NSU Catalog 2017-2018 
    Jul 20, 2024  
NSU Catalog 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Financial Aid Information

Financial Assistance

Each year, about 85 percent of Northern State University students receive more than $18 million in financial aid. Assistance comes in the form of grants, long-term loans, part-time work and scholarships. A brief description of the financial aid programs is listed below. Additional information is available at www.studentaid.gov and www.northern.edu/FinancialAid.

Applying for Financial Assistance

Most financial aid is awarded on the basis of need. Need is determined by deducting the amount that a student and/or his or her parents can contribute toward educational expenses from the cost of attending Northern State University (tuition, fees, room, board, books, personal, and transportation expenses). To apply for federal financial aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA should be  submitted electronically at www.fafsa.gov. To be considered a priority applicant, the FAFSA must be submitted by March 1 prior to the beginning of the academic year. Students applying for federal assistance for summer sessions must also complete the Northern State University Summer Financial Aid Application which is available from the NSU Financial Aid Office or on the website.

Types of Financial Assistance

Federal Pell Grant: Available to undergraduate students who do not already have a bachelor’s degree. Grant money does not have to be repaid. Eligibility is limited to twelve (12) full-time semesters.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG): Available to undergraduate students pursuing their first bachelor’s degree who are enrolled at least half-time. Priority must be given to neediest students and Pell Grant recipients.

TEACH Grant (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education): This grant program provides up to $4000 per year for both undergraduate and graduate students. Students must be majoring in education and have at least a 3.25 GPA, or score above the 75th percentile on an admissions test such as ACT, SAT, or GRE. Students must teach full-time for at least four years within eight years of completing a program as a highly-qualified teacher in a low-income school district, in an identified critical-need area. If the teaching requirement is not met, the grant must be repaid as an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, with interest from the date(s) of original disbursement.

South Dakota Education Access Foundation (SDEAF) Grant: A grant program available to students pursuing their first undergraduate degree who are enrolled at least half-time. Recipients must complete the FAFSA in order to be considered for this grant.

South Dakota Need Based Grant (SDNBG): A state grant program awarded to undergraduate SD residents enrolled at least half-time. Awards range from $500 - $2,000. The FAFSA must be submitted to determine eligibility.

Federal Work-Study: Available to students who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled at least half-time. Individuals on the Work-Study program are paid on a monthly basis for hours worked. Student workers are paid an hourly rate of at least minimum wage, as established by the student’s supervisor. These funds cover indirect costs since they are not available at the beginning of the term when tuition and fee payment is due.

Federal Perkins Loan: Available to students who demonstrate financial need and who are enrolled at least halftime. Repayment and 5 percent interest begin nine months after the student is no longer enrolled at least half-time. Generous cancellation options are available for teachers, nurses, law enforcement officers, and others who work in high-need areas.

Federal Direct Stafford Loan: Available through the federal government to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. Undergraduates may receive a loan up to the amount of need, but not more than $3,500 for freshmen, not more than $4,500 for sophomores and not more than $5,500 per year for the remaining years of undergraduate study. The amount of the loan may not exceed the cost of attendance minus the expected family contribution and other financial aid.

Interest on the Direct Stafford Loan is paid by the federal government until the student graduates or is no longer enrolled at least half-time. An origination fee is deducted from the proceeds of the loan prior to disbursement.

Federal Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan: This is similar to the Direct Stafford Loan except for the following: 1) need is not a factor; the student may borrow to replace the expected family contribution, and 2) interest accrues and may be capitalized or paid during school and grace periods. Loan limits for undergraduate students are the same as the Direct Stafford Loan, but the total combined amount cannot exceed the annual limits. The annual loan limit for graduate students is $8,500.

Direct PLUS Loan: Available to credit-worthy parents of dependent students. Maximum eligibility cannot exceed the student budget minus any other financial aid. Interest rate is a fixed rate and repayment begins within 60 days after disbursement but may be deferred while the student is enrolled at least half-time.

