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Financial Aid Award Terms & Conditions


All financial aid award offers are based on enrollment pattern, and are dependent upon a determination of eligibility based on grade level, whether or not priority application deadlines have been met (if applicable), and other program specific criteria at the time of the award offer. Awards are contingent upon continued funding from federal, state, and institutional sources. Action by federal or state governments, including but not limited to: insufficient funds or discontinuation of funds may result in rescinding or reduction of award amounts.

A financial aid award is based on information that the student and the student's family (if applicable) submitted in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as any other supporting documentation. SNHU is required by federal law to resolve any conflicts of information that become evident as part of the application review process. It is the student's responsibility to complete and submit application materials to the appropriate agencies within the required or recommended timeframes. It is also the student's responsibility to notify the Student Financial Services Office of any circumstantial changes to the information reported in the FAFSA and supporting documentation.

False or incomplete information submitted by a student or on behalf of a student may result in the cancellation of an award and may require repayment of all or part of the funds disbursed to the student.  In the event a student has received aid he/she is not entitled to, it will be the responsibility of the student to repay those funds. A student may not receive federal or state aid at multiple institutions during the same enrollment period.

Students should carefully review and ensure that they comprehend all financial aid related materials sent from SNHU and/or other agencies that will be awarding financial aid. Students are advised to keep copies of these items for their own records.

During a student's application for aid or at any subsequent time thereafter, he/she will have the right to receive a thorough explanation of the financial aid award process, including the conditions of any student loan that may be awarded. Conditions may include but are not limited to: interest rate(s) for student loans, deferment options, repayment periods and programs, etc. The student will also be responsible for complying with the provisions of any promissory note or other agreement which he/she may sign, including repayment of any student loans. Students accepting an employment offer as part of the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program will be entitled to disclosure of the terms and conditions (including pay rate) for any position that is offered.

Rights and Responsibilities

Students are obligated to know their rights and responsibilities associated with being a financial aid applicant and recipient as well as a student loan borrower and a federal work-study employee.

Students have the right to know:

  • All the federal, state, institutional and private student aid programs available, including both need-based and non-need based programs.
  • Procedures, forms, deadlines, and eligibility requirements to apply for assistance; the criteria for selecting aid recipients and determining the amount of aid awarded.
  • The authorized educational expenses involved in the cost of attendance and how they are determined.
  • How the expected family contribution is calculated, how financial need is determined, and how outside resources may affect aid eligibility.
  • The institutional refund schedules and the return of federal aid as a result of withdrawing from all coursework.
  • The standards required for maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress for financial aid eligibility and the appeal process if have lost aid eligibility.
  • Terms and conditions of any loans, employment, scholarships or grant aid received.
  • How and when disbursements of financial aid are made.
  • Confidential protection of a financial aid record in accordance to the Federal Family Educational Right and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Students have the responsibility to:

  • Accurately and honestly complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Errors can result in delays. False or misleading information is a criminal offense and is subject to fine, imprisonment, or both.
  • Respond promptly and return all required additional documentation, corrections, and/or new information.
  • Report all outside resources that may be received throughout the aid year.
  • Read, understand, and accept responsibility for all forms or agreements signed. SNHU recommends maintaining copies of all forms and agreements signed.
  • Use any federal, state, institutional or private financial aid received during the award year solely for expenses related to attendance at Southern New Hampshire University.
  • Know and comply with the timelines and deadlines for verification or additional information requests from Student Financial Services.
  • Complete Entrance and Exit Counseling if borrowing a Federal Direct student loan.
  • Notify student loan servicers of changes in name, address, and school status.
  • Perform and complete satisfactory work assignments accepted through the Federal Work-Study program.
  • Know and comply with SNHU's procedures related to financial aid: enrollment status for disbursement, satisfactory academic progress, withdrawal, refunds and repayment and debt management.
  • Review and understand specific rights and responsibilities associated with being a Direct Loan borrower.
  • Review and understand specific rights and responsibilities associated with being a Federal Work-Study employee.

Awarding of Aid

There are two types of calculations used to determine a student's financial aid award. The following definitions are required to understand these calculations:

  • Cost of attendance (COA) is an estimate of your educational expenses that you may incur while you attend SNHU. The COA involves estimates for tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, miscellaneous expenses and loan fees (Direct Loan borrowers only). To learn more about your program's COA, please go to the Cost of Attendance page.
  • The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated according to a formula established by law from the information reported on the FAFSA. This information may include your family's taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) as well as family size and the number of family members who will attend college that year.

