/ Financial Aid

Financial Aid Policies

Here are important things you need to know about your financial aid. 

Maintaining Eligibility

If you'd like to be considered for financial aid each year you must:

  • Apply for aid by deadlines — the priority deadline is May 1 of each year
  • Meet satisfactory academic progress requirements

Each summer, students who demonstrate financial need will be awarded financial assistance for the next academic year.

For renewal students, the dollar amounts of aid will normally remain constant if a student's need remains the same. Yearly aid increases or decreases are based upon an evaluation of the financial aid application.

For those academic merit awards with renewal criteria based upon the demonstration of a specific cumulative GPA, see your original merit award letter for your specific renewal criteria.

Many factors can serve to reduce a student’s financial aid eligibility in any given year. Some of the most common influencing factors are:

  • An increase in either the parents’ or the student’s income as compared to prior year
  • A decrease in the number of family members
  • A decrease in the number of family members in college
  • An increase in the parents’ or student’s reported asset holdings
Privacy Policy – FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, also known as the Buckley Amendment) was passed by Congress in 1974 to protect the confidentiality of students’ records and information. 

Hope College’s policy on student records incorporates the rights guaranteed by FERPA. Students are notified of their FERPA rights annually through publication of the rights in the Loading... and the student handbook.

Repeat Courses for Financial Aid Eligibility

Federal regulations limit the number of times a student may repeat a course and receive federal financial aid for that course.

  • A course being repeated for the first time counts toward enrollment for financial aid eligibility.
  • Retaking a course that was previously failed one or more consecutive times (received an F) counts toward enrollment for financial aid eligibility.
  • A previously passed course counts in enrollment for financial aid eligibility one additional time. A second or subsequent repeat must be excluded from the enrollment calculation of financial aid eligibility and the aid revised if allowable credits drop below full time (12 credits).
  • This rule applies whether or not the student received aid for earlier enrollments in the course.
  • Only Title IV federal aid is subject to this policy (Federal Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, TEACH Grant, Direct Loans and Federal Work Study).
  • Courses where the course and number remain the same but the content changes might not be considered a repeat when taken more than once. An example is a music performance course. The Registrar's Office confirms qualifying enrollments as non-repeats on an individual basis.
  • Should financial aid need to be adjusted to reflect the exclusion of repeats, the Office of Financial Aid will send a revised award letter to the student.

Example 1: Student fails first, second, third, etc. attempt of a course. Because student never received a passing grade, course can be repeated and be included in enrollment for financial aid.

Example 2: Student fails first attempt and receives a D for the second attempt. A third attempt can be included in enrollment for financial aid for a final time. After a passing grade (A to D- or P) is received only one additional attempt can be counted for financial aid enrollment.

Example 3: Student fails first attempt, receives a D for a second attempt, fails third attempt. Student takes course a fourth time. Because the student received a passing grade earlier and then repeated the course, enrollment in the fourth attempt cannot be included for financial aid enrollment regardless of the grade.

Example 4: Student passes first attempt with a D, fails a second attempt. Student cannot receive federal aid for any further attempts.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Federal regulations require that students make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) towards the completion of their degree and maintain good academic standing. Students who fall behind in their coursework, or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes, risk losing their eligibility for federal and state financial aid, external scholarships/grants/loans, Hope College grants and certain Hope College scholarships (see note below).

SAP is assessed both qualitatively (by cumulative grade point average) and quantitatively (by earned credit hours). Progress is measured annually at the end of each spring semester to determine a student’s financial aid eligibility for future enrollment periods. Students not meeting these SAP standards are notified by the Office of Financial Aid (both by mail using their self-reported permanent address and through their Hope email account) that they have become ineligible for future financial aid eligibility.

