This page explains how some common academic choices can affect Stafford loan eligibility. It is not intended to be an exhaustive account, but rather to provide enough background information for you to proactively make financially-informed academic choices.
After reviewing the information below, if you would like assistance determining how your particular academic choices will affect your Stafford eligibility,contact John Cunningham, the Financial Aid Officer by email or at 717-290-8748.
Generally, adding a course after you have already completed your semester course registration has little effect on a full-time student’s Stafford eligibility. If a part-time student adds a course that increases his/her enrollment status from part-time (6-11 Master’s credits per semester) to full-time (12+ Master’s credits per semester), an increase in Stafford eligibility is likely. In such cases, students can check with the Financial Aid Officer about additional Stafford eligibility resulting from the enrollment change. Because Stafford funds may be applied only to the number of credits required for the degree (M.Div.: 94, MAR: 52, D.Min.: 30), all students – both part-time and full-time – should enroll carefully, making sure over the course of their studies not to exceed the number of credits required for degree (except in the final semester of enrollment, when exceeding the total is permissible).
Federal regulations require that Stafford borrowers maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. At LTS, Master’s students must maintain a minimum gpa of 2.0 with no more than 1 failing grade (F, Fail or WF) per semester, not to exceed 3 failing grades for the duration of the program (LTS Student Handbook, 8.1). D.Min. students must maintain at least a 3.0 gpa with no failing grades. Because Pass/Fail grades are not calculated into gpa determinations, when you change the way your courses are graded, you change the way your gpa is calculated (LTS Student Handbook, 7.2). Whichever grading method you choose, be sure that you will be able to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress criteria.
The Stafford loan program is designed on the principle that through your class attendance, you gradually "earn" the funds you have been approved to borrow. Full-time students (12+ Master’s credits per semester, and all D.Min. students) generally qualify to borrow higher amounts because enrollment status is factored into the calculation of aid eligibility. At a minimum, Master’s students must stay enrolled for at least 6 credits per semester to remain Stafford-eligible. In addition to impacting the current year, dropping credits (Master’s and D.Min.) can also jeopardize your future Stafford eligibility.
Dropping a course can impact Stafford eligibility in various ways:
Federal regulations require that Stafford borrowers make incremental progress towards the completion of the degree (at least 12 full-time or 6 part-time Master’s credits per semester, or an average of 10 annual D.Min. credits – LTS Student Handbook, 8.1.3). Progress is checked at the end of each academic year (M.Div. students without a Bachelor’s degree are subject to more frequent SAP verifications; LTS Financial Aid Handbook, Section 2). An Incomplete grade can keep you from meeting progress requirements by temporarily putting the total credits satisfactorily completed in a semester below the minimum required. In such cases, future Stafford loans cannot be certified until the Incomplete grade is satisfactorily resolved, potentially resulting in a delay of funds. Since LTS policy allows an additional semester for a professor to submit Incomplete grades (LTS Student Handbook, 5.5.5), a professor may, but is not obligated to expedite the grading process to accommodate a student’s Stafford needs.
During a Leave of Absence, you are not eligible to borrow Stafford loan funds. If your Leave begins during the academic year, you may be required to return a portion of your loan, depending on the timing of the enrollment change. Per federal regulations, if your Leave is projected to extend more than 180 days, you will be reported as “withdrawn” to the National Student Loan Database System for aid purposes and will enter repayment on prior loans. A Leave of fewer than 180 days does not result in entering repayment on your prior loans. For more information on repayment, contact the LTS Financial Aid Office and visit www.youcandealwithit.com.
LTS’ academic year is composed of 2 semesters. Semester 1 includes 3 modules: Summer, September, and Fall. Semester 2 also includes 3 modules: January, Spring, and May. When your loan is certified, your disbursement dates are scheduled according to the modules you projected you would attend on your LTS Financial Aid Application form. If your actual registration changes, your disbursement dates will be adjusted. Federal regulations require you to be in attendance at the time your Stafford funds are delivered to you. Be sure to plan your course registration and personal finances accordingly. For more information, see, "When will the money come?" on our FAQ page.
If you withdraw from studies either voluntarily or involuntarily, you are not eligible to borrow Stafford loan funds. If your withdrawal occurs during the academic year, you may be required to return a portion of your loan, depending on the timing of the withdrawal. Your last date of attendance will be reported to the National Student Loan Database System and you will enter repayment on prior loans. For more information on repayment, contact the LTS Financial Aid Office and visit www.youcandealwithit.com.