Federal Financial Aid (Title IV) Refunds Policy and Return Dates

Federal regulations require that your financial aid eligibility be recalculated if you withdraw, drop out, or are dismissed prior to completing 60 percent of an academic term. The return to Title IV recalculation is computed using the 50 percent point of the semester if you stop attending classes that term without formally withdrawing and your last date of attendance cannot be determined. An example of the Return to Title IV Fund calculation is available in the Financial Aid office. If you receive financial aid, you should notify the Financial Aid office before withdrawing.

Recalculation for percent of aid earned is based on the following formula:

percent earned = number of days you completed prior to your withdrawal date divided by the total days in a semester/term 

If the calculation results in an overpayment, you will owe a balance to the college. In that case, you should make payment arrangements with the Financial Aid Office. If you fail to pay the debt to the college within 45 days of notification, the debt will be reported to the U.S. Department of Education as an overpayment. You will ineligible for federal aid until you pay the debt or make satisfactory arrangements with the U.S. Department of Education.

Review the following by section:

Withdrawals and Calculating Return of Title IV Funds

Return Dates

Order Unearned Aid is Applied and Returned

Example of Return of Title IV Funds Calculation

Academic Consequences of Withdrawing

The State Return of Grant Funds Policy

Withdrawals and Calculating Return of Title IV Funds

It is the policy of Central Piedmont's Financial Aid Office to determine the amount of earned and unearned portions of Title IV aid as of the date the you cease to attend in accordance with federal regulations and the Return of Title IV Funds process, as dictated in Volume 5 of the Student Aid Handbook. This policy applies to all students receiving Title IV funds who do a complete withdrawal on or before the 60% date of each term. If you completely withdraw after the 60% date, Central Piedmont will still need to determine if you are eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement according to federal regulations and the Student Aid Handbook.

Federal regulations require the college to have a fair and equitable refund policy for students receiving financial aid who officially or unofficially withdraw from all classes. Withdrawing or stopping attendance may result in your accruing financial debt and may also make you ineligible for future financial aid, including loans. We strongly urge you to consult with a financial aid staff member to help you with decisions about withdrawing.

Recalculation is based on the percent of earned aid using the following formula:

number of days completed up to the withdrawal date** divided by the total days in the semester = percent of aid earned

The federal aid for institutional charges is returned to the federal government based on the percent of unearned aid using the following formula:

100 percent of your award minus percent of aid earned = what will need to be returned to the US Department Education

Financial Consequences of Withdrawing or Not Passing Classes

Federal regulations assume that you earn financial aid over the course of a term by attending and participating in classes. You cannot earn all of the funds unless you maintain attendance and class participation for more than 60% of the term. This calculation counts all calendar days, including the first and last day of each term, weekends, and holidays. If you completely withdraw from all classes, receive all F, W, and Incomplete grades before 60% point in the term, you may have to repay any unearned financial aid funds that were already disbursed.

In general, federal regulations assume that you “earn” federal financial aid in direct proportion to the percentage of the term you complete. If you completely withdraw during a term, the college calculates, according to a federally-mandated formula, the portion of the total scheduled financial assistance you have earned, and therefore are entitled to receive, up to the time of withdrawal. If you or the college receive more assistance than is earned, the unearned excess funds must be returned to the U.S. Department of Education. On the other hand, if you or the college receive less financial assistance than the amount earned, additional funds may first be applied toward any outstanding institutional charges and excess paid to you.

The portion of the federal student aid you are entitled to receive is calculated on a percentage basis by comparing the total number of days in the term to the number of days completed before withdrawing. For example, if you complete 30% of the term, you earn 30% of the assistance scheduled to be received.

If withdraw after the 60% date, you will have earned all of the financial aid received; no Return of Title IV funds will be required. 

If you completely withdraw, your earned aid will be calculated based on the percentage of the term you completed, resulting in your possible repayment of any unearned aid. You are encouraged to search for resources to help you in completing even one class, such as tutoring.

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Return Dates

Academic calendar

Fall 2023

Full Semester:

  • 10% point: August 26, 2023
  • 35% point: September 23, 2023
  • 60% point: October 30, 2023

12-Week Semester:

  • 10% point: September 20, 2023
  • 35% point: October 20, 2023
  • 60% point: November 9, 2023

First 8-Week Semester:

  • 10% point: August 20, 2023
  • 35% point: September 2, 2023
  • 60% September 16, 203

Second 8-Week Semester:

  • 10% point: October 22, 203
  • 35% point: November 6, 2023
  • 60% point: November 20, 2023

4-Week Semester:

  • 60% point: first 4-week: August 30, 2023 
  • 60% point: second 4-week: September 27, 2023
  • 60% point: third 4-week: November 1, 2023 
  • 60% point: fourth 4-week: November 29, 2023

