Financial Aid Policies

Students who receive financial aid need to follow certain policies to ensure they continue receiving aid.

Academic performance and conduct both can affect a student's ability to receive or continue receiving financial assistance.

SAU Financial Aid Policies and Procedures (pdf)

Updated 2021

Read these policies regarding your financial aid

Code of Conduct


Iowa Code Section 261F.2 and Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 601.21, require the development, administration, and enforcement of a code of conduct governing educational loan activities. Our officers, employees, trustees, and agents, including the alumni association, booster club, and other organizations associated with St. Ambrose University, agree to the provisions of this Code of Conduct and will refrain from:

  • Refusing to certify or delaying the certification of an education loan based on a borrower's choice of lender.
  • Assigning a first-time borrower to a particular private education loan lender through the student's financial aid award or another means.
  • Packaging a private education loan in a student's financial aid award, except when the student is ineligible for other financial aid, has exhausted his or her federal student aid eligibility, has not filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or refuses to apply for a federal student loan.
  • Accepting impermissible gifts, goods, or services from a lender, lender servicer, or guarantor. The institution may accept default prevention, financial literacy, or student aid-related educational services or materials, or other items of a nominal value.
  • Accepting philanthropic contributions from a lender, lender servicer, or guarantor that are related to the educational loans provided by the entity that is making the contribution.
  • Serving on or otherwise participating as a member of an advisory council for a lender, lender affiliate, or lender servicer.
  • Accepting from a lender or its affiliate any fee, payment, or other financial benefit as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement or other contract to provide education loan-related services to or on behalf of the lender.
  • Accepting fees or other benefits in exchange for endorsing a lender or the lender's loan products.
  • Requesting or accepting an offer of funds for private education loans from a lender, in exchange for our promise to provide the lender with placement on a preferred lender list, or a certain number of volume of private education loans.

St. Ambrose University is committed to providing the information and resources necessary to help every student achieve educational success. To accomplish this goal the financial aid staff will consider each student's individual needs.

A comprehensive Code of Conduct detailing permissible and impermissible activities has been provided to all of our officers, employees, and agents. Review the detailed Code of Conduct (pdf)

Satisfactory Academic Progress

In order for students to receive financial aid, they must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) towards a degree.

Students are required to complete 67% of the credit hours attempted, as well as to maintain a minimum GPA as listed in the table below:

Hours EarnedCumulative GPA
0-15 1.70
16-30 1.80
31-45 1.90
46-120 2.00


Attempted hours include:

Incompletes: which are treated as Fs.

Course repetitions: when a course is repeated, the most recent grade will be used in the calculation of GPA but the credits are counted as attempted for each course taken; and remedial coursework. Credits are counted even if financial aid was not being received at the time. The 67% completion rate helps to ensure that a student will complete their degree within the maximum time frame allowed, and still be eligible for Federal student aid, which is 180 credits, or 150% attempted/earned credits. However, if it is deemed mathematically impossible to complete the degree within that maximum time-frame, federal aid eligibility will end at that time. Once a student hits 120 attempted credits, the Financial Aid Office will require that the student complete a degree audit with their academic advisor. (A notice will be sent to the student explaining their current standing). This audit must be submitted prior to additional Title IV aid being awarded.

Taking courses that are not specific to their degree, or dropping courses during the semester, can affect aid eligibility as all attempted courses are counted in the SAP calculation. Course registration is monitored utilizing our campus based system.

All transfer credits accepted and applied towards an SAU degree plan are counted at 100% completed. A maximum of 90 credits will be counted for a student enrolling who has a prior bachelor's degree. We do not count transfer GPA in our calculation.

If a student changes majors, all credits attempted at the University are counted towards SAP and may expedite the need for the degree audit. Appeals of the 150 percent period will be allowed on a case-by-case basis. See the Financial Office for details.

Note - academic scholarships require a minimum GPA of 2.0 at all times and premier academic scholarships (Ambrose, Honors, Trustees, and Presidential scholars) require a minimum GPA of 3.25 at all times and eligibility lasts up to four academic years. This policy does not guarantee receipt of institutional aid.

