Return to Title IV Funds Policy


The Return to Title IV Funds Policy applies to all federal aid recipients who completely withdraw from the university or cease attending all classes during the term of enrollment, after federal aid has been disbursed.  Federal financial aid recipients considering withdrawing from all courses are advised to contact the Office of Financial Aid prior to withdrawal.
PLEASE NOTE: This policy would not apply to students who withdraw from some classes but continue participating in and ultimately earn credit for their remaining classes. However, withdrawing from any classes can still impact future federal financial aid eligibility.  Please refer to our Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for more information.  


Federal financial aid (Title IV aid) is awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the federal aid is awarded. When a student withdraws or ceases attendance, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds that they were originally scheduled to receive.

There are two types of withdrawals that fall under the Return of Title IV Funds federal regulations:

1. Official Withdrawals:
Students can officially withdraw from the school by dropping all registered courses for the term through their PAWS account.  Students can contact the Office of the Registrar at (251) 460-6251 or by email at registrar@southalabama.edu for more information regarding the withdrawal process.

2. Unofficial Withdrawals:
If a student begins to attend class, receives federal Title IV aid, but then ceases to attend class without providing official notification to the University; the federal government considers this to be an "unofficial withdrawal." This includes students who earn failing grades in all classes; if it is determined the student ceased attending classes prior to the end of the payment period or term. The withdrawal date for students who unofficially withdraw is the last date of class participation reported by the student’s instructor(s). The refund rules for Title IV aid recipients who withdraw are then followed to determine the unearned portion of Title IV aid that must be returned to the appropriate aid program(s).

When a student is considered to have completely withdrawn during a term of enrollment in which he/she has begun attendance and received federal Title IV aid, federal regulations require the University to perform a calculation to determine the amount of earned and unearned Title IV aid awarded to the student. A student is only eligible to retain the percentage of Title IV aid originally disbursed that is equal to the percentage of the term of enrollment actually completed by the student.

Example: If a student completed 30% of the term, the student would earn 30% of the aid they were originally scheduled to receive. The unearned Title IV aid must then be returned to the appropriate federal aid program(s). If more than 60% of the term of enrollment has been completed by the student, the student is considered to have earned all awarded aid for the term and no Title IV aid needs to be returned.

In accordance with federal regulations, unearned Title IV aid shall be returned to these programs in the following order:

  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
  • Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan
  • Federal Direct Parent or Graduate PLUS Loan
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Other Title IV Programs

The unearned portion of the aid will be charged back to the student’s billing account and must be repaid by the student. A hold will be placed on the student’s account by the Office of Student Accounting until the outstanding balance is repaid.   If it is determined that a portion of a student’s federal financial aid must be returned due to completely withdrawing from the school, an email notification will be sent to the student’s JagMail account. 

It is important to note that the requirements for the Return to Federal Financial Aid (Title IV aid) program funds when a student withdraws are separate from any refund policy that the school may have.  If a student's required return to Title IV program(s) is greater than the posted University refund at the time of withdrawal, the student will owe the difference to the University. Therefore, a student may still owe funds to the school to cover unpaid institutional charges and/or any federal aid funds that the school was required to return.