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What Causes Financial Aid Suspension? Can You Get it Back?

There are several reasons as to why your financial aid may be suspended. This article outlines those reasons and explains what can be done if your financial aid is suspended.

If you're in school, chances are good you are relying on federal financial aid to fund your education. After all, the Federal Reserve reports more than half of young adults took on at least some debt to pay for school. If you're one of them, financial aid suspension could be devastating. 

Losing eligibility for student loans or grants could mean you're no longer able to continue your academic program. Worse, in some cases, it could trigger the start of your repayment period. This means you might soon have to begin making monthly payments on your student debt. 

If you're facing financial aid suspension, it's important to understand the cause of it -- and what to do about it. This guide will explain the most common reasons you could lose access to student loans and other sources of federal aid. It will also offer some tips on how to fix issues affecting your ability to fund your education. 

Most common reasons for financial aid suspension

There are seven common reasons why students face financial aid suspension. If you've been notified you're no longer eligible for help covering your educational costs, these are the most likely reasons why. 

1. You're not making satisfactory academic progress 

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP) is required to maintain eligibility for federal student aid. Each individual academic program can set their own standards for SAP. In general, schools will consider:

  • Your grade point average: Generally you must at least be passing your courses. Some schools require you to maintain a C average or better.
  • Whether you're completing enough credits to move towards graduation on schedule. In general, you'll need to successfully complete at least ⅔ of coursework and be on track to complete your degree within a reasonable time period. 
  • Whether you're repeating or withdrawing from courses. 

Schools typically review your academic progress at least annually to determine if you meet the SAP requirement. If you don't, you could lose eligibility for federal and state aid and other financial assistance your school provides. 

While some schools allow you to appeal your financial aid suspension, it's far easier to take action before you lose your funding. Talk with your professors about your options for getting help if you're struggling. 

2. You've dropped below half-time enrollment 

You must be enrolled at least half the time in your academic program in order to be eligible for financial aid. 

If you drop below half time, you'll need to increase your credit hours. You should do this quickly, as dropping below ½ time enrollment could trigger the start of your repayment obligations. 

3. You didn't submit your FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine eligibility for federal loans. Many states and schools also use it to assess whether you qualify for other kinds of financial aid. If you don't complete the FAFSA, you may not be offered any type of financial assistance at all. 

The FAFSA remains available until June 30 each year. If you didn't complete it before the academic year started, you should act as quickly as you can to submit the forms. And when the FAFSA first becomes available in October of each year, aim to submit it ASAP as some types of federal aid are limited. 

4. Your family income increased 

Your financial aid is determined by many factors, including parental income, assets, the number of people in your household, and the number of people in your family attending school at the same time. When you complete your FAFSA, your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is based on a formula that takes all of these factors into account. 

The financial aid available to you is based on both your EFC and the Cost of Attendance (COA) as determined by your school. A big increase in income could raise your EFC and reduce the amount of aid you're eligible for -- or even eliminate eligibility for most aid altogether.

While you can submit a financial aid suspension appeal if you feel that there are extenuating circumstances and your family can't actually contribute as much as expected, you may not be able to get your aid back if your circumstances changed. If that's the case, private student loans may bridge the gap when you aren't offered enough federal aid. 

5. You no longer meet the qualifying criteria for your financial aid

In some cases, you may have been receiving financial aid that was available only to freshmen. This is a common complaint students have, as some colleges offer more help initially in order to attract promising students – but don't necessarily guarantee the financial assistance for all four years of an academic program. 

In other situations, your financial aid may have been available only to people who were working towards a certain degree or who were members of a particular organization. If you changed your academic program or memberships, you could face financial aid suspension. 

If this happens to you, you'll need to seek out other sources of aid to make up for the funds that have become unavailable. 

6. You defaulted on other student debt

If you default on existing student loans, this can trigger a financial aid suspension. You will need to get out of default in order to regain your eligibility. 

7. You were convicted of a drug crime 

If you are convicted of a drug offense while receiving any federal student aid, you could face financial aid suspension. 

You may have the option to restore eligibility by completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or by agreeing to submit to two drug tests at random times that are administered by an approved rehabilitation program. 

Can you get back your aid after a financial aid suspension?

Your ability to recover your financial aid after a suspension will depend upon the reason why you lost eligibility. 

In some cases, you can appeal the suspension of your financial aid and potentially have it restored quickly. If your family started making too much money but you can submit a successful appeal showing there are extenuating circumstances that make school unaffordable, you might be able to get your aid restored right away. 

In other circumstances, you will need to take specific actions to get your aid back – and that may not always be easy. You may need to get out of default on loans, for example, or complete a drug rehabilitation program. Until you meet the requirements, you won't have access to federal aid.

What are your options if you can't undo a financial aid suspension?

If you can't restore access to federal financial aid, explore other means of funding your education. Private scholarships may be an option to look into. You can also apply for private student loans, as private lenders have different qualifying rules than the federal government.

Juno can help students get the best interest rate and terms possible on private student loans by getting a large group of students together and asking lenders to negotiate for their business. Join Juno today to find out more about how you can get help finding affordable student loans after a financial aid suspension. 

Christy Rakoczy Bieber

Written By

Christy Rakoczy Bieber

Christy Rakoczy Bieber is a full-time personal finance and legal writer. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Law and the University of Rochester. Christy was previously a college teacher with experience writing textbooks and serving as a subject matter expert.


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