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Financial Aid Policies

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) at the University of the Southwest (USW) is a crucial component of our financial aid policies, ensuring that students make consistent and adequate progress toward their degree while receiving financial assistance. Maintaining SAP is a requirement for various financial aid programs, including federal, state, and institutional aid, such as grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs.

Our SAP policy at the University of the Southwest typically consists of the following key elements:

  1. Grade Point Average (GPA): To remain eligible for financial aid, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA. This requirement reflects your academic performance and progress toward your degree. Please refer to our university's specific GPA requirements for financial aid eligibility.

  2. Completion Rate: Students must successfully complete a certain percentage of the courses they attempt. This ensures that you're making consistent progress and not repeatedly dropping courses or failing to complete what you've started. The specific completion rate requirement can vary, so it's important to know the details for your particular program.

  3. Maximum Timeframe: There is a maximum allowable timeframe within which students are expected to complete their degree. Typically, this is expressed as a percentage of the published length of your academic program. For example, if your program is designed to be completed in four years, you might be allowed up to 150% of that time (i.e., six years) to receive financial aid.

  4. Qualitative Standards: In addition to the GPA requirement, there may be qualitative standards related to specific course requirements or prerequisites, depending on your major and degree program. These standards are designed to ensure that you're taking the courses necessary for your academic goals.

  5. Appeal Process: USW provides an appeal process for students facing extenuating circumstances, such as a medical issue, family emergency, or other situations that may affect your ability to meet SAP. You can appeal to have your financial aid reinstated and should reach out to our financial aid office for guidance in this process.

  6. Monitoring Periods: We review your SAP status at the end of each semester or academic term to determine whether you are meeting the established criteria. This ensures that you have opportunities to improve your academic progress.

  7. Consequences of Non-Compliance: Failing to meet SAP standards can lead to the loss of various types of financial aid, potentially impacting your ability to fund your education. It is essential to be aware of these consequences and strive to meet the SAP requirements.

  8. Probation and Academic Plans: If you find yourself unable to meet SAP standards, USW offers a probationary period or the opportunity to establish an academic plan. This plan outlines the specific steps you must take to regain eligibility for financial aid.


At the University of the Southwest, we are committed to supporting your educational journey and helping you navigate the complexities of financial aid. It's important to familiarize yourself with our specific SAP requirements and to proactively seek assistance from our financial aid office if you encounter challenges in meeting these standards. Your academic success and financial aid eligibility are important to us, and we're here to help you achieve both.

Click here to access USW's complete SAP policy.

Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4)

Students need to consider the Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) calculation if they are withdrawing from the university or individual courses because it has significant implications for their federal financial aid. Here's why R2T4 is important for students:

  1. Financial Consequences: When a student withdraws from university or drops courses, it can impact their eligibility for federal financial aid, such as Pell Grants, Federal Direct Loans, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG). The R2T4 calculation determines how much of the disbursed federal aid the student has earned based on the percentage of the enrollment period completed. Any unearned aid must be returned, either by the student or the institution, which can result in a balance owed.

  2. Potential Debt: If the R2T4 calculation determines that the student did not complete a significant portion of the semester or enrollment period, they may be required to repay a portion of the financial aid they received. This can lead to unexpected debt that needs to be repaid, which can be a financial burden for the student.

  3. Affects Future Aid Eligibility: A withdrawal that triggers the R2T4 process can impact a student's eligibility for future federal financial aid. Students who owe a balance as a result of the R2T4 calculation may have their financial aid eligibility suspended until the balance is paid. This can hinder their ability to fund future education.

  4. Academic Progress: The R2T4 process may also affect a student's academic progress. USW will withhold academic transcripts until the financial balance resulting from the R2T4 calculation is resolved. This can impact a student's ability to transfer to another school or pursue further education.

  5. Loan Repayment: For students with federal student loans, withdrawing can trigger the start of the loan repayment process. Borrowers typically have a grace period after leaving school, but withdrawal may cause the grace period to end prematurely, requiring loan repayment to begin sooner than expected.

Given these potential financial and academic consequences, it is essential for students to be aware of the R2T4 regulations and to carefully consider the decision to withdraw from courses or the university. Students who are contemplating withdrawal should:

  • Consult with the financial aid office: Seek guidance from the financial aid office to understand the specific implications of withdrawal on their federal financial aid.

  • Understand the potential financial impact: Be aware of the possibility of repaying a portion of disbursed aid and consider how this may affect their financial situation.

  • Explore alternatives: Before withdrawing, consult with your academic advisor to explore other options such as taking an approved leave of absence, pursuing part-time enrollment, or seeking academic support to address any challenges.

By being informed and making well-considered decisions, students can minimize the adverse effects of withdrawal on their financial aid, satisfactory academic progress (SAP), and academic status.

What is Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4)?

The Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) is a federal regulation in the United States that applies to students who receive federal financial aid, such as Pell Grants, Federal Direct Loans, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), and who withdraw from their coursework before completing the required period of attendance. This regulation ensures that financial aid is used appropriately and fairly.

The R2T4 calculation is designed to determine how much federal financial aid a student has earned up to the point of withdrawal and how much must be returned to the federal government if the student did not complete the semester or enrollment period. Here's how it generally works:

  1. Determination of Withdrawal Date: The first step is to establish the official withdrawal date of the student. This date can be based on various factors, such as the date the student officially notifies the institution, the last date of academic attendance, or the midpoint of the semester if the student stops attending without notification.

  2. Calculation of Earned Aid: The institution calculates the percentage of the enrollment period completed by the student. For example, if the student completed 30% of the period, they have "earned" 30% of their federal aid.

  3. Unearned Aid Calculation: The unearned portion of the aid is determined by subtracting the earned amount from the total disbursed federal aid for the term. This unearned portion must be returned.

  4. Responsibility for Repayment: The institution and the student share the responsibility for repaying unearned aid. The institution returns the portion it is responsible for, and the student must return any funds they were disbursed but did not earn.

  5. Order of Repayment: If a student is required to return funds, they must do so according to the terms and conditions of their federal loans. For example, if the student has Federal Direct Loans, they will enter the repayment process as specified in their loan agreement.

It's important to note that the Return of Title IV Funds calculation can result in the student owing money to both the federal government and USW. Failing to repay the unearned portion of federal financial aid can have serious consequences, including the loss of future federal financial aid eligibility and academic transcripts being held until the balance is settled.

Students who are considering withdrawing from their courses should consult with the financial aid office to understand the potential impact on their federal aid and explore any alternatives or options for managing their financial obligations.

A more detailed description of the R2T4 calculation at USW can be found in the academic catalog.

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