Withdrawing from Courses

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) is required by federal law to re-calculate federal financial aid eligibility for students who completely withdraw from all classes, stop attending, are dismissed, never attend, or take a leave of absence prior to completing 60% of a payment period or term. According to the regulations, the amount of Federal Title IV awarded to a student must be recalculated in these situations and any portion of the financial aid received that is considered to be “unearned” must be returned to the Title IV Program(s) from which it was received. Students will be billed by Mason for any amount due to the University as a result of Title IV funds that were returned that would have been used to cover University charges.

Please note that Mason uses the same return policy for state grants as is required for federal funds.

If you are considering dropping or withdrawing from all your courses, please contact your Financial Aid Counselor immediately regarding possible adjustments to your financial aid.

For a student who withdraws after the 60% point-in-time, there are no unearned funds. However, a school must still complete a Return calculation in order to determine whether the student is eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement.

The calculation is based on the percentage of earned aid using the following Federal Return of Title IV funds formula:

Percentage of payment period or term completed = the number of days completed up to the withdrawal date divided by the total days in the payment period or term. (Any break of five days or more is not counted as part of the days in the term.) This percentage is also the percentage of earned aid.

Funds are returned to the appropriate federal program based on the percentage of unearned aid using the following formula:

Aid to be returned = (100% of the aid that could be disbursed minus the percentage of earned aid) multiplied by the total amount of aid that could have been disbursed during the payment period or term.

If a student earned less aid than was disbursed, the institution would be required to return a portion of the funds and the student would be required to return a portion of the funds. Keep in mind that when Title IV funds are returned, the student borrower may owe a debit balance to the institution.

If a student earned more aid than was disbursed to him/her, the institution would owe the student a post-withdrawal disbursement which must be paid within 120 days of the student’s withdrawal.

The institution must return the amount of Title IV funds for which it is responsible no later than 45 days after the date of the determination of the date of the student’s withdrawal.

Refunds are allocated in the following order:

  • Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans (other than PLUS loans)
  • Subsidized Federal Direct Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans
  • Federal Parent (PLUS) Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans
  • Federal Pell Grants for which a Return of funds is required
  • Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants for which a Return of funds is required

Please note that Mason uses the same return policy for state grants as is required for federal funds.

Withdrawing from courses offered in modules

A program is offered in modules if, for a payment period or period of enrollment, a course or courses in the program do not span the entire length of the payment period or period of enrollment. For all programs offered in modules, a student is a withdrawal for Title IV purposes if the student ceases attendance at any point prior to completing the payment period or period of enrollment, unless the school obtains written confirmation from the student at the time of the withdrawal that he or she will attend a module that begins later in the same payment period or period of enrollment.

The summer term at Mason is considered modular-based, as are fall and spring courses that are offered in multiple sessions throughout the fall and spring term. Therefore, students enrolled in summer courses or fall and spring modules may be considered withdrawn if they do not complete all of the days in the payment period that they were scheduled to complete. In these situations a recalculation of aid known as R2T4 (Return to Title IV) may be required and any unearned funds will be returned to the appropriate Title IV source. If the recalculation results in an over-award, the student will become ineligible for aid they may have already received. An over-award will require the immediate return of a loan, grant and other aid for which the student is determined to be ineligible and will prevent all future federal and state aid from being disbursed until the over-award is paid in full.

Students who drop or withdraw from any modular course and plan to enroll in future course in the same payment period or period of enrollment must immediately confirm their intent to re-enroll, in writing, to the OSFA. Students who fail to confirm their intent will be assumed to be withdrawn from the university and any aid disbursed will be adjusted or canceled. Please contact the OSFA immediately if you are dropping course(s) prior to the start date of the course(s), or if some of your classes are canceled after your aid has disbursed, or if you withdraw from a course(s), as this may result in a recalculation of your financial aid eligibility.