Additional Federal Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan Eligibility: Dependent students may be eligible for an additional $2,000 Unsubsidized Stafford Loan if they have already received the maximum Stafford/Unsubsidized Stafford Loan based on their current grade level. Independent students and dependent students whose parents were denied a PLUS loan who are freshmen and sophomores may receive an additional $6,000 in Unsubsidized Loan, juniors and seniors an additional $7,000 and graduate students an additional $12,000. A student can borrow no more than the cost of attendance minus other financial aid. Interest rate and repayment provisions are the same as for the regular Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan program.

Alternative Loans: In addition to the federal aid programs listed above, there are several alternative loan programs available for students and/or parents to borrow. The eligibility criteria, loan limits, interest rates, and repayment terms will vary from one program to the next. Contact the Financial Aid Office for further information about the various programs available.

Scholarships: Like grants, scholarships do not need to be repaid. They are funded by individuals, organizations, or nongovernmental agencies. At Northern State University, academic scholarships are awarded on the basis of excellent work rather than on need.

Freshman Scholarships range from $500 for one year to $12,000 over four years. For applications and deadline dates for these awards, contact the Financial Aid Office, Northern State University, 1200 South Jay Street, Aberdeen, SD 57401-7198.

Athletic Scholarships are awarded based on sport participation. To apply for an athletic scholarship, contact the Athletic Director, Northern State University, 1200 South Jay Street, Aberdeen, SD 57401-7198.

Music and Art Scholarships go to students who excel in those areas. To apply for a music or art scholarship, contact Dean, School of Fine Arts, Northern State University, 1200 South Jay Street, Aberdeen, SD 57401-7198.

Other NSU and Outside Scholarships are advertised on the NSU Web site at www.northern.edu. Be sure to check periodically for scholarship opportunities and application information.

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

In order to receive federal student aid, students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress toward the completion of their degree. Federal student aid includes Pell Grant, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG), TEACH Grant, Work-Study, Perkins Loan, Stafford Loan (Subsidized and Unsubsidized), and PLUS Loan. Other federal, state, and private agencies may require students to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress for their aid programs as well.

The academic record of all students will be monitored to ensure compliance with the requirements specified below. Therefore, even the academic record of those who have not received federal student aid in the past may impact future eligibility.

Satisfactory Academic Progress is measured once a year - at the end of the spring semester, or the last semester attended in that academic year. All terms of enrollment are included in the evaluation - summer term, fall semester, and spring semester.

Failure to meet any of the three following standards will result in the suspension of eligibility for federal student aid.


Undergraduate Students:

Federal regulations require a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher for undergraduate students. The cumulative GPA is calculated on all NSU and transfer undergraduate credits (excluding remedial and audited coursework).

Graduate Students:

Graduate students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on all NSU and transfer graduate credits.


All students (both undergraduate and graduate) must successfully complete 67% of cumulative attempted credit hours. Attempted credit hours include all hours that would appear on a student’s academic transcript at the end of any given term, including withdrawals, incompletes, repeated courses, remedial coursework, and transfer hours. Audited coursework is not included. Hours that may have been part of a successful academic amnesty appeal will still be included.

Successfully completed hours for both graduate and undergraduate students include grades of A, B, C, D RS and S. A grade of EX for undergraduate students is also considered successful completion. All other grades would not be considered successful completion (such as F, U, RU, W, WD, WFL, WW, I, RI, IP, or SP).


