A Tale of Student Crisis

The intersection of financial aid and enrollment

We understand that navigating the complexities of course enrollment can be daunting, and that the process becomes even more challenging when there are financial aid implications. 

Did you know that designating a course as “Not for Credit” or “Audit”, or any variation of a course that will not count toward the student’s program requirements, can have severe consequences for a student’s financial aid? Read on to learn about a student who must return a substantial amount of aid because a course was recorded as “Audit” rather than “Repeat”, reducing their eligibility for aid. 

Student: I am a first-generation student who doesn’t have anyone in my family who can assist me with school decisions. 

I signed up for French 101 as a refresher before taking a higher level French course next semester, but I didn’t know that auditing a class could impact my aid. I was also concerned that taking more than 12 credits my first term at U-M was going to be too much for me, so I made sure my courses totaled just 12 credit hours so my financial aid would remain at full-time enrollment levels. 

After the deadline passed to get credit for adding any additional courses, the financial aid office told me that I was only part-time because my French class is audited and that my aid would be reduced. I don’t understand why no one told me about this and I don’t know how I’m going to return $8,000 in financial aid money now. This money paid my housing costs and I used the rest to buy my books. Why wasn’t I told about this earlier?

OFA: This situation highlights an enrollment conundrum that we see from a few students every semester. We understand that students don’t know what they don’t know and sometimes rely heavily on their friends for financial aid advice. Our academic advising partners assist us with making sure students understand enrollment requirements and how they intersect with financial aid requirements. Unfortunately, many courses are not noted as non-credit bearing until after the drop-add period is over, preventing offices from more proactively reaching out to potentially impacted students.

OFA distributes a publication titled Required Reading. This resource outlines enrollment terms and conditions, as well as information on many other topics related to financial aid. This publication is featured on every financial aid notice, and can also be found on the OFA website throughout the year.

Finally, warnings attached to course enrollment for those courses that could impact credits and/or aid are also in place. We encourage students to read these carefully when they appear during backpacking and registration, and work with us or their academic units to gain as complete an understanding as possible.

OFA is not aware of these course designations until one to two weeks after the three week drop/add point of the semester. The drop/add date is critical since this is where enrollment is frozen for financial aid purposes and courses added after this date do not count toward a student’s financial aid enrollment level for that semester. 

We encourage all students to contact us if they have questions, and to seek out the Required Reading publication.