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Enrollment And Its Effects on Financial Aid

The length of instructional time, majors and minors, coursework, location and hours all impact Financial Aid eligibility. Visit the sections below for details on how enrollment can affect students' finances.


Expected Enrollment and Cost of Attendance (COA)

Before the semester begins your Cost of Attendance (COA) is based on the expected enrollment of 12 or more credit hours (6 credit hours for Graduate Students).  Then 2 weeks before the semester begins your COA will be based upon the actual number of credit hours in which you are enrolled.  If you are planning to be enrolled in a different amount other than the expected enrollment you will need to complete the Expected Enrollment Form.

Minimum Enrollment Requirements

Certain types of financial aid and scholarships require full-time enrollment for disbursement. Students should monitor their award requirements to ensure that minimum enrollment criteria are satisfied. In addition, many need-based awards require that the Office of Student Financial Aid take a "snapshot" of student enrollment levels as of a certain date.

Withdrawal or Dropping Classes

The University recognizes that circumstances may arise that require students to drop some or all of their classes.

  • Dropping all classes before the semester begins:

    Any time a student withdraws completely from all classes, the financial aid office will cancel all financial aid received for the term. If this process occurs before the start of the semester, the student is typically entitled to at least a partial refund of University charges. Visit for details.

  • Dropping all classes after the semester begins:

    If the student completely withdraws after the first day of classes, he or she will have to return a percentage of financial aid relative to the amount of the semester completed.

    If this occurs, the office will return a portion of the federal aid money used to pay institutional charges (such as tuition, fees, or university housing) on a student's account. Sometimes this will leave some university charges unpaid, and the student will be billed for this amount. Second, if the student received federal aid funds directly (as a refund, for example) to be used for other educational expenses, the student may have to return some portion of that money. The amount due will appear on the student's bill in about 45 days after the withdrawal date.

    For details on this process, see our full Return of Title IV Aid Policy.

  • Dropping some classes after the semester begins:

    Financial aid recipients are required to complete 67% of the classes originally attempted. (See also Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.) If the student falls below 67% completion rate, he or she will forfeit their eligibility for federal financial aid. It is critical to exercise discretion when deciding when to drop and add classes after the semester has already begun.

    Enrollment information is reported to the National Student Loan Data System, and previously borrowed loans may go into repayment if the student does not meet deferment criteria (half-time enrollment).

    Pell grant recipients must attend all of their courses in order to keep the grant. Failure to attend all courses could result in a reduction of Pell grant funds.

Repeat Classes or Coursework

Please be advised that federal regulations may prohibit students from receiving financial aid for repeating coursework. A student who has already taken a course and has questions whether financial aid will cover a repeat should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Listed below are answers to frequently asked questions.

  • If I previously received an "F" (which is a failing grade) in a course, how many times can I retake that course and still receive federal financial aid?

    • You may include any repetition of a course as long as you have never passed the course. If you previously passed the course, you may include one repetition after passing. Any second or subsequent repetition of the passed course may not be included in your enrollment status for the purpose of receiving federal financial aid.
  • If I received an "F" the first time I took a course, and then I passed with a "D", how many times can I take the course to improve the "D" grade and still received federal financial aid?
    • Once. If you passed the course, you may include one repetition after passing. Any second or subsequent repetition of the passed course may not be included in your enrollment status for the purpose of receiving federal financial aid.
  • If I received a "D", then I retook the course and received an "F" while receiving federal financial aid, can I retake the course a third time and receive aid?
    • No, because the course was already taken once and a passed grade was received. Federal aid helped pay for the course the second time, but it was failed. Federal aid will not cover the course for a third time in this situation, because it already paid for one passed course and one repeat.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Students must make Satisfactory Academic Progress towards earning a degree as stipulated in the chart below to receive financial aid at ISU.


  • SAP is calculated annually after the spring semester following the student's first term of enrollment as a regular degree-seeking student or at the point of awarding aid as a degree-seeking student. Some additional non-degree students may be calculated for SAP based upon funding or program rules.
  • Courses taken at ISU and those taken elsewhere are counted as hours attempted regardless of grade assigned. This includes incompletes, failures, or withdrawals after the 7th day of class each term.
  • Review the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy for more information.

Taking Classes Elsewhere for ISU Credit

Students taking classes at another campus may be eligible to complete a consortium agreement - an agreement between two universities that allows students to use financial aid for concurrent enrollment. Note that most aid programs, including loans, have specific minimum enrollment requirements.

Review the Consortium Agreement policy for more information and requirements.

Failure to meet these requirements may result in loss of financial aid eligibility.

Education Abroad

Most programs qualify for financial aid eligibility while students are studying abroad. Financial aid does not disburse to student accounts until 10 days prior to the education abroad class start date. During the summer, it can be up to 3 days before the term. Students will need to be prepared to make certain program payments in advance of receiving their financial aid.

There are two types of Education Abroad programs:

  • Partner - Indiana State University has a direct relationship with partner universities, and these programs are typically less costly to the student, and the university is billed directly for cost.
  • Affiliate - These are run by a third party and offer many locations, but at a higher cost. Students pay these programs directly, often using their financial aid refund.
  • Faculty-led field trips are not eligible for Financial Aid.

Review the Education Abroad policy for more information and requirements.



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