Federal and State Financial Aid Regulations require that students who receive financial aid be required to make Satisfactory Academic Progress in order to maintain financial aid eligibility. Whatcom Community College (WCC) Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress requires students to maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative academic grade point average for the academic program in which the student is enrolled and requires that the student cumulatively complete a minimum of two thirds of the program credits for which the student has enrolled. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is checked prior to awarding aid, even if students did not receive financial aid in past quarters. Students are urged to carefully plan their academic class load each quarter, as any classes which are started and then dropped adversely affect the student's Satisfactory Academic Progress. Students have a maximum time frame for completing a program of study. To remain eligible for financial aid the student must be mathematically capable of completing their program within at least 150% (or 125% for State Financial Aid) of the total number of credits that are required for their declared program (note: all program credits attempted are counted in this calculation).
Specific Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements
Students are reviewed each quarter (including summer quarter) to determine that they are meeting both the cumulative GPA requirement (2.0) and the cumulative credits completed (2/3) components.
- Any student who completes zero credits in a quarter that they receive financial aid (Receives all grades of “U”, “NA”, “N”, “W” or “F”) will be placed on Termination Status.
- For a student receiving financial aid for the first time at WCC, the prior WCC course work will be reviewed to determine if they have completed 2/3 of the credits attempted and have a cumulative GPA of 2.0. This review includes all credits attempted (incompletes, withdrawals, repetitions, vanishes, remedial and “F” grades). Students who do not meet the cumulative GPA or cumulative credit requirements are placed on Warning Status.
- Transfer credits that count toward the student’s current program count as both attempted and completed hours.
- Students are reviewed quarterly to determine if they meet the cumulative GPA standard. Their GPA for the quarter can fall below the 2.0 standard without penalty as long as their cumulative GPA remains above a 2.0.
- Students are reviewed quarterly to determine if they are meeting the cumulative credits completion requirements (cumulative credits completed of 2/3). Students may not meet the requirement for a given quarter but as long as the cumulative credits they have completed in their program remains above 2/3 they are meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.
- Students who have their financial aid terminated may appeal if there are extenuating circumstances that affected their success. The petition must include detail of what the extenuating circumstances were and what steps they have taken so they can be successful in the new quarter. Students who have their appeal approved are placed on Financial Aid Probation Status.
- Students placed on Probation Status must meet with an Ed Planner to secure an Approved Academic Plan. Student must complete all courses in the plan successfully to maintain SAP. As students on an Academic Plan are reviewed quarterly, as long as they are following the plan they are meeting the SAP requirements even though their cumulative GPA and/or cumulative credits completed are still below the standard.
Receiving Aid for More Than One Program of Study
- Students can complete a maximum of two programs of study while on financial aid at WCC. This means after completing one program, the student begins working towards a second program. Financial aid for the second program will not be awarded until the completion of the first degree appears on the student’s academic transcript.
- “Program of study” means either an associate’s degree program or a certificate that is at least 45 credits in length. A degree and a certificate earned in the same field (for example, an AS degree in Business Administration and a certificate in Office Administration) count as one program for Satisfactory Progress purposes. Both the degree and the certificate credits attempted apply to the satisfactory progress pace regulations (150%).
- Students are allowed to make program changes; however if there is a pattern of program changes the student may be required to meet with a financial aid academic advisor and submit a petition for change of academic program with an approved program completion plan prior to future funds being disbursed. This is reviewed annually when new awards are made. Students on approved program completion plans are limited to the courses needed to complete that intended degree. All attempted credits that apply toward the stated degree are included in the satisfactory pace calculation.
Pace of Progression – Maximum Time Frame
- Students are allowed up to 45 credits of remedial course work. This includes all secondary level remedial coursework that is required for a program. These remedial courses are not included in the pace of progression calculation.
- Census Day (5th day) is used in determining credit level and attempted credits. For summer quarter this is the 4th day.
- For federal financial aid students may not receive aid when it is determined that they cannot complete their degree requirements within 150% of the credits required for the degree. This includes all college level attempted credits that apply toward the degree and all transfer credits that apply toward the degree including all courses attempted regardless of the grade received.
- Once a student reaches 100% of attempted college level credits required for their degree or certificate (this includes all credits attempted and all transfer credits attempted that apply toward the degree, regardless of the grade received) they will be awarded for a maximum of one additional quarter of financial aid. If more than one quarter is needed to graduate the student must submit a degree completion plan. If the student is unable to complete their degree by 150% of the degree credit requirements they are no longer eligible for financial aid. If there are extraordinary circumstances the student may complete an excessive credit petition. If the excessive credit petition is approved financial aid will only pay for the required courses to complete the degree. No repeat coursework will be paid for by financial aid for an excessive credit student. If a student on an excessive credit approval plan does not meet satisfactory academic requirements or enrolls in coursework that is not approved by a financial aid academic advisor as needed to complete their degree financial aid will be terminated and they will have no further eligibility at WCC.
