Graduate Financial Aid Policies
The staff at Concordia University Chicago’s Office of Financial Aid is committed to the highest standards of professional conduct. The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 requires educational institutions to develop and comply with a code of conduct which prohibits conflicts of interest for its financial aid personnel [HEOA § 487(a)(25)]. As members of the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), we abide by their code of conduct which states that our staff is expected to always maintain exemplary standards of professional conduct in all aspects of carrying out his or her responsibilities, specifically including all dealings with any entities involved in any manner in student financial aid, regardless of whether such entities are involved in a government sponsored, subsidized, or regulated activity.
The CUC Financial Aid staff adheres to the following:
- Refrain from taking any action for his or her personal benefit.
- Refrain from taking any action he or she believes is contrary to law, regulation, or the best interest of the students and parents he or she serves.
- Ensure that the information he or she provides is accurate, unbiased, and does not reflect any preference arising from actual or potential personal gain.
- Be objective in making decisions and advising his or her institution regarding relationships with any entity involved in any aspect of student financial aid.
- Refrain from soliciting or accepting anything of other than nominal value from any entity (other than an institution of higher education or a governmental entity such as the U.S. Department of Education) involved in the making, holding, consolidating or processing of any student loans, including anything of value (including reimbursement of expenses) for serving on an advisory body or as part of a training activity of or sponsored by any such entity.
- Disclose to his or her institution, in such manner as his or her institution may prescribe, any involvement with or interest in any entity involved in any aspect of student financial aid.
Federal and state governments require that each college have Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for determining continued eligibility for student financial aid. SAP standards measure both the qualitative and quantitative progress of course work completed. SAP includes the following three elements: grade point average, course completion rate and maximum time frame. SAP is reviewed at the end of each payment period.
Grade Point Average: The Satisfactory Academic Progress policy contains a qualitative component which requires that graduate students maintain a 3.0 grade point average by the end of their first year of study. A cumulative 3.0 grade point average needs to be maintained from that point forward.
Course Completion Rate: The Satisfactory Academic Progress policy contains a quantitative component which requires that graduate students make steady progress toward their degree by completing two-thirds (67 percent) of all credit coursework attempted. The completion rate is calculated as a percentage of completed coursework over the student’s entire enrollment at CUC. Students must maintain a cumulative 67% course completion rate. For example, if a student attempts 6 hours per semester during the academic year (18 cumulative attempted hours, includes summer), the student would be expected to satisfactorily complete at least 12 of these hours (4 hours per semester) in order to comply with the minimum quantitative standards. The completion rate applies to all semesters (including summer), regardless of whether the student received aid during the semester.
Attempted Credit Hours: All credit-bearing courses are calculated into the “hours attempted” and counted toward the maximum time frame for financial aid purposes. Grades of W, F, I, or U, are considered as coursework attempted but not completed. In addition, repeated courses are counted in the “hours attempted” calculation.
Successfully Completed Credit Hours: Courses with a passing grade (A, B, C, D, or P) are considered to be successfully completed. Courses with a grade of F, W, I, or U, are not considered to be successfully completed.
Incomplete Grades: Incomplete grades (I) are considered as coursework attempted but not completed. An incomplete grade must be resolved within six (6) weeks of the end of the term (summer, fall, spring) in which the grade was received; at that time, the instructor will assign a grade. Permission for additional time beyond the six-week deadline may be granted only with the approval of the instructor and the Office of the Registrar. Students must contact the Office of Financial Aid once the grade change has been processed in order to re-evaluate their SAP status for the semester they did not meet SAP. The Director of Financial Aid will review and make necessary changes to SAP status.
Repeated Courses Repeated courses are counted in the “hours attempted” calculation for financial aid purposes. The repeat grade is treated in the cumulative GPA. Students are eligible to repeat a course regardless of whether or not they receive a failing grade during the first attempt. According to Federal and State Regulations, students are allowed to repeat coursework as long as the student has not previously passed the course and meet Satisfactory Academic Progress. A passed course is considered any grade higher than an “F” or its equivalent. Once a student passes the course, he/she can only receive Federal and/or State funds to repeat the course one more time. Eligibility for repeat coursework is monitored at the time of awarding and again prior to disbursing funds.
