Courses in Program of Study for Financial Aid

Your enrollment does affect your eligibility for federal financial aid!

Federal Regulations require you to be degree seeking to receive financial aid, but the courses you take must also be required for your program. Essentially, only the coursework that counts toward your degree program will be used in determining your enrollment status for aid purposes.

Why does it matter if the courses are required for my degree?

The purpose of this federal policy is to ensure that students remain on track towards graduation and only receive the aid for which they are eligible.

What types of Aid are affected by this?

Federal Aid (Some examples: Pell Grant, Teach Grant, Direct Loans, Work Study and FSEOG) may only be paid for eligible courses that count toward your program of study. 

State Aid (Some examples: PHEAA State Grant, Ready to Success Scholarship (RTSS), and the Education Assistance Program (EAP) may only be paid for eligible courses that count toward the program of study.

Most Institutional Aid (Some examples: Board of Governors (BOG) Scholarship, Raider Success (RSS) Scholarship, and Athletic Grant in Aid Scholarships) require full-time enrollment and only eligible courses that count toward your program of study will be used to determine your enrollment status.  

Alternative Loans are not subject to the same regulatory restrictions. 

How is enrollment status determined?

At Shippensburg University, the following measure is used for enrollment status:

  • Undergraduates: 12 or more hours is full-time, 9-11 hours is three-quarter-time, 6-8 hours is half-time, and 5 or less hours is less-than-half-time.
      • Undergraduates taking a graduate level course to meet undergraduate requirements, work with your advisor to submit an exception form to the Registrar’s Office to allow the course to count for undergraduate credit.  Since federal financial aid is disbursed 10 days before the start of the semester, we recommend submitting the exception form early.
      • Undergraduates taking a graduate level course for graduate credit, that course will not count toward your enrollment status and may have an impact on your financial aid.
  • Graduates: 9 or more hours is full-time, there is no three-quarter-time enrollment for graduate students, 6-8 hours is half-time, and 5 or less hours is less-than-half-time.

What and when will the process be run to identify courses not in the program of study?

The degree audit tool will be used to determine if a course is part of the program of study.  The Registrar’s Office will run a process to identify students who have a course not in their program of study and notify them after semester scheduling has closed, but before schedule cleanup.  The process will be run again before billing and again before disbursement of financial aid (10 days prior to start of semester).  We will continue to run the process through the drop/add period.  After the drop/add period, no further financial aid enrollment adjustments will be made.  It is important that all changes affecting courses that count be made before the end of the drop/add period.  You may log in to your degree audit to review any courses that may be listed under the Course(s) Not Counted Towards Your Program of Study block.

How will I know if the courses count?

To see if your classes are eligible, check degree audit. This is a great tool for you to review your program audit to see required courses and courses remaining to complete your program!

What can I do if my classes do not count and who should I contact?

Start early and be familiar with your degree audit, so you can make enrollment adjustments. You can also use the “What If” feature to check other degrees you may be considering. If you are planning to change your enrollment or program of study, we encourage you to contact your advisor for assistance.

What do I need to do to ensure my correct aid amount disburses?

Since we disburse your federal financial aid 10 days before the start of the semester, we recommend you enroll in courses that are required for your degree program of study and declare your major or minor early.  

What about students who are going to change majors?

Only the current semester major will be used when evaluating the courses. Courses counting only toward future majors will not count toward the program of study.

What if I make a change to my schedule after my aid has been disbursed and I receive my refund?

The Financial Aid Office may need to re-evaluate your financial aid award depending on when the schedule change occurs. We would encourage you to contact our office prior to making any schedule changes after a semester begins. Schedule changes could affect the amount awarded or disbursed, causing you to owe a balance.

Eligibility Examples:

  • If you are eligible for the Pell Grant and are enrolled in 12 credit hours, but only 9 are required for your program, you will receive federal aid for only those 9 eligible hours.
  • If you are enrolled in 6 credit hours, but only 3 are required for your program, you will not be eligible for the student loan. Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 eligible hours for Federal Direct loans.

Am I still able to take courses not required for my degree?

Yes, you can take a course that is not required. Just know that the course will not count toward your financial aid enrollment status.

How will this affect Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is based on total hours taken and not federal aid eligible hours taken.  All hours will continue to count towards this as noted at Financial Aid Eligiblity.

I have questions specific to my financial aid, who should I contact?

You should direct questions specific for financial aid to the Financial Aid Office. We are located in Old Main, Room 101. You may stop by during our office hours (8:00 to 4:30 Monday through Friday). You may also contact us by phone at 717-477-1131 or by email at

You may also visit our website at for additional information regarding Course Program of Study and Financial Aid. 

Prepare and register early to ensure your courses will be eligible for financial aid!