General Information. Brenau University offers financial aid in the form of federal student loans for graduate students. Any student who wishes to apply must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). Any new student must complete all Brenau University graduate admissions requirements and be fully accepted for admission before financial aid can be processed. A student who is allowed conditional enrollment is not eligible for financial aid for that term.
Deadlines. Applications for financial aid are generally processed on a rolling basis year round. The application cycle for each new academic year (beginning with the fall semester) starts the previous October. Graduate students who plan to apply for federal student loans should complete a FAFSA as early as possible after October 1st for enrollment beginning with the following fall semester. In general, students should have a completed financial aid file a minimum of one month prior to the beginning date of the first semester for which financial aid is needed.
Enrollment Status. A graduate student enrolled three (3) to five (5) semester hours is considered a half-time student; graduate students taking six (6) or more hours will be considered at full-time status. For students who receive VA education benefits, it is important to note that even though six (6) semester hours (two courses) is considered full-time status for academic purposes, if one course is taken in each of the two evening or online sessions within a typical semester, VA will not pay benefits at a full-time rate because the courses are not being taken concurrently.
Important Note: A graduate student’s projected cost of attendance and resulting financial aid award is based on the number of credit hours in which a student in his/her particular program of study would typically enroll each semester. In the absence of advance knowledge to the contrary, it is assumed that a graduate student will enroll in both sessions of each semester (if that student is in a program that offers two 7-week evening or online sessions within the semester). A student who does not enroll for both sessions and/or is not enrolled in the number of credits his/her financial aid was based on (as indicated in CampusWEB in the My Financial Aid section) may be subject to a reduction in the financial aid award once his/her enrollment for the semester is set.
Satisfactory Academic Progress - Graduate Students
Federal regulations require institutions participating in Title IV student financial aid programs to establish standards of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for recipients of financial aid. In general, these SAP standards also apply to financial aid programs authorized and funded by the State of Georgia, as well as Brenau’s own institutional aid programs.
The purpose of SAP is to measure a student’s progress toward completion of the specific educational program in which he or she is enrolled. The policy is used to determine if an enrolled financial aid recipient is making satisfactory academic progress, regardless of whether or not financial aid was applied for or received during the term or enrollment period under review. The SAP policy is consistently applied to all students, ensuring both the quality of academic work and the completion of a program within the maximum time frame. A student’s academic performance will be evaluated at the end of each semester (fall, spring, and summer) if the student is enrolled in a traditional term-based program. For students enrolled in non-term cohort programs, academic performance will be evaluated at the end of each established full-time enrollment period.
The SAP policy will measure both qualitative and quantitative standards, as students must meet both standards to remain eligible for aid.
Qualitative Standard. This standard measures grade point average (GPA).
A graduate student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. This GPA is calculated on all courses taken for academic credit at Brenau University as well as those accepted for transfer from other eligible postsecondary institutions. In addition, a graduate student may earn no grades below a C. Even when a student’s term or enrollment period GPA is 3.0 or higher, if any grades below a C were earned in that term or enrollment period, the student is not considered to be making satisfactory academic progress.
Quantitative Standard. This standard establishes the rate at which a student must progress to ensure completion of his/her degree program within the allowable maximum time frame.
- Rate of Progress. A student receiving financial aid must demonstrate measurable progress toward the completion of his/her degree program by maintaining a minimum overall completion rate of 67 percent. This applies to both full-time and part-time financial aid recipients. The rate of progress is calculated using the following formula:
Hours Successfully Completed or Earned ÷ Hours Attempted
Attempted hours are those credit hours that remain on a student’s transcript after the last date on which classes can be totally eliminated from a student’s registration as published by the Brenau Registrar. Earned hours represent successfully completed courses in which grades of A, B, C, D or P are awarded, as long as credit is earned. Withdrawals (W), incompletes (I), in progress (IP), and failed courses (F or WF) are considered attempted hours but not earned hours.
The following points should be noted with regard to the rate-of-progress calculations:
- If a course with an incomplete grade (I) or an in progress grade (IP) impacts a student’s satisfactory academic progress standing, it is the student’s responsibility to notify the Office of Financial Aid when a final grade has been earned.
- Audited courses are considered neither attempted nor earned hours.
