February 27, 2020

Financial Aid for fifth-year seniors

Walking out of the gates on commencement day is the ultimate goal of every student. As the time comes to schedule for the next semester, students meet with their advisors and choose classes that will fulfill their program requirements, working constantly toward graduation.

But sometimes even the most detailed four-year-plan can fall apart. On average, 8.5 percent of Capital University students remain in school for a fifth year.

For an incoming first-year class of 600, that would mean that 51 students would spend five years or more in school.

This can be a problem, because any institutional aid provided by the university is only awarded for a total of eight semesters. Without financial help, the rising price tag of tuition could be seen as an insurmountable obstacle.

But John Brown, director of financial aid, said that students have options when it comes to their ninth semester and beyond.

John Brown, Director of Financial Aid at Capital University.

While it is true that most originally awarded aid expires after eight semesters, any student who may be taking classes for longer is encouraged to file an appeal to potentially regain their financial benefits.

“We ask them to let us know what’s going on, why there’s been an issue,” Brown said. “Then we have a committee, made up of various people from campus, who evaluates the appeal.”

Students have to go through the appeals process for each semester over eight. The appeals are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and the committee, Brown said, is made up of representatives from different campus departments, including academic advising. 

The goal is to fully understand why a student has not been able to graduate as expected.

Also, students can be eligible for federal and state financial aid for up to 150 percent of their expected program length, according to Capital’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.

As long as students maintain a 2.0 GPA and complete two-thirds of their attempted credits every semester, they will remain eligible for the amount of governmental aid determined by the FAFSA, even after exceeding eight semesters.

Communication is crucial for making sure that the process of obtaining financial aid for a fifth year goes smoothly, Brown stresses. If a student knows at the beginning of spring semester that they will not be able to graduate by May, they should talk to financial aid as soon as they can to start the appeal process and consider their options.

“We want to make sure that we’re helping the students as much as possible,” Brown said.

Forms for appeal are available in the Office of Financial Aid, located in Yochum Hall.

  • Emily is a sophomore English literature major at Capital, and a reporter and distribution manager for the Chimes. When she's not carting papers around campus, Emily enjoys watching Jeopardy, bothering her cats, and eating mac and cheese. edietz@capital.edu.

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