Note: The following Hope-sponsored merit scholarships are exempted from this policy: Alumni Honors Scholarship, Anchor Award, Distinguished Artist Award, Distinguished Scholar Award, Hope Heritage Award, Presidential Scholarship, RCA Honors Scholarship, Transfer Scholarship, Trustee Scholarship, Valedictorian Scholarship and VanderWerf Scholarship. Renewal criteria for these scholarships are found in the student’s award letter from the Office of Admissions.

Requirements to maintain SAP

There are three components to SAP as detailed below. Failure to comply with ANY one of these three requirements may result in a loss of aid eligibility:

  1. Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) as follows:

    Total Attempted Credit Hours Cumulative GPA
    0–24 1.7+
    25–57 1.9+
    58–89 1.95+
    90+ 2.0+
  2. Maintain minimum rate of earned credit hours for all attempted credit hours: Students must earn a percentage of all credit hours attempted according to the schedule below. For example, a student attempts a total of 63 hours and earns 54 hours. S/he has earned 86% of attempted hours which satisfies the minimum 65% required.

    Total Attempted Credit Hours Percentage that Must Be Earned
    1–32 60%
    33–64 65%
    65–96 70%
    97–126 75%
    127–160 80%
  3. Complete degree requirements within 160 attempted credit hours: Students pursuing their first undergraduate degree may receive financial assistance for which they are eligible through the semester in which they attempt their 160th credit hour. (Exception: If student is the recipient of a Hope merit scholarship, s/he is eligible to receive that scholarship for any remaining semesters of eligibility as long as s/he meets all merit scholarship renewal criteria.)

Students who change majors will have the credit hours attempted under all majors included in the calculation of the attempted credit hours total, the GPA calculation and the maximum credit hours requirement. Students already holding a Bachelor’s degree and pursuing either a teaching certificate or a second degree are considered to be making SAP if all courses in which they enroll are required for certificate or degree completion and 100% of all attempted hours are earned.

Definitions for “Attempted Hours” and “Earned Hours”

  1. Attempted Hours are the cumulative hours a student has attempted during all enrollment periods at Hope College, irrespective of receiving financial aid. The following grades are included as attempted credit hours and these hours therefore count toward the cumulative maximum:
    • All passing grades (A through D- and P)
    • No report (NR)
    • Incomplete (I)
    • Withdrawal (W)
    • Failure (F)
  2. All passing grades (A through D- and P) are considered earned hours.
  3. CLEP, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Credit by Exam credit hours are included in both the measurement of attempted and earned hours.
  4. Transfer hours accepted by Hope College are included as both attempted and earned hours.
  5. If a student repeats a course, the credit hours for the repeated course are included in both the attempted and earned hours when evaluating SAP. The credit hours for the first course are included in attempted hours but are not included in earned hours.
  6. Audit hours are not included in either the calculation of attempted or earned hours.
  7. Successful completion is measured using the cumulative total number of earned hours as reflected on the student’s academic transcript at the time of evaluation.
  8. If a student is not making SAP at the close of the spring semester and subsequently attempts additional hours during the following summer, these additional hours are considered as attempted and earned (if passing) in the reevaluation of his/her aid eligibility for the following academic year.

SAP Monitoring and SAP Suspension

At the end of each spring semester (after spring semester grades are posted), the cumulative academic record is reviewed and SAP status is evaluated for all students. Students not meeting at least one of the three SAP requirements are notified of their SAP Suspension status in writing. Students on SAP Suspension lose their eligibility for financial aid; however, they may appeal this status by submitting the Hope College SAP Appeal Form to the Office of Financial Aid.

SAP Appeals

A student may appeal his or her suspension of aid eligibility if s/he believes there were extenuating circumstances that prevented normal academic progression. Examples of extenuating circumstances include a personal or immediate family member serious illness (physical or mental), death of an immediate family member, pending incomplete grades, etc.

To appeal, the student must submit to the Office of Financial Aid the Hope College SAP Appeal Form, which allows the student to explain and document extenuating circumstances.

