Uniform national standards and methodology determine financial need. Financial aid awards from St. Olaf College are based on a packaging policy established by the Financial Aid Committee. The packaging policy is the basis for institutional scholarship and grant aid. All financial assistance is awarded on an annual basis, using costs for a full-time, on-campus student, unless otherwise indicated. If you are in attendance for less than an entire academic year, you will receive a proportional amount of the original award.
Merit-based scholarships in your package are renewed based on criteria outlined on our website and were also outlined in the scholarship offer that was sent to you earlier. For need-based institutional gift aid (St. Olaf Scholarships and Grants), if comparable need is demonstrated from year to year, you can expect that that institutional gift aid will be fully renewed each year. You must re-apply each year if you wish to be considered for financial assistance. Renewal is not automatic. You will receive notification from our office and the Department of Education each year in January or February to remind you to renew your FAFSA and complete the St. Olaf Online Financial Aid Application.
Four Year Commitment
Our financial aid program is designed to assist you in completing four years of study at St. Olaf College. Students enrolled for a 9th or 10th semester are not eligible for institutional scholarship and grant programs and therefore may have a large loan component in a fifth (and subsequent) year of enrollment.
Full Time Status
Your financial aid award has been computed on the basis of full-time enrollment. At St. Olaf, full-time status is defined as 3 or more courses per semester, with 4 courses being the normal course load. If, at any time during a term, you consider dropping to a course load of less than 3, contact the Office of Financial Aid to determine the changes that might be made to your financial aid award. If you are a MN State Grant recipient, you must complete 7.5 credits a year, with minimum enrollment each semester of 3.75 credits to be considered full-time. Interim enrollment can be counted towards either Fall or Spring semester’s 3.75 credits. If you do not meet this criteria, your MN State Grant award will be reduced. A student becomes ineligible for a state grant after enrollment in 8 full-time semesters of post-secondary education at any institution whether the student was paid a state grant or not.
Outside Scholarship Policy
Often, students receive grants and scholarships from sources outside of St. Olaf. Federal and state regulations require the incorporation of any outside aid into your need-based financial aid award. Please inform our office of all grants and scholarships you expect to receive that do not appear on your financial aid award. The college policy regarding the incorporation of outside aid is as follows: Outside scholarships will be used to reduce self-help in the following order — all of the Federal Perkins Loan will be eliminated first, and then reductions will be made evenly in the Student Employment and Subsidized Federal Loan programs. If a student receives enough outside aid to completely eliminate the self-help portion of the financial aid package, and the student’s total costs are fully funded, then need-based St. Olaf gift aid will be reduced.
Changes in Financial Situation
We assume your family’s financial situation will continue as reflected in your application for financial aid. If, however, your family does experience a financial reversal or crisis, be sure to let us know so that we may reconsider your award.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
To maintain eligibility for all types of financial aid, students must make satisfactory academic progress towards a degree. The standards for maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) are based on federal regulations and may differ from standards developed by the Registrar’s Office and the faculty. The standards, outlined below, are cumulative and include all periods of enrollment, whether or not the student received financial aid.
Qualitative Standard of Progress: All students are required to meet the minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) shown on the chart below.
Quantitative Standard of Progress: All students are required to complete the minimum number of courses in the time frame outlined in the chart below.
Four years or eight semesters is the standard time frame for completing a degree. St. Olaf grants and scholarships are awarded for eight semesters only. Students who enroll in a ninth or tenth semester may be eligible for federal loans and alternative education loans. All federal financial aid recipients are expected to complete their degree at St. Olaf within an acceptable period of time. The maximum time frame for federal financial aid recipients is 150% of the published program requirements. If, at any time it can be determined that the student is unable to complete the program within the maximum time frame, the student will be disqualified from receiving federal and state aid at that time. The Financial Aid Office will notify the student prior to the student reaching the maximum time frame.
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Full-time Status: Full-time status is defined as a minimum of 3 courses per semester, with 4 courses being the normal course load. Minnesota State Grant recipients must complete 7.5 courses per year, with minimum enrollment each semester of 3.75 credits to be considered full-time. Interim enrollment can be counted towards one of the semester’s 3.75 courses.
