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Dropping or Withdrawing from Class

We understand that unexpected events occur that may cause you to drop or withdraw from some or all of your courses. Before dropping or withdrawing, it is important for you to consider how the decrease or change in credits will affect your awards. It is important for you to be aware of the proper procedure for withdrawing from classes and the consequences of withdrawing or stopping attendance.

Questions on how to withdraw should be addressed with an academic advisor. It is important to consider how this action may impact prerequisite sequences, your graduation timeline, and your financial aid eligibility.

Return of Title IV Financial Aid Funds

Students receiving financial aid who withdraw or stop attending will, in most cases, be required to return a portion of the financial aid received. The Higher Education Act, as reauthorized and signed into law on October 7, 1998, established the return of Title IV Funds Policy.

This policy states that the college and the student are allowed to retain only the amount of Title IV (Federal) aid that is earned. If a student withdraws or stops attending classes, whether any credits or clock hours have been earned for the term or not, a portion of the aid received is considered to be unearned and must be returned to the Title IV programs from which it was received. For Title IV purposes, the withdrawal date is the last date of attendance as determined by attendance records.

Federal Policies and Definitions

Return to Title IV (R2T4) Calculation:

A required calculation to determine the amount of aid earned by the student when the student does not attend all days scheduled to complete within a payment period or term. (Student is considered to be a withdrawal, whether any credits were completed or not).

Recalculation of Aid (not the same as a Return to Title IV calculation):

A required calculation of Pell Grant and other types of aid due to the student dropping or not attending credits required for the enrollment status awarded (full-time, three-quarter time, half-time, less than half-time); required at any point when information is received that changes the student's enrollment status.  A reduction of aid will always be required for students who have status changes due to dropping or not attending classes.

New Regulations:

  • A student who attends and completes at least one course that spans the entire term will have earned aid for that term (after adjustments for dropped classes or classes not attended).
  • The school must be able to demonstrate that the student actually attended each class, including any class with a failing grade. Attendance must be “academic attendance” or “attendance at an academically-related activity.” Documentation of Attendance must be made by the school. A student’s self-certification of attendance is NOT acceptable unless supported by the school’s documentation. Examples of attendance include:
    • Physical class attendance where there is direct interaction between instructor and student
    • Submission of an academic assignment
    • Study group attendance assigned by the school
    • Examination, interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction
    • Participation in an online discussion about academic matters
    • Initiation of contact with instructor to ask question about academic subject
    • Logging in to an online class does NOT count as attendance
  • A student who withdraws from a part-of-term class within the term must still be attending another class or is considered to be a withdrawal, even if registered for future classes starting in the next term. The student must - at the time of withdrawal from a part-of-term class, if they are not attending another class - provide a written statement to the college indicating their intent to attend a future class within that term, or the student is a withdrawal; a Return of Title IV calculation must be completed. (If the student doesn’t actually attend that future class, a Return of Title IV calculation is still required; withdraw date/last date of attendance dates back to the original confirmed date).

PCC Policies


PCC's tuition and fees refund policy is separate from the federal regulations. Whether or not a student can receive a refund of tuition and fees has no bearing on the amount an aid recipient must repay to the federal aid programs for failure to complete the number of courses which they were paid to attend.

Contact the Student Accounts Office regarding tuition and fees refunds.

Return to Title IV Process

Step 1

The first step is a series of formulas to determine the amount of aid which must be returned.  Following the determination of the last date of attendance, the school must calculate the number of days attended and the total number of days the student was scheduled to complete within the term; weekends count and any periods of no classes which are five days in length or greater are excluded. Days attended are then divided by the days in the term the student was scheduled to complete in order to calculate percentage completed.  The percentage is multiplied by the total aid for which the student is eligible to determine the amount of aid earned (% completed x total aid = earned aid). Total aid – earned aid = unearned aid (aid to be returned).

Step 2

The next step is for the school to determine total institutional charges and multiply that figure by the percentage of unearned aid (100% - % completed = % unearned). It makes no difference which type of resource actually paid the school bill; the law assumes that Title IV aid goes first to pay the institutional charges.  Institutional charges x % unearned = amount returned by school.

The school must then return the amount of unearned aid, up to the maximum received, to each of the Title IV programs in the following order:

  • Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan
  • Subsidized Direct Stafford Loan
  • Federal Perkins Loan (Pima Community College does not award)
  • Direct PLUS Loan
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

Step 3

The school then calculates the amount for which the student is responsible by subtracting the amount returned by the school from the total amount which is unearned.  That remaining amount is the student’s share and is allocated in the same order as above.  Total amount unearned – amount returned by school = $ amount the student is required to return to Title IV funds. 

Important Information

Once the school determines the dollar amounts owed, the student will be sent a notification letter outlining the amount that needs to be repaid to the student's permanent address on file.

Funds that must be returned by the student to the loan programs can be paid in accordance with normal loan repayment terms.  For grant dollars that must be paid, the amount due from a student is limited to the amount by which the original grant overpayment amount due from the student exceeds half of the total Title IV grants funds received by the student. 

A student has 45 days to make repayment and does not have to repay a grant overpayment of $50 or less. Unpaid balances will be reported to NSLDS, the National Student Loan Data System, and turned over to the U.S. Department of Education for collection.  Until overpayments are repaid or satisfactory repayment arrangements have been made, students will be ineligible for further Title IV aid at any institution.

This policy is separate from the institutional refund policy.  Unpaid balances due to Pima Community College that result from amounts returned to Title IV programs and other sources of aid will be charged back to the student. The student is also responsible for uncollected tuition to Pima Community College.

If a student does not begin attendance in all classes or ceases attendance during the 100% refund period, aid may have to be reduced to reflect appropriate enrollment status prior to recalculating Return of Title IV Funds.

There will be cases in which the school will make a determination for a post-withdrawal disbursement. If you decide to not receive these funds, please submit the appropriate form: Federal Aid Cancellation Request form.

Additional Federal regulations you must consider

Satisfactory Academic Progress

A student must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress in order to continue to receive federal assistance. 

If you received financial aid and dropped classes or withdrew from the term in which assistance was awarded, you may not be eligible to receive future aid from PCC.

Loan Deferment Status

When a student is enrolled in six or more credits in each term, the Federal Stafford and private education loans are in-school deferment status.

If the school has determined that you have withdrawn, you are no longer considered to be enrolled and in attendance. You are no longer eligible for in-school deferment and the school must report you as withdrawn to the National Student Loan Database System.

If the enrollment decreases to less than half-time (six credits), the grace period for these loans begins.

If after six months, you still are not enrolled in six or more credits, the loan(s) will go into repayment. You must contact your lender to make payment arrangements to avoid default.

If loans go into a defaulted status, you are not eligible to receive any federal financial aid until the loans are back in good standing.