Wits University is registered as a provider to certify and administer US Federal Aid loan applications (Title IV Funds) for eligible students from the United States, and who are studying at the University. Loans may be provided to both new and continuing students.
Where a student withdraws from their studies, and Title IV Funds have been released by the US Department of Education, the University must determine whether the student is eligible for the loan amount, and if not, return funds to the US Department of Education as required. Under the Regulations of the Offices of the US Department of Education by which the University must abide, Section 34CFR 668.22 details the requirements for return of Title IV Funds. As a registered ‘foreign school’, Wits University is audited each year to ensure that the requirements have been met.
This policy outlines how Wits University will monitor and administer the ‘Return to Title IV’ (R2T4) requirements set by the US Department of Education.
- When a student has withdrawn from the program as per the Faculty procedures;
- When the student has taken leave of absence or put his/her studies in abeyance as per the Faculty procedures;
- When the student has ceased to complete his/her academic obligations
1. RETURN OF TITLE IV FUNDS (R2T4)
The University is required to determine the earned and unearned portions of the Title IV aid as of the date the student ceased to be enrolled prior to the end of a payment period or period of enrolment:
- Up through the 60 percent point in each payment period or period of enrolment, a pro rata schedule is used to determine the amount of Title IV funds the student has earned at the time of withdrawal, or
- After the 60 percent point in the payment period or period of enrolment, a student has earned 100 percent of the Title IV funds he or she was scheduled to receive during the period. For a student who withdraws after the 60 percent point, there are no unearned funds.
- The student is approved for a Leave of Absence from his/her programme for no longer than 180 days of study but does not return to the University within the agreed upon time of return.
2. DETERMINING THE WITHDRAWAL DATE FOR A STUDENT WHO WITHDRAWS OFFICALLY OR UNOFFICIALLY
When a student officially withdraws from their registered program as per their Faculty procedures, the date of withdrawal will be taken to be the date of the receipt of the notification, in writing, of the student’s intention to withdraw. This date will be used to for the R2T4 calculation.
In the event that a student receives all failing grades for a teaching period, the US Loan Administrator will analyse the final grades and/or contact the supervisor to determine if the results represent a lack of attendance. In the event it is determined that those grades were the result of lack of attendance, the US Loan Administrator and/or supervisor will attempt to determine the last day of attendance and this will be the date used in the R2T4 calculations.
If the exact date cannot be determined, Wits University will assume a 50 percent attendance, and use that date as the last date of attendance. Students who do not attend even one class are ineligible for Title IV Funds and all of the loan proceeds will be returned to the US Department of Education.
When a student withdraws from a program without written advice of the intention to withdraw, the Loan Administrator will attempt to determine the last date of attendance to calculate the R2T4 amount. If the exact date cannot be determined, a 50 percent attendance will be used in the R2T4 calculation.
3. CALCULATING THE AMOUNT OF THE TITLE IV FUNDS OF WHICH A STUDENT IS ELIGIBLE UPON WITHDRAWAL
The University will determine the earned and unearned portion of Title IV Funds using a specific formula. The US Loan Administrator is responsible for calculating R2T4 using worksheets provided by the US Department of Education to determine the amount of Title IV earned by the student and the unearned portion that should be returned to the US Department of Education.
The main factors affecting the formula are:
- date of withdrawal,
- start and end dates for the loan payment period,
- amount of loans due to be disbursed/amount of loans actually disbursed,
The amount of earned/unearned Title IV Funds for which a student is eligible is determined on a pro rata basis. The percentage attendance is calculated by dividing the number of days attended by the total number of days in the payment period (excluding scheduled breaks that are 5 days or more and days that the student was on approved LoA) For example, if the student attends for 60 days of the 187 days in the payment period, the student is eligible for 32 percent of the Title IV Funds they were originally scheduled to receive.
If a student’s determined attendance is 60 percent or more of the days within a payment period, the student would have earned 100 percent of the Title IV Funds that they were scheduled to receive. For example, if the student completes 120 days of the 187 days in the payment period, the student is eligible for 64 percent of the Title IV Funds. This entitles the student to 100 percent of the funds they were originally scheduled to receive.
As per the program rules the student is entitled to receive Title IV funds earned. If the University has only disbursed less than the amount earned, the student is entitled to a post-withdrawal disbursement.
The University must return the calculated unearned portion of the Title IV Funds to the US Department of Education within 45 days from the date of determination that the student is withdrawn from their program.
4. POST-WITHDRAWAL DISBURSEMENTS
If the student did not receive all of the Title IV Funds they have earned, he or she will be entitled to a post-withdrawal disbursement. The student may choose to decline the post-withdrawal disbursement so that additional debt is not incurred.
The US Loan Administrator will notify the student of the pot-withdrawal in writing, within 30 days from day of determination of withdrawal. If the student fails to respond within at least 14 days, they will be ineligible for the post-withdrawal disbursement.
