Course and Program of Study Eligibility

The US Department of Education regulations require that a student be enrolled in a degree-seeking or eligible certificate program to receive federal financial aid (Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Direct Loans, and Federal Work Study).

Time limits and aggregate lifetime limits exists for all aid programs; therefore, timely degree completion is critical, and students must be enrolled in courses that are applicable to the degree or eligible certificate to qualify for federal financial aid. If a student is enrolled in courses that are not required, the federal financial aid award could be prorated or cancelled.

All degree programs and teacher certification programs at Southern are eligible for federal financial aid, as well as many of our certificate programs.  If a certificate program is not eligible for federal financial aid, it will be stated on the program application and in the program information published in the Undergraduate Catalog or Graduate Catalog.

A course is eligible for federal financial aid if it satisfies a requirement in the student’s program of study. Students may consult their degree evaluation to review which courses will fulfill program requirements.  In-progress or complete courses listed in the ‘Excess’ section are not aid eligible.  

Students are required to follow the academic calendar for all course registration add/drop periods. Federal financial aid eligibility will be determined based on a student’s current program of study and course registration as of the financial aid freeze date.  

  • Undergraduate programs are outlined on the degree evaluation and include courses in the student’s declared major/concentration, minor, cognate, general education (LEP), writing requirements, or electives needed to meet the overall requirement (i.e. 120-credits).  
  • Graduate programs are outlined on the degree evaluation.

If a student enrolls in at least 12 credits of eligible coursework at the undergraduate level, or 9 credits of eligible coursework at the graduate level, then the student is considered full-time for federal financial aid programs. Note that part-time students may still receive pro-rated federal financial aid based upon their enrollment status. However, if a student moves from full-time to part-time status, some federal aid programs may need to be reduced or cancelled. 

Students in the Exploratory program are considered degree-seeking even though they have not declared a major.  Students cannot graduate with a degree in Exploratory and must choose a major prior to earning 60 credits.  Transfer students must choose a major prior to their second semester at Southern if they enter the institution with 60 credits or more.   

For Exploratory students, the degree evaluation outlines the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements excluding the major.  This includes courses in the general education (LEP), writing requirements, and up to 27 elective credits are allowed.  All other courses will be considered excess and are not aid eligible.

The federal rules for dual majors or degrees are specific to the Pell and SEOG grant programs.  For these programs, once the student completes all degree requirements for one major or degree, a student is no longer eligible for Pell or SEOG, whether the student has been conferred a bachelor’s degree or not.  The student will remain eligible for other federal aid programs.

TIP: Students can avoid losing grant aid eligibility by arranging courses to enter their final semester with degree requirements in both majors.

Minors must be officially declared and reflected in the degree evaluation by the financial aid freeze date to be included as eligible coursework for federal financial aid. Students with declared minors will not qualify for federal financial aid once all degree requirements for their first bachelor’s degree have been met, whether the student has been conferred a bachelor’s degree or not. 

TIP: Students can avoid losing aid eligibility by arranging all courses in their minor to be complete during or prior to the last semester in which all other degree program requirements will be met.

Federal financial aid eligibility will be determined based on a student’s current program of study and course registration as of the financial aid freeze date.  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure all coursework in the semester satisfies the current approved program degree requirements.  Changes to a student’s program of study received after the financial aid freeze date will be made effective for the following term.

TIP: Ensure all program of study change requests are submitted for department review and authorization at least a few weeks prior to the start of the semester.  

A repeat course may be eligible for federal financial aid depending upon whether the course was previously passed or not.  Students may only repeat previously passed courses one additional time. There are no restrictions on the number of repeats for a previously failed course.  More Info on the Repeat Coursework Policy.

A prerequisite course is eligible for federal aid programs if the course satisfies a degree requirement in the program of study such as a general education requirement (LEP) or an elective credit needed to meet overall program requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I view courses that do not qualify for financial aid?
A: On your degree evaluation, courses listed in the excess block are not aid eligible.  Please view this Course Program of Study Eligibility video for more details.

Q: How do I find my current program/major or make a change?
A: Your current program/major is listed at the top of your degree evaluation.  If you’re considering a change to your program of study, you should meet with your academic advisor.

Q: When is the last day to modify my enrollment for financial aid eligibility?  
A: Students are required to follow the academic calendar for all course registration add/drop periods.  It is the student's responsibility to ensure that their degree evaluation accurately reflects their current program enrollment and that any updates are submitted in sufficient time to allow for processing.  We recommend submitting program updates at least 3 weeks before the beginning of the term. 

Your federal financial aid eligibility will be determined based on your current program of study and course registration as of the financial aid freeze date.  After that, changes to your enrollment will not be considered towards your financial aid enrollment status.

Q: How will I be notified if I am taking courses that are not eligible for financial aid?
A: You will receive an email regarding courses that are not counted in your program if it impacts your financial aid eligibility.  You should monitor your Southern email account regularly, but you may also access your degree evaluation at any time to review course listed as ‘Excess’ (not counted towards financial aid eligibility).  

Q: What should I do if I am notified that a course(s) I am taking is not counting towards my program requirements and financial aid enrollment status?
A: Do NOT begin modifying your schedule without consulting an academic advisor! An advisor will be able to review your account for potential substitutions or alternate course selections.

Q: How do I know if I have met all my degree requirements?
A: You can view your degree evaluation to see if you have met all degree requirements.  You will continue to qualify for financial aid until you have met all requirements and earned enough credit hours to graduate.  If you have questions, contact your academic advisor.

Q: I have taken all the classes required for my degree, but I cannot graduate because my GPA is too low. Can I get financial aid for classes to raise my GPA?
A: Generally, a minimum GPA of 2.0 is required at the undergraduate level, and a minimum GPA of 3.0 is required at the graduate level.  If you cannot graduate because your cumulative, program, or major GPA is too low, you have not met all your degree requirements so you may continue to qualify for financial aid.  

Q: I am working on one major and a minor. Will I qualify for financial aid?
A: You may qualify for federal financial aid until you have met all degree requirements for your major program of study.  Once you have completed all degree requirements for your major, you won’t qualify for federal financial aid even if you haven’t completed your minor.