Return Policy & Procedure
Students receiving financial aid who withdraw, from the college or from the semester, drop courses, fail to participate, or stop attending, will, in most cases, be required to return a portion of financial aid received. The Higher Education Act, as reauthorized and signed into law on October 7, 1998, established the Return of Title IV Funds Policy.
If a recipient of Title IV grant or loan funds withdraws from a school after beginning attendance, the amount of Title IV grant or loan assistance earned by the student must be determined. If the amount disbursed to the student is greater than the amount the student earned, the unearned funds must be returned. If the amount disbursed to the student is less than the amount the student earned, and for which the student is otherwise eligible, he or she is eligible to receive a post-withdrawal disbursement of the earned aid that was not received. If your post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, Bluefield College must get your permission before it can disburse them. You may choose to decline some or all of the loan funds so that you do not incur additional debt. There may be some Title IV funds that you were scheduled to receive that cannot be disbursed to you once you withdraw because of other eligibility requirements. Additionally, if your financial aid file is incomplete, some or all of your aid may be canceled.
This policy indicates that the college and the student are allowed to retain only the amount of Title IV (federal) aid that is earned. If a student withdraws or stops attending classes, whether any credits have been earned for the term or not, a portion of the aid received is considered to be unearned and must be returned to the Title IV programs from which it was received. For Title IV purposes, the last date of attendance is the last documented date of attendance in an academically-related activity tracked by the attendance records of each class. This date is provided to the Financial aid by the Registrar’s office. If a student attends through 60 percent of the term, all financial aid, including Title IV aid, is considered earned.
Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation – A required calculation to determine the amount of aid earned by the student when the student does not attend all days scheduled to complete within a payment period or term. (Student is considered to be a withdrawal, whether any credits were completed or not.)
Overaward (not the same as Return to Title IV calculation])– A required recalculation of Pell Grant and other aid types due to student dropping or not attending credits required for the status awarded (full-time, three-quarter time, half-time, less than half-time). Reductions in aid will always be required for students whose status changes due to dropped classes or classes not attended beyond the course census date.
Clarification of New Regulations
- A student who attends and completes at least one course that spans the entire term will have earned the aid for that term (as adjusted for dropped classes or classes not attended).
- School must be able to demonstrate that the student actually attended each class, including any class with a failing grade. Attendance must be “academic attendance” or attendance at an academically-related activity. Documentation of attendance must be made by the school. A student’s self-certification of attendance is NOT acceptable unless supported by the school’s documentation.
Examples of attendance include:
- Physical class attendance where there is direct interaction between instructor and student
- Submission of an academic assignment
- Examination, interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction
- Study group assigned by school
- Participation in on-line discussion about academic matters
- Initiation of contact with the instructor to ask a question about an academic subject
(Logging in to an online class does NOT count as attendance.)
- A student who withdraws from a module or dynamic class within the term must still be attending another class or is considered to be a withdrawal, even if registered for future classes starting within the term. If a student is not still enrolled within a future course within the same semester, the student must— at the time of withdrawal from a sub-term– provide a written statement to the College Registrar and/or Financial Aid Office indicating intent to attend (within 45 days) a future class within the semester, or the student is considered to be a withdrawal; and a Return to Title IV calculation must be completed. (If the student doesn’t actually attend that future class, a Return to Title IV calculation is still required; withdrawal date/last date of attendance dates back to originally confirmed withdrawal date.)
- At the time of withdrawal, did the student provide written confirmation of anticipated attendance in a later starting, registered course within the semester? (If no, the student is considered a withdrawal, and a Return to Title IV calculation must be completed. If yes, no Return to Title IV calculation is required unless the student doesn’t attend or quits the future dynamic class.)
Remember: Recalculation of aid for enrollment-status changes due to dropped or never attended classes is required before any Return to Title IV calculation is completed.
Step 1) The first step is a series of formulas to determine the amount of aid that must be returned. Following the determination of the last date of attendance, the school must calculate the number of days attended and the total number of days the student was scheduled to complete within the term; weekends count, and any period of no classes which is five days in length or greater are excluded. Days attended are then divided by days in the term the student was scheduled to complete to calculate the percentage completed. That percentage is multiplied by the total aid for which the student is eligible to determine the amount of aid earned (% completed x total aid = earned aid). Total aid – earned aid = unearned aid (aid to be returned).
Step 2) The next step is for the school to determine total institutional charges and multiply that figure by the percentage of unearned aid (100% – % completed = % unearned). It makes no difference which type of resource actually paid the school bill; the law assumes that Title IV aid goes first to pay institutional charges. Institutional charges x % unearned = amount returned by school.
The school must then return the amount of unearned aid, up to the maximum received, to each of the Title IV programs in the following order:
- Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan
- Subsidized Direct Stafford Loan
- Direct PLUS Loan
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
Step 3) The school then calculates the amount for which the student is responsible by subtracting the amount returned by the school from the total amount which is unearned. That remaining amount is the student’s share and is allocated in the same order as stated above. Total amount unearned – amount returned by school = $$ for which student is responsible.
Once the school determines dollar amounts and which individual programs must be repaid, the student will be notified of any amounts he or she owes by the Student Account Department. If the student received aid in excess of direct costs, and thus received a credit balance refund check from BC Central, the student is responsible for returning their share of the unearned aid. Funds that must be returned by the student to the loan programs can be paid in full in accordance with normal loan repayment terms. If the credit check received was in the form of a federal grant, the federal government will expect only 50% of the unearned grant money to be repaid. Students do not have to repay a grant overpayment of $50 or less. The student has 45 days to repay the money or make arrangements with either the College or the federal government for repayment. Unpaid balances will be reported on NSLDS, the National Student Loan Data System, and turned over to the Department of Education for collection. Until overpayments are repaid or satisfactory arrangements to repay have been made, students will be ineligible for further Title IV aid at any institution. Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) funds must also be returned proportionally based on the percentage of unearned aid used in the Return of Title IV calculations.
The only federal funds excluded from this process are Federal Work-Study (FWS) awards. These awards are paid as they are earned through work-study job assignments. Payments for hours worked are earned and not subject to refund. FWS awards for hours not worked are considered unearned and fully refundable to the federal program.
This policy is totally separate from the institutional refund policy. Unpaid balances due to Bluefield College that result from amounts returned to Title IV programs and other sources of aid, will be charged back to the student. If a student does not begin attendance in all classes or ceases attendance during the 100% refund period, aid may have to be reduced to reflect appropriate status prior to calculating Return of Title IV Funds.
Before withdrawing or stopping attendance in classes, the student should be aware of the proper procedure for withdrawing from classes and the consequences of either withdrawing or stopping attendance. Official withdrawal is always the responsibility of the student.
Please contact the BC Central office at 276-326-4215 or toll-free at 1-800-872-0175 regarding any questions about the Return of Title IV Funds.