Winter Session:

60% point: December 24, 2023

Spring 2024

Full Semester:

  • 10% point: January 20, 2024
  • 35% point: February 17, 2024
  • 60% point: March 25, 2024

12-Week Semester:

  • 10% point: January 16, 2024
  • 35% point: February 5, 2024
  • 60% point: February 25, 2024

First 8-Week Semester:

  • 10% point: January 14, 2024
  • 35% point: January 27, 2024
  • 60% point: February 10, 2024

Second 8-Week Semester:

  • 10% point: March 17, 2024
  • 35% point: April 1, 2024
  • 60% point: April 15, 2024

4-Week Semester:

  • 60% point: first 4-week: January 24, 2024
  • 60% point: second 4-week: February 21, 2024
  • 60% point: third 4-week: March 27, 2024
  • 60% point: fourth 4-week: April 24, 2024

Summer 2024

Full Semester:

  • 10% point: May 26, 2024
  • 35% point: June 9, 2024
  • 60% point: June 24, 2024

4-Week Semester:

  • 10% point first summer: May 23, 2024
  • 35% point first summer: May 29, 2024
  • 60% point first summer: June 4, 2024 
  • 10% point second summer: June 20, 2024
  • 35% point second summer: June 28, 2024
  • 60% point second summer: July 5, 2024

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Order Unearned Aid is Applied and Returned 

Unearned financial aid will be applied and returned in the following order:

  1. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan1
  2. Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan1
  3. Federal Pell Grant2
  4. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant2
  5. Iraq Afghanistan Service Grant2
  6. Other (excluding federal Work Study)

1 Student repayment according to the terms and conditions of the promissory note 

2No more than 50% of the amount received by the student

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Example of Return of Title IV Funds Calculation (for Illustration Purposes Only)

As part of the CARES Act, if you started attending Central Piedmont in a payment period or period of enrollment that began on or includes March 13, 2020, and then had to withdraw due to coronavirus-related circumstances, we are not required to take back your federal aid funds.

Joe Jones received $2,800.70 total in financial aid:

  • Federal Pell Grant: $1,333
  • Federal SEOG: $100
  • Subsidized Federal Direct Loan (net): $636.32
  • Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan (net): $731.38

After paying tuition, fees, and books ($637), Joe received a refund check in the amount of $2,163.70 ($2,800.70 minus $637).

Joe's Unearned Aid

Joe totally withdraws on the 24th day of a 77-day term, or at the 31.2% point (24 divided by 77 = 31.2). Federal law states that Joe received or would have been eligible to receive $1,926.88 (Joe's unearned aid):

  • percent of aid earned = 31.2% (percentage point of the semester when Joe withdrew) of $2,800.70 (Joe's total aid award)

    • = $873.82
  • unearned aid = 100% of aid disbursed minus percent of aid earned
    • $2,800.70 minus $873.82 = $1,926.88 (68.8%)

Central Piedmont's Institutional Share

Central Piedmont and Joe share the responsibility of returning unearned aid to federal programs. According to federal policy, Central Piedmont's institutional share for Joe is $438.26:

  • total charges multiplied by the unearned aid percentage = Central Piedmont’s institutional share

    • $637 times 68.8% = $438.26

In this example, Central Piedmont will return $438.26 to Joe’s lender (the Department of Education) to reduce the unsubsidized federal direct loan balance owed.

Joe's Remaining Balance Due to Repay

The amount paid by Central Piedmont will be added to Joe’s account balance due to the college. Joe is then responsible for the remaining balance due ($1,488.62) to the Department of Education, calculated as:

  • Joe's unearned share (repay) = unearned aid minus Central Piedmont's share (pre-pay) 

    • $1,926.88 minus $ 438.26 = $1,488.62

The initial amount of unearned aid due from Joe is $1,488.62, but the amount Joe needs to repay ($929.44) is calculated as:

  • amount to repay = total loans disbursed minus Central Piedmont's share

    • $1,367.70 minus $ 438.26 = $929.44

Joe's Repayment Obligation for Grant Funds

Joe’s repayment obligation for grant funds is calculated by:

  • Joe's total unearned share minus the share to return

    • $1,488.62 minus $929.44 = $559.18
  • total grants Joe received multiplied by half (grant protection allowance)
    • $1,433 times .50 = $716.50

Since the grant protection allowance is more than Joe’s share to return, Joe does not owe a grant refund.

The repayment allocation back to federal programs for Joe’s student portion ($1,488.62) is as follows:

  • Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans: $731.38
  • Subsidized Federal Direct Loans: $636.32
  • Pell Grants (after grant protection allowance): $0 

Federal policy allows Joe to repay student Return to Title IV loan funds in accordance with the terms of the Master Promissory Note that he signed.

