New guidelines set for financial aid packages

Audrey Menninga

Under new guidelines from the Federal Department of Education, NMU’s financial aid policy has been changed for the winter semester.

Financial aid evaluated students’ education once every year, at the end of the winter semester. The evaluation followed three guidelines—students must pass 67 percent of attempted credit hours, have a grade point average of at least 2.0, and receive financial aid for 150 percent of their credit hours. For example, if a student’s bachelors requires 124 credits, then financial aid will cover up to 186 credits. If a student fails any of the requirements, they are given a warning and put on a one-year probation to bring their grades up. All three rules remain with the new system. However, instead of having their GPA evaluated once a year, it will be evaluated once a semester. Like the old system, if a student fails to meet the requirements, they will be put on a warning probation, but this time it’s for a semester instead of the whole year. The other two guidelines were already being monitored on a semester basis.

Michael Rotundo, director of financial aid, said that the change will be permanent.

The new guidelines were passed on Oct. 29, 2010, and will be put into effect after the winter semester. According to Rotundo, because the change was so recent, the Department of Education is still fine tuning the rules and regulations. NMU receives new information on the changes as the department finalizes them. Rotundo sent a campus-wide e-mail to all students to warn them about the new changes.

“I wanted to make sure that students have the heads up as they were signing up for classes, because sometimes students will be signing up for classes and withdrawing over the couple weeks or something,” Rotundo said. “I want to make sure that students are aware that the impact is going to be a quicker turn-around.”

Rotundo said that while he’s not sure if the new changes will help bring students’ grades up, he hopes that it will help students be more motivated to complete the classes they’ve signed up for. Now that students only have one semester to raise their grades, it will be harder for them to bring their percentage of passing credit hours up. Students with only one or two semesters completed will need to be extra careful to maintain their grades.

“Initially it’ll be tougher, especially for new students (who) haven’t had the chance to build up the number of credit hours,” Rotundo said.

Chad Pepper, a senior marketing major, said that he thinks the new policy is a good idea but has some reservations.

“I can see why the university would want to implement this policy, but at the same time different circumstances happen with students during each semester that could possibly cause their grades to suffer,” Pepper said.