- Credits transferred to Brenau University, including those taken as a transient student while enrolled at Brenau, are included in attempted hours and earned hours, and are subject to the maximum time frame standards below.
- Repeated courses, for which a passing grade was previously received, are included in attempted hours and GPA calculations, but are not included in earned hours.
- Maximum Time Frame. For graduate students, maximum time frame is based on the length of the educational program. The measurement is cumulative and includes all periods with or without federal student aid. Frequent withdrawals from individual courses or from school, changes of major, and failed or repeated courses could jeopardize financial aid eligibility. A student who has completed sufficient hours and courses to complete his or her degree program is no longer eligible for financial aid even if there is some other obstacle, such as required GPA, that is preventing graduation.
Important Note: A recipient of federal student aid may not enroll in courses generally not required for his/her specific educational program. This includes enrolling in unneeded courses for the sole purpose of attaining a higher cumulative GPA or to simply maintain a specific enrollment status (i.e., half-time to establish federal loan eligibility or full-time to maintain eligibility for health insurance). However, a student is allowed to repeat a course that was previously passed in order to obtain a higher grade, but can receive financial aid to repeat that course only one time. The intent of this repeat policy is to allow a student to try to earn a higher grade and an improved GPA when, on the advice of the student’s academic advisor, the student needs to take that action to gain admission into a specific Brenau major. Students will not be allowed to repeat previously passed courses for the sole purpose of obtaining a desired financial aid package or disbursement.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Evaluation Process
The financial aid recipient’s academic performance records maintained by the Registrar’s office will be reviewed at the end of each semester or non-term enrollment period to determine if the student is maintaining the standards established in the SAP policy. A student who fails to meet the SAP standards, qualitative and/or quantitative, will be assigned one of the following SAP statuses, and will be notified in writing.
- Financial Aid Warning is the status assigned to a student who has not achieved the required GPA and/or has not met the rate of progress standards of the SAP policy. A student on financial aid warning is eligible for financial aid for one additional semester or non-term enrollment period. No appeal is necessary. However, it is recommended that during the Financial Aid Warning term, the student meet with his or her academic advisor, and take the following preventive measures to avoid the loss of Title IV eligibility:
- Identify the obstacle(s) encountered during the last semester or enrollment period;
- Develop and commit to workable and achievable solutions for overcoming the obstacles identified.
- Financial Aid Suspension is the status assigned to a student who, after one semester or enrollment period on financial aid warning, still has a deficient GPA and/or has not met the rate of progress standards. Financial aid warning status also applies to a student who has exceeded the 150% time frame for completing his/her degree program. A student on financial aid suspension will be notified of his/her ineligibility for future financial aid, as well as how to submit an appeal. (Appeal process outlined below).
- Financial Aid Probation is the status assigned to a student who failed to make satisfactory academic progress, but submitted a qualifying appeal, and had eligibility for financial aid reinstated. A student placed on financial aid probation is eligible for financial aid for one semester or enrollment period in which he/she must fully meet the requirements of Brenau’s satisfactory academic progress policy. Or he/she may be placed on an academic plan designed to ensure compliance with SAP by a specific point in time.
If there are extenuating circumstances that prevent a student from making SAP for two semesters or enrollment periods, resulting in a status of Financial Aid Suspension, it is possible to appeal to the Office of Financial Aid for a review of those circumstances as they relate to the student’s academic standing. The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal Form and a typewritten explanation of the extenuating circumstance(s) must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid within two weeks of being notified of the Financial Aid Suspension status.
In addition to the SAP Appeal Form, a written financial aid appeal MUST include these two components:
- The extenuating circumstances that resulted in the student’s failure to make SAP. Acceptable circumstances on which a student could base an appeal are those that could not have been foreseen at the beginning of the semester or enrollment period, and that were completely beyond the students’ control. They could include serious injury, illness (physical or mental) of the student or an immediate family member, death of an immediate family member, or other extenuating circumstances. Appeals should include a detailed description of the applicable circumstances, along with related documentation (i.e., statement from physician or other health care provider, report from law enforcement or social services agency, copy of death certificate, etc.) that supports those circumstances.
- The positive changes that have occurred that will ensure the student can achieve SAP by the next evaluation. The student must include information regarding extenuating circumstances that will no longer exist or be an issue, as well as any additional measures that will be taken to ensure he/she will make SAP during the probationary semester or enrollment period, if granted.