The SAP Appeal Form, along with all required documentation, must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid prior to November 1 if requesting reinstatement of financial aid eligibility for the fall semester, or March 1 if requesting reinstatement of financial aid eligibility for the spring semester. Any appeal submitted for a term after the student has ceased attending said term will not be granted.

Students are limited to three (3) SAP Appeal submissions during their enrollment at Hope College.

If an SAP appeal is approved, the student is placed on SAP Probation or SAP Academic Plan for one semester and s/he remains eligible to receive financial aid during this semester.

SAP Probation

Students on SAP Probation are expected to meet the terms of the SAP policy at the end of the SAP Probation semester. Students on SAP Probation are reviewed at the close of their probation semester to determine if they meet the terms of the SAP policy.

Students who succeed in meeting the terms of the SAP policy by the close of their SAP Probation semester are eligible to receive their financial aid funds in the subsequent semester. However, they will be monitored annually at the close of each subsequent spring semester to determine if they continue to meet the college’s SAP requirements.

Students who fail to meet the terms of the SAP policy by the close of their SAP Probation semester are notified that they are again on SAP Suspension and lose eligibility for financial aid. A student may respond by submitting another Hope College SAP Appeal Form. (Students are limited to three (3) SAP Appeal submissions.)

SAP Academic Plan

The Office of Financial Aid may make the decision to require the development of an Academic Plan after the student has submitted the Hope College SAP Appeal Form.

The purpose of an Academic Plan is to ensure that the student is on track to achieve successful program completion. The Academic Plan will include the minimum number of credits the student must earn and the minimum GPA required during the subsequent semester. Students will be notified of the Academic Plan requirements following a successful appeal.

If a student appeals and attends Hope College under an approved Academic Plan for SAP, s/he remains eligible for financial aid as long as s/he continues to meet the conditions of the plan. The student’s SAP status and conditions of the Academic Plan are re-evaluated annually and may be modified at the close of each spring semester.

Reinstatement of Financial Aid

Students will be taken off SAP Suspension and considered for financial aid through one of the following methods:

  • Earn the minimum required cumulative GPA and earn the required percentage of attempted credits.
  • Successfully appeal their suspension by following the SAP Appeal process previously described.

Other Financing Options for Students Who Fail to Make SAP

Private loan options are available to students not making SAP. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information.

Dissemination of SAP Policy Information

  1. The Hope College SAP policy is readily available in the Hope College Catalog and on the college’s website at http://www.hope.edu/offices/financial-aid/policies.html
  2. Subsequent to the drop/add dates for both the fall and spring semesters, all enrolled students receive an email alerting them to the college’s SAP policy with a link to the online SAP policy statement.

Note: This policy is subject to change in the future should there be any changes in federal regulation.

Withdrawals and Refunds

Federal Title IV Student Financial Aid

Federal regulations mandate the formula for calculating the amount of federal aid a student and school may retain when a student withdraws from all classes during a semester. In general, a student “earns” federal financial aid in proportion to the number of days in the semester the student has attended. The school must calculate the portion of the total financial assistance that the student has earned and is entitled to retain. If a student receives (or the college receives on the student’s behalf) more assistance than the student earns, the unearned funds must be returned to the applicable federal aid program. Students who initiate a complete withdrawal and have not completed the federal verification process will be ineligible to receive any Title IV financial aid.

This policy applies to all students who completely withdraw, drop out or are expelled from Hope College and receive financial aid from Title IV funds:

Federal Title IV Student Financial Aid consists of:

    • Federal Academic Competitiveness Grants
    • Federal Direct Loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized)
    • Federal PLUS Loans
    • Federal Pell Grants
    • Federal SMART Grant
    • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG)
    • Federal TEACH Grant
    • It does not include Federal Work Study (FWS)

A student’s withdrawal date is:

  • The date the student began the withdrawal process
  • The midpoint of the period of enrollment for a student who leaves without notifying the college
  • The student’s last date of attendance at a documented academically related activity

Prorated adjustments on all institutional charges, including tuition and fees, are calculated using the College Refund Policy.

