Don’t panic, take action and solve your college money woes.
The thought of going to college, expanding your horizons and furthering your education can be exciting and exhilarating. Thinking about how to pay for college can be terrifying. According to the College Board tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 school year will cost $9,970 for a public, in-state university to $34,740 for a private university.
Financial aid is becoming more and more important as tuition continues to skyrocket. So, what happens if your financial aid gets suspended? How could that even happen? Check out the following list of reasons that you could see your aid slip away and how to resolve them.
- Drop in GPA
Many financial aid awards are tied to maintaining a certain GPA. If the academic requirement isn’t met, financial aid can be suspended. Some students have a hard time with the rigorous university class schedule and maintaining the discipline of a strict study schedule. Others can get swept up in the social scene and studying is no longer the main priority. The first step is to recognize that your grades are slipping and talk to your professor. See if you can get extra help during office hours to get your grades back on track. If it’s too late for that and your grades are already permanently in the books, you may be put on probation before your financial aid is suspended. If you continue to struggle and your aid is suspended, you may have to pay for tuition out of pocket for a semester and concentrate solely on raising your GPA. Many schools have an appeals committee that reviews suspended students’ grades at the end of each semester.
- Insufficient class credits
Sometimes circumstances force a student to drop a class once the semester has already begun. Most financial aid awards require students to attend school full-time. Lots of issues can arise that force students to have to withdraw from a class, whether it’s a personal issue, a death in the family or an illness. In cases like these with extenuating circumstances, students can submit an appeal to their school for review.
- Drug conviction
Many students at college are away from home, possibly for the first time, and test their limits. Some push those limits with too much partying and even experimenting with illegal drugs. If caught and convicted, financial aid, grants or loans can all be suspended. Depending on where you are in the financial aid process will determine your course of action. When you complete the FAFSA form, you must reveal that you have a drug conviction for an offense that occurred while receiving federal student aid. You then can fill out a to see how your conviction affects your eligibility for federal student aid. If your federal student aid is already suspended due to the conviction, you can regain eligibility early by successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or by passing two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved drug rehab program. If you are convicted of the drug-related offense after you submit the FAFSA form, your federal student aid may be revoked and you might be liable for returning any financial aid you received during your ineligibility.
These are just a few examples of the pitfalls that can put your financial aid at risk of suspension. Remember, just because you make a mistake, doesn’t mean all is lost. Act quickly and don’t just assume that the problem is too large to fix or hopeless. If you are struggling to resolve the issue on your own, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a professional. Whether you try to tackle your financial aid woes on your own or enlist the skills of a professional, know that you have options. A financial aid suspension doesn’t have to be permanent.
John McDonough is the founder of Studemont Group College Funding Solutions, LLC, a firm created solely to provide comprehensive college preparation and financial services. After almost 20 years in the world of finance in private practice, John co-authored Secrets of a College Financial Aid Expert to help guide families through the overwhelming and often grueling experience of college admissions and financial planning. McDonough holds workshops and does private consulting for families and students navigating the college planning process.