you must earn to stay eligible for aid.
For example, New York University (NYU) states that its students must earn an average of 32 credit points each year, as well as maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0. Plus, anyone in a four-year program must complete all the requirements for their degree within four years.
So make sure you ask your financial aid office how the FAFSA and dropping a class are related before proceeding. If this move could disrupt your academic progress and cost you your financial aid, you’ll either need to keep the class or figure out how to regain your eligibility.
You could regain your financial aid
Sometimes, falling behind on your academic progress is unavoidable. In the case of a medical issue, family emergency, or financial hardship, you might need to drop some classes or withdraw completely.
But even if you lose your eligibility for financial aid due to dropping a class, don’t lose hope. It’s possible to regain your eligibility.
In most cases, you’ll need to get back on track academically by adding courses to your schedule and boosting your GPA. NYU will even give you an extra semester of aid if you fall behind, but only if you can restore your academic progress within that time.
Whether you’ve already fallen behind or expect you will soon, you should communicate with your financial aid office about how to get back in good standing. And if you had a good reason your grades slipped, such as a family or medical emergency, it might be possible to file an appeal.
Stay in touch with your school’s financial aid office so you have all the information you need to regain your student loans, grants, or work-study.
Consider your financial aid before dropping a class
Dropping a class won’t necessarily affect your FAFSA and financial aid award. If you’re taking extra classes, for instance, you could probably afford to remove one from your schedule.
But if dropping a class costs you essential credits or harms your GPA, you might not meet the FAFSA’s requirement of satisfactory academic progress.
So before cutting courses from your schedule, find out how your FAFSA and dropping a class are related. And if you’ve already lost financial aid, take steps to regain your eligibility.
Whatever you choose, make it a priority to get back on track in school. That way, you can graduate with your degree in a timely manner.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 2/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.23% – 13.23%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.20% – 11.44%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 10.11%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|