Graduate Students:

Most Graduate students are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA by their respective departments. The exception for graduate work holds that a GPA of 2.8-2.99 shall be deemed satisfactory progress provided the GPA is raised to 3.0 after no more than two consecutive semesters. This equates to no more than 2 C grades, which are then offset by 2 A grades. Students will be monitored both by the Financial Aid Office and by their departments. A graduate appeal consists of the SAP Appeal Form, and a letter from their department, which states they are allowing them to continue.

Appeal Process:

SAP is monitored after each spring semester. If a student fails to maintain SAP, he/she will be deemed unsatisfactory and financial aid will be suspended for future terms, including summer term.

A student may appeal the financial aid suspension by submitting a letter, along with the SAP Appeal Form (which will be sent to you with your notice, and is available in Student Financial Services), to the SAP Appeals Committee, comprised of Financial Aid Office staff members. The letter must include an explanation as to why Satisfactory Progress was not maintained and what has changed that will allow the student to make SAP at the next evaluation at the end of the upcoming spring term. Documentation to support the appeal must accompany the letter and SAP Appeal Form. Appeals will be considered for pertinent situations that were beyond the student's control. For example, a health issue that prohibited class attendance or a documented, work-related interruption. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for further guidance at 563-333-5775.

The SAP Appeals Committee will approve an appeal if it is determined that the student will be able to make SAP standards by the end of the next academic year OR as determined by advising that it will take multiple terms to regain satisfactory standing, which is outlined in their Academic Plan. The student's registration will be monitored each term to make sure they are following the outlined course plan and making progress.

If an appeal is approved and the student still does not make SAP by the end of the academic year or Academic Plan period, whichever the case may be, the student's financial aid will be suspended. At that time, the student may appeal in person to the SAP Appeals Committee. Further eligibility for financial aid will be determined at that time.

Refund Policy

Students are obligated for the full amount of tuition for the courses for which they are registered, subject to the refund schedule.

Check with Student Financial Services and the Academic Calendar for specific dates each semester. These dates are set based on percentages and therefore actual dates will change each semester.

Tuition Refund Policy (Fall and Spring Terms)

  • You will have 10 days to make changes to your enrollment without penalty.
  • You will be charged 50 percent of tuition through the next two weeks if you drop below 12 credit hours (full-time); or, if you are already a part-time student and you drop below your original enrolled credits. Any changes made after this time period will result in a full charge of tuition.
  • This rule does not apply to MBA/MOL or Adult Learning students.
  • This rule does not apply if you fully withdraw from the university. In that case, your tuition will be prorated based on the number of days attended.
  • Online students have 5 days to make changes or drop at 100% refund of tuition. If a student drops between 6-10 days, students will receive a 50% refund of tuition if they drop an online course. After day 10, students are charged 100% if they drop a class.
  • University and course fees are non-refundable after the course begins.

Tuition Refund Policy (Summer or Winter Term)

Due to the short nature of summer courses, once a summer course has commenced students are responsible for 100% of the tuition charges. There will be no refunds of tuition or fees. This applies to seated and online courses.

Other Refunds

Upon withdrawing from the University, a refund for room and board will be made on a pro-rated basis dating from the day the student has successfully completed the check-out procedure with the Dean of Students. Fees are non-refundable.

Withdrawal Policy

Information on this page also can be found in the Course Catalog.

Important considerations before dropping a class or withdrawing from school:

  • Students should consider consulting with an advisor or counselor.
  • Students should consider a possible reduction of financial aid.

To initiate the withdrawal process, a student must contact the Office of the Registrar office and complete the Official Withdraw form.
Student refunds are computed by using:

1. The date the Office of the Registrar receives a formal drop form from the student
2. The date the Office of the Registrar receives a phone call from the student requesting a drop.

