A3200.15 Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid Recipients

It is the policy of the Board of Trustees to comply with all federal and state laws as it relates to financial aid procedures. The Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) at Shawnee Community College are compliant with U. S. Department of Education regulations, other relevant federal regulations, and the policies of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. The Shawnee Community College Financial Aid Office is responsible for ensuring that all students who receive federal and state student financial aid are meeting these standards. Policy, procedures, and processes will be amended whenever applicable federal or state laws and regulations are changed. Other amendments to the policies will be considered through Shawnee Community College policy revision procedures.

Each student who receives federal and/or state student financial assistance must maintain SAP, according to the policies outlined below, in order to continue to receive financial aid. These policies determine SAP in relation to eligibility for the Federal Pell grant, Federal SEOG grant, Federal Work Study, Federal Veteran’s Administration Benefits, SCC Institutional Work Study, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s Monetary Award Program, and the Illinois Veteran’s Grant, Illinois National Guard, and MIA/POW Scholarship.

At Shawnee Community College, an academic year is defined as two semesters of 15 weeks or more (fall and spring semesters). The summer semester is considered to be part of the previous academic year. In order to assure that a student is satisfactorily progressing toward a certificate or degree, the progress of each student who has received financial aid for at least one of the prior terms in the Shawnee Community College academic year will be assessed after each semester to determine the progress made for the last semester of attendance. Students, who have attended

SCC in the past, whether or not they received financial aid, will be assessed prior to receiving aid. Grade and time requirements are in effect for all attempted credit hours, whether the student received financial aid or not. Student progress will be measured in the most recent formally declared program. Transfer students will be assessed for SAP related to grades and percentage of hours earned based only upon courses attempted at Shawnee Community College.  Certificate or degree completion will be assessed on Shawnee Community College hours and on hours formally transferred and accepted by Shawnee Community College.

 

Grade Requirements

Each financial aid recipient must be enrolled in an eligible certificate or degree program, and maintain at least a 2.00 cumulative grade point average (GPA) (equivalent to a “C” average) on a 4.00 scale. As long as the cumulative GPA is 2.00, regardless of the current GPA, the student is maintaining satisfactory progress in relation to grade requirements.

Whenever a student’s cumulative GPA drops below 2.00, the student will be placed on financial aid warning for the following semester. During the warning semester, the student must attain a 2.00 cumulative GPA to retain financial aid eligibility.

If the student does not attain a 2.00 cumulative GPA during the warning semester, the student will no longer be eligible, and will be placed on financial aid suspension. No additional Title IV financial aid will be awarded the student until eligibility is reinstated.

Following the semester in which the cumulative GPA reaches 2.00, the student will be taken off of warning or suspension.

 

Maximum Time Frame

A student is expected to complete any associate degree or certificate after attempting no more than 150% of the required credit hours.  Examples include: an Associate degree requiring 64 credit hours, a student would reach the Maximum Time Frame after taking 96 hours (150% of 64); to complete a one-year Certificate program after attempting no more than 51 credit hours (150% of 34); and to complete a less-than-one-year Certificate program after attempting no more than 24 credit hours (150% of 16).

Due to required prerequisites in the LPN/ADN programs before a student will be formally accepted into the programs, an LPN student is expected to complete the Certificate after attempting no more than 77 credit hours (150% of 51) and an ADN student is expected to earn the Associate Degree after attempting no more than 122 credit hours (150% of 81).

 

Hours Requirement

Once the allowable level of credit hours attempted has been reached, the student will be placed on financial aid suspension until the appropriate certificate or degree has been completed. To maintain academic progress over time, a student must, by the end of the first full academic year of attendance (one fall and one spring semester), and each year thereafter, have successfully earned 67% of attempted hours. Attempted hours are all hours the student is still enrolled in after the 10th day of each semester. If 67% of attempted hours have not been successfully completed, the student will be placed on financial aid warning for one semester. During the warning semester, the student must enroll in and pass enough hours to have successfully earned 67% of attempted hours by the end of the semester.

If the student does not attain the 67% level during the warning semester, the student will no longer be eligible and will be placed on financial aid suspension. No additional Title IV financial aid will be awarded to the student until eligibility is reinstated.

