There are many obvious reasons why every college student should remain academically engaged throughout the duration of his or her time in college. To obtain a degree or certificate, you must excel academically and complete all the course work that is required. However, some students may not necessarily realize that many colleges actually make academic engagement a requirement to receive Federal Student Aid (FSA) disbursements.
The Department of Education mandates that schools can only disburse FSA to students who demonstrate that they are attending college in an effort to receive a degree or certification. It is up to the individual school to determine how academic engagement is measured. For schools that take attendance (mostly traditional brick and mortar schools), measuring academic engagement is fairly easy. If a student is not attending classes regularly, then he or she should be deemed ineligible for FSA. If you already received FSA funds, they can be returned to the government, and you will have a balance due with the school.
For schools that do not take attendance (such as American Public University), academic engagement has to be measured in a different way. In the student handbook, APU details that a student has only made academic progress in a course “if the student has completed at least 60% of due assignments, either at the end of the course or at a check point in the course.” If a review of a student’s activity shows that he or she is not making academic progress, he or she will be deemed ineligible for FSA for any classes in their current semester. Remember, all students who wish to use FSA must submit a FAFSA, which has a section the student must sign certifying that they are only using FSA for educational purposes. In the future, the student could become eligible again if he or she demonstrates sufficient academic intent.
Most of the money that college students receive through FSA is funded by tax payers. The Department of Education has made strict rules to ensure that FSA is awarded only to those that truly deserve it. By remaining academically engaged throughout the duration of college, a student is demonstrating that he or she does deserve those funds. On the flip side, any student who is not demonstrating academic intent does not deserve FSA disbursements.
By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS