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Maintaining Financial Aid Eligibility

Several factors must be taken into consideration when it comes to maintaining your financial aid eligibility:  

Hours Eligible For Financial Aid 

Most of the following hours are eligilbe for financial aid: 
  • Credit hour programs leading to a degree or approved certificate
  • Remedial hours taken that cumulatively total 30 hours or less 
PLEASE NOTE: Foundational Studies (Pre-Credit), Adult Education, Audited Courses, and Continuing Education Courses are NOT eligible for financial aid.  A student can ONLY receive financial aid for courses that satisfy the requirements of his/her academic program.    


Verification is a process by which your college must review you and/or your parents’ tax return(s) and possibly other information, to confirm the accuracy of the information you provided on your FAFSA. 

Your Student Aid Report (SAR) will indicate if you have been selected for verification. Your college will also notify you that you have been selected for verification.  

If you have been selected for verification, the student and/or the parent are required to complete and sign the applicable Verification Worksheet (see below) and submit all required documents to the Financial Aid Office. Please visit your student portal or Financial Aid Office to determine which Verification Worksheet you are required to complete. Failure to do so will result in a delay in the processing of your financial aid. To avoid further delay, please make sure that your address is correct with the Financial Aid and Admissions Offices.  

*If you are selected for verification, please see the link titled The IRS Retrieval Process in the Learn More section on the right hand side of this page.  


Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

A student must maintain both qualitative and quantitative satisfactory academic progress, as defined in the City Colleges of Chicago Student Policy Manual, to be eligible for student financial aid funds.  

Qualitative satisfactory progress requires the student to achieve and maintain a minimum grade point average. Quantitative satisfactory progress requires the student to complete a minimum portion of his/her course work for each term and throughout his/her program of study.  

To view the specific details pertaining to our SAP policy, click on the following link to view the City Colleges of Chicago Student Policy Manual and go to page 20. To learn more about appealing, visit the SAP/Academic Standing Appeal Webiste.​ ​

Enrollment Changes

Changes to your enrollment (e.g. adding or dropping classes), may affect the amount of financial aid that you are entitled to receive. 

Return of Title IV Policy (R2T4)

Students who officially withdraw (WTH) or administratively withdrawn (ADW), from all of their financial aid eligible classes prior to completing 60% of the term, will be required to return a portion of the Title IV funds they have received. Title IV funds include Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Federal Direct Loans. The City Colleges of Chicago will apply a federally regulated calculation, “Return to Title IV,” to determine the percentage of financial aid the student has earned, which is based on the percentage of the term he/she completed.  

City Colleges is required to determine the percentage of Title IV aid ‘’earned” by the student and to return the unearned portion to the appropriate aid programs. Regulations require schools to perform calculations within 30 days from the date the school determines a student’s complete withdrawal. The school must return the funds within 45 days of the calculation. For example, if a student completes 30 percent of the payment period, they earn 30 percent of the aid they were originally scheduled to receive. This means that 70 percent of the scheduled awards remain “unearned” and must be returned to the federal government. Once 60% of the semester is completed, a student is considered to have earned all of his/her financial aid and will not be required to return any eligible federal funds.  

The following formula is used to determine the percentage of unearned aid that has to be returned to the federal government:  

The percent earned is equal to the number of calendar days completed up to the withdrawal date, divided by the total calendar days in the payment period (less any scheduled breaks that are at least 5 days long). Days Attended ÷ Days in Enrollment Period = Percentage Completed  

A standard term enrollment period (standard semester) contains on average, 110 days.  

If it is determined that a student has received financial aid in excess of his/her eligibility, the college will return the financial aid overpayment to the Department of Education on the student’s behalf. If you received a refund from any Title IV federal funds that was credited earlier in the term, which was to be used for education-related personal expenses, you may be required to return a portion of those funds to the college. This portion represents funds that were intended to pay your education-related expenses through the end of each term. The amount to be returned will be calculated from the date on which you officially withdrew from classes and/or stopped attending. If a student stops attending classes without notifying City Colleges, the withdrawal date will be the midpoint of the semester or the last date of academic activity as determined by City Colleges. If this return of funds results in a balance on the student’s account, he/she is responsible for paying that balance to the school. If the student does not pay his/her balance, a delinquency hold will be applied to the student’s account, and the student will not be permitted to register or order transcripts until the balance is satisfied. Per federal regulations, there is no appeal policy for the Return to Title IV calculation.  

Funds that are returned to the federal government are used to reduce the outstanding balances in individual federal programs. Title IV federal funds returned must be allocated in the following order:   

  1. Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan 
  2. Federal Subsidized Direct Loan 
  3. Federal Direct Parent Loan (PLUS) 
  4. Federal Pell Grant 
  5. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) 

If you did not receive all of the funds that you earned, you may be due a post-withdrawal disbursement. If your post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, City Colleges must get your permission before we can disburse them. You may choose to decline some or all of the loan funds so that you don’t incur additional debt. City Colleges may automatically use all or a portion of your post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds for tuition and fees.  

Defaulted Student Loans
Students who are currently in a default on any student loan(s) are not eligible for Title IV funds. You must contact your lender/servicer and make arrangements to pay off your previous student loan. Generally you must make at least 6 consecutive monthly payments before you will be eligible for any Title IV funds.​​