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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 had been 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 length of an academic year varies by program level, version and course length.

Generally, an academic year consists of two payment periods. 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 between six and 12 credits

When less than a full academic year remains 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 between six and 12 credits, 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 what you're 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.

Academic years with fewer than six credits

If the last academic year in your program is fewer than six credits, you will be considered a less than half-time student. You must be in attendance at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loans, so funds cannot be awarded for these credits. Pell Grant funds may be awarded if you're eligible.

Awards, disbursements and refunds for academic years of fewer than six credits will be prorated and calculated as described above.

If you have questions or concerns about eligibility, disbursements or 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.