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Academic Consequences of Withdrawing

In most cases, if you completely withdraw, you are considered not to have made satisfactory academic progress toward completing your program. A complete withdrawal will place you in Warning status (if previously Good Standing) or in Disqualification (if previously Warning status). You will be placed on Probation if you appeal and your appeal is approved. 

If the Warning term’s financial aid is for the same school year and is sufficient to cover that term’s charges in addition to the repayment, Central Piedmont may allow the repayment to be taken out of the Warning term’s financial aid. Central Piedmont may allow you to register in this case.

You will be notified in writing showing that portion of unearned aid the school will refund from institutional costs and the portion you will be responsible to repay.

You will have 30 days from the date of the bill from Central Piedmont to pay the full amount owed or make payment arrangements with the Cashiering Office. If you fail to pay the amount shown, or if you make arrangements for a payment plan, but do not make the payments as scheduled, your balance will be turned over to collections. You will be unable t to register for classes until the balance is paid.

Withdrawal Date

Your withdrawal date is the date you officially withdraw from all credit courses. Your withdrawal date may be different from your last date of attendance.  An unofficial withdrawal will result in the last date of attendance being the last date of recorded attendance. Additional withdrawal dates can be:

  • date you began withdrawal process
  • date you provided intent to withdraw
  • date school determined that you withdrew due to illness, accident, or personal grievous loss

To formally withdraw from all your classes within the semester, use one of the following methods:

  • visit Student Records at any campus
  • online in MyCollege

Unofficial Withdrawal

An unofficial withdrawal is when you stop attending without officially withdrawing and receive a “W”, “F,” or “I” grade. At the end of each term, Financial Aid staff review last date of attendance records for students who did not officially withdraw. If your last date of attendance is earlier than the official withdrawal date, the last date of attendance will be used in your Return of Title IV funds calculation.

Failing to Earn a Passing Grade

If you fail to earn a passing grade in at least one course, the college must assume an unofficial withdrawal and will perform a Return of Title IV funds calculation at the 50% point of the semester.

A calculation is not required when the college can document that you completed the period or if you earn at least one passing grade.

Programs Offered in Modules

U.S. Department of Education policy states that if you withdraw after completing at least one course in one module within the term, you would not be considered withdrawn. You would not be subject to a Return of Title IV Funds calculation in this case.

If you withdraw before completing at least one course in one module, you would be considered withdrawn. You would be subject to a Return of Title IV Funds calculation in this case (unless the college has obtained confirmation from you that you intend to attend a module later in the term).

Post-Withdrawal Disbursements

If you completely withdraw from the college, this would be considered a post-withdrawal disbursement (a type of late disbursement). The amount of the disbursement is determined by the Return of Title IV calculation required when you withdraw from school.

If the total amount of Title IV grant and/or loan assistance that you earned as calculated under the Return of Title IV Program Funds calculation is greater than the total amount of Title IV grant and/or loan assistance that was disbursed to you (or on your behalf, in the case of a PLUS loan) you may be eligible to receive a post-withdrawal disbursement. 

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The State Return of Grant Funds Policy

State-funded grants are provided to assist students with the cost of attendance on the assumption that the students will attend college for the entire term for which the funds are awarded. When a student withdraws before the end of the term, an institution must determine how much, if any, State grant funds must be returned. The amount an institution must return depends on when the student withdraws. Funds must also be returned for changes in enrollment and eligibility status.

Institutions are required to calculate the amount of funds it must return, when a student withdraws prior to or on the 35% point of the term, via the College Foundation (CFI) Grant System. In completing the calculation, the “last date of attendance” is determined consistent with Title IV regulations for a Return of Title IV Funds.

  • If a student’s last date of attendance can be verified and is prior to or on the 35% point of the term, the State grant repayment will be based on the percent of the term not completed (or the percent of the scheduled hours remaining in the payment period for clock hour schools).
  • If the last date of attendance occurs after the 35% point of the term, the State grant award is considered 100% earned and no State grant repayment is due.

State grant repayment formula: Known last date of attendance, prior to or on the 35% point of the term:

  1. The percentage of State grant earned is calculated by dividing days in attendance by calendar days in term. Scheduled breaks of five or more days should be excluded from the calculation
  2. Subtract the percent of State grant earned from 100%; this equals the percent of unearned State grant.
  3. Multiply the percent of unearned State grant by the grant amount.


A student is awarded a $1,000 State grant and completes 20% of the term prior to withdrawal. The State grant repayment is calculated as follows:

  1. The unearned percentage equals 80% (100% less 20% completed). The earned percentage equals 20%.
  2. Unearned aid equals $800 (80% of $1,000 State grant award).
  3. The repayment equals $800

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