Course Program of Study (CPOS)

Course Program of Study (CPOS)

The Department of Education is placing an important emphasis on federal financial aid rules that may impact the amount of aid you receive. This is referred to as Course Program of Study (CPOS). This may result in the reduction of your scholarships, loans, and grants.

Specifically, for federal aid to pay for courses in your major, minor, or other degree requirements, it must be part of your program of study or be necessary to earn the total hours required for your degree.  Taking courses that are not a part of your program of study could result in receiving less federal financial aid and potentially having to pay for courses out-of-pocket. 

Academic departments determine program requirements and these will be entered in the degree evaluation program called Degree Works. For the degree requirements for your program of study please visit your course catalog or your Degree Audit Report (DARS).

  • Common Reasons for Ineligibility
    • The student registers for courses other than instructed to by advisor that are not required for the declared program.
    • The course is a substitution, but the official substitution process is not complete.
    • Courses are not required in the student’s catalog year.
    • The course was previously repeated and no longer qualifies for aid.
      • If the course is already repeated twice, with passing grades, it is not eligible for financial aid. The student may register for a different eligible course.
    • The course is an elective and the student already fulfilled all electives.
      • Electives are correctly calculated in Degree Works. If electives are fulfilled and a substitution is not completed, the course is not eligible for federal aid.
  • WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON YOUR FINANCIAL AID?

    You may only receive federal financial aid for outstanding coursework that counts towards your declared program of study.  As of now, institutional aid (such as scholarships) are not subject to the same federal regulatory restrictions; however, your cost of attendance will be based on coursework that applies to your declared program of study.  This could result in a reduced amount of aid as total aid cannot exceed the cost of attendance.  Dropping or not attending courses can negatively impact your eligibility for current or future aid.

    Financial aid is initially awarded based on the enrollment status you indicated on your admissions application (for both undergraduate students and graduate students).

    Enrollment Status Types Undergraduate Graduate
    Full time 12+ credits/semester 9+ credits/semester
    Three-quarter time 9-11 credits/semester NA
    Half time 6-8 credits/semester 6-8 credits/semester
    Less than half time 1-5 credits/semester 1-5 credits/semester

    If your federal financial aid is reduced due to enrollment in coursework that does not count towards your declared program of study, you should review the program requirements in degree works and adjust your schedule; or, contact your academic advisor to discuss your academic options. 

    Examples:

    • If you are eligible for a Pell Grant and enroll in 12 hours and only 9 of the 12 hours are required towards your declared program of study, the Pell Grant will be reduced to a three-quarter award based on the 9 eligible hours. You may still be eligible to receive full-time scholarship funds.
    • Federal student loans for undergraduate and graduate students require 6 eligible hours of enrollment. If you are enrolled in 6 hours and only 3 hours are required for your program of study, you are not eligible for a federal student loan.
  • FAQS

    What is a program of study (as defined for financial aid purposes)?

    A program of study consists of courses required to complete a degree, inclusive of required coursework within the major, concentration, minor, and catalog. The specific courses for a student are identified through a degree evaluation tool (DegreeWorks).

    What types of Aid are affected by CPOS?

    Disbursement of Federal Aid (i.e., Pell Grant, SEOG, Work-Study, and Direct Loans) is based on coursework that counts toward the program of study. State and Veteran Assistance programs are also subject to the same regulatory restrictions. 

    How does CPOS impact Cost of Attendance (COA)?

    Cost of Attendance is an estimate of the cost for students to go to school for a specific amount of time (semester or year) and is based on the student’s enrollment status. Enrollment status for financial aid is based on outstanding coursework that applies toward the officially declared program of study. If you are an undergraduate student enrolled in 12 hours that count towards your program of study, you will be considered a full-time student for cost of attendance purposes. However, if only 9 of the 12 hours are required for your officially declared program of study, the tuition and book components of your COA will be reduced to a three-quarter time amount.

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

    DegreeWorks will be used to determine if a course is part of the program of study. A process will run prior to the start of the semester to identify students who are impacted.  Students enrolled in ineligible coursework will be notified via their Millersville University email. The process is run daily from the time of registration until the end of the add/drop period of the semester. 

    What about courses that will be substituted and thus become part of a student’s program of study?

    The Academic Advisor must approve and process a course substitution (exception) through the Registrar's Office by the end of the drop/add period each semester for it to be included as eligible coursework for federal financial aid.

    How will courses needed for completion of minors be treated?

    Minors must be required for the degree, or fulfill an elective, in order to be included as eligible coursework for federal financial aid.

    How will courses needed for double majors be treated?

    Double majors must be officially declared and reflected in the degree evaluation by the end of the drop/add period each semester to be included as eligible coursework for federal financial aid. 

    How will elective courses noted in program of study be treated?

    If a program of study has specific courses that can count as electives, then only those will be eligible unless an adjustment is made by the academic advisor. If there is no specified list, then any course will count as long as open elective hours exist in the program of study.

    What about capstone courses, internships, honors courses, and prerequisite coursework?

