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College Q&A: Changes to financial aid rules coming for students

Aug. 20, 2011 at 3:20 a.m.


By Ken Cooke

With the changes to federal regulations, has the University of Houston-Victoria had to change the way it administers financial aid?

In accordance with revised regulations, universities adopt their own standards for eligibility to receive federal, state or local aid, though most all concentrate on three areas: grade-point average, the pace of progress to degree completion and the number of attempted credit hours.

Carolyn Mallory, UHV's financial aid director, said undergraduate students must maintain a 2.0 GPA at the university to receive financial aid, while graduate students must maintain a 3.0 GPA. That applies to any type of aid, whether it is a federal Pell Grant or student loan, a state grant or local scholarship and grant aid.

For example, if a UHV student falls below the 2.0 mark, he is given a financial aid warning and has one semester to get his grades up. If he fails to raise his grades to meet the GPA requirement, he is suspended from financial aid eligibility. He may file an appeal stating that there were mitigating circumstances that caused his grades to fall, such as a death in the family or serious illness.

The student must show how he plans to get his grades back on track. If the appeal is approved, the student will be placed on financial aid probation. The UHV Satisfactory Academic Progress Committee may require the student to meet certain academic plan stipulations in order to continue on probation for more than one term.

One of the recent financial aid policy revisions included a change that will be implemented this fall, Mallory said. The graduate student pace of progression will increase from 62 percent to 67 percent. That means students must complete two of every three enrolled classes to continue receiving assistance.

Undergraduates also are required to complete at least 67 percent of courses they attempt.

Finally, UHV undergraduates may not receive financial aid for more than 180 attempted hours. The cap for graduate students is 68 hours. This discourages switching majors more than once or twice, and it encourages students to focus on completing a degree.

Mallory said about 60 percent of UHV students receive some type of financial aid.

Given recent austerity measures at the federal level, it would be reasonable to assume more changes are on the way for federal student aid. But for now, this outlines the UHV Satisfactory Academic Progress policy.

Ken Esten Cooke is the communications specialist at the University of Houston-Victoria. If you have a question about UHV, contact him at 361-570-4296 or cookek@uhv.edu.

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