Financial Need Calculation: COA minus EFC equals Financial Need.
Financial need is the student's eligibility for the following need based programs: Federal Pell grants, FSEOG, state grants, SNHU need-based grants, federal work-study, and Direct Subsidized Loans.

Non-Need based Aid Calculation: COA minus Financial Aid Awarded equals Eligibility for Non-Need-based Aid.
Non-need-based aid is financial aid that is not based on your EFC. The student's COA and how much assistance that is currently awarded is what matters in this calculation. Non-need-based programs include: Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Direct PLUS Loan, SNHU merit scholarships, and other SNHU scholarship programs.

Financial aid funds are awarded for an academic year or remaining period of study and distributed equally between the terms or payment periods that define that academic year or remaining period of study.

  • The payment period is the academic term for all programs except SNHU Online undergraduates.
  • The payment period for SNHU Online undergraduates is the trimester which is comprised of two academic terms.

Direct Loan proration is required when a student is enrolled in a remaining period of student that is shorter than a full academic year.

Direct Loans are awarded to maximum eligibility or a per term amount based on academic program. If awarded per term, then students are notified on their award letter about additional eligibility and can contact Student Financial Services at 877.455.7648. Southern New Hampshire University promotes responsible borrowing to minimize student loan debt upon graduation.

Reporting Additional Financial Awards

In the event that a student receives additional funds not listed on his/her financial aid award letter (including but not limited to: employer reimbursement or assistance, tuition waivers, private scholarships, fellowships, veterans' benefits, veteran readiness benefits, etc.), he/she is required to report these awards to Student Financial Services.

Should the additional funds result in a change to a student's financial aid status, he/she will receive notification of the change of status as well as the reasons for the change. It should be noted that whenever a student receives additional assistance, his/her aid awards may be adjusted or reduced, even if their financial aid has already been disbursed.

Overawards of Aid

Overawards can occur when SNHU receives additional information not accounted for when the student was awarded originally. SNHU is required to resolve any overaward on a student's account. Common examples of changes that cause overawards include, but are not limited to:

  • Receipt of internal or external scholarships
  • Notification of exemptions/tuition and fee waivers
  • Enrollment changes
  • FAFSA corrections
  • Changes to a housing plan

Overawards can result in a balance due to the University which is the responsibility of the student.

College Financing Plan

SNHU complies with the Principles of Excellence Executive Order 13607 and participates in the Department of Defense Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (DoD MOU) to provide the College Financing Plan to all military identified students awarded federal student aid.

The College Financing Plan is a standardized form that is designed to simplify the information about costs and financial aid to make informed decisions about where to attend school. This is in addition to the SNHU award letter for all military identified students who file a FAFSA and are awarded Title IV aid. The College Financing Plan also comes with a supplemental guide to assist with projecting estimates for total costs, costs covered by military benefits, availability of financial assistance, estimated student loan debt, graduation rates, placement information, acceptance of transfer credits, additional program information as well as consumer tools for college choice. Please review a sample of the College Financing Plan to further understand the information provided.


In some instances, SNHU is required by federal and state regulations to review financial aid applications through the process of verification. Student Financial Services reserves the right to request verification of any data submitted by applicants or the parents of applicants (if applicable).

Verification requires that the university review additional documents to verify the information reported on the FAFSA for the student, parent(s), and spouse. Information that must be verified includes income information, high school completion, the number of family members in the household and the number of children in the household who are enrolled at least half-time in college. Document requirements include:

  1. Verification Worksheet - based off of dependency status; and
  2. Federal tax information - SNHU encourages all students and/or parents who filed a taxes to utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool as this is the preferred method for FAFSA filers to report federal tax information.
  3. Other requirements may include: Non-tax filer information, evidence of high school completion, statement of educational purpose, and any other documentation deemed required to validate the FAFSA.

Failure to submit requested documents in a timely manner may result in a delay or cancellation of a financial aid award. If during the process, data is found to be incorrect; the data may be corrected and the award revised. If a student is found to have knowingly submitted falsified or intentionally misleading information, SNHU shall reserve the right to (1) refuse to award financial aid, (2) to cancel all aid that has previously been awarded, and/or (3) to dismiss the offending student from the University. Additionally, at SNHU's discretion, all fraudulent information shall be forwarded to the Office of Inspector General for further investigation.