    These courses count for federal financial aid only if they are required in the student’s program of study. However, if a student is enrolled as a regular student in an eligible program of study and is required to take a prerequisite course prior to enrolling in a required course for the program, the prerequisite may be included in the COA and federal aid determination. A student may need to obtain an exception from their Academic Advisor to ensure the pre-requisite course is being counted towards CPOS. No more than a maximum of 30 attempted hours inclusive of remedial / developmental and prerequisite coursework from all post-secondary schools combined can count for federal financial aid purposes.

    Can I change my program of study to receive federal financial aid for a course that does not apply toward my current program of study?

    If you need to take courses that are not in your program of study, it is likely that you are not in the program that best fits your educational goal. You need to meet with an Academic Advisor to ensure you are in the correct program of study. Changing your program of study can only be done with your advisor and should be done with great caution because it may impact your eligibility for future semesters. Always work with an academic advisor when you are changing from one program to another as it can cause you to lose financial aid eligibility by reaching the maximum time-frame for completion of degree (150% rule). 

    How will the courses used to earn Post Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure be treated?

    Coursework attempted for the sole purpose of completing state requirements for Teacher Licensure or Add‐On Endorsement certification counts as eligible coursework for Federal Direct Loans. Federal Direct Loan eligibility is based on undergraduate annual / aggregate loan limits regardless of class level. Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure is monitored through the degree evaluation tool (DegreeWorks).  You must be enrolled at least half-time in coursework listed on your Program of Study each semester to qualify for a Federal Direct Loan. This applies to Post-Baccalaureate Certification programs only and does not include Post Master's Certifications. Post-Master's Certifications do not qualify for federal aid. 

    What about graduating seniors in their last semester?

    Only courses that are part of the program of study as documented in the degree evaluation tool (DegreeWorks) are eligible for federal aid. For example, if you only need 3 hours to graduate but you choose to register for 6 hours to qualify for a Federal Direct Loan, you will not be eligible for the Direct Loan. Though your federal aid does not include ineligible coursework, you may still qualify for other types of aid based on your total enrollment (i.e. private loans).

    How will this affect study abroad?

    Study abroad courses may count for federal financial aid if they apply towards outstanding coursework in your officially declared program of study.

    How are scholarships affected?

    Institutional Scholarships do not currently require your courses to count in your officially declared program of study. However, the cost of attendance will be reduced for courses that are not counting in the program of study, which may result in a lower amount of institutional aid a student may receive. 

    What if a course doesn't count toward CPOS but I think it should?

    Email or make an appointment with your academic advisor if you need to make adjustments to your officially declared program.  

    I’m enrolled in 12 undergraduate hours, but 4 of those hours don’t count towards my officially declared program of study. How does that affect my financial aid?

    Federal Financial aid will be disbursed based on the 8 credit hours that apply towards your officially declared program of study. The Federal Pell Grant award will be reduced from a full-time enrollment award to a half-time enrollment award. You may be eligible to receive Federal Loans because you are enrolled at least half-time status in eligible coursework (see Enrollment Status Chart above). As applicable, your institutional aid will be based on full-time enrollment. However, because your cost of attendance (COA) for federal aid will also be reduced to half-time, your total aid may be reduced since it cannot exceed your COA.

    I want federal student loans, but only 4 out of my 9 enrolled hours apply towards outstanding requirements in my officially declared program of study. Can I still get my loans?

    The answer is no. To receive a federal student loan, you must be enrolled at least half-time in credit hours that apply toward your officially declared program of study. 

    For the upcoming semester, I plan to enroll in 17 hours, which includes a 3 credit class that doesn’t apply toward outstanding requirements in my officially declared program of study. Will financial aid pay for the ineligible 3 hours class?

    Financial aid will disburse based on full-time enrollment status. If at least 12 of your credits apply towards outstanding requirements in your officially declared program of study, then you are still considered a full-time student for federal financial aid purposes. If eligible you may receive a full-time Federal Pell Grant and Federal Student Loans if you have applied for them. Financial aid will pay for any academic-related charges, including the charge for the additional class. However, the financial aid you receive may not be enough to cover all tuition costs, leaving you responsible for paying the remaining balance.

    Some of the classes in which I’m enrolled for do not apply toward my program of study. What do I do next?

    Your federal aid is based on coursework that applies toward outstanding requirements in your program of study. Therefore, your federal aid may be reduced. You have two options:

    1. Meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss your academic options. If the semester has not started, it may be in your best interest to drop the ineligible course(s) and enroll only in courses in your officially declared program that will be eligible for federal financial aid. 

      OR
    2. If the semester has already begun and your financial aid does not cover all of your tuition costs, you will be responsible for the outstanding balance owed. In some instances, your financial aid, although it has been reduced, is still enough to pay for your course(s) that are not in your program. If not, the ineligible courses can be paid for out of pocket or with a private loan. 

    None of my courses apply toward outstanding requirements in my officially declared program of study, but I still want to take them. What does that mean?

    You are not eligible for federal financial aid. If eligible, you may use your scholarships toward your balance owed. Millersville University offers a Payment Plan through the Office of Student Accounts to help ease the burden of paying for college. You may also look into a private education loan to help with the balance due.