Withdrawing from the University

1. Policy

When a student withdraws, two separate calculations must be determined:

  1. Refund of Fees
  2. Return of Title IV Aid

1. Refund of Fees:

Based on the withdrawal date determined by the Registrar Office for Regular University students or by College of Extended Learning (CEL) for CEL students, the student may receive a full, a partial or no refund. This refund will not impact the Return of Title IV Aid calculation but will affect the amount of money the student will owe back to the University.
Please check the Fee Refund policy on the Bursar's website and/or the CEL website depending on your enrollment.

2. Return of Title IV Aid:

When a student withdraws, the Bursar or CEL must calculate the amount of financial aid the Title IV recipient has earned based on the withdrawal date. Any Title IV aid in excess of the earned amount is considered unearned. Unearned aid must be returned back to the respective Federal Aid programs.
Non Title IV aid programs (Cal Grant A, Cal Grant B Fee and State University Grant) are not part of the Return of Title IV aid calculation. However, they will still be subject to proration based on the date of withdrawal.

The portion of financial aid to be returned is determined by the percentage of financial aid not earned by the student. The percentage of unearned aid is calculated using the following formula:

Total # of Calendar Days in the semester Not Completed by the Student
Divide by The Total Number of Calendar Days in the Semester

During the first 60% of the enrollment period, a student "earns" Title IV funds in direct proportion to the length of time he or she remains enrolled. A student who remains enrolled beyond the 60% point earns all aid for the period.

Return of Fees vs. Return of Title IV Aid

In almost every instance, the fee refund will be less than the total Return of aid amount. As a result, when a student withdraws, a balance will be created on their student account for the difference between the fee refund and the Return of aid amount. The student is responsible for paying this balance.

2. Repercussions of withdrawing and consequences of outstanding repayment obligation

As a financial aid recipient, withdrawing from all of your classes before the 60% point in the semester may result in the following:

  • Federal aid, including loans, will be reduced and returned back to the corresponding Federal aid programs
  • The student may owe a portion of their Pell or SEOG back to the Department of Education
  • SUGP, Cal Grant A and Cal Grant B will be reduced and returned back to these State aid programs
  • The student will be billed by SFSU for the mandatory return of funds to the US Department of Education and State programs if the student previously received and cashed a refund check.

After you withdraw, you may receive the following notices:

  1. The Office of Student Financial Aid will send you an email informing you of the amount you need to repay to the Federal Pell Grant and/or Federal SEOG. You will be given a deadline to repay this obligation to SFSU. If you miss this deadline, the Federal grant obligation will be referred to the Department of Education and NSLDS. You will then need to contact the Department of Education to make the payment. Once the referral is made, you will be ineligible to receive further financial aid from any colleges until you pay the obligation in full or make a repayment arrangement with the Department of Education as your FAFSA will be flagged regarding this obligation. Your credit report may also be affected.
  2. The SFSU Bursar's office will also inform you if you need to repay any unearned student aid that SFSU was required to return on your behalf. The notification will be sent in the form of an e-bill. Failure to repay this campus obligation may result in the university withholding your ability to register and receive campus services. After a certain date, this unpaid obligation will be referred to the Franchise Tax Board. Referral to the Franchise Tax Board may result in the garnishing of your wages.

SFSU does not have the authority to waive or write off the repayment requirement regardless of the reason for the withdrawal, including extenuating circumstances such as illness, accident, or grievous personal loss.

3. Calculation Process

The following is an example showing the impact on a student's financial aid award, the amount that SFSU is mandated to return back to the financial aid programs and the amount that the student is required to repay due to withdrawal before the 60% point in the semester.

For example:

A student enrolled full time and received the following financial aid in Spring 2015.

Award Type Net Amount Total Award
Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan
$515 - net amount
Subsidized Federal Direct Loan
$2750 - net amount
Federal Perkins Loan
Fedral Pell Grant
State University Grant
Total Financial Aid Disbursed =
Total Deducted for Tuition/Fees
Total Disbursed to Student as FA Refund


On 2/09 the student withdrew from all courses for the Spring 2015 semester.
Based on the student's date of withdrawal, the student only earned 13.5% of the financial aid received. Consequently, the University must reduce the student's financial aid by calculating the adjusted amounts and then return the remaining to the Federal financial aid programs and to the State University Grant.


Student's Adjusted Award - Earned 13.5% of Original Award

Award Type Student's Earned Award
Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan
Subsidized Federal Direct Loan
Federal Perkins Loan
Fedral Pell Grant
State University Grant
Total Financial Aid Earned
Adjusted Tuition/Fees


Note that the University has reduced the student's tuition/fees based on the student's date of withdrawal. Correspondingly the award amounts for the Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan, Subsidized Federal Direct Loan and State University Grants have been reduced.
The student is no longer eligible for the original award amounts of these aid types, based on financial aid regulations.


SFSU must return all or a portion of these aid types to the corresponding financial aid programs:

Award Type Financial Aid Returned by SFSU to Federal Programs & SUG
Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan
Subsidized Federal Direct Loan
State University Grant
$2,440 **
Fedral Pell Grant
$720 **

The student is also obligated to return a portion of the grant funds received for the Spring 2015 semester. See note below:


Note:  Based on the date of withdrawal, the student owes $720 to the Pell grant and $2,440 to San Francisco State University.

Financial Aid Returned by Student  
Paid Directly to Pell Grant
Paid to SFSU

For more information about these policies and procedures, visit the following:
Student Withdrawal Policy –  Fiscal Affairs
Policies and Procedures –  SF State Bulletin
Federal Student Aid Information Center: 1(800) 433-3243

Student Aid on the Web