Students who do not go through the "official" withdrawal process (i.e. leave campus without filing withdrawal papers, or fail to earn any passing grades in their registered courses) will be deemed to have attended through the mid-point in the semester unless the last date of attendance at an academically related activity can be documented. They will have their charges and financial aid adjusted accordingly.

Return of Title IV Aid Refund Policy

The law specifies how St. Ambrose must determine the amount of student financial aid program assistance that you earn if you withdraw. The law requires that when you withdraw during a payment period, the amount of student Financial Aid program assistance that you have earned up to that point is determined by a specific formula. If you received (or St. Ambrose University received on your behalf) less assistance than the amount that you earned, you will be able to receive those additional funds. If you received more assistance than you earned, the excess funds must be returned.

The amount of assistance that you have earned is determined on a prorated basis. That is, if you complete 10 percent of the payment period, you earn 10 percent of the assistance you were originally scheduled to receive. Once you have completed more that 60 percent of the payment period, you earn all of your assistance. If a student has earned more than the 60 percent, then no return of funds is necessary.

If you received excess funds that must be returned, St. Ambrose University must return a portion of the excess equal to the lesser of:

  • Your institution charges multiplied by the unearned percentage of your funds
  • The entire amount of the excess funds.

St. Ambrose University is required to return all of the excess funds; you must return the remaining amount. Any loan funds that you must return, you (or your parent for a Plus Loan) repay in accordance with the terms of the promissory note. That is, you make scheduled payments to the holder of the loan over a period of time.

If you are responsible for returning grant funds, the law provides that you are required to return 50 percent of the grant assistance that you receive. Any amount that you do have to return is a grant overpayment, and you must make arrangements with St. Ambrose University or the Department of Education to return the funds.

Example of an Official Withdrawal

Joe Student had to withdraw during the semester due to personal reasons. Joe had been awarded and credited to his student account, a Pell Grant for $998, FSEOG for $250 and a subsidized loan for $1,261. Joe completed only 11 days of the semester or 10 percent of the payment period. Joe was assessed $951 in tuition and fees.

Amount and Order of Return
The school must return the lesser of:

  • The unearned amount of the financial aid;
  • An amount equal to the student's total institutional charges for the period multiplied by the unearned percentage (Example: $951 X 90% = $855.90)

Amount the student returns:
The student must return the unearned amount of Title IV assistance minus any funds the school has returned (Example: $1261-$855.90 = $405.10). In effect, a student whose financial aid exceeded institutional charges will have to return funds. However, if the amount the student is required to repay is to a grant program, the student is required to only pay half of the amount.

In this example, both SAU and Joe will return loan proceeds. After initiating the withdrawal process, it was determined that $855.90 of the loan proceeds were to be returned by SAU and $405.10 of the loan proceeds returned to the loan program by Joe, in accordance with the terms of the promissory note.

Based upon the calculation, the Pell Grant amount to be returned was $997.10; however, because the Pell is to be repaid by the student, only 50% or $498.55 must be repaid. ($997.10 X 50% = 498.55) In this case, no FSEOG funds are returned as the loan and Pell repayments cover the excess award. Joe is now in a Pell Grant overpayment situation.

Withdrawals from Modules and Summer sessions

Modules are courses which do not span the entire academic semester, but fall within the academic semester time frame. The standard academic semester is 16 weeks of instructional time. A module course will be 8 weeks of instructional time. This includes semester-based programs with a summer term consisting of two consecutive summer sessions; for instance, the summer term has courses that begin on May 15th, ending on June 26th, and another course beginning on June 29th, ending on August 11th. 

For all programs offered in modules, a student is a withdrawal for Title IV purposes if the student ceases attendance at any point prior to completing the payment period or period of enrollment (unless the institution has written confirmation from the student that they will attend a module that begins later in the enrollment period). Written confirmation is identified during the drop process with the advisor or the Registrar's office.  

Students are required to answer the question: If you are registered for other courses during this term, do you intend to complete those courses? Students who answer "Yes" to this question will have their financial aid reviewed and adjusted accordingly. Students who answer "No" to this question will be reviewed under the Return of Title IV Funds calculation process.

