Academic Progress and Return of Financial Aid

Satisfactory Academic Progress for Recipients

To remain eligible for financial aid, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) requires students to maintain satisfactory academic progress. These standards are more stringent than WCTC's Standards for Academic Success and they apply to transfer credits, current coursework and previous academic history -- even if financial aid was not received for those credits.

ED requires WCTC to review qualitative progress (Grade Point Average) and quantitative progress (Pace of Completion) after each term, including summer.

Students must advance through educational programs at a pace in which they will graduate within a maximum timeframe of 150 percent of the number of credits required to earn a degree.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

To maintain satisfactory academic progress, the standards and pace must be achieved each semester:

  • Earn at least a 2.0 term grade point average
  • Successfully complete 67 percent of the credits attempted

Attempted Credits Include

  • All financial aid-eligible credits enrolled in as of the census date, (which occurs after the third week of each semester and the second week of the summer term).
  • Courses dropped on or after the census date. (These, however, do not count as completed credits.)
  • Repeated courses.

Courses that are dropped before the census date do not count as attempted credits. Audited courses are not eligible for financial aid.

Considerations for Successfully Completed Credits

  • Courses completed with a passing grade (A, B, C or D) are considered Successfully Completed Credits.
  • Courses that are not considered Successfully Completed Credits are those with a non-passing grade: W, AU, I, F and ID. View grade code information

Maximum Time Frame of Eligibility

Students may attempt up to 150 percent of the number of credits required to earn a degree before financial aid eligibility expires. Credits transferred from other colleges and credits attempted at WCTC all count toward this 150 percent threshold.

Graduating from one program or switching to a second program does not restart the count of attempted credits. For those enrolled in multiple programs, the time frame for the longest program determines the maximum number of credits.

Program Length Average Required Credits Maximum Credits Allowed
1 semester 16 24
1 year 32 48
2 year 68 102

Financial Aid Warning, Suspension and Reinstatement

Financial Aid Warning

Students are placed on Financial Aid Warning and will receive notification by mail if they:

  • Earn a grade point average (GPA) of less than 2.0.
  • Complete less than 67 percent of attempted credits.

Students on Financial Aid Warning, however, are still eligible to receive aid. First-time aid recipients who previously attended WCTC will also have their academic history reviewed.

Students remain on Financial Aid Warning for all future semesters unless they fail to meet minimum academic progress a second time.

Financial Aid Suspension and Reinstatement

If a student's GPA drops below 2.0 or the student completes fewer than 67 percent of attempted credits a second time, the status will move from Financial Aid Warning to Financial Aid Suspension. This results in the student losing financial aid eligibility in future semesters.

Students who receive financial aid and do not successfully complete any course (grades of F, W, I, ID or AU) are also placed on Financial Aid Suspension.

Students on Financial Aid Suspension may reinstate their financial aid eligibility in one of the following ways:

  1. Pay with sources other than financial aid and successfully complete at least six credits in one semester at WCTC, with a minimum GPA of 2.0 and 67 percent pace of completion.
  2. File a one-time appeal if extenuating circumstances prevented them from maintaining satisfactory academic progress. Prior to submitting an appeal, the student must attend ‘Back-on-Track,’ a non-credit life skills / financial literacy workshop, and complete all requirements of the course. Register or view upcoming available workshop times. Only one appeal may be filed for financial aid reinstatement at WCTC. Other requirements include:
    • An explanation of why the student did not maintain academic progress and how the situation has changed to enhance future academic success.
    • Steps taken to resolve these obstacles and to prevent them from recurring.
    • Awareness of WCTC resources available to help maintain academic progress.
    • A personal plan of action to ensure academic progress will be met and maintained.
    • An academic plan, including a summary of classes to be taken each semester, and the expected degree completion date.
    • Third-party documentation to support reasons for not maintaining academic progress.

Students who are successful in having their financial aid reinstated are placed on probationary status.

Return of Federal Aid

For students considering withdrawing from all credit classes, WCTC recommends talking with an academic advisor or program counselor - especially if receiving financial aid. Those who choose to withdraw from WCTC must understand the college's tuition refund policy, grading policy and federal law relating to the return of financial aid.

  • Federal law states that students who stop attending classes prior to the 60 percent point of the semester do not earn all of their financial aid; therefore a portion must be returned to the federal government. Students may owe WCTC and the federal government.
  • The withdrawal date is defined as the last date of attendance or academically related activity, such as submitting an assignment or taking a test.
  • The approximate 60 percent dates are early November for the fall semester; early April for the spring semester; and mid-July for summer.

Of the federal funds used to pay tuition, the amount that is to be repaid is a proportional part of that tuition. The formula to calculate this repayment is as follows:

  • Number of days completed by student (up to withdrawal date) divided by the total number of days in the semester.

Auditing a class or failing to attend any class results in full aid repayment.

Students will be billed for any funds the college is required to repay. Contact the billing specialist at 262.691.5283 for payment arrangements. This calculation is separate from WCTC's state-approved tuition refund policy.

This federal refund requirement for the treatment of Title IV federal funds when a student withdraws is applicable whether or not the school assesses any charges to the student or adjusts institutional charges after the student’s withdrawal. The federal refund must be completed as soon as possible after a student withdraws, but no later than 45 days after the date the school determined the student withdrew. Notification of a student’s eligibility for a post-withdrawal disbursement must occur within 30 days of the school’s determination that the student withdrew. A student withdrawal will result in the loss of employment under the work-study employment program, as it does if a student drops below half-time enrollment.

