If you receive federal financial aid and choose to drop some or all of your classes for the semester, federal regulations require us to determine if any of your financial aid must be returned. View the Federal Return of Title IV Funds Refund Policy for additional information on how a withdrawal may affect current financial aid.

Details on the withdrawal process can be found on the Registrar's website. For deadline dates to withdraw and the percentage of tuition that will be refunded, review the Academic Calendar and Withdrawal Tuition Responsibility.

Dates & Deadlines

Withdrawal Date – the date in which you began the withdrawal process, which can either be through dropping all your classes via MyUI or by requesting to withdraw through your school or college’s dean’s office.

Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) Deadline – we have 45 days from withdrawal date to return the necessary funds.

Return of Funds Calculation

The federal formula determines that financial aid is earned in direct proportion to the time enrolled. For a student who withdraws, the percentage of federal financial aid to be returned is equal to the number of calendar days remaining in the semester divided by the total number of calendar days in the semester. For example, if a student withdraws after completing 25% of the term, then they have earned 25% of their federal financial aid for the term and must return the remaining 75%.

A student who withdraws after 60% of the term has passed is considered to have earned 100% of their federal aid for the term and is not required to return any of their federal aid.

We strongly encourage students to meet with a financial aid advisor to discuss the implications of withdrawing.


Our office processes both the amounts to be returned by the school and those amounts to be returned by the student. The student will be sent a letter informing them that due to their withdrawal, funds have been returned on the student’s behalf and they now owe money to their University Bill (U-Bill). The return of federal financial aid is based on the type of financial aid disbursed and occurs in the following order:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
  • Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan
  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loan (for graduate students)
  • Direct PLUS Loan (for parents of undergraduate students)
  • Pell Grant
  • SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant)
  • TEACH Grant (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant)

If the student is responsible for returning a loan, the canceled loan amount will appear on the student's U-Bill. Any loans that are not reduced or cancelled would begin repayment after the grace period for the loan (generally six months) is completed.

If the student is responsible for returning a grant, the student will incur a charge on their U-Bill. Federal return of funds regulations require that the student only repay one-half of the grant amount that is unearned. Any refund or repayment obligation will be clearly outlined for the student in writing and will also appear as a charge on the U-Bill.

Impact of Student Withdrawal

Student withdrawals may occur:

  • officially when the student initiates the withdrawal in MyUI or goes to the UI Service Center at 2700 UCC or
  • unofficially when the student stops attending classes but does not formally initiate the withdrawal through the Office of the Registrar. To understand the impact of an unofficial withdrawal, view the Unofficial Withdrawal Policy.

Students who withdraw from the University may experience a reduction in their financial aid and may be required to refund or repay a portion of their financial aid. For additional information on how a student withdrawal may affect current financial aid, view the Federal Return of Title IV Funds Refund Policy.

Students who withdraw from the University with a reduced tuition rate who received institutional financial aid and federal aid will often have to repay financial aid because the federal aid, grants, and scholarships will be adjusted. Some funds (private scholarships, State of Iowa Guard, etc.) must be totally returned to the donor in the case of a student withdrawal.

Some scholarships require continuous full-time enrollment. If an undergraduate student withdraws their registration or drops below 12 hours during the academic year, they would not be continuously enrolled full-time. Be sure to check the eligibility requirements for any scholarships/offers you are receiving.

If a student with current or past loans withdraws, the Office of Student Financial Aid is responsible for notifying the student's Federal loan lender of the date of the withdrawal. The student is responsible for notifying the private or alternative loan lender of the date of the withdrawal. The grace period for Federal Unsubsidized and Subsidized Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, and HEAL Loans will begin on the day of the student's withdrawal from the University. Questions regarding grace periods or repayment status should be directed to the lender.

A student who withdraws while on Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) probation will not meet their probationary requirement and will become ineligible for future financial aid without an approved SAP appeal.

Students who enroll for both semesters of an academic year but withdraw during one of the semesters must still fulfill the minimum semester hour requirement as stated in the SAP Standards.

A student withdrawal will result in the loss of employment under both the Work-Study and part-time hourly employment programs. Summer employment is contingent upon enrollment in Spring or Summer. A spring withdrawal will result in loss of summer employment eligibility unless the student enrolls for the summer session.

Unofficial Withdrawal

If a student leaves school without providing notification, we have 30 days after the end of the term to identify the student as unofficially withdrawn and use the federal formula to determine if funds need to be returned.

These students are identified as those who are federal financial aid recipients and who received all non-passing grades for the term – any combination of F, NW, NR, or U.

The student must provide documentation from the instructors of each of their classes, including any classes they dropped, verifying that the student did participate in the class. If the student did not complete the class, then we ask that the instructor’s documentation also include the date the student last participated in an academic activity. Academic activities include attending class, turning in an assignment, taking a quiz or exam, or contacting the instructor about the academic subject studied in the class, but does not include academic advising. Learn more under the Academic Engagement section below.

Academic Engagement

To establish federal financial aid eligibility, students must attend all registered classes at least once during the first ten days of each semester. If instructors report a student as not attending, financial aid may be cancelled or reduced.

Once federal financial aid eligibility has been established, students should continue to participate in academic activities in all classes throughout the semester. If, during the semester, a student determines the need to drop individual classes or withdraw entirely from the University, official university withdrawal procedures should be followed. That is done officially when the student initiates the withdrawal in MyUI or goes to the UI Service Center at 2700 UCC.

At the end of each semester, all federal financial aid recipients who receive no passing grades (any combination of F, U, N, or W) will be reviewed to determine if the non-passing grade was earned while attending or due to no longer attending class. To understand the impact of an unofficial withdrawal, view the Unofficial Withdrawal Policy.

Active participation by a student in an instructional activity related to the student’s course of study that is defined by the institution in accordance with any applicable requirements of its State or accrediting agency; and includes, but is not limited to:

  • Attending asynchronous class, lecture, recitation, or field or laboratory activity, physically or online, where there is an opportunity for interaction between the instructor and students;
  • Submitting an academic assignment;
  • Taking an assessment or an exam;
  • Participating in an interactive tutorial, webinar, or other interactive computer-assisted instruction;
  • Participating in a study group, group project, or an online discussion that is assigned by the institution; or
  • Interacting with an instructor about academic matters.

The definition of academic engagement does not include activities where a student may be present, but not academically engaged, such as:

  • Living in institutional housing;
  • Participating in the school’s meal plan;
  • Travel;
  • Logging into an online class or tutorial without any further participation;
  • Participating in academic counseling or advising; or
  • Participating in a student-organized study group.

Post-Withdrawal Disbursements

We must disburse, or offer to disburse, earned financial aid that could have been disbursed before withdrawal but was not. “Could have been disbursed” means the student was eligible to receive it at the time they withdrew.

Students able to receive a post-withdrawal disbursement will have any eligible Title IV grant funds disbursed within 45 days. A student has 14 days to opt to borrow any eligible loan funds that could have been disbursed and the University will disburse those funds within 30 days of the student’s notice.

All post-withdrawal disbursements are applied to the student's U-Bill first. A post-withdrawal disbursement will be made as soon as possible but within 45 days of the student’s withdrawal date or, in the case of loans, 30 days after the student opts to borrow additional funds. If a late disbursement is required due to an error, it must be made within 180 days of the date the institution determines that the student withdrew.

If a credit balance occurs on a student’s U-Bill after the return of funds calculation and/or post-withdrawal disbursement, a refund will be sent to the student using the University Billing Office's standard refund policy.