Verification Deadline:

An applicant who is selected for verification for the 2022-2023 award year must complete the process no later than 120 days after the last day of the student’s enrollment or September 9, 2023.

Secondary Confirmation

In addition to the practice of verification, Southern New Hampshire University reserves the right to select any student's file for Secondary Confirmation. As part of this process, SNHU may request identifying information including but not limited to:

  1. A valid, government-issued photo ID; and
  2. A copy of a utility bill depicting your physical address; and
  3. A notarized statement of identity.

Failure to submit all of the required items within the allotted seven business day timeline, or submission of information which cannot be authenticated will result in a failed review. Failed reviews shall be evaluated on a case by case basis, but will result in loss of financial aid eligibility, withdrawal from course(s), administrative dismissal and/or permanent expulsion from the university. Additionally, and at the discretion of Student Financial Services, any information that is found to be fraudulent will be forwarded to the US Department of Education, Office of Inspector General for further investigation.

Expectations after Successful Completion of Secondary Confirmation

Following a successful review for Secondary Confirmation prior to enrollment, a previously selected student shall be expected to maintain strict adherence to the Course Participation Requirement of SNHU's College of Online and Continuing Education Policies and Procedures in his/her first term of enrollment. Failure to comply with these stipulations will result in loss of financial aid eligibility, withdrawal from course(s), and removal from the university. Students removed from the university in this manner shall have the option of returning, but will need to use non-federal financial aid payment (cash, check, credit card, employer credited tuition, etc.) to do so.

Direct Loan Borrower Requirements

First-time Direct Loan borrowers must complete the following requirements before a loan disbursement will be applied to his/her student account:

  • Complete Entrance Counseling online which helps you learn about a Federal Direct Loan, how the process works, how to manage your education expenses, and understand your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.
  • Complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN) which is a legal document in which you promise to repay the amount borrowed and any accrued interest to the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s). SNHU uses the multi-year MPN which means students can borrow additional Direct Loans on a single MPN for up to ten years.

Award amounts are based on cumulative credits earned toward a specific degree program. Annual borrowing limits for dependent undergraduates are $5,500 for freshman (zero to 29 credits), $6,500 for sophomores (30-59 credits), and $7,500 for juniors and seniors (60 or more credits). Independent undergraduate students can borrow an additional Unsubsidized Direct loan of $4,000 in their freshman and sophomore years and up to $5,000 in both their junior and senior years. Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 each year.

Southern New Hampshire University promotes responsible borrowing and encourages students to borrow what then need to assist with the cost as opposed to the amount that they are eligible for. Repayment for Federal Direct Loans begins six months after you graduate, withdraw, stop attending, or your enrollment status is less than half-time. The standard repayment term is ten years and the interest rate may vary depending on the type of Direct Loan and the disbursement date.

To learn more about loan requirements, annual borrowing limits, lifetime borrowing limits, and the National Student Loan Data System, please go to Direct Loan Information.

Lifetime Limits

Federal Pell Grant - Students who are eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant will have a lifetime limit of 12 full-time semesters or six full years of eligibility. This policy is retroactive to whenever a student first received a Federal Pell grant and includes payments received at colleges or universities that the student had attended prior to SNHU.

Federal Direct Loan Lifetime Limit - All students are subject to aggregate lifetime borrowing limits. Please review the Lifetime Borrowing Limits chart.

Financial Aid Enrollment Status Criteria

As mandated by the US Department of Education, for financial aid purposes, only courses that are considered a requirement to complete the program can be included when the financial aid office determines the student’s enrollment status.

For repeat coursework, students may retake coursework until receive a grade above an F. If a student passes a course, but would like to receive a higher grade or it is required by their program, the student may retake the course one time while receiving financial aid.

Students’ financial aid eligibility is based on two parts: enrollment status and participation. The student’s enrollment status is reviewed at time of disbursement and throughout the given term of enrollment. The student’s participation is defined as the submission of a graded project or discussion, for online forums. The student must participate in any given class in order to receive disbursement.

Direct Assessment Competency-Based Programs

As required by federal student aid rules, only competencies required for a student’s degree can be used in determining undergraduate enrollment status for financial aid purposes.

Credit Load

Credit load is determined by total trimester credits. Based on either fulltime, three-quarter-time or halftime credit load status, student loans will automatically go into deferment. Based on less than half-time academic load status, student loans will not go into deferment.