- All repeated courses count toward the maximum time frame regardless of whether financial aid was received for the course.
- A student may only repeat a course for which they earned a failing grade a maximum of two times.
- A student may only retake a course for which they earned a passing grade one time.
Remedial and ESLA Coursework
- To receive financial aid for remedial or ESLA course work the student must be considered a regular student, admitted into an eligible program and the coursework must fit within the program.
- Remedial coursework can be taken up to a maximum of 45 credits. The grades for these courses are considered in the qualitative satisfactory progress review, but not in determining pace. ESLA courses are included in the 45 credit remedial limit at WCC.
Quarterly Satisfactory Academic Progress Review Process
The Financial Aid Office will notify students who have Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress compliance issues via the Financial Aid Portal and via the student's FAFSA email address as soon as the Satisfactory Academic Progress is completed at the end of each quarter (Satisfactory Academic Progress information is typically available on the Financial Aid Portal approximately 5 business days after the last day of classes). At the end of a quarter, if a student has concerns about their Satisfactory Academic Progress status they should monitor their Financial Aid Portal account.
Financial Aid Warning
A student who does not meet minimum cumulative Satisfactory Academic Progress standards will be placed on Financial Aid Warning status for the following quarter (unless the student is already on Financial Aid Warning status or the student has not successfully completed any cumulative program credits). During the quarter that the student is on Financial Aid Warning status the student will be eligible to receive Federal financial aid awards.
Financial Aid Termination
If the student fails to meet Satisfactory Academic Standards during the quarter on which the student is on 1) Financial Aid Warning status, 2) Financial Aid Probation status, or 3) if the student has not successfully completed any cumulative program credits, the student will be terminated from future financial aid eligibility and all future financial aid awards will be suspended.
Reinstatement of Financial Aid Eligibility
Students who are terminated from financial aid eligibility due to lack of Satisfactory Academic Progress may petition for reinstatement of financial aid eligibility by submitting a Petition for Reinstatement of Financial Aid with required supporting documentation of extraordinary circumstances to the Financial Aid Office no later than two days prior to the start of the quarter for which reinstatement is being requested. Students who are submitting a Reinstatement Petition should register for a maximum of 10 credits for the quarter for which they are requesting reinstatement of their financial aid.
The Financial Aid Director will use the Financial Aid Advisory Committee as a resource for determining if Petitions for Reinstatement of Financial Aid for students who are already on Financial Aid Probation should be approved and for other Petitions with unusual circumstances for which the Director determines the guidance of the Committee is appropriate. The Financial Aid Advisory Committee meets on or before the second day of classes each quarter. Financial Aid Petition for Reinstatement decisions are final and cannot be appealed.
Financial Aid Probation
Students who have their Reinstatement Petition approved will be placed on Financial Aid Probation status for the next quarter of attendance. During the quarter that the student is on Financial Aid Probation the student will be eligible to receive financial aid (*except for the WA State Need Grant if student is in "denied for State Need Grant status").
Students who have their Reinstatement Petition approved and are placed on Financial Aid Probation for a subsequent quarter will be limited to taking a maximum of 10 credits while they remain on Financial Aid Probation status and the student may be required to meet with an Educational Planner to develop an approved Academic Plan before the student's financial aid awards for the subsequent quarter are reinstated.
If an approved Academic Plan is received by the Financial Aid Office by the end of the first week of the quarter, the financial aid awards for which the student is eligible will be reinstated and processed. It takes approximately one week after all reinstatement requirements have been completed for students with a credit balance to receive their financial aid disbursement. If an approved Academic Plan is not received by the end of the first week of the quarter, the student's financial aid awards will be cancelled.
Financial Aid Reinstatement Petition Not Approved
If a student does not have their Petition for Reinstatement of Financial Aid approved the student will be required to successfully complete a minimum of 10 credits of course work which applies to the student's academic program, before the student will be eligible to petition for reinstatement of aid. Proof of successful completion of 10 or more credits which apply to the student's academic program must be submitted with the student's Petition for Reinstatement of Financial Aid.
Financial Aid Petition for Reinstatement decisions are final and cannot be appealed.
State Aid Satisfactory Progress Policies
State Aid General Requirements
To remain eligible for State aid at the end of each quarter, all students receiving State aid must be in good standing with the college and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 or higher for the quarter and students must have completed at least one-half of the original amount of credits for which the aid was calculated and paid for the quarter.
State Aid recipients may not exceed 125% of their program length in attempted credits toward degree requirements. If a student is still completing degree requirements beyond 125% of their program requirements, they will not be eligible to receive additional State funding.