When a student is placed on financial aid warning, probation, or suspension, a notification email is sent to the student. SAP information is available on mySCC. However, lack of receipt of a notification email does not nullify the warning or suspension status.

Failures, Incompletes, Withdrawals, Audits, ABE/High School Equivalency, and Community Education courses are not counted as successfully completed credit hours. All other credited courses, including pass/fail courses and remedial courses, are counted in credit hour completion. Repeated courses are counted in the review of grade point averages and as an attempted course.

If a student’s grade is changed after a designation of financial aid warning, probation, or suspension, it is the student’s responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office. Changes are not final and are not considered for financial aid purposes until officially recorded on the student transcript. Withdrawal from school will not change the student’s SAP standing upon re-entering (i.e. if the student was ineligible upon withdrawing from school, he/she will still be ineligible when they return).

 

Monitoring Procedures

Satisfactory progress toward the completion of a degree or certificate, the percentage of hours attempted that have been earned, and the federal requirement for a 2.00 cumulative GPA are monitored by the Financial Aid Office at the end of each semester for all enrolled students.

 

Appeals and Academic Plans

Once a student has been deemed ineligible for financial aid due to not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress, the student will be sent notification of ineligibility.  The student will have an opportunity to appeal the ineligibility decision.

The student must meet with their academic advisor to complete an appeal packet.  The packet includes:  an Appeal Form, Letter Stating Mitigating Circumstances, Supporting Documents, Academic Plan Contract, and Academic Plan Form.  All completed documents should be signed and dated by the student and advisor and forwarded to the Director of Financial Aid. All forms have been placed on the internet and are fillable PDFs.

The merit of the appeal will be determined by the Shawnee Community College Appeals Committee, at their next regularly scheduled meeting after the appeal is received.  If the appeal is approved, the student’s status is changed to probationary.  The SCC Appeals Committee decision is final.

If a student appeal is approved, the student must abide by all conditions stated by the SCC Appeals Committee to maintain financial aid eligibility.  A student who has an approved appeal will be placed on probation and continuous monitoring.  Should the student not meet the specifications in the Academic Plan, the student may not receive Title IV program funds for the subsequent payment period and until SAP is achieved.  After an approved appeal, if the student is not enrolled for a period of time, the same approved appeal requirements would be in effect when the student reenrolls.

In an instance during the Academic Plan process, a student experiences a catastrophic event, the student would contact both their academic advisor and the financial aid director to review the situation and supporting documentation.  The three would collaborate to formulate a revised Academic Plan, if needed, to support the student needs.

Financial Aid staff will continuously monitor SAP notifying students in a timely manner, seeking the collaboration of academic advisors, and properly attaining all necessary documentation.

 

 

Reinstatement

Students on probation or warning for grade requirements retain probationary or warning status as long as their current grade point average is 2.00 or better.

Students who are on suspension because a certificate or degree has not been completed within 150% of attempting the normal credit hours needed will be reinstated after they have processed an approved graduation application for the appropriate certificate or degree, and have been placed on the graduation list.

Students who are on suspension because they have not successfully earned 67% of attempted hours will be reinstated after they have successfully earned 67% of attempted hours.

To reinstate probation or warning financial aid status after having eligibility suspended, the student must have an appeal approved and enroll. The student must earn a minimum of six (6) semester hours and attain a 2.00 current GPA for all enrolled hours during the semester.

Reinstatement without probation will occur when the student’s cumulative GPA is 2.00 or better.

 

Student Eligibility Code

Every student seeking to enroll in a Title IV-eligible post-secondary program at Shawnee Community College must be documented as having the ability to benefit from college coursework in order to be enrolled. Students with a high school diploma (recognized by a state) or a high school equivalency will be assumed to have the ability to benefit from college level work, and will be allowed to register for classes as a regular student in a regular curriculum (program). Proof of the diploma or high school equivalency is required to be on file in the Admissions Office. Students not having a high school diploma or high school equivalency will not be allowed to enroll in a regular curriculum, and, therefore, will not be eligible to receive Title IV financial aid. Every new student enrolling at Shawnee Community College is required to take the college placement test, which measures language usage, reading, and numerical skills. Transfer Students may satisfy Math/English proficiency via transfer credit. Students seeking college-level coursework who do not meet the minimum high school subject requirements and do not score at the minimum levels on the college placement test will be allowed to take classes identified by individual course demands. Financial aid will be paid based on financial aid regulations.