Audit Courses Audit courses are not counted in the “hours attempted” calculation for financial aid purposes. Students do not earn any academic credit and may not receive financial aid for these courses since they are not going towards a degree program.
Maximum Time Frame: The Satisfactory Academic Progress policy also contains a maximum timeframe component which specifies that the number of credit hours for which a student may receive federal financial aid may not exceed 150% of the credit hours required to complete their degree program at CUC. Graduate degree program lengths may vary. Since the minimum number of credit hours needed to complete the master’s degree is 30 hours, students may not receive financial assistance upon attempting more than 45 credit hours. Students need to complete an average of 3.333 credits per semester (including summer) or an average of 5 credits per semester (two in an academic year) in order to complete within 3 years (maximum time frame). Credits transferred into CUC are included as credits attempted for SAP purposes. In addition, grades of “W” are counted in attempted credit hours and counted towards the maximum time frame. Pass/fail courses do earn credit and therefore are included in the attempted hours and maximum timeframe, but are not included in the grade point average.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Requirements: SAP is reviewed at the end of each semester. Students who do not meet SAP are notified by receiving an official letter from the Office of Financial Aid and via email. There are two repercussions in the event a student does not meet one or more of the above requirements: Financial Aid Warning Status or Financial Aid Disqualification Status.
Financial Aid Warning Status: Students who do not meet the standards of satisfactory academic progress will be on Warning Status for his/her next term of attendance. During this period, the student is still allowed to receive their federal/state/institutional financial aid. Certain merit scholarships, which require the student to maintain a specified grade point average, may be affected.
Financial Aid Disqualification Status: Students who fail to meet the standards of satisfactory academic progress after a semester on probation will become disqualified from receiving further financial assistance from federal, state and/or Concordia funds. This includes eligibility for grants, student loans, parent loans, CUC need-based and merit scholarships and CUC faculty/staff waivers.
If a student has mitigating circumstances which contributed to their inability to meet the required Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress, appeals for reinstatement of financial assistance may be submitted to the Director of Financial Aid. Mitigating circumstances that will be evaluated include medical condition, death in the family, and additional documentation provided by the Dean of Students. The appeal must be a written letter explaining their circumstances and what measures they will take to improve their ability to succeed in future coursework. Students must meet with their Academic Advisor and together create an Academic Plan that will guide the student to successfully complete future coursework. In addition, students will be expected to submit supporting documentation.
Students will receive an official letter from the Director of Financial Aid regarding the approval or denial of the appeal.
If the appeal is approved, the student will be placed on probation status for the next semester. Students must follow the Academic Plan provided by their Academic Advisor in order to successfully complete all coursework in their program. Students will need to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress by the end of that semester or they will be placed back on disqualification status. If students meet Satisfactory Academic Progress by the end of the probationary status, they may continue to receive aid, but are expected to continue to fully meet SAP requirements in future semesters.
If the appeal is denied, the student may submit another appeal after successfully completing the following semester(s). A significant improvement must be evident in the academic history for the future semester(s) after receiving disqualification status. Students must continue to follow the Academic Plan provided by their Academic Advisor in order to successfully complete all coursework in their program.
Return of Title IV Financial Aid Policy:
The amount of Federal Title IV financial aid that a student receives is based on the completion of all registered coursework. If a student officially or unofficially withdraws from the semester on or before the 60 percent of the payment period and received Title IV federal aid, the Office of Financial Aid is required to review eligibility for the funds received. The federally mandated formula called “Return of Title IV Aid” calculation is used to determine the amount of federal funding the student “earned” up to the time of withdrawal. Title IV federal funds include the following: Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, Federal Direct Loan, or a Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan.
In order to determine the amount of financial aid earned up to the time of withdrawal, the Office of Financial Aid determines the percentage of the payment period the student attended. The percentage is then used, in addition to the student’s institutional costs and federal funds received or eligible to receive, to determine the amount of aid the student is eligible to keep. If the amount earned is greater than the student’s institutional cost, the Office of Financial Aid will send the student a written notification confirming the student’s authorization to either accept the credit in a refund to the student or to return the loan amount to the lender. The student has 14 days to reply. If the amount disbursed to the student is less than the amount the student earned, and for which the student is otherwise eligible, the student is eligible to receive a post-withdrawal disbursement of the earned aid that was not received. The post-withdrawal disbursement of a loan(s) will be offered to the student within 30 days of the date the school determined the student withdrew. The post-withdrawal disbursement of any Title IV grants are processed within 45 days of the date the school determined the student withdrew.
