Maintaining Your Aid Eligibility

As a recipient of financial aid, you must maintain a minimum cumulative 2.0 grade point average, complete 67% of all credit hours attempted and finish your program of study within one-and-a-half times the normal credit hours required for completion. Convictions for drug offenses that occur while you are taking financial aid can also lead to ineligibility. You can find more information on Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and drug conviction information here.

Scope

Regulations require a student’s progress for financial aid purposes to meet both the Grade Point Average (GPA) and Pace of Progression standards. In addition to a student’s cumulative grade point average, students are also required to pass a percentage of all attempted coursework, and to complete their program of study within the maximum timeframe established by the institution. To reasonably measure a student’s academic progress for financial aid, the student’s academic record will be evaluated including credit hours earned at other post-secondary institutions and transferred into the student’s program of study at RCC. This requirement applies to all students who apply for financial assistance from Federal, State and Institutional aid.  

Standards of Progress

To receive financial aid, the student must maintain satisfactory academic progress toward an eligible program of study. There are two standards in the Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs standards of progress that students receiving financial aid must meet in order to maintain satisfactory academic progress:

  • Grade Point Average (GPA) Standard
    The minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) requirement the student must maintain to receive and/or continue receiving financial aid assistance is 2.0. This includes all degree, diploma and certificate programs.

  • Pace of Progression Standard: 67% Completion Rate and 150% Maximum Timeframe. The student must maintain the minimums as listed below:
    • Completion Rate Requirement:
      The student must successfully complete 67% of the cumulative credit hours attempted to meet the minimum requirement. Example: if the student attempts 60 credit hours during enrollment, the student must successfully complete 40 credit hours (60 hours attempted x 67% = 40 hours). For purposes of rounding, students who achieve a completion rate of 66.7% or higher are considered to have met the 67% completion rate requirement. Successful completion is defined as receiving a grade of “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”, "P", "P1", "P2", or “P3”.

    • Maximum Timeframe: 
      The maximum timeframe for a student to complete a program is 150% of the published length of the program. Example: if 75 credit hours are required to complete a degree, the student may attempt a maximum of 113 credit hours before the student exceeds his eligibility for financial aid (75 credit hour program x 150% = 113). One academic year of credit (30 credit hours) may be added for required remedial coursework.

      If a student is pursuing more than one program of study, maximum timeframe standards of 150% will be applied, toward each program, for all attempted hours. Students may receive financial assistance for two programs of study while attending RCC. If the student should need additional periods of enrollment to complete the additional program(s) or if the student has a valid reason for pursuing an additional program of study, appeal procedures noted within this satisfactory academic progress policy may be applied.

Treatment of Selected Grades

  • Withdrawals: Credit hours in which a student receives a grade of “W”, “WF”, “FW”, or “AW” are included in the number of attempted hours, but do not count toward successfully completed hours. A grade of “WF” or “FW” also affects a student’s GPA. This is considered an unofficial withdrawal. Students who withdraw may have difficulty meeting the satisfactory academic progress requirements.
  • Incompletes and Failing Grades: Credit hours in which a student receives a grade of “I” or “F” are included in the number of attempted hours, but do not count toward successfully completed hours. In addition, grades of “F” negatively affect GPA. Students with “incompletes” may have difficulty meeting the satisfactory academic progress requirements at the time of evaluation, but may request reevaluation upon completion.
  • Transfer Credit: Students transferring from another college will be considered making satisfactory progress at the time of enrollment at Randolph Community College. In addition to being factored into the completion rate requirement as attempted and completed credits, a student’s maximum time to receive financial aid will also be reduced by the equivalent transfer of credit hours towards his/her degree.
  • Audit and No Show: Grades for audit “Y” or no show “NS” are not considered attempted coursework. Neither of these are included in the grade point average or completion rate determinations. A student cannot receive financial aid for courses that he or she audits or is considered a no show (Y or NS).
  • Proficiency (Credit by Exam): While a credit by exam “X” is not included in the enrollment hours for purposes of awarding financial aid, the credits will be counted in each component of the student’s academic progress.
  • Repeat Courses: For financial aid purposes, all hours attempted will continue to be counted in each component of the student’s academic progress.
  • Developmental/Support Courses: Courses numbered less than 100 (i.e. MAT 001, ENG 002, MAT 010, ENG 011, etc.) are included in GPA calculations, as well as when calculating the 67 % Completion Rate. One academic year of credit (30 credit hours) may be added for required developmental coursework when calculating the 150% Maximum Timeframe.

