Please contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have questions about Return to Title IV Funds at CU Boulder. We can provide a draft Return of Title IV funds calculation to help you determine the financial impact of withdrawing.

What is Title IV Aid?

Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended in 1998, (Title IV, and HEA program) establishes general rules that apply to federal student financial assistance programs. For purposes of Return of Title IV Funds, these programs include:

  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOGs)
  • Direct Loans
  • Direct Plus Loans

Withdrawal Process

The Return of Title IV funds policy applies to any student who cancels enrollment, withdraws, drops to zero hours, takes a leave of absence, or is dismissed. This policy applies to students who discontinue enrollment in all classes on or after the first day of the term. When you withdraw, two separate calculations must take place:

  1. A refund of tuition and fees must be calculated by the Bursar’s Office.
  2. The Office of Financial Aid must calculate the Return of Title IV aid.

If you cancel your registration before the first day of class, this policy will not apply to you. Also, if you drop some but not all of your classes, these policies will not apply; however, you should notify the Office of Financial Aid because your continued financial aid eligibility may be affected. Contact the Registrar’s Office for information on withdrawing. Your withdrawal date is the date you submit your withdrawal form to the Office of the Registrar.

Unofficial Withdrawal

The Office of Financial Aid reviews grades at the end of every term. If a student receives all non-passing grades (F, I, W, or no grade), participation cannot be verified and as a result they are determined to have unofficially withdrawn. The Office of Financial Aid will contact professors and use the campus learning management system to determine if there was any participation in class activities. If participation cannot be verified, then all aid must be canceled. If participation is confirmed in at least one course, then the withdrawal point is the 50% point of the term, or the last date of participation that can be confirmed after the midpoint.

Unofficial withdrawals are determined within 30 days of the end of term, and the return to Title IV calculation within 45 days of the end of the term.

Refund of Tuition and Fees

Based upon the date you discontinue enrollment, you may receive a full or partial refund of your tuition and fees. This refund will not impact the Return calculation, but does affect the amount of money you may owe back to the University for withdrawing. View the Registrar's withdrawal calendar by semester.

Return of Title IV Funds (Earned versus Unearned Aid)

Within 45 days from when you discontinue enrollment, the Office of Financial Aid calculates the amount of financial aid you have earned prior to the date the action was filed. Any aid received in excess of the earned amount is considered unearned. The unearned financial aid must be returned to the respective federal programs no later than 45 days from when the student separated from CU Boulder. The calculation is based upon only the amount of Title IV Aid for which you were eligible. The State of Colorado and CU Boulder policy use a similar formula to calculate how much state and university aid is earned if the student discontinued enrollment before the end of the semester.

The responsibility to pay unearned aid is shared by CU Boulder and the student. CU Boulder’s share is the lesser of the amount of Title IV funds that the student does not earn or the amount of institutional charges that the student incurred for the payment period multiplied by the percentage of funds that was not earned. The student’s share is the difference between the total unearned aid amount and the institution’s share. The institution’s share is allocated among the Title IV HEA programs, in an order specified by statute, before the student’s share. Once the student’s share is allocated, any amount owed to a grant program is reduced by half per the 50% grant protection rule.  The student share of loans are repaid by the student according to the terms of the student’s promissory note.

The amount of earned financial aid is calculated on a daily basis from the first day of classes. The process uses calendar rather than business days. Earned aid is determined by the percentage of the number of days attended before enrollment ended divided by the total number of days in the term (excluding any breaks of five days or more).

A student is considered to have earned all of their financial aid if they complete 60% of the days in the term and attendance is confirmed.

See examples for calculating the percent of earned aid below.

Once the earned and unearned aid percentages are determined, the next step is to calculate the dollar amount of unearned aid that must be returned to the financial aid programs. The return amount is determined by multiplying the unearned aid percentage by the total of all Title IV aid received.

Unearned Aid Percentage multiplied by Total of all Title IV Funds Received = Total Unearned Aid

The amount of unearned aid that must be returned by CU Boulder is a percentage of the institutional charges (tuition, fees, on-campus housing) for the term. Once the dollar amount of the school portion of the Return is determined, it is compared to the total amount of all unearned aid. If the school portion is less than the total unearned aid, then CU Boulder must return the amount of the school portion. If the calculated school portion exceeds the total unearned aid, then CU Boulder must return the amount of the total unearned aid.