The Director of Financial Aid, or another designated senior member of the Financial Aid Office will review each written appeal, along with relevant academic history. The student will be notified via his/her Brenau email account of the appeal decision. A student whose appeal is approved may receive financial aid for one probationary semester or enrollment period, after which another SAP review will be conducted. A student who fails to meet the academic requirements outlined in the Financial Aid Probation email notification will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension for a second and final time, after which there is no option for appeal.
Restoring Financial Aid Eligibility. A student whose appeal is not granted, or a student who cannot document qualifying extenuating circumstances, can only regain eligibility by meeting the requirements of Brenau’s SAP policy as stated above. Taking courses at the student’s expense (without financial aid), sitting out a semester, or successfully completing courses at another institution does not automatically restore financial aid eligibility. When a student has resolved the academic deficiencies that resulted in the termination of eligibility, he or she should contact the Office of Financial Aid and request a new SAP evaluation
Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan. This loan is available to graduate students who are enrolled at least half-time. Interest will accrue during periods of enrollment. Students may be eligible to borrow up to $20,500, but can not exceed the annual cost of attendance as determined by the Financial Aid Office. Note: the federal government assesses an origination fee amounting to 1%-2% of the Direct Loan amount borrowed by any eligible student. This fee is deducted up from from each scheduled loan disbursement; therefore; the net loan amount disbursed to a student borrower will be less than the loan amount the student requested. However, the amount the student must ultimately repay is the full amount requested and processed prior to the origination fee being taken off.
Federal Graduate PLUS Loan. Students pursuing a graduate degree may qualify to borrow funds through the Graduate PLUS Loan program. A Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be filed prior to applying for Graduate PLUS in order to first determine eligibility for the Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan. All Graduate PLUS applicants must undergo a credit check and be approved to borrow funds. The maximum amount an approved graduate student may borrow is the student’s cost of attendance, as determined by the Financial Aid Office, minus any other financial aid the student is expected to receive. Note: the federal government assesses an origination fee amounting to 4%-5% of the Graduate PLUS Loan amount borrowed by any eligible student. This fee is deducted up from from each scheduled loan disbursement; therefore; the net loan amount disbursed to a student borrower will be less than the loan amount the student requested. However, the amount the student must ultimately repay is the full amount requested and processed prior to the origination fee being taken off.
TEACH Grant. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is a federal student aid program that provides up to $4,000 per year to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families. In exchange for receiving a TEACH Grant, recipients must sign a document in which they agree to serve as a highly-qualified, full-time teacher in a high-need subject area for at least four years at a school serving low-income students. Failure to fulfill the teaching service requirements will cause the TEACH GRANT to convert to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan with interest charged from the date the grant funds were first disbursed.
The TEACH Grant is available to qualified graduate students enrolled in the Master of Education (M.Ed.) or Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) programs in the field of Special Education. Applicants must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and a Brenau TEACH Grant Request Form. Interested students are strongly encouraged to carefully review the details of this program online on the Teach Grant website prior to applying.
Veterans Administration Education Benefits. Any veteran, veteran’s dependent or active duty service person who qualifies for VA education benefits may apply for those benefits through the Financial Aid Office. The necessary forms should be obtained from that office, completed and returned prior to the beginning of the semester the student plans to initially enroll. All students who receive VA education benefits are expected to comply with the following Brenau University requirements:
- Students must comply with attendance regulations of Brenau University and the Veterans Administration and may not drop courses or stop attending classes without executing formal withdrawal procedures.
- Any change in a student’s semester course load should be reported to the Financial Aid Office immediately.
- Students should notify the Financial Aid Office when changing academic programs.
- Students must enroll in only those courses outlined on academic program plans prepared by Brenau University officials.
- Courses for which college credit has been granted by Brenau University cannot be repeated unless required by academic policy.
- Even though six (6) semester hours in any semester is considered full-time status for academic and financial aid eligibility purposes, if only one course (3 hours) is taken in each of the two evening or online sessions within the semester, VA will not pay benefits at a full-time rate, as the courses are non concurrent.
Brenau University is required to report to the Veterans Administration on attendance, progress toward education objectives and other matters affecting benefits. All benefits except for the Post-9/11 GI Bill are paid directly to the student.