State Aid Warning Status
Students who complete greater than half of the credits for which they were awarded for the quarter but less than the full number of credits for which the student was awarded are placed on Warning Status for the following quarter. Students must complete 100% of the credits for which they were awarded in the Warning quarter to restore SAP good standing and avoid a Denied Status in the following quarter. Students may not be on State Aid Warning Status for two consecutive quarters.
Denied Status for State Aid
A student with a State financial aid award who completes less than 50% of the minimum number of credits for which the aid was disbursed for a specific quarter will be placed on "denied status" and future awards will be cancelled.
Petition for State Aid "Denied Status" Review
Students who are on "denied status" may petition the Director of Financial Aid for a review of their status after they have successfully completed at least one additional quarter of coursework during which they did not receive any State Need Grant funding.
Students who have encountered extenuating circumstances which caused them to be unable to successfully complete at least 50% of their enrolled credits for the quarter may petition for special consideration. An example of an extenuating circumstance would be a significant family emergency or major illness.
Financial Aid Petition for Reinstatement decisions are final and cannot be appealed.
Return of Title IV Funds Policy
Official and Unofficial Withdrawals
Students will be considered officially withdrawn if they complete a drop process with Whatcom Community College’s Registration Office. The withdrawal date will be the date the student began the formal withdrawal process or provided official notification. The last date of attendance for a student who unofficially withdraws will be the date reported to the Financial Aid Office by the student’s instructor when grades are posted.
The Financial Aid Office runs a weekly report that lists students who have officially withdraw from all classes and uses a Federal tool to determine if a Return of Title IV funds is due and if the student owes a repayment of federal funds. This determination is made by the Financial Aid Office in a timely manner, well within the 30 day federal requirement.
There are a few situations where the student may be owed a disbursement of Title IV funds when they have officially or unofficially withdrawn from classes. This can occur when a student is approved by the Registrar for a medical or military withdrawal and receives a full tuition refund. This can also occur if there are undisbursed funds the student is eligible to receive or if the student does a partial withdrawal. Any disbursement of Title IV funds due to a student is disbursed in a timely manner, well within the 14 days federal requirement.
Withdrawal During the 100% Refund Period (Corresponds with Census Day)
Financial aid students who withdraw from some or all of their courses during the 100% refund period will have their award recalculated based on the enrollment level at the end of the 100% refund period. Students receiving Title IV and/or Washington State Need Grant will be billed for any over-payment when enrollment levels change. Students who withdraw from all of their classes will be billed for Pell, SEOG, SNG, College Bound and/or Federal Loans (student and PLUS) they received, according to the federal Return of Title IV Funds formula and/or the repayment policy of the Washington Student Achievement Council as appropriate. Students who fail to repay within a 45 day period will be reported to the Department of Education and/or the Washington Student Achievement Council, resulting in ineligibility for Title IV and/or state financial aid as appropriate.
Partial Withdrawal After 100% Refund Period
Financial aid students who withdraw from some of their courses after the 100% refund period will be subject to the terms of Whatcom Community College’s “Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements.”
Complete Withdrawal After 100% Refund Period
Financial aid students who withdraw from all courses after the 100% refund period will be subject to the terms of Whatcom Community College’s “Satisfactory Progress Requirements.” Students who received Pell Grant, SEOG, and/or Direct Federal Loans may be billed according to the federal Return of Title IV Funds formula. Students who have received State Need Grant and/or College Bound may be billed according to the policies as per Washington Student Achievement Council. Students are considered as having unofficially withdrawn from all courses if they have received all, or a combination of, grades of “W” and/or “N” and/or “U” and/or “F” for a given quarter. Aid recipients who have unofficially withdrawn may be required to pay tuition and fees for the applicable quarter through sources other than financial aid.
“NA” or Never Attended Grades
Financial aid students who receive an “NA” grade in one or all of their courses will have their award recalculated based on the remaining enrollment level. This recalculation will be performed before any Return to Title IV or State repayment calculation is done. The NA grade is used when a student never begins attendance in that course and therefore was not eligible for financial aid received for those particular credits. Students will be billed for Pell, SEOG, SNG, and/or College Bound they received. Students who fail to repay within a 45 day period will be reported to the Department of Education and/or the Washington Student Achievement Council, resulting in ineligibility for Title IV and/or state financial aid as appropriate.
Return of Title IV Funds
WCC will use Federal Student Aid’s Return of Title IV Funds on the Web (available on CPS Online) to determine the amount of Title IV aid the student who has completely withdrawn will have to repay. This tool provides WCC the calculation to determine the amount WCC is to return, the order of Title IV programs the return is to be made* and any repayment owed by the student to Title IV programs.
*The order in which funds required to be returned is as follows:
- Unsubsidized Direct Loans (other than Direct PLUS loans)
- Subsidized Direct Loans
- Direct PLUS loans (only parent PLUS is applicable)
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)