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Return of Title IV Funds

Students who completely withdraw or arrange with the Dean’s Office for a Leave of Absence from the College during a semester and who receive Federal Title IV financial aid (Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG, or a Federal Direct Loan) for that semester are subject to the U.S. Department of Education’s Return of Title IV Funds Calculation.  The calculation determines, based on the student’s date of withdrawal, if any of the Federal Title IV financial aid funds must be returned by the College or by the student.

The student’s date of withdrawal is determined by the Dean’s Office. (  The Dean’s Office communicates this date to the Financial Aid Office.  The Financial Aid Office determines the percentage of the payment period (semester) completed based on the withdrawal date.  If the percentage of the payment period is 60% or less then the calculation determines the percent of federal aid earned. Students who remain enrolled through more than 60% of the payment period (semester) are considered to have earned 100% of the Federal Aid received, i.e., no Return of Title IV aid is required.

The amount of funds that need to be returned to the U.S. Department of Education is calculated as (100% - percent earned (days of the semester enrolled by the student) x the amount of aid disbursed toward institutional charges (Tuition, Activities Fee, Room, and Board).  

The Financial Aid Office, via the Return of Title IV funds regulations, determines if the College or, in some instances, the student needs to return Federal funds. The Federal funds must be returned by either the College or the student within 45 days of the determined date of withdrawal.  The Financial Aid Office will notify the student, within 30 days of their determined date of withdrawal, if they must repay any part of the Federal Title IV funds they received. The student must repay the funds within 45 days of notification from the College in order to be eligible for Federal Title IV funds in the future.  Per Federal regulations, the College is required to report the student to the NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System) if the student does not pay the required funds in full, does not enter into a repayment agreement with the College, or fails to meet the terms of the repayment agreement with the College.

Federal Title IV funds are returned in the following order: Unsubsidized Direct Loan, Subsidized Direct Loan, Direct PLUS, Federal Pell Grant and Federal SEOG.

Here’s how it works at Swarthmore…

The College, upon a student’s withdrawal or leave, may reduce some institutional charges (determined by the student’s date of withdrawal/leave).  This will leave the student with perhaps aid exceeding their adjusted institutional charges - a temporary credit on their student account.

A student may be required to return Federal Title IV program funds if the amount of the temporary credit on their student account does not equal or exceed the amount required to be returned to the Federal government.

Example:  Judy withdraws/takes a leave in the middle of the semester before the 60% mark.  Swarthmore reduces her charges, and in doing so, her student account results in a credit balance of $500.00.  Judy’s Return to Title IV calculation indicates that an amount of $700.00 must be returned to the Federal government.  In this case, the credit balance would become $0.00, and the College would assess an additional $200.00 to Judy’s student account, which she will now owe to Swarthmore.  Swarthmore then returns $700.00 to satisfy the Return to Title IV requirement. In order for Judy to be eligible for Federal funds in the future, she must be sure to repay the $200.00 to Swarthmore College.

Swarthmore College funds are reduced based on the reduction of Swarthmore College direct charges as per the College’s Withdrawal (refund) Policy (  State and outside grants will be refunded based on the policies of those organizations.

A student may be eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement of federal aid funds if the student withdrew before the federal aid funds were disbursed to their student account.  At Swarthmore, this normally occurs when a student has not completed federal verification. The student will be notified and given the opportunity to complete the needed documentation within 45 days of determined date of withdrawal.  If Federal Direct Loan funds are eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement, the Financial Aid Office will notify the student or the parent in the case of a Federal PLUS within 30 days of the determined withdrawal date. The student or parent will then need to respond to the Financial Aid Office within 15 days instructing the Financial Aid Office to disburse the loan funds. The student may be advised by the Financial Aid Office that it may be to their benefit not to accept their Federal aid in order to maintain future eligibility.  The College will disburse automatically further Federal Title IV grant aid unless given written direction otherwise from the student.