Title IV aid is earned on a prorated basis up to and including the 60% point in the semester. After the 60% time of attendance is reached, Title IV aid is viewed as 100% earned.

Unearned Title IV aid shall be returned to the loan programs before grant programs.

Adjusted statements are sent to the student’s permanent address on file. Students are responsible for any remaining portion of their institutional charges after Title IV funds are returned. Resulting credit balances are paid to the student within 14 days after the adjustments are posted.

Students who are making a complete withdrawal during a semester must complete a Withdrawal Form (obtained at the Office of the Registrar).

Michigan Competitive Scholarship or Tuition Grant

If a student withdraws and is eligible for a full tuition refund, any Michigan Competitive Scholarship or Tuition Grant award will be canceled. If the student is eligible for a partial refund, his or her award will be reduced based on the percent of the tuition and activity fee originally paid by the award.

Hope College Grants, Scholarships & Outside Scholarships

A student will retain a percentage of all other financial aid based on the percentage of tuition retained.

Title IV Conflict of Interest and Code of Conduct
  1. Hope College (the College) prohibits revenue-sharing arrangements with any lender. This is defined as any arrangement between the College and a lender that results in the lender paying a fee or other benefits, including a share of the profits, to the College, its officers, employees or agents, as a result of the College recommending the lender to its students or families of those students.
  2. The College prohibits its employees of the Office of Financial Aid from receiving gifts from any lender, guaranty agency or loan servicer. This is not limited just to those providers of Title IV loans. The statutory language refers to lenders of “educational loans” thus private education loans offered to students at the College are covered in this provision as well. The law does provide for some exceptions related to specific types of activities or literature. This includes:
    a. Brochures or training material related to default aversion or financial literacy.
    b. Food, training or informational materials as part of training as long as that training contributes to the professional development of those individuals attending the training.
    c. Favorable terms and benefits to the student employed by the College as long as those same terms are provided to all students at the College.
    d. Entrance and exit counseling as long as the College’s staff are in control and they do not promote the services of a specific lender.
    e. Philanthropic contributions from a lender, guaranty agency or servicer unrelated to education loans.
    f. State education, grants, scholarships, or financial aid funds administered by or on behalf of the State.

  3. The College prohibits contracting arrangements whereby any employee of the College’s Office of Financial Aid may not accept any fee, payment or financial benefit as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement or contract to provide services to or on behalf of a lender relating to education loans.
  4. The College prohibits the steering of borrowers to particular lenders, or delaying loan certifications. This includes assigning any first-time borrower’s loan to a particular lender as part of their award packaging or other methods.
  5. The College prohibits offers of funds for private loans. The College will not request or accept such offers. This includes any offer of funds for loans to students at the College, including funds for an opportunity pool loan, in exchange for providing concessions or promises to the lender for a specific number of loans, or inclusion on a preferred lender list.
  6. The College prohibits staffing assistance from a lender. The College will not request or accept any assistance with call center staffing or financial aid office staffing. However, the law does not prohibit the College from requesting or accepting assistance from a lender related to:
    a. Professional development training for financial aid administrators.
    b. Providing educational counseling materials, financial literacy materials, or debt management materials to borrowers, provided that such materials disclose to borrowers the identification of any lender that assisted in preparing or providing such materials.
    c. Staffing services on a short-term, non-reoccurring basis to assist the College with financial aid- related functions during emergencies, including State-declared or federally declared natural disasters, and other localized disasters and emergencies identified by the U.S. Secretary of Education.

  7. The College prohibits advisory board compensation. Employees of the College may not receive anything of value from a lender, guarantor, or group in exchange for serving in this capacity. They, may, however, accept reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred while serving in this capacity.
Directory of Consumer Information 

In accordance with federal regulations set forth under The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, a summary of consumer information must be made available to all students at Hope College.