Course Load & Student Loans

How your course load can affect your college tuition and student loans

The question often comes up among prospective college students: what happens to my college tuition and student loans if I decide later to lighten my course load?

You should know that despite that number of credit hours taken, some schools charge a flat college tuition rate. However, most schools will charge by credit hours. Additionally, federal student aid regulations obligate schools to monitor their students' "satisfactory academic progress," which takes a broad look at their grades and course load. It directs schools to monitor students' progress—either on an annual or semester basis—for:

  • Quality—Your cumulative grade point average should remain at least at a 2.0 level (which equates to a C average at most schools).
  • Quantity—You should be passing at least 75% of the classes you attempt on a cumulative basis.
  • Timeframe—You should be able to complete your degree in no more than 150% of the normal timeframe. In other words, if the school requires 120 hours to graduate, your financial aid may only pay for 180 hours of attempted credits.

As a practical matter, if you continue to register for at least half-time status (which at many institutions means two classes per term), pass most of those courses, and otherwise make satisfactory progress toward your degree, you should remain in good standing in terms of your financial aid.

On the other hand, as a result of this monitoring, students can be dismissed from school if they are not meeting these guidelines. This in turn triggers the immediate loss of their financial aid, under federal law. In addition to federal aid, some colleges and universities limit their institutional aid only to those students who are enrolled at least half-time. Make sure to check with your school's financial aid office for details.

Finance your course load with a flexible private student loan

We want to help you find the financing you need, as well as the student budgeting resources and convenient student bank accounts that meet the needs of busy students like you. Also, you can find helpful information on how our affordable Citizens Bank Citizens Bank Student Loan™ can help pay for your college class costs. If you still have questions on how to pay for college tuition costs, call a student loan specialist at 1-800-708-6684, and we'll help walk you through the process.

Additional student loan and college planning resources

Does Extending my Graduation Date Affect Financing?
Understanding In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition
Financing After Transferring Schools
Repeat Borrowing Checklist
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Banking For Students
Student Borrowing
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