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How Does Withdrawing From a Class Affect Financial Aid?
If you are considering withdrawing from a class, don’t forget to examine how it will affect your financial aid. In most situations, withdrawing from a course should not affect your aid package. But if you fail to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress, or SAP, your aid may be affected. Withdrawing from a course can also change your enrollment status, which could reduce your aid.
Here’s our guide of what to look out for if you are considering withdrawing from a course. We’ll go over the ways in which it could hurt your financial aid package. But we won’t leave you with bad news– we’ll discuss how to appeal to keep your aid.
Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Satisfactory Academic Progress, or SAP, is a set of requirements that varies by school. Students who fail to meet these requirements risk losing their financial aid package. Typically, SAP requirements include GPA, class enrollment, and demonstrated progress towards a degree.
Withdrawing from a class could affect these requirements in several ways. It could affect your enrollment status by reducing the credits you acquire that semester. It could also put you off-course towards your degree. If the class you’re withdrawing from is critical to your degree, you’ll need to determine how to make it up.
Students who fail to meet SAP requirements will have their financial aid suspended. Because the requirements can vary, you should reach out to your school if you are concerned about your status. Typically, the Office of Financial Aid or the Registrar are good resources to consult.
Read more: How to write a SAP Appeal letter
Specialized institutional scholarships
Many students receive scholarships from their college that are not part of a typical financial aid package. They could be scholarships based on exceptional grades in high school, demonstrated leadership, or athletic performance. Each of these scholarships can have its own requirements for renewal, and they may differ from the standard SAP requirements.
So, if you are considering withdrawing from a class, make sure to check about all of your institutional scholarships before you make your decision. If withdrawing from a class sets you off course for one of your institutional scholarships, it is probably worth reconsidering.
If withdrawing from a class affects your total enrollment status, this will affect your financial aid package. If it puts you below the threshold to be a full-time or part-time student, your aid will be recalculated. This could result in a lower aid disbursement, or in you having to pay back part of your aid.
Private scholarships are not subject to the rules of your college, but oftentimes they have their own rules. Especially if you have a renewable scholarship, make sure to check whether withdrawing will affect your eligibility to renew. Some scholarships may be affected if your enrollment status changes.
If you lose eligibility for a private scholarship, it will not usually affect your current disbursement. However, it could affect your eligibility to receive future funds from the organization.
Students’ Pell Grant awards are based on their enrollment status; recipients with a heavier courseload receive more than those with a light courseload. So, by dropping a class, you introduce the possibility of having to pay back some of your Pell Grant.
That being said, not every student who drops a class will have to pay back their Pell Grant. As long as you are still enrolled full-time at your school, you typically will not have to pay the grant back. If dropping a class brings you down to half-time status, you will have to pay back part of your grant, but not all of it. If you drop below half-time, you will probably have to repay the entirety of your loan.
Regardless of how dropping a class affects your enrollment status, be sure to reach out to your financial aid office and/or registrar to find out how it will affect your Pell Grant. These policies work differently at each school, so nothing is certain until you hear it straight from a staff member.
Consult your school before withdrawing
It’s always a good idea to consult with your school before withdrawing from a course. This includes the financial aid department, your advisor, and your professor. Oftentimes, the school will be willing to work with you to make a plan. If extenuating circumstances are affecting your academic progress, it’s better to be vocal about them than to hide them.
It’s never too early to talk to your school about any academic struggles that may lead to you dropping a course. This way, you will learn early on what the consequences may be if you drop a course. You’ll also let your professor know that you need extra help, and show the financial aid department that you are being responsible. If you do end up having to drop the course, this early planning can only ever work in your favor. Good luck with your planning!
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to pay for a class if I drop it?
In the vast majority of cases, you still have to pay for a class if you end up dropping it. In fact, you may end up having to pay more if you were using financial aid to pay for the class. That’s because you might have to pay back the funds that you used as financial aid, as they can be contingent on completion of the course.
Are dropping and withdrawing from a course the same thing?
Though both terms technically refer to leaving a course, they typically are used slightly differently. Dropping refers to leaving a class early on in the semester, before the “Add/Drop” period ends. Typically, dropping a class comes with less complications and is more common. Most of the time, if a student drops a class, they pick up another course in its place.
Withdrawing occurs after that period has ended, and when the possibility of adding another course has passed. It is in these situations that enrollment status and financial aid can be affected.
Does dropping a course hurt your GPA?
If you drop or withdraw from a class, your GPA typically suffers no repercussions. That being said, you can suffer consequences in your enrollment status and financial aid, and even be put off course for graduation. The withdrawal will show up on your transcript and raise questions to anyone considering you for admission in the future. But your GPA will not be affected, and it will be a better outcome than completing and failing the course.