In addition, the unearned amount of aid is also determined by the percentage of the payment period the student attended. The student may have officially withdrawn from classes or, in the case of an unofficial withdrawal, the Office of Financial Aid will use the last date the student was involved in an academically related activity. Official withdraws must be initiated by the student by contacting Graduate Student Services. Official withdrawal dates will be determined based on last date of attendance as provided by the faculty for face-to-face courses and/or last activity submission date via Blackboard for online courses. Any unearned Title IV federal funds that were disbursed must be returned to the federal government by the University within 45 days of the date the school determined the student withdrew. If the student received a refund from financial aid, he/she may be required to return a portion of those funds to the University.
Please note: Students awarded based on a 16-week Cost of Attendance who do not participate in their course(s) or withdraw prior to the class start date within an 8-week term, will have their Cost of Attendance adjusted to an 8-week budget instead of a 16-week semester budget. For example, a graduate student enrolled in two consecutive 8-week classes within the fall semester drops the second 8-week class prior to the start date. The Cost of Attendance and Direct Loan were based on a 16-week semester. The Office of Financial Aid will reduce the semester Cost of Attendance to an 8-week Cost of Attendance, reduce the Direct Loan, if needed, and begin performing the Return of Title IV process to determine the amount earned from the lower amount.
Federal Title IV funding that must be returned by the student or by the University must be returned in the following order:
- Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan
- Federal Direct Grad PLUS
- Federal TEACH Grant
Students will be considered to have earned all of their federal financial aid after the completion of sixty percent of the payment period. Students who need to withdraw from all registered course work should make an appointment with a Financial Aid Counselor to determine if a portion of unearned federal funds will need to be returned to the federal aid programs.
Payment and Refund Policies for Graduate Students
The Office of Student Business Services mails out a bill each semester, 60 days prior to the start of the semester, and the bill is due within 30 days of the start of the semester. This is the only hard copy bill that is mailed to your permanent home address (unless you change your registration). By the stated due date on your bill, the balance due (if any) must either be paid in full or a payment plan secured to cover the cost of the semester. Due to federal regulations, the University is not allowed to have a student “carry” an outstanding balance.
The University’s primary source of communication is via your Concordia-Chicago email address. Please check your email on a regular basis.
Please be advised that the University's refund policy may be updated at any time. This current policy will be posted daily at the Student Business Services office.
Graduate Cohort Payment Schedule
First 8-week Course
Payment 1 - Due January 8, 2021
Payment 2 - Due January 29, 2021
Payment 3 - Due February 19, 2021
Second 8-week Course
Payment 1 - Due March 5, 2021
Payment 2 - Due March 26, 2021
Payment 3 – Due April 16, 2021
There is a $36 fee for the 1st returned item, $50 for the 2nd returned item and $75 for the 3rd returned item. After the 3rd returned item, the University will not accept any further personal checks on the account. If your payment was made online as an electronic check (ACH), there is a $36 bank fee. All charges are assessed to the students.
Refunds and Credit Balances
After all tuition, fees and financial aid have been posted to your account, it is possible to have a credit balance. To find out if you have a credit balance, log on to ConcordiaConnect to check your tuition account for a (-) sign in front of the balance.
You will receive an e-mail from the Office of Student Business Services notifying you when your financial aid has been posted to your account. Attached to that e-mail will be an account statement providing you with your account information.
Options When You Have a Credit Balance
Keep funds on account: You may e-mail us back indicating you would like your funds to remain on your account for future terms.
Use your credit balance to purchase books. If you have a credit balance as a result of excess financial aid for the term, you may contact the Concordia bookstore directly to purchase books and course-related supplies to be charged to your account. The lesser of your existing credit balance for the term or $400 may be used for the bookstore purchase. The amount spent on books will be posted to your tuition account reducing your credit amount.
