You snooze, you lose. A dollar short and a day late. Winners never quit, quitters never win. All of these cliché sayings bear relevance on the ramifications if you receive federal financial aid and make the decision to miss, drop or withdraw from classes or drop below a 2.0 grade point average.
According to Angela Beam, former acting director of financial aid, “the federal government requires schools to have a policy in place that ensures students begin attendance in every course for which they are enrolled. The financial aid office is required to return 100 percent of funds for students who never attend any of their courses, required to prorate funds for students who begin attendance in some, but not all of their courses. They are also required to return up to 50 percent of the money Western receives from the federal government for students who stop attending all of their courses during a term.”
“The federal government disburses more than $113 billion annually in financial assistance. As of Feb. 10, 2010, Western disbursed almost $40 million in financial assistance from all sources (federal grants, loans, work study, state grants and scholarships, Western funded sources and private financial aid sources). Attendance verification and satisfactory academic progress policies continue to surface as topics that may need more standard (and stricter) regulation,” Beam said.
Cindy Conrad, acting associate director in the financial aid office, takes these regulations very seriously. “If we lose our financial aid, then we [students] lose the opportunity to attend classes,” Conrad said. Conrad, along with Deana Wennihan, who is the Default Prevention Coordinator of the same office give a College 101 presentation to all incoming freshman that cover the details of receiving financial aid.
“Young people coming out of high school typically don’t have anyone telling them what to do, but tend to learn life lessons,” Wennihan said. “Going to class and getting good grades are the job of the student, and federal government aid is their paycheck.”
When a student’s GPA slips below federal standards, or stop attending classes after receiving any type of assistance financially, they are required to attend a seminar in which they have to sign a contract stating they will attend classes, use the Center of Academic Support and tutoring among other requirements. During this time, the student is on academic probation until they improve their grades and comply with the attendance policy. This can be accomplished in as little as one semester, but can extend for multiple semesters until such requirements are met. The student runs the risk of losing all types of aid available such as Pell grants, Stafford loans or scholarships.
Wennihan is very passionate about the success of the student who has to rely on assistance in order to attend classes.
“We care about every student and don’t want them to lose the opportunity since they are the future of the world,” Wennihan said.
She also prepares the SAP or Satisfactory Academic Progress seminars.
“Any time a student is considering dropping a class, or withdrawing can stop by the financial aid office and ask questions to see how this affects them,” Conrad said.
Wennihan also encourages students to go to the financial aid webpage and read up on all the information, rules and regulations that govern any institution of higher learning who offers financial assistance. The web address is: www.missouriwestern.edu/finaid/.