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Return of Title IV funds

All undergraduate and graduate students who receive Title IV aid and withdraw prior to the end date of a payment period will be reviewed to determine whether unearned Title IV aid must be returned. The term “Title IV aid” refers to the following Federal financial aid programs: Unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford loans, Federal Perkins loans, Federal PLUS (Parent) loans, Federal Pell Grants, and Federal SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant).

In order to determine whether a student’s unearned Title IV aid must be returned, as an attendance-taking institution, Columbia College must determine the student’s withdrawal date. The College considers students to have withdrawn as follows:

  • Students who cease attendance from all of their courses eligible for Title IV aid will be considered to have withdrawn
  • A student is considered to have withdrawn if the student does not complete all the days in the payment period.
  • The withdrawal date is always the last date of attendance at an academically-related activity by a student as recorded by instructors.

For programs offered in modules:

The College allows students to provide written confirmation on the withdrawal form at the time of withdrawal that he or she will attend a module that begins later in the same payment period. A student is not considered to have withdrawn if the College obtains a written confirmation on the College’s withdrawal form from the student at the time of the withdrawal.

The College allows students to return to a module within the same payment period who did not confirm future enrollment in that same payment period. The student is treated as if he or she did not cease attendance. The Return of Title IV Funds calculation will be reversed.

The College considers a student as withdrawn if he or she does not return as scheduled to a future module with the same payment period.

The College considers a student as withdrawn if he or she drops classes between modules for which he or she was scheduled to attend. The College determines a student’s earned and unearned Title IV aid based on a required calculation that determines the percentage of the payment period completed by the student. The percentage of the period that the student remained enrolled is derived by dividing the number of days the student attended by the number of days in the period. Calendar days (including weekends) are used, but breaks of at least 5 days are excluded from both the numerator and denominator.

Determining earned aid

Until a student has passed the 60% point of a payment period, only a portion of the student’s aid has been earned. A student who remains enrolled beyond the 60% point is considered to have earned all awarded aid. All students who withdraw, including those who remain enrolled beyond the 60% point, will be reviewed to determine whether unearned Title IV aid must be returned or whether post-withdrawal disbursements of Title IV aid are due.

If the total amount of Title IV aid that a student earned is greater than the total amount of Title IV aid that was disbursed to the student (or on behalf of the student in the case of a PLUS loan) as of the date of determination, the difference between these amounts will be treated as a post-withdrawal disbursement. A post-withdrawal grant disbursement payment will be made to the student’s account, and a notification sent by email.

A post-withdrawal loan eligibility will be communicated to the student via email. Students must accept the loan via the electronic award letter and notify the College in writing of their interest in receiving the loans within 14 days of notification. Once the College receives both acceptances, the loan funds will disburse to the students account. Responding after 14 days or not at all will result in forfeiture of the student's loans for the period of enrollment.

Earned aid is not related in any way to institutional charges. The College’s refund policy and Return of Title IV Funds procedures are independent of one another. A student who withdraws from a course may be required to return unearned aid and still owe the College for the course. For more information on the Columbia College withdrawal and institutional charges’ policies, please consult the Columbia College catalog.

The responsibility to repay unearned Title IV aid is shared by Columbia College and the student. For example, the calculation may require Columbia College to return a portion of Federal funds to the Federal Title IV programs. In addition, the student may also be required to return funds based on the calculation. A student returns funds to the Federal Stafford loan programs based on the terms and conditions of the promissory note of the loan. A student who receives a Federal Pell Grant may be required to repay 50% of the funds received.

The return of Federal aid is in the following order: Unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford loans, Federal Perkins loans, Federal PLUS (Parent) loans, Federal Pell Grants, and Federal SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant).

How to handle an overpayment

Students who owe funds to a grant program are required to make payment of those funds within 45 days of being notified in writing via CougarMail that they owe this overpayment. During the 45 day period students will remain eligible for Title IV funds. If no positive action is taken by the student within 45 days of being notified, Columbia College will notify the U.S. Department of Education of the student’s overpayment situation. The student will no longer be eligible for Title IV funds until they enter into a satisfactory repayment agreement with the U.S. Department of Education.

During the 45-day period, the student can make full payment to Columbia College of the overpayment. The College will forward the payment to the U.S. Department of Education and the student will remain eligible for Title IV funds. Please make check payable to Columbia College, Attn: Director of Accounting. Our mailing address is Columbia College, 1001 Rogers Street, Columbia, MO 65216

If a student is unable to pay their overpayment in full, they can set up a repayment plan with the U.S. Department of Education. Before doing this, please contact the Columbia College Financial Aid Office. You will need to make sure we have referred your situation to the U.S. Department of Education before any repayment plan can be set up. Additional information is available from the Federal Student Aid Information Center at: (https://studentaidhelp.ed.gov/app/home/site/studentaid).

For examples of the Return of Title IV Funds calculations or questions regarding the overpayment policy, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

Procedure

The Financial Aid Office will review internally generated reports (from WebFocus) identifying students who received Federal Title IV aid and failed to complete all courses in a payment period.

The report differentiates between courses from which a student officially withdrew and courses a student stopped attending. Students are evaluated to determine whether unearned aid must be returned. Return of Title IV calculations are performed using these criteria:

Official withdrawals

Determination date:

  • Without confirmation: earlier of the date student notified the institution of intent to withdraw or within 14 days after a student stopped attending
  • With confirmation: within 14 days of the date that the student was scheduled to resume attendance

Withdrawal date: last date of attendance

Students who stopped attending

Determination date:

  • Without confirmation: within 14 days after a student stopped attending
  • With confirmation: within 14 days of the date that the student was scheduled to resume attendance

Withdrawal date: last date of attendance

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