Withdrawals: Courses from which a student withdraws are not counted as successfully completed courses for Satisfactory Academic Progress.
Incompletes: If the Registrar grants a student an Incomplete for a course and the student needs the course or courses to maintain the minimum required courses for Satisfactory Academic Progress, the student may continue to receive financial aid in the subsequent semester. If the student does not successfully complete the course or courses in the time frame defined by the Registrar, the student may not be eligible to receive financial aid in the next semester.
Transfer and Summer School Courses: Courses that the Registrar allows a student to transfer to St. Olaf for credit may be counted towards SAP. A student who has not completed the minimum number of courses by the end of spring semester to receive aid in the fall, may take courses during summer session at St. Olaf or transfer a summer session course from another institution. When the grade for the summer session course is posted to the student’s transcript, the student will be eligible to receive financial aid for the fall semester if the student then meets the minimum standards for SAP.
Repeated Courses: If a student repeats a course, only one credit will be counted for SAP, and the second grade will be used for cumulative GPA for Satisfactory Academic Progress.
The Financial Aid Office will evaluate Satisfactory Academic Progress after each period of enrollment (Fall/Interim, Spring, and Summer if applicable).
Failure to Meet Standards
Warning: If at the end of the evaluation period a student has not met either the qualitative standard (GPA) or quantitative standard (number of completed courses), the student will be placed on Warning for one evaluation period. Students on Warning are eligible to receive financial aid.
If at the end of the Warning period a student who has been on Warning has met both the qualitative standard (GPA) and the quantitative standard (number of completed courses), the Warning status is ended and the student is returned to good standing.
Suspension: If at the end of the Warning period a student who has been on Warning status HAS NOT met both the qualitative standard (GPA) and the qualitative standard (number of completed courses), or the maximum time frame standard, the student shall be placed on Financial Aid Suspension and will not be eligible to receive financial aid.
Appeals and Probation
Appeals: A student who fails to make Satisfactory Academic Progress and is placed on Financial Aid Suspension has the right to appeal based on special, unusual, or extenuating circumstances causing undue hardship such as a death in the family, student’s injury or illness, or other special circumstances as determined by St. Olaf.
Appeals must be submitted by the student in writing to the Financial Aid Office. The appeal must include an explanation of the special, unusual, or extenuating circumstances causing undue hardship that prevented the student from making Satisfactory Academic Progress. The appeal must also include what has changed in the student’s situation that would allow the student to demonstrate Satisfactory Academic Progress at the end of the next evaluation period. Supporting documentation beyond the written explanation is strongly encouraged.
Appeals will be considered by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee. Appeals that are approved must contain an academic plan that, if followed, ensures the student would be able to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress standards by a specific point in time. Academic plans put in place for grade point average deficiency will require a minimum term GPA of 2.0 during the probation term and all plans put in place for completion deficiency will require a term of 100% completion.
Probationary Status: A student who has successfully appealed shall be placed on Financial Aid Probation for one evaluation period. If, at the end of the next evaluation period, a student on probation status:
- Has met the grade point and completion standards, the student shall be returned to good standing.
- Has not met the grade point and/or completion standards but has met the conditions specified in the student’s academic plan, the student will retain his/her financial aid eligibility.
- Has not met the grade point and completion standards and has also not met the terms and conditions specified in his/her academic plan, the student shall be re-suspended immediately upon completion of the evaluation.
Notification of Status and Appeal Results
Status Notification: Students are notified in writing (letter or email) when evaluation of Satisfactory Academic Progress results in warning, suspension, or probation. The notice will include the conditions of the current status and the conditions necessary to regain eligibility for financial aid. Notice of suspension also includes the right and process necessary to appeal suspension.
Appeal Result Notification: Students are notified in writing (letter or email) of the results of all appeals. Approved appeals include the conditions under which the appeal is approved and any conditions necessary to retain eligibility for financial aid. Denied appeals include the reason for denial and the process to appeal the denial.
A student who has been suspended from financial aid eligibility may be reinstated after an appeal has been approved or the minimum cumulative GPA and completion standard have been achieved.