You may find your Federal Student Aid (FSA) disbursement dates change during an academic year and not know why. While there are a number of reasons a disbursement might get rescheduled, I’ll explain the top five and share steps you can take to avoid delays in receiving your aid.

Every program has a defined academic year for awarding FSA. Each academic year is generally divided into two payment periods. The first is the time it takes to successfully complete half the credit hours and weeks of instructional time of the academic year. The second payment period is the time it takes to complete the remaining credit hours and weeks of instructional time of the academic year. 

The first disbursement of FSA arrives at the beginning of the academic year, during the first payment period. Timing and amounts of second or subsequent FSA disbursements depend on successful completion of this payment period. Successful completion means finishing a course with at least the minimum grade required to obtain credit.

The second disbursement occurs after the first payment period is successfully completed and attendance has been posted in the second payment period.

Reason #1: Credit requirement not met

Eligibility for a second or subsequent disbursement depends on when you successfully complete the credits in the prior payment period.

Changing your schedule, dropping courses or earning nonpassing grades — such as W, F or I — will delay the successful completion of credit hours. If the credit hour requirement is not met when the next loan disbursement is scheduled, that disbursement will be rescheduled to a later date. 

How can I prevent this?

Make sure you attend and successfully complete all scheduled courses to prevent delays in FSA disbursements. If you need help, your advisor has resources available to assist you.

Reason #2: Not enough weeks of instructional time completed

To meet eligibility criteria for a second or subsequent disbursement, you must also meet the payment period’s instructional week requirement. This is in addition to meeting the credit requirement described above.

Changing your schedule or dropping your courses will delay completion of the instructional week requirement. If the weeks requirement is not met when the next loan disbursement is received, that disbursement will be returned and rescheduled to a later date.

How can I prevent this?

Attending and successfully completing courses as scheduled will help prevent the need to reschedule disbursements.

Reason #3: Having a break in attendance longer than 14 days

If you are out of attendance for 14 days or more, an unofficial withdrawal will be automatically initiated unless you are on an approved leave of absence. The break in attendance and its impact on your FSA must then be reviewed before additional FSA funds can be disbursed. A thorough review of your FSA award must be completed before any additional funds can be disbursed.

Being out of attendance more than 14 days may result in the need to return and/or cancel funds. 

How can I prevent this?

You can prevent this by ensuring you have no breaks in attendance longer than 14 days. If you must take a longer break, contact Financial Services to discuss applying for a leave of absence to avoid the need to return or cancel FSA disbursements. A leave of absence will also prevent your current FSA student loans from entering the grace period or going into repayment while you are out of attendance.

Reason #4: On an approved leave of absence

Disbursements scheduled to release while you are on an approved leave of absence will be rescheduled until after you return to class. You must begin attendance in your courses and continue to attend regularly once the leave of absence ends to become eligible for additional FSA disbursements.

How can I prevent this?

The best way to prevent this is to attend scheduled courses and avoid unplanned breaks. We understand that life happens, though, and it may be necessary to take a leave of absence at some point in time. In that case, it’s important to know disbursements will be rescheduled until after you return to class.

Reason #5: Waiting for FSA issues to be resolved

Unresolved issues with your FSA can prevent funds from disbursing. Some of these issues may include — but are not limited to — outstanding FAFSA verification documentation or aggregate loan limits.

How can I prevent this?

Remain in frequent contact with Financial Services until your FSA award is complete and your funds are disbursed. Your advisor can monitor your financial aid status and alert you if an issue comes up. The two of you can then work together on an appropriate resolution.

Staying in class, getting good grades and turning in documentation on time will prevent most delays in FSA processing.

If you have questions, please contact Financial Services. You may also contact me directly at