All SNHU undergraduate students (online, on campus and direct assessment competency-based) and on-campus Mountainview Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in 22-week term:

Enrollment Status Credit Load
Fulltime* 12 credits (12 competencies) 
Three-Quarter Time 9 – 11.99 credits (9 –11 competencies)
Halftime 6 – 8.99 credits (6 - 8 competencies)
Less Than Halftime  Under 6 credits (fewer than 6 competencies)

*NOTE: Undergraduate students are considered fulltime with any combination of undergraduate and approved graduate courses provided they have met all eligibility requirements as outlined within the Undergraduates Taking Graduate Courses policy.

Undergraduate students in eight-week terms:

  • Credit load is based on total credits over entire 16-week trimester (two consecutive eight-week terms)
  • In order to enroll in more than six credits in any given term, a student must obtain permission from their academic advisor and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher

Undergraduate students in all other undergraduate terms:

  • Credit load is based on total credits in a single term.

All SNHU Online Graduate Students, Education Graduate Field-Based Programs, and Doctoral Programs and Mountainview Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in 16-week term:

Enrollment Status Credit Load
Fulltime 6 credits
Three-Quarter Time 4.5 – 5.99 credits
Halftime 3 – 4.49 credits
Less Than Halftime Under 3 credits
  • Credit load is based on total credits in a single term
  • In order to enroll in more than six credits in any given term, a student must obtain permission from their academic advisor and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher

On-Campus SNHU Graduate Students - School of Business, Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second or Other Language, and Education Programs

Enrollment Status Credit Load
Fulltime 9 credits
Three-Quarter Time 7 – 8.99 credits
Halftime 5 – 6.99 credits
Less Than Halftime Under 5 credits

Kenzie Academy Certificate Programs

  • Software Engineering - Backend Development
  • Full-Stack Web Development
  • UX Design
  • Cyber Security
Enrollment Status Credit Load
Fulltime* 8 credits
Three-Quarter Time 6
Halftime 4
Less Than Halftime Under 4 credits

Additional Information:

Graduate students enrolled in their comprehensive exam or who are in dissertation status are considered fulltime.

Graduate students who are registered in a continuation course for a counseling practicum or internship are considered “halftime,” due to the academic and experiential requirements of the counseling continuation courses.

International students in F-1 and J-1 student status must be enrolled full time to maintain lawful presence in the US. Online classes are limited to one class per term counting toward your minimum full-time course load. Any classes taken over the minimum full-time course load may be in-class or online format.

NOTE: All reductions in a full course load for academic or medical reasons, as well as terms off, must be approved by the Office of International Student Services prior to the start of the term or class load reduction. In a final term, if only one course is remaining, it must be taken in-class to maintain F-1 or J-1 student status.

Disbursement of Aid

Financial aid is paid (disbursed) through an academic year or remaining period of study during each payment period or academic term based on academic program. At the time of disbursement, eligibility checks confirm attendance, program, enrollment, and the completion of loan requirements. Financial aid is disbursed:

  • On day 16 of the term for campus and online programs except Direct Assessment Competency-Based Education programs; and
  • On or after day 20 of the term for returning students in Direct Assessment Competency-Based Education programs; and
  • On or after day 30 of the term for new Direct Assessment Competency-Based Education students which is after the completion of the trial period of enrollment where the student attends the program but does not incur charges.

Disbursement of financial aid funds is based on the type of financial aid being paid:

  • Grants and scholarships administered by Student Financial Services are paid directly to the student's SNHU account at the time of disbursement.
  • Loan administered by Student Financial Services and private lenders are paid directly to the student's SNHU account if all student loan requirements are satisfied by the time of disbursement.
  • Federal work-study funds are earned through on and off-campus employment and paid on a bi-weekly basis.
  • Outside scholarships and state grants are paid to the student's SNHU account upon receipt of payment from the outside source.

Direct Loan recipients will receive a disbursement notification to their SNHU email within 7 days of funds being applied to their student account. Students should review their account for the types of loans disbursed (subsidized, unsubsidized PLUS), dollar amount, and date of disbursement. Students have the right to request cancellation of all or part of the Direct Loan amounts disbursed within 30 days of the notification.

Use of Aid

Funds listed on financial aid award letters may only be used for educationally related expenses for the respective academic year.

