Money Talk Mondays: Financial aid rules

Q: Can you explain the new financial aid rules?


A: I can try! It seems every semester there are new rules for the students to navigate.

First, keep in mind that the rules that AC follows are Federal Rules and Guidelines. These are not rules that AC employees just randomly create.

One of the rules for good standing is your GPA. Your cumulative GPA is now considered – which means the average of all your classes, not just your degree seeking classes. You must maintain a 2.0 or higher. Remedial classes count towards your GPA, but transfer classes do not.

Next, you must have at least a 67% completion rate, a ‘pace rate’. Only classes that you receive an A, B, C or D in, will be counted as completed hours. F, W, I and AU grades count as attempted hours. Your Pace Rate is calculated by dividing the cumulative number of completed hours by the cumulative number of attempted hours. For example: 40 completed hours divided by 50 attempted hours = 80% completion rate. Or – 38 completed hours by 50 attempted hours = 68% completion rate. You cannot go below 67% completion rate and still be in good standing for financial aid.

The newest rule (I think!) is the ‘Maximum Time Frame/mathematically unable’ to complete rule.

Maximum time frame means the Federal Government say that you should be able to complete your degree in 150% of the time allotted for your degree. This means that if your degree requires 60 hours – you should have it done by the time you hit 90 credit hours. That number includes repeated, transfer, and completed classes. It does NOT include the remedial classes you might have to take.

Now, maximum time frame is coupled with ‘mathematically unable’ to complete. This means now that if it appears that you cannot complete all the required courses by the 150% maximum, you are immediately placed on academic suspension. This means, for example, that if you have already completed 70 hours, your degree plan is 60 hours, 150% gives you to 90 hours, and you still have 30 hours to complete – you cannot complete your classes in the allotted time. 70 + 30 = 100 hours – allotted time is 90 hours.

If a student is placed on ‘Maximum Time Frame/mathematically unable’ suspension, make an appointment with your advisor as soon as possible. You will need to complete an academic plan that you can submit with a suspension review request form. Be sure and write a letter saying why you have excess hours, or any extenuating circumstances that might have caused the excess hours.


How do you avoid this? Do NOT take extra classes that are NOT required for your degree plan just so you get the full financial aid money. This will come back and bite you! And yes, I know, there are some degrees that you earn points for the more classes you take but again students beware – these will catch up with you when you finally get accepted into the program.

Hope this helps!




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