University Cuts Off Financial Aid with Too High Credit Hours

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)
Rory Penman
(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)
(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

Students with more than 183 credit hours may not be eligible for further federal financial aid.

Grants, loans and work study funds provided by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 requires “satisfactory academic progress.” At the U that means maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA, completing 67 percent of coursework at the U and getting a degree within 183 credit hours. If students don’t meet these criteria, they may no longer receive aid.

For a bachelor’s degree, reaching 183 credit hours may take about six years. But if students start another bachelor’s, they are given an additional 61 credit hours. Master’s students have four years, and doctoral students have seven. Transfer credits and IB or AP credits are all counted toward the credit hour maximum.

According to the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis, 46 percent of students receive financial aid at the U. Nearly 59 percent of U students receive their bachelor’s within six years, according to College Factual, a data site for colleges across the U.S.

A July 2013 report by the Congressional Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance found that as more students accept financial aid, fewer graduate within six years. The report concluded that students worry more about maintaining a job to pay for school, food and housing than the number of hours they can put toward studying. The committee suggests that the “satisfactory academic progress” measure be tailored to that.

But in Utah the same financial aid requirements are used by all of the public colleges in the state. This has sent Erica Miller, a sophomore in biology, into a frenzy about completing her degree on time. She relies on financial aid and scholarships to pay for school at the U.

“I’ve been thinking about getting a job,” Miller said, “but I’m already behind in my major, so if I start working, my grades might start slipping.”



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