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Keeping Your Aid - Graduate Students

The awarding and release of financial aid (federal, state and institutional) is contingent on a student maintaining eligibility to receive financial aid funds. Maintaining eligibility includes demonstrating academic progress, meeting enrollment criteria, understanding how repeated coursework affects you and much more.

You can make sure you stay eligible for financial aid by paying attention to a few things, including keeping on track toward completing your Graduate Degree program.  Review the information below for specific information about maintaining your eligibility for financial aid. 

 

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires that all institutions of higher education establish a minimum standard of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for students receiving federal financial aid.  At CSULB, these SAP Standards are applicable to all federal, state and institutional aid programs for the purpose of maintaining a consistent policy for all students receiving financial aid.

What is SAP?

CSULB has three specific standards for measuring Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for Graduate Students applying for, and receiving, financial aid:

1. Maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA

2. Complete at least 66% of cumulative credit hours attempted

3. Not exceed the established Maximum Time Frame for completing your Graduate Degree / Program (based on attempted units).

Your SAP Status is reviewed after each semester in order to verify your continued eligibility to receive financial aid.  You will receive an email letting you know that results of the review – and the impact on your ability to continue to receive aid. 

Failure to meet one or more of the SAP Standards may affect whether or not you can continue to receive your aid.

Students who are not meeting SAP may be able to appeal the decision.  For more information regarding the appeal process, please review our SAP Policy (INSERT LINK TO SAP Policy Reveal Box).

Once you have been enrolled for at least one semester at CSULB, you can monitor your SAP status through MyCSULB, including how you measure up against each of the three required SAP Standards.

  • Learn how to navigate your SAP Evaluation with the "View SAP Status for Financial Aid" guide.
  • Read the complete details of the CSULB Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards for the Receipt of Financial Aid policy which is available on our website.
     

Please note that if you do not attend CSULB during a specific semester, but were previously enrolled at the university, we will evaluate your SAP status prior to the awarding – and/or release of funds. 

Enrollment Requirements for Graduate Students

All financial aid awards are initially offered based on the expectation of full-time enrollment in eligible coursework (per semester enrollment of 8 units for Master’s Degree students, 6 units for Doctoral students).  While your actual overall enrollment may be considered full-time from an academic perspective, a minimum of half-time enrollment (4 units for Master’s Degree students, 3 units for Doctoral students) in aid-eligible classes for your Graduate Program is necessary in order to remain eligible to receive financial aid funds.

Enrollment at Census
Census is the point when the university verifies your actual enrollment for the semester.  At CSULB, Census occurs immediately following the end of the add/drop period for the semester.  Your enrollment (units and coursework) will be reviewed at Census; only those courses eligible for financial aid for graduate students can be factored in when determining your eligibility & enrollment status for financial aid.     

If you are enrolled less than full-time in eligible coursework at Census, you may be required to repay some, or all, of the aid you previously received for the semester.

Review Graduate Aid Programs for details on how your enrollment will impact your specific awards.  

 

Dropping Some Classes

The decision about whether or not to drop a class is an academic issue; however, it is your responsibility to understand the financial implications of this decision. 

Dropping a class may impact your aid eligibility for the current and future semesters.   Your aid will be recalculated at Census based on your verified enrollment in aid-eligible classes; you may have to return some, or all, of your aid for the current semester – depending on how your enrollment status is impacted.

The impact on your aid eligibility depends on the time during the semester that you drop a class:

Period I: First two weeks (Fall & Spring)

  • You will not receive a grade for a course you withdraw from during this time (the dropped course will not be recorded on your transcript).
  • Financial Aid Awards may be adjusted based on specific enrollment requirements for each award.  Review Graduate Aid Programs for details on how your enrollment will impact your specific awards.
  • You are responsible for any charges resulting from an enrollment change (and your aid eligibility).
     

Period II: Third through fourth week/Census (Fall & Spring)

  • You will receive a “W” grade for the course when you withdraw, which may impact your SAP Status

Classes with a grade of W impact both the PACE Standard and the Maximum Time Frame for financial aid, as these courses are considered to be Attempted – but not Completed.

  • Financial Aid Awards may be adjusted based on specific enrollment requirements for each award.  Review Graduate Aid Programs for details on how your enrollment will impact your specific awards.
  • You are responsible for any charges resulting from an enrollment change (and your aid eligibility).
     

Period III:  Fifth Week through the end of the semester (Fall & Spring)

  • You will receive a “W” grade for the course when you withdraw, which may impact your SAP Status

Classes with a grade of W impact both the PACE Standard and the Maximum Time Frame for financial aid, as these courses are considered to be Attempted – but not Completed.

  • Financial Aid Awards that were already released will not be adjusted
  • NEW Financial Aid Award amounts will be based on your enrollment at the time of awarding.  

Dropping All Classes/ Withdrawal from CSULB

The laws governing federal financial aid assume that a student must "earn" federal financial aid awards directly in proportion to the number of days of the term attended. In other words, you earn your financial aid as your attend class.