Summer Session

Credit hours attempted during a summer session will be included in the calculation of satisfactory academic progress, just as any other enrollment period.

Complete Academic Record

In order to measure a student’s satisfactory progress toward degree, diploma, or certificate requirements, the student’s total academic record at RCC must be evaluated whether or not the student received financial aid for the entire time of enrollment. This includes, but is not limited to, courses taken through dual enrollment and the Randolph Early College High School. When students complete course work for more than one program, college and financial aid academic progress standards must be met for all programs to receive financial aid.

Returning Students

Returning students are evaluated on a continuing basis from the first enrollment at RCC, unless an extenuating circumstance is considered. Returning students who were previously enrolled under an academic progress policy other than the current academic progress policy will be required to meet the standards of the current policy upon returning.

Changes of Major or Program of Study

Students receiving financial aid are permitted to change majors, but may have difficulty completing the program within the Maximum Timeframe of 150% if the programs are not similar in course requirements. If a student graduates from an associate degree, diploma, or certificate, they can pursue a second degree, less applicable courses required for the second program of study. If the student reaches 150% of the program length, they can request an evaluation of the program to determine the number of credits available to complete the second program of study.

Academic Amnesty

Satisfactory academic progress regulations do not provide for the concept of academic amnesty whereby students apply to have credits attempted or grades earned excluded from the institution's GPA calculation. All credits attempted and grades earned will be included in the student's GPA and pace of progression standards.

Eligibility Status

  • Satisfactory: This status is achieved when all criteria explained above are met. Satisfactory progress will be examined at the end of each semester to determine if the student met the standards of progress and is eligible to continue to receive financial aid.
  • Warning: A student (who is not currently on Warning status) will go from satisfactory to warning status if they fail to maintain the required 2.0 cumulative GPA and/or the required 67% completion rate. The warning period will last for one semester, unless the student fails to enroll, they would be at a warning status upon their return.
  • Suspension: Students on financial aid Warning status who have not attained at least the required 2.0 cumulative GPA and/or the required 67% completion rate will have their financial aid suspended at the conclusion of the Warning period.
  • Probation: If a status of Suspension is appealed and approved, a status of Probation is assigned. This status requires students to maintain both a term GPA greater than or equal to 3.00 and a term completion rate equal to 100%. In order to achieve a completion rate equal to 100%, a student must successfully complete each course enrolled for the term. If a student withdraws or fails a course during a term dropping the term completion rate below 100%, or does not maintain a term GPA greater than or equal to 3.00, the appeal is terminated and the student will return to a financial aid Suspension status.
  • Warning Near Maximum Timeframe: Students who have attempted approximately 100% of the maximum allowable credit hours for their program of study will receive a courtesy notification status of Warning Near Maximum Timeframe. Students receiving this status will continue to receive financial aid until they reach 150% of their program of study, at which time they will have their financial aid suspended and be assigned a status of Maximum Timeframe.
  • Maximum Timeframe: Students who have attempted the maximum allowable credit hours, 150% of their program of study, will have their financial aid suspended.
  • Notification of Financial Aid Warning, Suspension, Probation, Warning Near Maximum Timeframe or Maximum Timeframe: The Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs will send correspondence to any student who is placed on financial aid Warning, Suspension, Probation, Warning Near Maximum Timeframe or Maximum Timeframe.
  • Regaining Eligibility: Students who attend RCC (with or without federal financial aid) may regain financial aid eligibility by meeting the GPA and pace of progression standards of this policy. A student may request reconsideration of eligibility for financial aid by submitting an appeal to the Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs once all requirements are met.

