UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

Policies and Procedures

Unofficial Withdrawal Policy

A student is considered to have unofficially withdrawn for Title IV Federal Student Aid purposes when the student receives all failing grades for a semester due to stopping Participation in all courses before the last scheduled day of academic activity.

Participation in an academically related activity

To establish and maintain eligibility for Federal and State financial aid, a student must participate in academic activities related to learning the subject matter of the courses in which the student enrolls.

Examples of such participation include, but are not limited to:

  • Lecture attendance
  • Submission of fully or partly completed assignments, papers, quizzes, or exams
  • Engaging in laboratory activities or performing research related to the subject matter of the course
  • Reading pages of online course content in the official University learning management system
  • Other activities determined by the course instructor and described in the course syllabus

These activities may take place in person or by electronic means as determined by the instructor.

Identification Process

A student who receives failing grades for all courses is presumed to have unofficially withdrawn for that semester. When assigning failing grades instructors are required to document whether the student completed all the scheduled days of academic activity for the course. The instructor indicates the student's participation by assigning one of the values to each failing grade given:

  • Never: Student never began participation in the course.
  • Finished: Student completed all scheduled days of academic activities for the course (i.e.. an "earned F"). This indicator rebuts the presumption that the student has unofficially withdrawn for the semester.
  • Ceased, Date Known: Student began the course but ceased participating before the last scheduled date of academic activities, and the instructor is unable to provide a last date of course participation.

Precedence of Different Failing Grade Indicators

Never: When a student fails a course in which the student never participated; the student is subject to having financial aid recalculated based on the number of credit hours for which course participation is documented. For example, a student receiving a Pell Grant for 12 semester credit hours (full time enrollment) who fails 4 credit hours because the student never participated in the course will have the Pell Grant adjusted down to 8 credit hours (half time enrollment), a loss of 50% of the Pell Grant.

A student with all failing grades and "Never" indicators are considered to have never begun participation in any course, and will have 100% of all grants received returned to the Federal and State programs, along with any portion of loan funds which applied to institutional charges and were not refunded to the student. Any remaining amount of loans refunded to the student as a Title IV Federal credit balance will be reported to the U.S. Department of Education and will be payable by the student under the terms of the Master Promissory Note and Loan Agreement.

Finished: Students with failing grades and at least one "Finished" indicator are considered to have participated through all scheduled days of academic activity and are therefore determined to have not unofficially withdrawn from the semester. Such students are not subject to the Return to Title IV Federal funds policy.

Students with failing grades with all "Ceased, Date Known" indicators are considered to have participated in course up to the latest date reported by any instructor. These students will be subject to the Return to the Title IV Federal funds policy at the unearned aid percentage which corresponds to the student last date of documented participation in a course.

Students with failing grades with all "Ceased, Date Unknown" indicators are considered to have participated in courses  up to the midpoint of the semester. These students will be subject to the Return to Title IV Federal funds policy with an unearned aid percentage of 50%.

When a student receives failing grades with a mix of indicators, then any required adjustments based on never having attended a course(s) will be performed first. Following those adjustments, the student's last date of course participation will be determined. If the student received a "Finished" indicator in any course, the student participated until the end of the semester and no return of funds is required. If the student received failing grades with known dates when course participation ceased, then the latest of those dates will be used to calculate any potential return of fuds. Only in the case when no instructor can report a last date of course participation will the 50% percentage point in the semester be used to calculate any return of funds.

Return of Title IV Federal Financial Aid

Once it has been determined that a student unofficially withdrew from the semester, a return of Title IV Federal funds calculation must be done. The formula for calculating a return of funds is the same as for a student who officially withdraws from the University. Please see the Return to Title IV Federal Student Aid page.