Withdrawals and Financial Aid

There are different kinds of academic withdrawal. You can request a course withdrawal when you want to stop attending one course or a semester withdrawal to be removed from all your courses. Before you start the withdrawal process, you should understand how your financial aid may be affected.

If you withdraw from a course or courses, you may:

  • Have a reduction in your financial aid.
  • Have to return some of the financial aid you already received.
  • Have to start making student loan payments.

View the full withdrawal policy.

If you have questions about the impact that a course or semester withdrawal will have on your financial aid eligibility, please contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office at finaid@niu.edu or 815-753-1395.

Financial Aid Eligibility

If you withdraw from all your courses, you may have reduced financial aid eligibility for that semester. According to federal policy, you'll only be eligible for the amount of financial aid earned based upon how long you attended the course or courses. This applies whether you follow the semester withdrawal procedure, or simply stop attending class (called an unofficial withdrawal).

Pell Grant

There is an attendance requirement for the federal Pell Grant program. Federal regulations require you to begin attendance in every class for which you receive Pell. If you never attend your class or classes, the amount of your Pell Grant may go down.

Reduction to NIU Charges

If you complete a semester or course withdrawal, your tuition and fee charges may be reduced. The amount of any reduction depends on when you complete the withdrawal. The Office of the Bursar will determine any changes to your bill. Learn more about withdrawal and reduction to NIU charges.

If you unofficially withdraw (stop attending without following the withdrawal procedure), you won't qualify for a reduction in charges, and your financial aid may be reduced.

Loan Repayment Status

If you withdraw from all your courses or attend less than half-time, your status in the National Student Loan Data System will change to repayment. Since you'll no longer have an in-school status or qualify for an in-school deferment, you'll have to start paying back your loans. If this is the first time you've entered repayment status, your grace period (a short time when you don't need to make payments) will begin on the date of your withdrawal.

Returning Financial Aid Funds

If you receive federal loans or grants and you withdraw before completing past 60% of the semester, funds may be returned to the Department of Education.

In addition, if you received a refund from financial aid that was to be used for education-related personal expenses or housing expenses, you may have to return some of it. Specifically, you may have to return the amount that would have paid for your education-related expenses for the rest of the semester, after you withdrew.

Return Calculation

We are required to use a return calculation, a formula set by the federal government, to determine if funds need to be returned. We perform return calculations for course and semester withdrawals as students request them. We use the day the withdrawal process started as the withdrawal date.

At the end of a semester, if you haven't requested a withdrawal or earned a passing grade in at least one course, we'll review your attendance. If we can't verify your attendance in at least one course, we'll consider you to have unofficially withdrawn, and we'll use the return calculation to see if you need to return any money. We'll use the midpoint of the semester as the withdrawal date, unless we can verify your attendance on a later date.

Attendance Verification

We'll review Blackboard to verify your attendance. If we can't confirm your attendance in Blackboard, we'll contact your instructor.

Some activities that count as attendance are:

  • Attending a class in person and confirmed by the instructor.
  • Turning in an assignment and receiving a grade.
  • Completing an exam.
  • Participating in an online tutorial or discussion.

Some activities that don't count as attendance are:

  • Downloading course material.
  • Participating in academic advising.
  • Logging in to a course without actively participating.


If we determine that you haven't attended a course as of a certain date, but you can provide proof that you did attend the course, you can appeal the decision. You'll need to provide proof of a course activity (a graded test or assignment, for example).

Receiving Funds After Withdrawal

If you accept federal financial aid but withdraw before the funds have been disbursed, you may not eligible for those funds. It depends on when your aid was accepted and if you meet the definition of attendance. If you are not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements, and you withdraw before your SAP appeal is approved, you won't be eligible to receive the funds.


Loans will be prorated based on the amount of financial aid earned (how many weeks you attended class).


We'll determine if you should receive any of the federal grant funds you accepted before you withdrew. Any amount owed to you will be disbursed, within 45 days of your withdrawal date. We will automatically use the grant funds to pay for your tuition, fees, and other eligible NIU charges. If there is a credit balance, we will issue a refund to you.

Credit Balance

If you receive a disbursement (payment) of federal loans or grants after you withdraw and it's more than what you owe the university, you'll have money left over in your account. This is called a credit balance, and it will be paid to you within 30 days of the withdrawal date.

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