The federal government mandates that students who withdraw or take a leave of absence from all classes before the 60% point of the semester may only keep the financial aid they have "earned" up to the time of withdrawal/leave. Title IV funds that were disbursed in excess of the "earned" amount must be returned by the college and/or the student to the Federal Government. This could result in the student owing aid funds to the college, the government, or both.
To determine the amount of aid the student has earned up to the time of the withdrawal/leave, the Office of Student Financial Assistance divides the number of calendar days classes were held prior to the withdrawal/leave period by the total number of calendar days in the semester (less any scheduled breaks of five days or more). The resulting percentage is then multiplied by the total federal funds that were disbursed (either to the student's college account or to the student directly by check) for the semester. This calculation determines the amount earned by the student, which he or she may keep (for example, if the student attended 25% of the term, the student will have earned 25% of the aid disbursed). The unearned amount (total aid disbursed less the earned amount) must be returned to the Federal Government by the college and/or the student. The Office of Student Financial Assistance notifies students who are required to return funds to the government and provides them with instructions.
If the college is unable to determine a withdrawal/leave rate, the law requires the Office of Student Financial Assistance to use the midpoint (50%) of the semester.
Funds that are returned to the Federal Government are used to reduce outstanding balances in individual federal programs. Financial aid returned by the college or the student must be allocated in the following order:
Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan
Federal Subsidized Direct Loan
Federal Perkins Loan
Federal Direct PLUS Loan
Federal Pell Grant
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
Students whose circumstances require that they withdraw or take leave from all classes are strongly encouraged to contact both MassArt's Office of Student Financial Assistance and the academic advising office. At this time, the financial consequences of withdrawing from all classes can be explained and clearly illustrated.