Financial aid will be returned to the aid program from which it came. If returned to a loan program, your outstanding balance will be reduced by the amount of the return. Aid will be returned in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidized Direct Loan
  2. Subsidized Direct Loan
  3. Direct PLUS Loan (Graduate Student)
  4. Direct PLUS Loan (Parent)
  5. Federal Pell Grants
  6. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  7. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

After the school returns the correct amount of aid, any amount of the total unearned aid that remains becomes the student portion of the Return. The student portion of the Return is calculated by subtracting the amount of the school Return from the total unearned aid.

Total Unearned Aid minus School Return Amount = Student Portion of Return

Unearned federal grant funds are returned on behalf of the student and the returned funds are considered a debt to the institution. Students may work with the Bursar’s Office to pay any outstanding debts; however, a student must not have an outstanding balance on their account upon re-entry.

Federal Formula used for Colorado State Grants and Institutional Aid

Whether or not you are receiving any of the types of federal aid listed, students that received any non-federal aid (listed below) are required to go through a similar calculation to determine the portion of these funds that are unearned. Aid is returned in the following order:

  1. Institutional grants: CU Promise, CU Boulder Grants, Gold Grants, Donor Grants or Supplemental Grants, Student Fee Grants
  2. Colorado Student Grant or Colorado Graduate Grant
  3. Institutional Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant

Any refund and/or repayment of institutional, athletic, private and third-party scholarships is determined by the donor.

Students may be eligible for a late or post-withdrawal disbursement if they have accepted aid that did not disburse at the time of withdrawal from CU Boulder.

If eligible, the Office of Financial Aid will send notification of the action required to either accept or decline a portion, or all, of the late disbursement. The student or parent has 14 days to respond instructing CU Boulder to make a post-withdrawal disbursement.  If the student or parent does not respond within the 14 day timeframe, CU Boulder may make the late disbursement upon request at a later date.  The student is notified in writing with the outcome of the late request.  Post-withdrawal disbursements cannot be made after 180 days of the date of determination that a student withdrew or ceased attending.

If you cancel your registration prior to the beginning of the term you will not be considered a student for that term. If this occurs, you are not entitled to receive any form of financial aid during the term and your aid will be canceled and returned to the appropriate programs.

If cancellation takes place close to the beginning of the term and you have already received financial aid to cover living expenses, you will be required to repay the entire amount received. 

Notification to student

Once the Return to Title IV Funds calculation has occurred, the Office of Financial Aid will notify the student of the results of the calculation and the aid that was returned.

The Bursar’s Office will notify the student of any outstanding balance now due to the institution as a result of the adjustment to tuition, fees and other miscellaneous charges, federal Title IV aid returned based on the Return of Title IV calculation, and any returns of institutional, state, or private grants or scholarships.

Withdrawing may affect your eligibility to receive financial aid in subsequent terms. Notify the Office of Financial Aid if you are planning to return.

If your loans should go into repayment once you withdraw from school, it is important to make your payments on time to prevent default. If you default on a loan, you could lose your eligibility for any future financial aid.

Withdrawal from school may affect your Satisfactory Academic Progress standing and future eligibility for financial aid.

Sample of Return to Title IV Calculation

This is a sample of a 2017-18 resident undergraduate student who withdraws during the fourth week of the fall semester:

  • Number of days with class participation: 25
  • Number of days in the semester: 106
  • Earned Financial Aid: 23.6%
  • Unearned Financial Aid: 76.4%
Type of Aid Financial Aid Disbursed Fall Semester Total Aid Earned (student keeps) Total Aid Unearned (returned to program)
CU Gold Grant $1,000 $236 $764
Colorado State Grant $1,500 $354 $1,146
Unsubsidized Stafford Loan $990 0 $990
Subsidized Stafford Loan $1,732 0 $1,732
Federal Pell Grant $2,220 $1,815 $405
Total $10,192 $2,405 $7,787