The regulation requires the institution to determine whether Title IV funds must be returned based on the number of days actually completed versus the number of days the student was scheduled to attend in the payment period. The new regulations prevent the students from enrolling in modules or compressed courses spanning the period, completing a portion of the period, and retaining all aid for the period. 

The Financial Aid Office has established the following procedures associated with handling withdrawals from programs offered in modules.

How to determine whether a student in a program offered in modules has withdrawn
Schools can determine whether a student enrolled in a series of modules is a withdrawal by asking the following questions:

1. After beginning attendance in the payment period or period of enrollment, did the student cease to attend or fail to begin attendance in a course he or she was scheduled to attend?

  • If the answer is no, this is not a withdrawal.
  • If the answer is yes, go to question 2.

2. When the student ceased to attend or failed to begin attendance in a course he or she was scheduled to attend, was the student still attending any other courses?

  • If the answer is yes, this is not a withdrawal; however, other regulatory provisions concerning recalculation may apply.
  • If the answer is no, go to question 3.

3. Did the student complete all requirements for graduation?

  • If the answer is yes, this is not a withdrawal. Aid may need to be recalculated.
  • If no, go to question 4.

4.  Did the student successfully complete coursework applicable to the student's Title IV-eligible program of study in one module or a combination of modules that equals 49% or more of the number of countable days in the payment period or period of enrollment?

  • If the answer is yes, this is not a withdrawal. Aid may need to be recalculated.
  • If no, go to question 5.

5. Did the student successfully complete coursework applicable to the student's Title IV-eligible program of study equal to or greater than what the school considers to be half-time enrollment for the payment period or period of enrollment?

  • If the answer is yes, this is not a withdrawal. Aid may need to be recalculated.
  • If no, go to question 6.

6. Did the student confirm attendance in a course in a module beginning later in the period?

  • If the answer is yes, this is not a withdrawal, unless the student does not return.
  • If the answer is no, this is a withdrawal and the Return of Title IV Funds requirements apply.

Dropping a course from the student's fall, spring, or summer schedule may cause the financial aid awards to be revised. The date of the drop affects the eligibility. If the student drops below full-time status (12 hours for undergraduates and 9 hours for graduates), they may lose financial aid eligibility. Keep in mind, Federal Direct Student Loans require at least half-time enrollment (6 hours for undergraduates and 4.5 hours for graduates). 

Dropping courses prior to the first day of instruction, but remaining enrolled in future courses: financial aid will be adjusted to reflect the change in enrollment and disbursement dates will be adjusted. Students may contact the Financial Aid Office to inquire how a dropped course will affect their financial aid.

Withdrawing may affect your eligibility to receive financial aid in subsequent terms based on Satisfactory Academic Progress rules.  Please contact the Financial Aid Office if you are planning to return. If you have borrowed a student loan at any time during your education, we also recommend that you contact your Federal Student Loan Servicer of your enrollment status. By withdrawing from the university, you are subject to the rules and regulations of the Federal Student Loan Program. If your loans should go into repayment once you withdraw from school, it is important to make your payments on time to prevent default. If you default on a loan, you will lose your eligibility for any future financial aid. The Federal Student Loan Servicer can help you with various repayment options, deferment or forbearance options.

Post-Withdrawal Disbursements

When a student withdraws from the University, he or she generally becomes ineligible for future disbursements of federal financial aid. In some cases, however, funds earned prior to withdrawal can be offered to the student through a post-withdrawal disbursement (PWD).

This article will explain when withdrawn students may be eligible to receive a PWD of federal financial aid, and the process for disbursing those funds.

A PWD is offered to you - or your parent in the case of a Parent PLUS loan - if, prior to withdrawing, you earned more federal financial aid than was disbursed for the payment period. The amount earned is determined as part of the required federal Return of Title IV Funds calculation.

The conditions and limitations for a PWD are the same as those for a late disbursement, with some additions.