 

Reporting Potential Fraud and Abuse

Whenever, in the course of reviewing a student’s information, the Shawnee Community College Financial Aid Office finds that the student may have engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in applying for aid, it will be reported to the Inspector General’s Office of the U. S. Department of Education.  The student will first be notified of the situation and asked to come in to discuss the problem. If there are findings, they will be reported, in writing, to the Inspector General’s Office and a copy of the report will be sent to the student. The College will cooperate in any way with the ensuing investigation by the Inspector General’s Office. Fraudulent statements that might affect the student’s eligibility for student financial aid may include, but are not limited to: the use of false identities and/or social security numbers; forgery of signatures or certifications; false claims of income, citizenship, or independent student status; and false certifications relating to previous attendance at other post-secondary institutions, defaults, and repayments.

 

Release of Financial Aid Information

Shawnee Community College complies with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. In accordance with this, certain public directory information may be released without prior consent (unless the student has requested that it not be released). Release of public directory information is at the discretion of approved staff. Public directory information includes the student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weights and heights of members of athletic teams, dates of activities and sports, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received by the students, and the most recent previous educational agencies or institutions attended by the student.

 

The following specific policies and procedures relate to the disclosure of information from a student’s financial aid record:

  1. All current student financial aid records are kept in files located in the Financial Aid Office. Access to the financial aid files are restricted to employees of the division of Financial Aid. All employees in the division are instructed by the Director of Financial Aid/Veterans regarding these procedures and the need for confidentiality. Historical records are stored in the Shawnee Community College Records Room. The same restrictions to access noted above apply to these records.

  2. A student may review his/her financial aid records (except for the financial records provided by the student’s parents) during regular office hours, within the Financial Aid Office. At the request of the student, one copy of such information will be made for the student. A copy fee of ten cents per page may be charged if the file is extensive (more than 15 pages) or multiple copies are requested.

  3. Under no circumstances will an unauthorized third party be allowed to see a student’s record, or be provided with information from a student’s record, except for public directory information at the staff person’s discretion. No information, other than public directory information, will be provided over the phone unless the caller verifies himself/herself as the student, or a person authorized to receive such information, and the student’s correct social security number is provided.

  4. Student financial aid information may be released without the student’s specific and prior consent to an official of Shawnee Community College with a legitimate educational interest, to school officials at a college to which the student intends to transfer, and to persons or organizations determining financial aid decisions, or who are enforcing the terms of a student’s financial aid. These include, but are not limited to:
    1. federal and state educational agencies
    2. programs providing the student with federal or state financial aid (e.g. PELL, JTPA, ISAC, Dislocated Workers, TRA, etc.)
    3. agencies or institutions guaranteeing, lending, or collecting a student’s guaranteed student loan
  1. Personally identifiable information, other than public directory information, will not be provided to other persons or organizations (e.g. the Department of Public Aid, police, probation officers, employers, etc.) without the written consent of the student, or a court order.

 

  1. Whenever information that is not public directory information is released to a third party, a copy of the release, which identifies the date, party, and the reasons for release, will be filed in the student’s record. The release of such information should be accompanied by the following statement: “This information is covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, and may not be disclosed to others without the written consent of the student.”

 

Special Circumstances

Shawnee Community College complies with federal legislation that permits the Financial Aid Administrator, in certain circumstances, to review a student’s file and utilize professional judgment in determining financial aid eligibility.  Special Circumstances Special Circumstances cases will be considered only at the request of the student and at the discretion of the Director of Financial Aid/Veterans, if the student meets one of the outlined criteria for review, and provides proper documentation. In all such cases, eligibility decisions will be made based upon the particular circumstances of each individual student. All unusual circumstances will be documented in the student’s file, as well as the decision made and the actions taken.

