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I’m at the end of my program — why might my funds be handled differently now?

Many students get to the last academic year in their program and find that disbursements and refunds appear to be handled differently than they were in the past. This situation can occur if your last academic year is 12 credits or fewer.

A full academic year

My article about excess funds explains that federal financial aid funds are typically awarded on an academic year basis. The University defines an academic year as the time it takes a student to complete at least 24 credit hours and at least 30 weeks of instructional time.

Generally, an academic year consists of two payment periods, each with a minimum of 12 credit hours and 15 weeks of instructional time. The University is required to disburse financial aid at least twice per academic year, usually at the beginning of each payment period.

Any funds in excess of tuition and electronic course materials that are required to be sent to you will be provided no later than 14 days after they disburse.

Academic years of 12 credits or fewer

When fewer than 24 credit hours remain at the end of your program, your last academic year will be a partial one. In that case, your financial aid awards will be prorated due to the smaller number of credit hours. This will result in a financial aid award that may be lower than expected.

If your last academic year is 12 credits or fewer, federal regulations require that the entire academic year be treated as one payment period. Although we are still required to disburse federal financial aid funds at least twice in that academic year, the refund calculation must take into consideration the tuition and electronic course materials for the entire academic year.

Between the prorated loan amount and the difference in the way funds are disbursed, your experience at the end of your program may be different than you are used to.

It is possible that the first disbursement will not be enough to pay for all of your tuition and electronic course materials. In that case, the second disbursement must post to your account before excess funds are available.

In some cases, funds from the first disbursement are enough to pay for all of your tuition and electronic course materials. When this occurs, some excess funds can be released at the time of disbursement. Any additional excess funds will be available once the second disbursement posts to your account.

Whether or not you are affected by this regulation depends on your individual schedule.

If you have questions or concerns about disbursements and refunds in your program’s last academic year, please contact your Finance Advisor.

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Financial aid FAQ

Do you have general questions about federal financial aid? Find useful answers on our financial aid FAQ page.


Repaying your student loans

Know what you’ll owe. To help you understand more about repaying student loans, we’ve compiled a list of responses to many frequently asked questions.

We also recommend that you visit studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans to learn more about managing your monthly payments based on your total loan balance and interest rates.

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