SNHU applies all financial aid awards directly to institutional charges on a student's student account (charges may include but are not limited to: tuition, fees, housing, book voucher, etc.). Following deduction of these charges, any remaining financial aid funds will be released to the student in the form of a refund. If subsequent charges occur on the student's account after a refund is processed in a given term, the student will be responsible for these new charges.

Students may electronically provide authorization to apply federal financial aid to non-institutional charges by completing the 'Federal Aid Authorization' under Financial Information tab on their mySNHU portal.

Parents may complete an Authorization to Apply Federal Financial Aid to Non-Institutional Charges form to allow Parent PLUS loan funds to be applied to non-institutional charges that may include but are not limited to: residence hall damage fees, parking fees, health insurance, library fees, etc.

Students and parents have the right to cancel or modify the authorization at any time. A cancellation or revision is not retroactive as it will take effect on the date that SNHU receives the update.

Credit Balances and Refunds

Funds for Title IV Recipients to Obtain Books and Supplies
Southern New Hampshire University provides Title IV eligible students a method to purchase books and supplies prior to the beginning of the term if (1) SNHU could disburse the Title IV funds to the eligible student; and (2) the student would have a Title IV credit balance if funds were disbursed.

Depending on program and location, students have the option to use their Penmen Cash account or an online book voucher program.

  • Students are issued a book voucher code which is sent electronically to their University email to be used in the virtual bookstore; or
  • Funds are moved to the student's Penmen Cash account 10 days prior to the start of the term to be used at the campus or online campus bookstore. During the second week of the term, unused funds will be moved back to be available for refund during the scheduled process.

Students may opt out of either program by not using the process provided. Opting-out will not result in an expedited refund. To understand the process and learn more, please to go the University Store.

When the disbursed financial aid and/or payments made on a student account total more than the billed cost, the additional amount will be refunded to eligible students.

The university processes refunds to students based on a refund processing schedule and in a manner that complies with Department of Education requirements for refunding financial aid (Title IV) funds. All refunds will be processed according to a student's refund preference with BankMobile. Learn more about BankMobile refund choices, or view our BankMobile contract disclosure.

In the event that financial aid funds are disbursed in error, the student agrees to repay the full amount to SNHU. If a mistake was made, whether by the student, the Student Financial Services, or another agency, federal regulations require that the mistake be corrected and funds be billed back as necessary.

SNHU may use a current credit balance created by Title IV funds to satisfy a past due balance for allowable unpaid charges within the current year. The current year is defined as the following:

  • Current year for a student who receives Pell/FSEOG and Direct Loans is the award year (July 1 - June 30); or
  • Current year for a student who only receives Direct Loans is the loan period.

SNHU can apply up to $200 from a current Title IV credit balance to pay prior year charges. Prior year is defined as:

  • Any loan period or award year prior to the current loan period or award year.

Return of Title IV Funds

In the event that a student withdraws before completion of a payment period for which financial aid has been received, the U.S. Department of Education regulations govern the procedural guidelines that SNHU must follow to return the payment of aid. These regulations require the Student Financial Services office to recalculate federal financial aid eligibility for students who withdraw, are dismissed, or take a leave of absence prior to completing more than 60% of an academic term or payment period. Please visit the Return of Title IV Funds information page to learn more about the effect of withdrawals on financial aid.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

To remain eligible for federal financial aid programs, students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward completion of a degree. Federal regulations require Student Financial Services to monitor the progress of each student toward their degree completion. Students who fail to achieve defined minimum standards for grade point average and/or fail to maintain the standards for pace of completion of their program, may lose their eligibility for all types of federal and/or institutional aid. SNHU's current SAP standards for all programs are available on our website and/or upon request from Student Financial Services. Please visit the Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid for more information.

Duration & Renewal of Aid

Financial aid is awarded one academic year at a time. Students intending to use financial aid in future terms will need to file a FAFSA that corresponds with the appropriate award year. FAFSA's become available for the new aid year on October 1st.

Student Information and Confidentiality

The student shall be responsible for notifying the University of any change in status including but not limited to: marital, academic, enrollment, legal name, etc. Additionally, the student will be expected to keep his/her local and permanent mailing address current with the Office of the Registrar.

Pursuant to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), all records and data submitted with an application for financial aid, or documentation in support of a student's verification or financial aid appeal will be treated as confidential information. Read and understand more at FERPA Student Right to Privacy. However, it should be noted that university staff members may be required to disclose information about certain issues that relate to the health and safety of SNHU community members.