The Director of Financial Aid/Veterans is designated the Financial Aid Administrator (FAA), and, as such, shall be the individual responsible for determining financial aid eligibility, based upon current Title IV regulations, Shawnee Community College policies and procedures, and required documentation. No Title IV financial aid disbursements (including federal Pell and FSEOG grants, ISAC MAP grants, and Federal work-study wages) will be approved without a valid Student Aid Report/Institutional Student Information Record on file in the Financial Aid Office. Once the student initiates a formal request for review by completing a Request for Designation as an Independent Student form or Request for Professional Judgment Consideration form, along with required documentation as detailed on the form or instructed by the FAA, the FAA will begin the individual review.

 

Dependency Override

Independent Status

The FAA may review the Request for Designation as Independent Student form on a case-by-case basis for students with unusual circumstances. Dependency Overrides do not carry over from one award year to the next. The FAA must reaffirm each year that the unusual circumstances persist and an override is still justified.

Documentation is critical to the dependency override process. The documentation must support, and include the reason for, the decision and should, in almost all cases, originate from a third party with knowledge of the unusual circumstances for the student. The following are possible special circumstances:

  1. Since applying for financial aid, the student’s only remaining parent has died. Documentation: Death Certificate
  2. All normal family contact has been terminated between the student and the natural parents. Documentation: Students written, confidential explanation of family circumstances, signed statement of certification of circumstances by related adult or professional counselor
  3. The student has lived with a family member other than the natural parent, or another responsible adult, for a minimum of one year prior to the beginning of the academic year in question, and has not been supported by the parents during that time. This could be due to unusual circumstances, such as an abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety. Documentation: Signed statement from the adult or family member that the student has lived with them on a continuous basis for a minimum of one year, and that the adult or other family member, and not the parents, have been supporting the student during this time. – Signed statement corroborating the circumstances by a professional counselor.
  4. The student does not know the specific whereabouts of either natural parent, and/or has not had contact with either natural parent within the past two years, and does not have a legal guardian appointed by the courts.

Documentation: A statement by the student, and another adult family member or professional counselor certifying to the above circumstances.

If the FAA determines that an override is appropriate, the determination must be made and retained with supporting documentation. However, none of the conditions listed below, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances meriting a dependency override:

  1. Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education.
  2. Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.
  3. Parents do not claim the student as dependent for income tax purposes. Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency (per FSA Handbook).

 

Professional Judgment

In unusual circumstances, a student’s family base-year income or assets may not accurately reflect the income/assets available to the family for the academic year. The FAA may use Professional Judgement on a case-by-case basis only to adjust the student’s cost of attendance. Such circumstances might include, but are not necessarily limited to, those listed below. These and other circumstances may be considered by the FAA on an individual basis. If circumstances warrant, appropriate data changes will be submitted to correct the Student Aid Report to adjust the student’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).

  1. Medical/dental bills paid during the previous year, or to be paid during the current year. Documentation: Proof of bills/premiums paid, or an agreement for pay on a regular basis. The FAA will take in account the Income Protection Allowance (IPA) for medical care described in the FSA Handbook.

  2. A recent layoff, job termination, or greatly reduced income due to a plant or business closure or downsizing, where the likelihood of comparable re-employment is poor. Documentation: Proof of unemployment or reduced hours.

  3. Termination or reduction of employee hours in order to attend classes on a full-time basis as required by the student’s program of study. Documentation: Proof of unemployment or reduced hours, and participation in a curriculum requiring full-time attendance.

  4. Loss of Social Security benefits to a family for the student who has attained 18 years of age but will be a full-time college student. Documentation: Notice of termination of benefits from Social Security.

  5. Loss of other benefits received on a regular basis, such as child support. Documentation: Notification of termination of other benefits.

  6. A one-time payment of income or benefits in the previous year that will not be repeated in the current year, such as an IRA. Documentation: Proof of one-time payment or cessation of payments.

  7. Divorce, separation, death or disability of a family member. Documentation: Divorce decree, Death Certificate, statement certifying separation, physician’s statement of disability.

  8. A student or supporting parent/guardian has been the victim of a natural disaster (tornado, flood, fire, etc.) during the past or current year that has reduced available assets or income upon which eligibility was based. If other circumstances exist, the student must contact the FAA for them to possibly be considered.

 

Revised: July 2016, January 2019, December 2020, May 2021