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 January. Graduate students who plan to apply for federal student loans should complete a FAFSA as early as possible after January 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.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Federal and state regulations require institutions to establish standards of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for recipients of financial aid. The purpose of SAP is to measure students’ progress toward completion of the specific educational program in which they are enrolled. The Office of Financial Aid is responsible for ensuring that all financial aid recipients are meeting these standards. This requirement is accomplished through an evaluation that occurs at the end of each semester (fall, spring, and summer).
A satisfactory academic progress policy consists of two standards– qualitative and quantitative. Below is a description of both of these standards.
Qualitative Standard. This standard assesses quality of academic work as measured by grades and grade point average (GPA). A graduate student must be in “good standing” with Brenau University, as evidenced by 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 more than one grade below a B while enrolled in a graduate program, with the exception of students who are taking undergraduate courses as prerequisites. Those required undergraduate courses will not count toward academic standing for graduate students; however, grades in those courses will be factored into the cumulative GPA for the graduate programs.
Quantitative Standard. This standard establishes the rate at which a student must progress to ensure completion of the 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 an overall rate of progress 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, divided by hours attempted. Attempted hours are those credit hours for which a student is still registered after the last date on which dropped classes can be totally eliminated from a student’s semester (and transcript) as published by the Brenau Registrar. Earned hours are successfully completed courses in which grades of A, B, C, D, or P are awarded, as long as credit it earned. Withdrawals (W), incompletes (I), and failed courses (F) are considered attempted hours but not earned hours. The following points should be noted with regard to rate of progress calculations:
- Withdrawals, incompletes, and failed courses are considered attempted hours but not earned hours. If an incomplete course impacts a student’s satisfactory academic progress standing, it is the student’s responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office when a final grade has been earned.
- Audited courses are not considered attempted or 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. 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. Regulations that govern federal student aid programs limit a student’s ability to receive financial aid to not more than 150% of the credit hours required to complete his or her specific educational program. For example, if a graduate student requires 30 hours for completion, a student may attempt up to a maximum of 45 hours in that program. Frequent course drops or withdrawal from school, changes of major, and failed or repeated courses could jeopardize financial aid eligibility. All hours attempted at Brenau University, as well as those credits accepted on transfer from previous institutions toward the students’ degree program will count toward the maximum time frame. A student who has completed sufficient hours and required courses to complete his or her degree program is no longer eligible to receive financial aid even if there is some other obstacle such as a required minimum GPA that is preventing graduation.
Important Note: A recipient of federal student aid may not enroll in courses generally not required for his or 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 graduate student to repeat courses in which they have earned a grade of B or higher for the sole purpose of obtaining financial aid or a more desirable financial aid package.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Evaluation Process. Academic records of financial aid recipients will be reviewed at the end of each semester to determine if students are maintaining the standards established in Brenau University’s 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 graduate student who has not achieved the required GPA, has earned one grade below a B, 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.
- Financial Aid Suspension is the status assigned to a graduate student who, after one semester on financial aid warning, still has a deficient GPA, has earned a second grade below a B, or has not met the rate of progress standards. This 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 (outlined below).
- Financial Aid Probation is the status assigned to a graduate student who failed to make satisfactory academic progress, but submitted a qualifying appeal, and had eligibility for financial aid reinstatement. A student placed on financial aid probation is eligible for financial aid for one semester 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.
Appeal procedures. A financial aid recipient who has lost eligibility after failure to make SAP during a Financial Aid Warning semester may appeal to the Financial Aid Committee to request a semester of Financial Aid Probation. Appeals should be submitted in writing to the Director of Financial Aid.
A financial aid appeal must include these two components:
- The extenuating circumstances that caused the student to fail to make SAP. Circumstances that may be considered are those events/situations that are out of the students’ control, such as serious injury, illness (physical or mental) of the student or an immediate family member, death of an immediate family member, or other mitigating circumstances. Appeals should include a description of the applicable circumstances, including documentation (from a physician or other health care provider, law enforcement agency, social services agency, etc.) that supports those circumstances.
- What has changed that will allow the student to make SAP at the next evaluation. The student must include information regarding extenuating circumstances that will no longer exist, as well as any additional measures that will be taken to ensure he or she will make SAP during the probation semester, if granted.
The Financial Aid Committee will review each written appeal, along with relevant academic history. The Director of Financial Aid will notify the student of the committee’s decision in writing either by mail or via the student’s Brenau email account. A student whose appeal is approved may receive financial aid for one probationary semester, after which another SAP review will be conducted.
Restoring Financial Aid Eligibility. A student whose appeal is not granted, or a student who does not have 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 taking 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 Financial Aid Office 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.
Federal PLUS Loan for Graduate Students. 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.
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.) and Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) programs. 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 Educational Benefits Any veteran, veteran’s dependent or active duty service person who qualifies for VA educational 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 educational 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.
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.