Pro Rata Calculation

The formula used in this federal return of funds calculation divides the aid received into earned aid and unearned aid. The amount of assistance a student has earned is determined on a pro rata basis.

  • Divide the number of calendar days the student has attended classes by the number of calendar days in the semester (minus any scheduled breaks of five days or more).This percentage is multiplied by total federal funds disbursed to the student. This is the earned aid that a student may keep or be eligible for as a post-withdrawal disbursement. For example, if the student completed 30 percent of the period of enrollment/term, the student earns 30 percent of the assistance originally scheduled to be received.

Generally, all financial aid is disbursed to the student account at the start of a term, but funds are actually earned as the term is completed. If a student has completed more than 60 percent of the semester, all aid is considered to be earned, and the return of funds regulations (34 CFR 668.22) no longer apply and no federal funds must be returned.

The percentage of federal aid to be returned (unearned aid) is equal to the number of calendar days remaining in the semester when the withdrawal takes place divided by the total number of calendar days in the semester. Scheduled breaks of more than four consecutive days are excluded.

Calculations are done on a case-by-case basis after the withdrawal date is established.

Returning Funds

Once the amount of unearned federal aid is calculated, WCTC's repayment responsibility is the lesser of that amount or the amount of unearned institutional charges. Aid funds, for the purposes of this federal regulation are included below and are returned in the following order, up to the net amount disbursed from each source:

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

If the amount to be returned is greater than the amount the school is required to repay, then the remaining balance is the student’s responsibility to repay. Waukesha County Technical College will return to the Department of Education the amount owed by WCTC as well as the amount owed by the student. WCTC will send a letter indicating that money is owed to WCTC as a result of the withdrawal and they now owe money to their student account. The Billing Specialist will send a separate bill.

Any loan funds that are returned by the student and/or parent are repaid in accordance with the terms of the promissory note. That is, scheduled payments to the holder of the loan over the length of time allowed (for example standard repayment plans are based on a 10-year repayment schedule).

The amount of unearned Pell Grant funds to be returned is called an overpayment. The maximum amount of a grant overpayment that must be repaid is half of the grant funds received or were scheduled to receive. If the original amount of the overpayment is $50 or less, then repayment is not required.

Post-Withdrawal Disbursement Eligibility

If the student did not receive all of the funds that were calculated to be earned before withdrawing, a post-withdrawal disbursement may be due to the student. WCTC may automatically use all or a portion of a post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds for tuition, fees, and room and board charges. The school must disburse grant funds no later than 45 days from the date the school determined the withdrawal date. Remaining grant funds can either be provided to the student or, with the student’s permission the school can use the remaining funds for other institutional charges.

If the post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, the school must notify the student, or parent in the case of a parent PLUS loan, within 30 days and receive permission from the student/parent before it can be disbursed. Permission must be received by the school within 14 days of this notification. Other actions such as completing entrance loan counseling and a promissory note may need to be completed before disbursement can occur. It is a student’s choice whether or not to accept none, some or all of the loan funds.

There are a number of federal financial aid funds that cannot be disbursed to a student once they withdraw because of other eligibility requirements. For example, a student loan must be originated before a student withdraws or it is not eligible for disbursement. For campus-based funds such as FSEOG, the grant must be awarded before the withdrawal occurred.

Institutional Refunds and repayment of aid already received

Depending on how much of the semester has elapsed, students who withdraw from WCTC may be eligible for a refund of a portion of the tuition and fees paid to WCTC for the semester. The complete refund schedule for tuition and fees is as follows:

% of Hours Completed Refund
Through 11:59 p.m. the day prior to the class start date. 100%
Prior to 11% of the total course meetings 80%
From 11% through 20% of the total course meetings 60%

If a student who is subject to the return of funds formula for financial aid also qualifies for a tuition refund, be aware that the refund amount will first be used to pay any amount to be returned to federal financial aid sources, as dictated by the formula. If there is any refund remaining after the federal aid funds have been repaid, it will be used to repay any state or institutional aid funds received.

As stated earlier, both the school and the student may be required to repay financial aid that was received, but not earned, according to the formula. The amount of aid earned is calculated on a pro rata basis through the 60% point in the semester. As this period is longer than that which WCTC has for its tuition refund schedule, it is possible that students whose accounts were paid in full before the withdrawal will owe money to the school after the withdrawal. This can happen when the federal formula requires a larger repayment to the aid sources than the amount provided by the tuition refund. When this happens, the student will be responsible for the difference, and will be billed by the WCTC Billing Specialist.

Unofficial Withdrawals for federal financial aid purposes

If a student leaves school without providing notification, WCTC has 30 days after the end of the semester to recognize this unofficial withdrawal and use the federal formula to decide if funds need to be returned. This most commonly occurs when all the grades for a given term reflect all F’s, W’s, or a combination thereof. In the absence of timely documented last date of attendance, WCTC may use the 50% point of the semester as the withdrawal date in these cases.

WCTC reserves the right to amend the Title IV return of funds policy at any time in order to comply with federal regulations.

Recommended Withdrawal Procedure

If you are unable to withdraw online or in person, call Registration at 262.691.5578 and choose option #1 to speak to a Registration operator.