IPFW Financial Aid Office
Satisfactory Academic Progress Update - Fall 2011
The Department of Education (ED) has introduced a series of rule change to Title IV aid called Program Integrity. As the name indicates, the purpose is to strengthen the integrity of the Title IV aid regulations. It achieves that goal by holding students accountable for their academics earlier in their careers. Among the changes made to the programs are the newly established standards for the frequency and type of monitoring required for students who do not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress. No changes have been made to the Standards of Progress that require a 67% completion rate, minimum GPA and the 150% rule.
The Federal requirement for implementation is the next enrollment period beginning after July 1, 2011. For IPFW that means the Fall 2011 term.
The new regulations state that we must assess each student’s progress at the end of every term of enrollment. Former rules allowed a yearly assessment of each progress towards their degree. Additionally, there are now defined monitoring terms that are tied to the semester-by-semester review. Effective Fall 2011, as soon as our assessment shows that the student is not meeting standards, the student will be placed on Warning status. If they do not resolve their academic problem in their next term of enrollment, that student will be placed in financial aid Suspension and ineligible to receive funding.
The law states that a student can regain aid eligibility in two ways. They can enroll without aid, and become eligible again by doing well enough to bring their academic work into compliance. Or, they can enroll and receive aid if they successfully Appeal their suspension. Appeals will still require a personal statement and documentation of extraordinary circumstances that has affected their performance, but now the law requires that they also have an academic plan that will bring them back to meeting standards and then lead them to graduation. Once a plan is constructed, it must be monitored until the student meets all standards of progress.
It is this requirement for academic planning that takes this process beyond the scope of the Financial Aid office. We reached out to the advising community and together, we have created a process that serves the students, respects the law, and is mindful of the workload in the advising offices. The academic plan, created and maintained in the advising office, will be regarded by the financial aid office as the advisor's binding recommendation for the student.
We considered the various means available to channel the students through the process. The advisors we worked with saw the opportunity presented by the “Warning” status; it will be the first recorded indicator of a student in trouble. It was clear that pro-active work with this group could mean greater retention of our at-risk students, coupled with a decreased incidence of financial aid suspensions. Earlier intervention will also lower debt levels of these students.
The approach we have constructed to identify these students for each unit uses the three status indicators of Warning, Suspension, and Appeal. At the end of each term, we will send three lists of students to each advising office:
Federal guidance states "institutions are able to use the financial aid warning status to do any sort of intervention with a student that they deem appropriate during the period of time the student is in that status, including help them to prepare an academic plan or refer them to other student support services." We believe that if departments are willing to aggressively work with this warning group they can significantly impact retention, as well as reduce the size of List 2, suspended students, and thus relieve their obligation to monitor the third list, of students who are on appeal
For all of us here at IPFW, every possible effort is underway to make this a data driven process that will provide advisors with the tools they need to expedite their review and respond in the most efficient manner possible.