If communication is received after the deadline; the University may choose to honour the late response; if not received later than 180 days after date of determination.
If the US Loan Administrator receives notification from the student that they wish to proceed with the post-withdrawal disbursement, the US Loan Administrator will notify the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office to withdraw and release the Title IV Funds to the student’s fee account.
The priorities for disbursement (e.g. from Direct Loans first, paid to outstanding institutional charges before being paid directly to the students, etc.)
- Tuition and mandatory fees will automatically be deducted from the earned aid prior to releasing a refund to the student.
5. TIMEFRAME FOR RETURNING TITLE IV FUNDS
All funds must be returned to the US Department of Education within 45 days from the date of determination that the student is withdrawn. Where this is not possible such as in cases of unofficial withdrawal, the University will return the funds to the US Department of Education as soon as is reasonably possible.
When an R2T4 amount is determined, the US Loan Administrator will use standard University refund procedures to obtain a bank draft, made payable to the US Department of Education.
6. ORDER IN WHICH TITLE IV FUNDS MUST BE RETURNED
The University will advise the US Department of Education to which Title IV Funds are returned to distribute those funds in the following order of priority:
- Federal Stafford Unsubsidized loans, then
- Federal Stafford Subsidized loans, then
- Federal PLUS loans, then if any balance is refundable
7. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE STUDENT
Students withdrawing officially from the University, whilst in receipt of Title IV Funds are required to complete the online exit counselling.
Repayments of the Direct Loan by the student to the US Department of Education must be repaid in accordance with the terms of the promissory note (loan contract). That is, scheduled payments must be made to the US Department of Education over a period of time. Students who have received payment of excess loan funds from Wits University before withdrawing will be required to return funds to the US Department of Education for which they are no longer eligible.
The requirements for returning Title IV Funds to the US Department of Education when students withdraw are separate from the requirements of the University’s Tuition Fee Policy for International Students. Upon withdrawal, students may still owe funds to the University for unpaid institutional or other charges, or for Title IV Funds which the University has returned to the US Department of Education. Students will be liable for any outstanding tuition fees and other fees or charges owed to the University.
If fees are not paid, the University may take the following steps:
- A student may be required to leave the residence if his/her university accommodation fees are not paid
- A student will not receive his/her results nor be allowed to re-register in any faculty until all fees, and other monies due to the University, have been paid. A final-year student will not be permitted to graduate.
- A student’s access to the University or libraries may be denied if he/she does not settle his/her fees or makes suitable arrangements with the Fees Office to settle fees.
- Any fees not paid will lead to the matter being handed over to attorneys for collection.
Any student who anticipates difficulty in complying with the requirements in regard to the payment of tuition or accommodation fees should contact the Manager of the Fees Office.
8. LEAVE OF ABSENCE (LoA)
Leave of Absence is viewed as a temporary interruption to a student’s attendance at the University. Leave of Absence refers to a specific time period during a program when a student is not in attendance.
To be approved for Title IV Funds, the Leave of Absence must meet the following conditions:
- Leave of Absence will only be approved for Masters by dissertation and PhD candidates only;
- The requested period of absence should be within the same Academic year (payment period);
- All requests for Leave of Absence must be submitted in writing and include the reason for the student’s request. An Enrolment Amendment form must be completed and signed by the student and specify the date the student would like the Leave of Absence to begin and end. The Enrolment Amendment form is available at the relevant Faculty office;
- Students must apply in advance for a Leave of Absence unless unforeseen circumstances prevent them from doing so;
- The reason for the requested Leave of Absence must generally be non-academic in nature and there must be a reasonable expectation that the student will return from the Leave of Absence within the allowed time frame;
- The total time taken for all Leave of Absence must not exceed 180 days in any 12-month period, including days in which the University is not in session.
The University may grant a student Leave of Absence that does not meet the conditions outlined above. However, such Leave of Absence is considered a withdrawal or Cancellation by the University as well as for Title IV purposes.
Where a student does not return to complete their studies within the agreed timeframe, the student will be considered withdrawn as at the date they originally took leave. The R2T4 process will be completed.
9. OFFICES DESIGNATED TO ACCEPT NOTIFICATION OF OFFICIAL WITHDRAWAL
Official withdrawal from the University:
a. Faculty Office
Completion of the cancellation/deregistration form
- Form to be collected from the Faculty Office;
- Signed by each School the student is registered with;
- Signed by the University Library
- Completed form to be returned to the relevant Faculty Office
b. International Students Office
- To be notified of the cancellation/deregistration to initiate Title IV Return
RELATED DOCUMENTS AND LEGISLATION
US Federal Aid Loans:
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for US Federal Aid Loans Eligibility
Tuition Fee Policy for International Students
Leave of Absence from Study
For information on cancellation of registration refer to section General Rules G5