If you completely withdraw from all classes during a semester, the Financial Aid Office must recalculate your aid eligibility based on the amount of aid you “earned” (according to the Return of Title IV Funds policy).  If you received (or the school received on your behalf) more aid than was earned, the unearned funds must be returned to the federal programs, which may result in a balance due on your account.

Additionally, withdrawing from all classes can also affect your Satisfactory Academic Progress, which ultimately affects your aid eligibility. Review Understanding SAP for more information.

Impact on Financial Aid if you withdraw from ALL classes

  • Your financial aid will be recalculated based on “earned” aid
  • You will be required to return the portion of aid that was not earned.

You will be notified by email (within 30 days of withdrawing from CSULB) with the results of the aid recalculation.

  • If you have received a loan (for the current semester, or in previous semesters), your loans will enter into their 6-month grace period.  If you have previously used the entire 6 month grace period – your loans will enter active repayment.  Log on to NSLDS to review the current status of your loans.
  • All classes that receive a grade of “W” may negatively impact your SAP Status (both the PACE Standard and the Maximum Time Frame for financial aid), as these courses are considered to be Attempted – but not Completed.

 

  • Return of Federal Aid due to Withdrawals (reveal box)
  • SAP Standards (Reveal Box)
  • Information for Loan Borrowers (reveal box)

Retaking (Repeating) Classes

Federal and state regulations limit students’ eligibility of financial aid with regards to retaking (or repeating) coursework. You may only receive financial aid for one repetition of a previously passed course (grade of D or better).   In addition, repeated courses will not count towards your actual enrollment for financial aid purposes.

Impact on Financial Aid

  • You will be notified by email if you are registered for any courses that are considered to be not eligible for aid due to retaking / repeating the course. 
  • Your enrollment for the semester will be verified at Census.  If you are registered for any courses that are not eligible for aid due to retaking / repeating the course, your aid will be recalculated based on enrollment in aid eligible courses only.
  • The aid recalculation may result in an adjustment to your aid based on specific enrollment requirements for each award.  Review Graduate Aid Programs for details on how your enrollment will impact your specific awards.
  • Each time you retake (repeat) a class, it counts as units attempted.  This may negatively impact your SAP Status (both the PACE Standard and the Maximum Time Frame for financial aid), as these courses are considered to be Attempted – but not Completed.
  • You are responsible for any charges resulting from an enrollment recalculation (and your aid eligibility).

ReApply for Financial Aid (Each Year)

You must complete a new Financial Aid Application each year!

Things change every year: New jobs, graduations, marriages, births, and more. One small change in your circumstances can have a big impact on your eligibility for financial aid.  As a result, the financial aid application (FAFSA, or DREAM Application), determines your eligibility for only one academic year.

The financial aid application for the next academic year becomes available every October 1st – and the CSULB Priority Filing Deadline is March 2nd.  If you miss the Priority Filing Deadline, you will not be eligible for CSULB Grant Aid for the upcoming academic year.

Even if you got no financial aid other than loans the previous year, you should still take the time to complete a new financial aid application each year. You don’t want to miss out on “free money” (CSULB grants and scholarships), or money you need to borrow from the various student loan programs.

10 Tips to Manage Your Financial Aid

  1. Plan Ahead:
    Minimize your financial risk by selecting classes carefully; be sure you are enrolling in aid-eligible classes that are necessary for your Degree Program.  Balance the most difficult classes against your other classes and family and work demands.  
  2. Be Aware of the Impact of Lower Division Coursework:
    Lower-Division Courses (100 & 200 level) are not able to be applied to Graduate Level Programs or factored into your Cumulative GPA.  This may negatively impact your SAP Status (both the PACE Standard and the Maximum Time Frame for financial aid), as these courses are considered to be Attempted – but not Completed.  
  3. Understand the Rules for Your Award:
    Financial aid is awarded with expectation that you complete your classes. When you do not complete you attempt you risk having your aid reduced or canceled.
  4. Know the Eligibility Limits for Each Award
    Financial aid programs all have limits after which students are no longer eligible. It’s important to know your limits and plan your program accordingly.
  5. Be Aware of Your SAP Status: 
    Financial aid eligibility is based on meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress.  Be aware of the SAP Standards at CSULB, and what your current status is to ensure you continue to remain eligible to receive aid.
  6. Know the Consequences:
    Be sure that you understand what will happen if you withdraw, or fail to complete your classes. A financial aid representative can help determine the impact on your eligibility.
  7. Consider Your Options Before You Drop or Withdraw:
    Talk to the faculty teaching your class to see if there is anything you can do to complete the class. Make sure you have explored all options for assistance.
  8. Work with Student Financial Services:
    Contact Student Financial Services as soon as you have a balance showing on your account.
  9. Don't Ignore Your Account Balance:
    If you do not take action, your balance will transferred to collections, you will be required to pay an additional processing fees, and your credit score could be affected.
  10. Apply Every Year: 
    The financial aid application (FAFSA, or DREAM Application), determines your eligibility for only one academic year.  Don’t forget to file a FAFSA for the next academic year – PRIOR to the CSULB Priority Filing Deadline of March 2nd!