Many students are unaware of it, but the federal government and Department of Education made changes to student financial aid programs in July that greatly impact how academic performance pairs up with the ability to keep financial aid money. In the past, students were assessed after a full year of school, and those that were performing poorly could be put into negative standing at their school could lose their funding. As of July 1 of this year, that rule changed to have reassessment occur after the first semester of school, which means that college students will need to ensure that they are performing up to par, or they could be out of money come January.
Student Financial Aid Can Now be Cut after a Single Semester of Poor Performance
It isn’t just programs like the popular Pell grants program that are affected by the new rule change. PLUS student loans and many other student financial aid programs that target needy college students follow these new regulations, which require that students maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 for every college semester they attend. If they drop below 2.0, they will receive a warning and could lose their student financial aid funding for the following semester and in the future. If a student manages to lose their funding, they will have to pay for six credit hours with their own funds before they will have access to student financial aid again.
To say that many students will be affected by the rule changes is an understatement. At Western Kentucky University, student financial aid officials determined that more than 2,000 students will need to be warned about the change sometime during the semester, based on the fact that they turn in grades that are below the performance standard. According to the WKU Herald, the campus newspaper, any student who fell into negative standing in the 2011 spring semester was notified over the summer and warned about the changes. They were also referred to the school’s Academic Advising and Retention Center, who works hard to help students pick up the slack and achieve the grades necessary to maintain a positive academic standing.
Schools will Help Students Maintain their Student Financial Aid
According to Carol Alicie, an academic advisor at WKU’s AARC, they have been “talking to students all summer about their academic plans and their goals for the future and what they need to do to stay in school and receive their aid.” As schools rely on students as one of their primary sources of income, and simply because it benefits no one to have students fail out, it’s likely that schools will work hard to keep students above the GPA watermark that is the difference between receiving student financial aid and not.
So – what is the solution for college students? It’s pretty easy: you have to work hard. The rule changes are meant to keep students working, instead of living a fun couple of years on the taxpayer’s dollar before dropping out and heading off to a low-paying job somewhere. Keep your focus and ensure that you don’t lose sight of the real goal, which is obtaining an education and ultimately a degree and career. It’s well worth your time to get the best education that you can!