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Effect of Withdrawal on Eligibility

If you drop courses or withdraw from classes, it can affect the total amount of financial aid you receive. You may also be required to return or repay any unearned aid. Continue to read for answers to some frequently asked questions.

Federal financial aid is offered with the expectation that students will complete the entire period of enrollment. Students “earn” a percentage of the funds that are disbursed with each day of class attendance. If a student fully withdraws for any reason, they may no longer be eligible for the full amount of aid they were scheduled to receive.

When a student who has received federal aid funds (Title IV Funds) leaves school before the end of the semester or period of enrollment, federal regulations require the University of South Carolina to calculate the percentage and amount of “unearned” financial aid funds that must be returned. Once a student has completed more than 60 percent of the enrollment period, they are considered to have earned all funding received. This calculation may have the effect of requiring the student who withdraws before this time frame to repay funds that have already been disbursed to the student or credited towards their current account for tuition, fees, housing and/or meals. Additionally, if you received Federal Direct Loans, you must complete Exit Loan Counseling. You can complete Exit Counseling at

If you plan to withdraw from school or drop below half-time, we encourage you to speak with your academic advisor and the Records Office.

For financial aid purposes, there are two types of withdrawals:  official and unofficial. An unofficial withdrawal happens if you stop attending classes instead of completing the official withdrawal process. In that situation, you would earn an "F", "W", or "WF" for your courses, which will have a negative impact on your future eligibility for financial aid.

If you no longer plan to attend, we encourage you to officially withdraw by contacting your academic advisor and the Records Office. Review the current academic year bulleting for more information.

Unearned federal aid is returned based on the following formula: 100 percent minus percent of aid earned multiplied by the amount of aid disbursed toward institutional charges.

When Federal aid is unearned, a student may owe an additional debit balance beyond what has been captured during the refund process. If a student owes an additional debit balance, they will be billed by the Business Office. Additionally, a student may need to repay Title IV funds that they receive over direct costs. If so, another invoice along with an Agreement to Repay will be mailed to the student, who will have approximately 10 days to respond. Students may either pay the balance in full or make payment arrangements. If the student fails to respond, make payment, or enter into an agreement to repay, the amount owed will be referred to the Department of Education for collection.

A student's withdrawal date is defined as:

  • The actual date the student began the withdrawal process; or,
  • The student's last date of recorded attendance; or,
  • The midpoint of the semester for a student who leaves without notifying the university; or,
  • The student’s last date of attendance based on documented academically related activity.

The institutional refund policy will be applied to all other non-federal aid received by the student unless instructed to do otherwise by the donor or sponsor of the funds.

If the amount disbursed to the student is less than the amount they earned, the Financial Aid Office will notify the student of their eligibility and give them the opportunity to receive that aid. If the amount disbursed to the student is greater than the amount they earned, then the unearned funds must be returned.

Aid will be returned in the following order (as required under regulation):

  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
  • Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
  • Federal Parent PLUS Loan
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • South Carolina state aid and resources

If a student owes a repayment, they are encouraged to immediately pay the amount in full to the campus Business Office. The Business Office will credit the funds to the appropriate account. However, if the student is unable to repay the amount in full, they may sign a repayment contract. The contract will allow the student to make monthly payments.

As mentioned above, an unofficial withdrawal occurs when the student doesn’t complete the official withdrawal process. Once it is determined that the student has unofficially withdrawn, a post-withdrawal calculation is performed to determine the portion of earned aid that the student was entitled to prior to withdrawing. Any outstanding institutional charges will be deducted from the post-withdrawal disbursement. Any remaining balance will first be used to repay any outstanding university charges and any subsequent balances will be refunded to the student or parent borrower as soon as possible but no later than 14 days after the calculation.

If a student receives financial aid, but never attends classes, the Financial Aid Office must return all disbursed funds to the respective federal, state, and institutional aid programs and the student may be billed if they receive a refund.


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