BY TASHANA HUGHES
On July 1, 2011, new laws were passed by the federal government that changed the way a Satisfactory Academic Policy is reviewed and students who are receiving financial aid through Pell Grants, federal work study, student loans and other avenues are facing the consequences.
The new law requires financial aid eligibility to consider a student’s pace, maximum timeframe/mathematically unable and cumulative grade point average.
Notices were sent out to students via email with a copy of the new guidelines.
Notices also were posted on the financial aid webpage at www.actx.edu.
Pace is used to measure a student’s progress.
There must be a 67 percent cumulative completion rate at the review period.
Failure to meet that requirement could result in financial aid suspension.
Maximum timeframe means a student’s hours cannot exceed 150 percent of what is required in their degree plan, or that it is mathematically impossible to complete a degree in the allotted timeframe. The cumulative GPA now is being decided by an overall average of all classes taken rather than by semester.
“The new rules that were put into effect we had to implement at the end of the fall semester,” said Kay Mooney, financial aid director.
When figuring in all completed hours, remedial courses are counted as well.
Any remedial course that a student has to take is also counted in those hours, and financial aid is only allowed to pay for 30 hours of remedial courses combined.
When a student is placed on suspension for being mathematically unable, they are allowed to submit a suspension review request with a typed statement and an academic plan from an adviser.
The board then can look at it and determine if they can continue to receive financial aid.
“We work with them a lot, and we take some off, but there are some that we can’t take off due to the federal guidelines,” Mooney said.
If a student is denied financial aid and they are not on academic probation or suspension, there is a committee on campus that they can appeal to. Students must send the required information to the financial aid office and the committee will be given the information.
Whether they uphold the decision or overrule, financial aid must abide by what the committee rules.
“I think it makes it hard on students that have a hard time learning,” said Latonya Westmoreland, a child development major. “It puts a lot of stress on them worrying about their grade average and not focusing on their school work.”
At the end of the fall semester, there were 887 students given a financial aid warning. 330 students placed on suspension for not maintaining their cumulative GPA.
Records show that 329 students were placed on suspension for exceeding the maximum time frame and 345 students placed on suspension for being mathematically unable.
“We are looking for completers, and if we can get students on the right track they will progress through their degree plan,” said Mooney. “We are here to help.”