Request a refund for the credit balance available. To receive a refund, complete the refund form and submit it to the Office of Student Business Services. Refunds can only be processed if the funds have been posted to the account creating a credit balance. If all funds are not available or do not match the amount you have requested, the refund will not be processed until all funds are available. You must complete a form each time you request a refund. Personal information is not stored.
- The form is available in the Office of Student Business Services and also online through ConcordiaConnect. To find the form, click on the Resource tab and use the forms repository. Type in “student refund form,” and you will be able to download a pdf version of the form.
- The form must be completed in its entirety, show the accurate refund amount, and be signed. You may fax the form to (708) 209-3176 or save the completed document and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To receive your refund, submit the completed form by Friday to receive the funds the following Friday after 2 p.m.
- The refund will be provided based upon the student tuition account credit balance at the time of issuance of the refund disbursement. There may be other expenses posted to your account after the disbursement, such as bookstore voucher purchases, parking tickets, additional tuition, or financial aid reductions due to the dropping of a class.
Course Add/Drop Policy
Adding a Course: Courses can be added to a student’s schedule within the first week of class. Time limits for the addition of courses are reduced proportionately in any semester where the structure of the class is such as an eight-week session. View the current academic calendars.
Refund Policy: A structured refund policy is available online that applies to your specific program. The standard format is as follows:
- 100% refund on or before the end of week 2 of class
- 67% refund from one day after the second week of class until the end of week 3
- 0% refund one day after the end of week 3
Failure to attend class does not constitute as an automatic withdrawal from the class. Students must drop courses through the Graduate Admission Office. Students must drop according to the drop-date policy which will reflect the amount of refund for which you will be eligible. Failure to officially drop a course will result in receiving an F on your transcript. Students receiving an F will then be held responsible for all financial obligations in which were acknowledged on the signed registration form. Students may fax withdrawal forms to 708-209-3454.
This refund policy may be altered at any time. A specific refund policy is written for each semester for students at all academic levels. This policy is structured by dates and percentage of refund a student would receive if applicable. Any student who does not withdraw within the refund policy dates has the right to appeal the charges by written appeal to the Dean of Students. Appeals should be submitted within the same term to be accepted for review. Any appeal that is submitted after that time may be rejected depending on the individual’s reason for the appeal.
Students with outstanding balances will be prohibited from registering for additional courses as well as future term courses. Any account with an outstanding balance will incur a 1.5% charge, or a minimum of $25.00 service charge, each month on the account until the end of the semester. After the start of a semester and the bill due date, any student who has an outstanding balance will receive an e-mail at their Concordia e-mail address. This notification will inform students of their standing account balance and any service charges. Statements will continue to be e-mailed each month to any student with a balance. Please note, it is the student’s responsibility to check his or her Concordia e-mail account on a regular basis. This will help students in maintaining their tuition account information and remain in good standing. Concordia e-mail is the University’s primary source of communication.
Once a semester has ended, if you are also enrolled to take classes the following semester (for example, it is near the end of the fall term and you are also registered for spring), the University maintains the right to automatically withdraw you from the following semester. If amounts are owed at the end of the semester, the student will be placed in collections(see Collections Policy in the Fees section of the Concordia-Chicago catalog). Any efforts to collect unpaid balances due to Concordia University Chicago that are made by a third-party source are the student’s responsibility. Such costs include, but are not limited to, fees from the outside collection agencies, attorney fees, court costs, service charges. The student is to also understand that these are additional costs to the tuition and fees due to the University.
Graduating students with outstanding balances will not be permitted to participate in their graduation ceremony and are not entitled to receive a diploma, transcripts, credentials and/or other possible University-provided verifications until the balance is paid in full. In such instances, the University reserves the right to demand that such payments be paid with guaranteed funds.
Students with outstanding balances who file for bankruptcy and list Concordia University as a creditor that is owed a debt will have all collection efforts ceased according to the bankruptcy law. The balance will remain on the account. With that, a bankruptcy will stop collection efforts; however, transcripts and diploma remain the property of the University.
Department of Education - Campus Banking Notice
Students receiving a financial aid refund can have it direct deposited into an account at any financial institution, including a pre-existing account already belonging to the student.
For more information, visit the Department of Education website.