Federal Return of Title IV Funds Policy

Title IV recipients who withdraw completely before completing 60% of the term for which the student has been charged, will be required to return a portion of the Title IV funds they received. The return amount will be calculated using the number of days the student attended in the given term and the total number of days in the given term.

Return of Overpayment

Title IV financial aid recipients who withdraw from all classes, or who are administratively withdrawn from all classes may be required to return a portion of the financial aid they received. Calculations are done to determine the percent of financial aid earned and unearned for the given term. Title IV financial aid recipients who receive an overpayment resulting from changes in enrollment, cost of attendance, general eligibility, and additional financial aid award(s) will be required to return funds in the amount necessary to eliminate the overpayment. The student will be notified if a Return of Title IV funds is due. Failure to return Title IV funds will result in the loss of eligibility for financial aid.

Order of Return of Title IV funds

All returns will be distributed to the student financial assistance programs in the order below with the following exceptions. Title IV funds required to be returned by the student will not be distributed to a Federal Direct Loan Program and no returns shall be distributed to the Federal Work Study Program.

  1. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

  2. Federal Direct Stafford Loan Federal Direct PLUS Loan Federal PELL Grant Program Federal SEOG Program

  3. Other Title IV Programs

  4. Other Federal and State Programs

  5. Institutional or Agency Programs

Student Withdrawal and Return of Title IV Funds Policy

In accordance with federal regulations, when a federal financial aid recipient withdraws from all classes during a term, it is Cuesta College’s responsibility to determine the withdrawal date and amount of grant and/or loan assistance that the student earned. If the student received more assistance than earned, the unearned funds must be returned by the school and/or aid recipient to the appropriate aid program.

If a recipient of Title IV funds withdraws or stops attending courses (including academic dismissal or expulsion) after beginning attendance for any reason he/she may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV Funds.  A proration calculation is used to determine the amount of federal funds the student has earned based on the number of days in the enrollment period and the number of days the student actually attended.  If a student completes 60% or more of the semester they are considered to have earned all of their federal aid and will not be required to return any funds.

Federal law requires schools to calculate how much Federal Financial Aid a student has earned if that student withdraws in one of the following ways:

  • completely withdraws, or
  • stops attending before completing the semester, or
  • receives all non-passing grades in a semester, including but not limited to F, W, DW, WL, I, NP, NC.


The Cuesta fee refund policy is separate from the federal regulations to return unearned aid. Whether or not a student receives a tuition/fee refund has no bearing on the amount he/she must repay to the federal aid programs.

Withdrawal Date

A student's withdrawal date varies depending on the type of withdrawal.

Official Notification Provided by the Student A student is considered officially withdrawn if the Admissions and Records Office is notified by the student in writing or students can withdraw themselves via myCuesta student registration portal.

If a student completes an Add/Drop form, the withdrawal date is the date the student submits a completed form to the office.

If a student sends written notification of intent to withdraw, the withdrawal date is the date the letter is received via postal, electronic, or fax mail.

No Official Notification Provided by the Student If a student ceases attendance without providing official notification, the withdrawal date will be the midpoint of the term, except that the College may use the last day of attendance at an academically-related activity, if documented by the College. In the case when an official notification was not provided by the student because of circumstances beyond the student's control, i.e., illness, accident, grievous personal loss or other circumstances, the date related to the onset of that circumstance will be used as the withdrawal date.

In some instances, a faculty member may request an administrative withdrawal on behalf of a student and that withdrawal date will be recorded.

The College may always use as the withdrawal date the date that is reported as the last date of attendance at an academically related activity by a faculty member on a class roster, grade roster/sheet, or other documented source, e.g., grade book. The faculty member will maintain the documentation of the last date of attendance.


Date of Determination that the Student Withdrew

The date of determination that a student withdrew varies depending upon the type of withdrawal.

Official Notification provided by the Student The date of determination is the date the student provides Cuesta College official notification or begins the withdrawal process, whichever is earlier.

On a regular basis within a term, the Financial Aid Office will generate a report of financial aid recipients' changes in enrollment to assist in monitoring withdrawals.

No Official Notification provided The date that Cuesta becomes aware that the student has ceased attendance will be the date of determination. This date will be identified no later than 30 days after the end of a term.

At the end of a term after the assignment of grades, the Financial Aid Office will generate a report of financial aid recipients that received any combination of “W”, and “F” grades.


How the Earned Financial Aid is calculated

Institutions are required to determine the percentage of Title IV aid ‘’earned” by the student and to return the unearned portion to the appropriate aid programs. Regulations require schools to perform calculations within 30 days from the date the school determines a student’s complete withdrawal. The school must return the funds within 45 days of the calculation.  A student has “earned” all of their aid if they complete 60% or more of the semester.

When the calculation is competed Cuesta College will return the unearned portion of Title IV Funds that are requested from the school.  If there is a portion of unearned aid that the student is responsible for returning (via the R2T4 calculation) it is the student’s responsibility to make payment arrangements within 45 days of notification.  Failure to return funds as required can result in the loss of eligibility for future federal financial aid. A copy of the R2T4 calculation worksheet can be requested from the Financial Aid Office, in accordance with federal regulations.

Pell Grant, SEOG Grant, and Loans are included in the calculation. Work Study and Cuesta College Scholarship funds are excluded.