Academic Catalog

Return of Title IV Funds

When a Title IV borrower withdraws from all courses in a term, a Return to Title IV calculation is done. The return process calculates the amount of federal aid earned and unearned by a student. The University returns unearned funds to the Department of Education; however, depending on the type of refund, the student may be required to return some or all of the unearned Title IV funds.

Although a student may receive financial aid funds at the beginning of a term, the student must “earn” those funds over the course of a term by continuing to meet academic participation requirements. When a student does not complete the term, the University will determine the earned and unearned portion of the student’s federal financial aid within Federal Regulations.

When a student chooses to officially withdraw from a course, they must first complete the "Course Withdrawal" form.  When a student chooses to officially withdraw from Aspen University, they must first complete the “Program Withdrawal” form. These forms must be completed and submitted electronically via the Student Portal.

A student is administratively withdrawn from a course if they violate Aspen University's Academic Progress and Participation Policy and a student is administratively withdrawn from the University if they violate Aspen University’s Continuous Enrollment Policy.  Please see the Academic Progress and Participation and Continuous Enrollment policies for additional details.

If the student is administratively withdrawn from the University, this is considered an unofficial withdrawal and also applies to students who are dismissed or removed for academic or disciplinary reasons.  In addition, if the student has ceased attending all current courses in the term, the student is considered an unofficial withdrawal for Title IV purposes.

During a Return to Title IV Funds calculation, the payment period is defined as the term the student withdrew. To determine the percentage earned, divide the total number of days completed before the student withdrew from the course or program by the total number of days in the payment period. If a student meets academic participation requirements for over 60% of the term before the withdrawal occurs, the student has earned all of his or her federal financial aid and is not required to return any funds. If a student withdraws having met 60% or less of academic participation requirements, there will be unearned funds to return.

For example, if a student receives $3,000 in federal financial aid and then withdraws exactly halfway through the term, the student has only earned half of the $3,000 and is therefore only entitled to keep $1,500. The University will send the federal government a refund of the other $1,500. However, if the student withdraws after passing the 60% threshold, 100% of the funds are considered earned, and there is no return of funds. The University will notify a student within 45 days of the withdrawal date if a return of funds is required and will inform the student of his or her responsibilities for returning those funds. Failure to repay the funds could jeopardize the student’s eligibility to return to school or receive financial aid in the future. In some cases, upon completion of the Return of Title IV process, the student may end up owing the school for tuition and fees that are unpaid.

For all withdrawals (official and unofficial), a student’s last date of attendance is defined as the last day the student attended a course by participating in any academically related activity for that course. If the student completes the course with a passing grade, the last date of attendance is documented as the end date of the course.

If a student completely withdraws from the University, the Return to Title IV funds calculation is done, and the student may be required to return federal financial aid received. For purposes of this section, there are situations in which the student may be deemed to have withdrawn even though he or she has not gone through the formal process of withdrawing. Dropping below half-time enrollment status does not in and of itself require the return of federal financial aid; however, it may affect future disbursements and a student’s ability to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.

If the student received an aid disbursement greater than the earned amount, the unearned funds must be refunded to the appropriate student aid program; this may include returns by the student, the institution, or both. In certain cases, there may be a shared responsibility between the University and the student when returning unearned funds. If the student’s portion of the unearned funds consists of Title IV loans, the student must pay the loan within the terms and conditions of the Master Promissory Note.

A student who has pending aid that has been earned but not yet disbursed may be eligible for a Title IV post-withdrawal disbursement. If a student or parent borrower is eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement of loan funds, the borrower will be asked to give permission for the University to disburse the loan funds. The University has 30 days from the date it determined the student withdrew to offer the loan post-withdrawal disbursement. The student or parent borrower then has 14 days from the date the University sends a notification to accept, in writing, the post-withdrawal disbursement. If the student or parent borrower acknowledges acceptance of the post-withdrawal loan disbursement, the University will disburse the loan within 180 days from the date of the University’s determination that the student withdrew.

If the student is eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement of Title IV grant funds, the eligible funds will be disbursed within 45 days from the date of the University's determination that the student withdrew.  

Once the University has calculated the portion of the funds to be returned, the Financial Aid Office will return those funds to the appropriate federal student financial aid program(s) within 45 days in the order specified below. If this return creates a balance on the student’s account, the student will be responsible for paying the balance in full to the University. Outstanding balances must be paid in full before a student will be allowed to re-enter, register, or receive an official academic transcript. In some circumstances, payment arrangements can be made with Student Accounts.  If there is a Title IV credit balance on the student's account after the Return to Title IV calculation has been performed, the credit balance will be resolved in accordance with the student's authorizations within 14 days of the date that the University performed the Return to Title IV calculation.

The University will return unearned Title IV funds in the following order:

  • Unsubsidized Direct Loans
  • Subsidized Direct Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans
  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant