To receive federal aid, students must complete 67 percent of credits

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. – Penn State students receiving financial aid could lose all eligibility for college funding if they fail to complete 67 percent of their attempted credits each semester.

The U.S. Department of Education’s revised Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy, effective this summer, requires students at Penn State and other universities to complete a minimum of 67 percent of all credits attempted to remain eligible for student financial aid. Penn State’s Office of Student Aid is mandated to review every student's academic record to confirm each has completed this percentage of his or her cumulative credits. The goal for every student is to finish all credits started each semester.

“We will now review every student’s record at the end of each semester to ensure that he or she has completed 67 percent of his or her cumulative credits for all previous semesters,” Melissa Kunes, senior director of Penn State’s Office of Student Aid, said. “In other words, if a student completes 66 percent of his or her credits one semester and 100 percent the next semester, the credits completed and credits attempted will be averaged together to calculate one cumulative completion rate for the year.”

Kunes said if an undergraduate student falls below a 67 percent completion rate for his or her cumulative credits attempted, he or she will go on warning for one semester. Graduate and professional students are not eligible for a warning semester. The undergraduate student then has to complete the percentage of attempted credits during his or her next semester of enrollment in order to bring the overall completion rate back up to at least 67 percent. Otherwise he or she will lose eligibility for aid in future semesters. Students who drop and add the same number of credits during the same working day will not be penalized. All Penn State students must successfully complete 67 percent of the total cumulative credits attempted throughout their enrollment at Penn State as a condition for continued student aid eligibility.

“Penn State has always had a satisfactory academic progress standard to measure academic performance to retain student aid eligibility, but this year the federal government changed the law requiring more frequent academic reviews for aid eligibility,” Kunes said. “Students earn their aid through achieving academic success. Since aid is always on the chopping block during budget negotiations, the government wants students to understand they must use the money wisely.”

The Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy also requires that students have a grade point average of at least a ‘C’ or its equivalent by the end of the second year of enrollment, or have academic standing consistent with Penn State’s requirements for graduation. It also requires students to complete their degree within a certain time frame in order to maintain aid.

“The majority of Penn State’s students are academically successful and will not be affected by this change,” Kunes said, “this is just a warning to the small number of students that are not achieving academic success.”

Kunes said since Penn State has a successful graduation rate, this policy will not impact most students.

Last Updated September 28, 2011