Appeal of Satisfactory Academic Progress

Suspension: Students who have been suspended from receiving financial aid may appeal to the Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs to waive the academic progress requirements where there are extenuating circumstances or when a period of ten years or more has passed since the student was last enrolled. A student may submit written documentation to the Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs by completing the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Request form that explains the extenuating circumstances that have affected academic performance and what has changed that will allow them to make satisfactory academic progress. Supporting documentation must be submitted with the appeal. Circumstances may include, but are not limited to: illness or injury, the death of a family member, or other extenuating circumstances.

If a status of Suspension is appealed and approved, a status of Probation is assigned. This status requires students to maintain both a term GPA greater than or equal to 3.00 and a term completion rate equal to 100%. In order to achieve a completion rate equal to 100%, a student must successfully complete each course enrolled for the term. If a student withdraws or fails a course during a term dropping the term completion rate below 100%, or does not maintain a term GPA greater than or equal to 3.00, the appeal is terminated and the student will return to a Suspension status.

Maximum Transfer: Students who exceed the maximum timeframe to complete a program of study must appeal and provide the documentation required on the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Request form. They may appeal based on a change in academic program or a previous graduation from a program at RCC. If a status of Maximum Timeframe is appealed and approved, a status of Warning Near Maximum Timeframe is assigned and remaining eligibility is determined.

The process for appeal is as follows:

  • A student may appeal in writing to the Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs using the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Request form explaining why satisfactory academic progress requirements were not met and what has changed that will allow him/her to make satisfactory academic progress. Documentation of extenuating circumstances is required and specified according to the student’s situation on the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Request form.
If a student disagrees with the determination by the Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs, the Standard Grievance Procedure in the College Catalog must be followed.

Revised: October 19, 2021

A federal or state drug conviction (but not a local or municipal conviction) can disqualify a student for FSA funds. The student self-certifies in applying for aid that he is eligible; you’re not required to confirm this unless you have conflicting information.

Convictions only count against a student for aid eligibility purposes (FAFSA question 23c) if they were for an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving federal student aid—they do not count if the offense was not during such a period, unless the student was denied federal benefits for drug trafficking by a federal or state judge. Also, a conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record does not count, nor does one received when she was a juvenile, unless she was tried as an adult.

The chart below illustrates the period of ineligibility for FSA funds, depending on whether the conviction was for sale or possession and whether the student had previous offenses. A conviction for the sale of drugs includes convictions for conspiring to sell drugs.

Possession of Illegal Drugs

  • 1st Offense: 1 year from date of conviction
  • 2nd Offense: 2 years from date of conviction
  • 3rd Offense: Indefinite period

Sale of Illegal Drugs

  • 1st Offense: 2 years from date of conviction
  • 2nd Offense: Indefinite period

If the student was convicted of both possessing and selling illegal drugs, and the periods of ineligibility are different, the student will be ineligible for the longer period. Schools must provide each student who becomes ineligible for FSA funds due to a drug conviction a clear and conspicuous written notice of his loss of eligibility and the methods whereby he can become eligible again.

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends (i.e., for a 1st or 2nd offense); or when he or she successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program that includes passing two unannounced drug tests given by such a program. Further drug convictions will make him ineligible again.

Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain eligibility after completing any of the following options:

  • Successfully completing a rehabilitation program, as described below, which includes passing two unannounced drug tests from such a program;
  • Having the conviction reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record so that fewer than two convictions for sale or three convictions for possession remain on the record; or
  • Successfully completing two unannounced drug tests which are part of a rehab program (the student does not need to complete the rest of the program).

In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility. It is the student’s responsibility to certify to the Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs that he or she has successfully completed the rehabilitation program.

Standards for a qualified drug rehabilitation program

A qualified drug rehabilitation program must include at least two unannounced drug tests and satisfy at least one of the following requirements:

  • Be qualified to receive funds directly or indirectly from a federal, state, or local government program.
  • Be qualified to receive payment directly or indirectly from a federally or state-licensed insurance company.
  • Be administered or recognized by a federal, state, or local government agency or court.
  • Be administered or recognized by a federally or state-licensed hospital, health clinic, or medical doctor.

In addition to the aforementioned information, all students should take time to read and become familiar with RCC's Tobacco Free, Drugs and Alcohol Usage Policy.