The Financial Aid Process


Refunds of Excess Financial Aid

How will I receive my refund?

Refunds are made by direct deposit or by a check mailed to your home address to students who have financial aid funds in excess of their SMU charges.  Refunds caused by a Direct Parent Plus loan will be refunded to the parent borrower. 

When will I receive my refund?

Students with a credit balance will receive their refund beginning five days prior to the start of a semester (or for summer semester, ten days prior to YOUR first class day). The Bursar's office processes the refunds for students and parents

How can I sign up for direct deposit?

You may submit a direct deposit authorization form to the University Bursar’s Office.   See the University Bursar’s website for instructions.

What if I don't want my refund?

Students and parents have the right to reduce or cancel a loan if they do not want a refund.  Please contact the Bursar's office.

Financial Aid Refund Policy

  1. Dropping Credits
    • Students may be billed for a portion or even all of their financial aid awards if they drop credits or do not carry the minimum number of credits required for aid eligibility.
    • The value of Federal Pell Grant, SMU Need Based Aid, SMU Academic Aid, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and Tuition Equalization Grant (TEG) is determined each semester at the end of the 12th class day.
    • Students will be billed for aid adjustments caused by changes in enrollment status.
  2. Withdrawal from the University
    • In addition to billing associated with withdrawal, there may be additional billing, particularly if a student has received federal funds (including Federal Direct Loans) which were to have covered the entire semester's educational costs. Refer to the next section for more detailed information on Title IV* withdrawal refund rules.
    • Withdrawal through the first quarter of the semester will result in 100% billing of federal grant aid (SEOG, Federal Pell Grant) and may also result in a partial or complete billing of loan aid (Federal Perkins Loan and Federal Direct Loans) and other financial aid.
    • The bill calculated as a result of withdrawal will depend on the official date of withdrawal and/or the last date of attendance and the percentage and amount of institutional refund to be received.
    • Withdrawal for any semester during the regular academic year may result in cancellation of a student's financial aid awards for the remainder of the academic year. If a student wishes to reapply for funds for spring semester, a written request must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid.

Return of Funds Policy for Title IV Aid Recipients Who Withdraw

The Higher Education Amendments of 1998, as well as the program integrity regulations in 2010, set forth regulations governing the treatment of Title IV funds when a student withdraws from an institution.

There are three types of withdrawals that fall under the return to Title IV (R2T4) federal calculation regulations:

  1. Official Withdrawals-student contacts the Registrar's Office or their Academic Advisor to initiate an official withdrawal.
  2. Unofficial Withdrawals-If a student begins to attend class, receives federal Title IV aid, but then ceases to attend class without providing official notification to the University, the Federal Government considers this to be an "unofficial withdrawal". For Title IV purposes, the withdrawal date for students who unofficially withdraw is considered to be the midpoint of the semester unless a documented last date of attendance can be determined. However, if the University determines that a student did not provide official notice of the intent to withdraw due to illness, accident, grievous personal loss or other circumstances beyond the student's control, the University may use a date that is related to that circumstance. The refund rules for Title IV aid recipients who withdraw are then followed to determine the unearned portion of Title IV aid that must be returned to the appropriate aid program(s).

When a student is considered to have withdrawn, as described above, during an enrollment period in which they have begun attendance and received federal Title IV financial aid, Southern Methodist University is required to determine the amount of earned and unearned Title IV aid. A student is only eligible to retain the percentage of Title IV aid disbursed that is equal to the percentage of the enrollment period that was completed by the student (calculated daily). The unearned Title IV aid must then be returned to the appropriate federal aid program(s). If more than 60% of the enrollment period has been completed by the student, no Title IV aid needs to be returned.

According to university policy, when a student withdraws prior to the quarter of the semester and/or receives a 100% tuition refund from the University, all of that semesters Title IV grant aid (SEOG and Pell Grant) will be billed back to the student's account. Most non-federal aid will also be billed back to the student's account. All Title IV aid will be included in the calculations outlined below. Depending on the results of the calculations, some or all of the federal grant aid may be re-disbursed to the student account.

The following steps will be followed when determining the amount of Title IV aid to be returned upon withdrawal:

  1. Determine percentage of enrollment period completed by student. Divide the number of days attended by the number of days in the enrollment period. If the calculated percentage exceeds 60%, then the student has earned all Title IV aid for the enrollment period.
  2. Calculate the amount of earned Title IV aid. Multiply the percentage of the enrollment period completed by the total Title IV aid disbursed (or could have been disbursed as defined by late disbursement rules).
  3. Determine amount of unearned aid to be returned to Title IV aid program accounts. Subtract the amount of earned federal aid from the total amount of federal aid disbursed. The difference must be returned to the appropriate Title IV aid program(s).
  4. Return of Title IV funds by institution and student:
    • SMU will return unearned Title IV aid up to an amount that is equal to the total institutional charges for the payment period multiplied by the percentage of the Title IV aid that was unearned. Generally, a student's tuition and fee refund and/or University Housing refund will satisfy this liability. On occasion, however, particularly when the student remains in University Housing beyond the withdrawal date, a bill will result.
    • The student will be responsible for the balance of unearned Title IV aid. In most cases, this will be the amount of federal aid funds a student received in the form of a refund for non-institutional expenses multiplied by the percentage of Title IV aid that was unearned.
      • If the student's portion of aid to be returned is a loan, then the student is not immediately required to repay the loan. The terms of the original loan repayment agreement will apply.
      • If the student's portion of aid to be returned is an overpayment of a grant, the student is required to only repay the amount exceeding 50% of the total grants. SMU will restore the grant funds to the appropriate federal account, with a resulting charge to the students account. The student will be responsible for repaying SMU for the grant overpayment.
  5. Unearned Title IV Funds will be returned to federal programs in the following order:
    1. Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans
    2. Subsidized Federal Direct Loans
    3. Federal Perkins Loans
    4. Federal Parent PLUS Loan
    5. Federal Pell Grants
    6. Other Grants

Example of a Title IV return of funds calculation for a Title IV recipient who is considered to have withdrawn

Institutional Charges $5,000
Title IV Loans $2,000
Title IV Grants $1,000
Total Title IV aid $3,000

Student withdrew on 35th day of a 110 day enrollment period.

Percent Earned  35/110 = 32%

Percent Unearned 100%-32%=68%

Amount of Title IV aid unearned $3,000 x 68% = $2,040

SMU is responsible for returning the lesser of unearned Title IV aid ($2,040 from above) or unearned institutional charges ($5,000 x 68% = $3,400). SMU will return aid as follows:

  • Title IV Loans $2,000 (students remaining loan debt=0)
  • Title IV Grants $40

The students responsibility is amount of aid unearned ($2,040) less school responsibility ($2,040), which is zero.

The example shown above does not reflect every student refund situation that may exist. Questions regarding the Return of Title IV Funds Policy for students who withdraw should be addressed to the Bursar's Office.

The University reserves the right to amend the Title IV Return of Funds Policy at any time in order to comply with Federal regulations.

*Federal financial aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education of 1965, as amended, and regulated and administered by the U.S. Department of Education.