If you’re interested in staying eligible for financial aid (and I don’t know anyone who isn’t!), then pay attention closely. Penn State’s Office of Student Aid recently revised its policy on student aid eligibility. You should have received an email from the Student Aid office about this, but in case you didn’t, you can read the new policy on the Student Aid website.
Here’s a quick summary of guidelines you should follow (however, my summary is NOT a substitute for the full policy; I recommend you read the full policy).
The Rule of 67 Percent
There’s a magic number to keep an eye on when it comes to student aid at Penn State: 67 percent. To maintain eligibility for federal aid, you must complete at least 67 percent of the credits you attempt. This is cumulative and will be reviewed each semester.
What are attempted credits?
Each semester, the Office of Student Aid will make note of the most credits you were registered for at a given time, and this is your “attempted” credit load.
To help us understand what this means, let’s look at Sally, a fictional Penn State student. Last semester, Sally registered for 12 credits at the beginning of the semester. A few weeks later, she realized that she had too much on her plate and dropped two courses; after that she was only taking 6 credits. She completed those 6 credits at the end of the semester, receiving a B in one class and an A- in the other.
For aid purposes, her attempted credit load is 12. But, her earned credit count for that semester was 6.
What are earned credits?
The Office of Student Aid policy says that earned credits are “All credits completed with grades of ‘D’ or better as well as Satisfactory and Pass grades.”
Did Sally meet the attempted-credit requirement this semester?
No. She earned only 50 percent of the credits she attempted (6 ÷ 12 = .5, or 50 percent). To maintain her aid eligibility, she would need to earn at 67 percent of her attempted credit load, or 9 credits: 12 credits (her attempted load) x .67 (the decimal value of 67 percent) = 9.
Did Sally maintain her aid eligibility for this semester?
Here’s an important part of this policy to note.
If Sally is an undergraduate student, then yes, she can still be eligible for aid. Undergraduate students are given one semester of warning when they don’t meet the aid eligibility requirement. If they can’t meet the 67 percent requirement for the following semester, then they lose their eligibility.
Graduate students don’t get a warning semester—they lose aid eligibility after one semester of not meeting the 67 percent requirement.
That’s one of the three guidelines you should be aware of to maintain your aid eligibility. Stay tuned for another post next week. And yes, there are more numbers and math!