It is important that students understand Northern Arizona University’s financial aid policies: Ability to Benefit (ATB), Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), drug law violations, official withdrawal, and repeated coursework.

Ability to Benefit (ATB)

The U.S. Department of Education requires all students receiving federal financial aid to be qualified to study at the collegiate level. To qualify, a student must provide the university one of the following documents:

  • an official, final high school transcript with posted graduation date
  • a GED certification
  • a recognized homeschooling credential

Transfer students, or students who cannot provide any of the above documents, must provide documentation of one of the following:

  • an associate degree
  • 60 or more transferable college units if all units were earned after 7/1/2012
  • 6 or more transferable college units if at least one unit was received prior to 7/1/2012

All Ability to Benefit qualifying documentation should be sent directly from the student’s high school or college to:

Northern Arizona University
Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation
P.O. Box 4084
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-4084 

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

If you are receiving federal financial aid or institutional gift aid, you are required to make progress toward your degree or certificate according to the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards set by Northern Arizona University.

Drug law violations

If you are receiving financial aid in the same semester in which you are convicted for the possession or use of a controlled substance, you will be ineligible for financial aid for a period of time related to the number of offenses committed. This is in accordance with federal and state laws. Refer to the chart below for an exact breakdown of ineligibility intervals.

Possession of a Controlled Substance 

Ineligibility Period 

First Offense

1 Year

Second Offense

2 Years

Third Offense


Sale of a Controlled Substance 


First Offense

2 Years

Second Offense



At a glance
  • If convicted of a drug offense, you will be ineligible for aid
  • Your ineligibility depends on the severity of your offense
  • You can become eligible again before the end of the period

Official withdrawal from the university

If you are a registered student and wish to withdraw from classes, you may do so on LOUIE.  If you are unable to complete the withdrawal process online, you may submit your request in writing using a form available on the Registrar's website.

Returning Title IV Funds if you withdraw

Students receiving financial aid will not receive a refund of tuition or fees when they withdraw.  The student's financial aid will be re-evaluated to determine the amount of aid the student has earned and how much needs to be returned to the federal programs.  In most cases, a student will owe money back to a federal program as a result of the difference between NAU's refund percentage and the Department of Education's refund percentage.  The refund will be applied to the financial aid programs that paid for the tuition and fees.  The amount of aid earned will be calculated on a per diem basis through the 60 percent point of the semester.  After that point, federal financial aid will be considered to be 100 percent earned. 

A student's withdrawal date is the date the student began the withdrawal process, or otherwise notified the university in writing of the intent to withdraw.  If a student attends, then leaves the university without notifying the Registrar, the withdrawal date may be considered back to the midpoint of the semester, and the student will be responsible for returning a certain amount of financial aid.

The university policy on Refund of Fees is a separate calculation of the amount of unearned institutional charges.  Any refund will first be applied to receivables owed to the university, then to any loans the student received.

You are eligible to keep the financial aid that you received. However, a drop below the units for which you have been funded will affect your Satisfactory Academic Progress standing.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Withdrawing from all classes

Withdrawing from all classes will require a recalculation of your financial aid. The impact on your financial aid will depend on the type of withdrawal, the type and amounts of aid, and the time at which you withdraw.

Types of withdrawals  

For financial aid purposes, there are two types of withdrawals, complete and unofficial.

complete withdrawal is the official withdrawal from the university made by the student, in the form of a written letter to the Office of the Registrar.  

An unofficial withdrawal is the failure to complete the official withdrawal. You will receive all failing grades, or a combination of failing grades and withdrawal.

Impact on financial aid awards

You must officially withdraw from Northern Arizona University if you do not plan to attend. If you are currently receiving student loans or have in the past, you must complete exit counseling and notify your lender(s) of your withdrawal.

If you pre-registered, signed up for direct deposit, and decide not to attend, you must withdraw to stop the automatic payment of your tuition.

If you fail to officially withdraw, your aid will automatically pay for your classes, you will receive a failing grade in all classes, and you will be in default at the university until you repay 100 percent of the aid.

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Withdrawing prior to completing 60 percent of term  

Federal regulation considers 60 percent of a term attended is equal to 100 percent of disbursed aid earned. Unless you complete 60 percent of the term in which federal aid was disbursed, you will be required to repay all or part of the federal and state financial aid disbursed in the term. This applies to students who have officially (including medical), or unofficially withdrawn.

Return of Title IV Funds after withdrawing from the university

If you are receiving financial aid when you withdraw, you will not receive a refund of aid that went toward tuition, fees, housing, or dining.

Any refundable amount is returned to the appropriate financial aid sources. Your financial aid will be re‐evaluated to determine the amount of aid you earned and needs to be returned to the federal programs.

Federal financial aid consists of:

Federal Work Study is excluded from this calculation.

Return of aid for recipients who officially withdraw

If you withdraw within the 100 percent tuition refund period, you will have your grant cancelled. If you fail to withdraw within the 100 percent tuition refund period, you will need to repay the grant amount. You cannot receive a refund on institutional aid.

Repeated coursework  

In order for a repeated course to be counted toward your enrollment status for financial aid purposes, you may only repeat a previously passed course once. If you enroll in a previously repeated and passed course for a third time, this course will not count towards your enrollment for financial aid purposes.  

For example, if you are enrolled in a total of 12 units and 3 units you have repeated in the past, you will only be considered enrolled in 9 units for financial aid purposes. 
If you have been awarded financial aid and the repeated course is affecting your enrollment, you will have a hold on your LOUIE account that will prevent any aid from crediting your student account. You may either opt to add an additional course to bring your financial aid enrollment units to full time, or contact our office so that we may reevaluate your financial aid file and make any necessary adjustments to your financial aid.  

At a glance
  • You may only repeat a previously-passed course once
  • Beyond that, the course will no longer count for aid purposes
  • You can replace the repeated class with a new class

Estimated Financial Assistance

Estimated Financial Assistance is any scholarship, grant, loan, fellowship, stipend or need-based employment offered to help a student meet his/her college expenses.  Such aid can be provided by various sources including, yet not limited to, federal and state agencies, colleges, high schools, foundations and corporations.  If the financial assistance is based on Financial Need then it must be treated as Estimated Financial Assistance.  If it is not based on need, and also not considered wages for employment according to federal and state rules, then it is treated as Estimated Financial Assistance.  All Estimated Financial Assistance must be coordinated to ensure compliance with federal Cost of Attendance and Financial Need rules. 

It is important to know that existing financial assistance such as federal or state grants or loans may need to be adjusted.

NAU Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid must be made aware of all financial assistance provided to a student for the purpose of determining how it is treated as part of the student’s financial aid package.  For more information please contact scholarships@nau.edu.