The University does not include as a PWD any funds from a disbursement the University was prohibited from making on or before the date of the University's determination that the student withdrew, which would apply to the following:

  • A first disbursement of a Direct Loan to a first-year, first-time borrower who withdraws before completing 30 days of the program of study
  • Second or subsequent disbursements of Direct Loan funds unless the student successfully completed the loan period
  • Disbursements of Federal Pell or IASG Grant funds to s student for whom the University did not have a valid SAR/ISIR by the deadline established by the Department of Education

You have the opportunity to accept or decline federal financial aid as part of a PWD. The University is required to contact students eligible for a PWD of loan funds prior to making any disbursements.

A PWD of federal grant funds for open charges only does not require your acceptance. The University is required, however, to obtain your permission to credit your account with federal grant funds in excess of open charges.

We will contact you by letter, and that letter must be completed and returned within 30 days for federal financial aid to be processed. You can mail or fax your signed letter to:

St. Ambrose University
Attn: Financial Aid Office
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, Iowa 52803

Fax: 563-333-5818

You can choose to accept only an amount for the balance due to the University or, if eligible, to accept a larger amount that will result in excess funds being returned to you. It is important to understand that accepting a PWD of student loan funds will increase your overall student loan debt that must be repaid under the terms of your Master Promissory Note. Additionally, accepting a PWD of grant funds will reduce the remaining amount of grant funds available to you should you continue your education later.

The University must disburse a PWD of federal financial aid funds within 180 days of the date of the University's determination of the withdrawal.

Late Disbursement Rules
There are times when federal financial aid is not disbursed until after the academic year/loan period (AY/LP) for which the funds were intended has ended. In these cases, federal financial aid earned prior to completing an AY/LP may be disbursed through a late disbursement. This article explains when you may be eligible to receive a late disbursement and the process for disbursing those funds.

In general, a student or parent, who is otherwise eligible, becomes ineligible to receive federal financial aid funds on the date that

  • For Direct Loans, the student is no longer enrolled at the University as at least a half-time student for the period of enrollment (i.e. loan period) for which the loan was intended
  • For federal student aid grants, the student is no longer enrolled at the University for the award year

However, if certain conditions are met, students must be considered for a late disbursement of those funds.

You must be considered for a late disbursement - or your parent, in the case of a PLUS loan - if:

  • The Department processed a SAR/ISIR with an official EFC before you completed the prior AY/LP; and
  • For Direct Loan awards, a Direct Loan was originated for you before you completed the prior LP; and
  • For Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) awards, the grant was awarded to you before you completed the prior AY/LP.

A late disbursement will be offered to you - or your parent, in the case of a PLUS loan - under these circumstances:

  • You completed a previous academic year/loan period
  • You were eligible to receive federal financial aid loan funds but did not receive them prior to completing the prior AY/LP.
  • The Secretary processed a SAR or ISIR with an official expected family contribution for the student for the relevant award year.

Late disbursements are prohibited if:

  • It is a second or subsequent disbursement of loan funds, unless you have graduated or successfully completed the loan period.
  • You are a first-year, first-time borrower and withdraw prior to completing 30 days of your degree program. (At this time we are exempt from this federal regulation due to our low student loan default rate under 34 CFR 685.303(b)(5)(i)(A) or (B))
  • It is a disbursement of any type federal financial aid funds and you did not have a valid FAFSA on file prior to the processing deadline.

In addition to the above, the University may not make a late disbursement later than 180 days after the date you became ineligible (i.e. the last day of the loan period - for loans, or last day of the award year - for grants).

If you are found to be eligible for a late disbursement of grant or loan funds, the University will disburse the funds to your student account. You will have 14 days from the date of disbursement to decline any or all of the student loan.

Gainful Employment

Gainful employment information is provided in compliance with US Department of Education guidelines requiring institutions to report certain information about students who enrolled in Title IV (financial aid) eligible educational programs that lead to gainful employment in a recognized occupation.

At this time, St. Ambrose University does not offer programs that qualify under gainful employment terms.

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