    There is a limit on the number of credit hours a student can attempt and still remain eligible for federal student aid. All credits attempted (except audited coursework) are included. This limit is based on 150% of the credit hours needed to complete the degree that the student is pursuing.
Type of Degree Attempted Maximum Credit Hours
Associate Degree (60-hour program) 90
Associate Degree (64-hour program) 96
Bachelor’s Degree (120-hour program) 180
Bachelor’s Degree (128-hour program) 192
Bachelor’s Degree (150-hour program) 225
Master’s Degree (32-hour program) 48
Master’s Degree (36-hour program) 54
Master’s Degree (48-hour program) 72

Additional Information That May Impact Satisfactory Academic Progress

Grade Changes: If the grade change occurs after the annual Satisfactory Academic Progress review has been done, the grade change will be reflected in the next review unless the student notifies the NSU Financial Aid Office of the grade change it changes the student’s status from suspended to good standing. Since incomplete grades are counted as unsatisfactory attempts, the potential impact would be an increase in grade point average and/or increase in percentage completion.

Repeated Courses: Students will be allowed a total of three (3) takes for undergraduate courses (course number 001-499) for which credit is only counted toward graduation once. The student must petition the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs for permission to take an undergraduate course more than three times. When a student repeats a course, only the latter grade, even if it is a lower grade, is used in the computation of the grad point average. If the last grade is a failing grade earlier credit will be lost as well. All grades remain on the transcript. All attempts will count toward percentage completion and maximum credit hours for financial aid satisfactory academic progress.

Remedial Courses: All credits, whether remedial or non-remedial are assigned a credit value. Remedial coursework is included when determining enrollment status for financial aid purposes, but are not included toward graduation requirements or grade level progression. Grades of RS or RU are assigned to remedial coursework. All remedial coursework is included in the financial aid satisfactory academic progress calculation for percentage completion and maximum credit hours.

Withdrawn Courses: Courses that a student drops after the term census date will appear on the transcript with a grade of “W”, whether the student was passing or failing the class at the time of withdrawal. These credits are not used when calculating the grade point average, but do count as credits attempted but not satisfactorily completed and impact the percentage completion and maximum credit hours.


Note that an academic suspension appeal is a separate process. Students who have also been academically suspended must be academically reinstated prior to submitting a financial aid appeal. Being reinstated academically does not guarantee financial aid reinstatement.

Students are notified in writing when placed on financial aid suspension. Students may submit a written appeal to explain extenuating circumstances as to why they were unable to maintain satisfactory academic progress. Appeals must be submitted no later than the end of the first week of the term for which it applies. An form is available at the NSU Financial Aid Office or on their website.

Instructions for Submitting an Appeal

  • Explain clearly and in detail the circumstances that prevented you from making satisfactory progress. Your appeal must be based on extenuating circumstances that were beyond your control. Lack of awareness of withdrawal policies, requirements for satisfactory academic progress, or unpreparedness for college coursework will not be accepted for the purpose of an appeal.
  • Specifically outline your plan to improve your academic progress and explain what has changed that will allow you to meet the requirements in the future. BE SPECIFIC, such as seeking tutoring, working less hours, taking fewer credits, personal/health problems have been resolved and how, etc. A specific plan of action is required and you must adhere to that plan.
  • Include any third (3rd) party documentation to verify and/or add strength to your appeal (a letter from your advisor, faculty, doctor, clergy, counselor, social worker, employer, medical bills, etc).
  • If you are appealing due to exceeding the 150% maximum attempted credit hour limit, you must include a program evaluation from WebAdvisor, the Registrar’s Office, or the Graduate Office. Specifically address what courses you have remaining and when you plan to complete your degree. Only remaining courses required for degree completion will be allowed.

All requests are reviewed by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Students are informed via letter of the results of the appeal, whether granted or denied.

Conditions for Successful Appeals

Each student’s situation is unique depending on the reason for suspension. Based upon the circumstances of an approved appeal, the Appeals Committee reserves the right to stipulate conditions which the student must meet in order to be considered for financial aid on a probationary basis for subsequent semesters. For example, if due to a deficient gpa, the student may be required to repeat the failed courses within a certain timeframe. If the percentage completion is deficient, the student may be required to pass all courses with no withdrawals or failures. If there is a learning disability, they may be required to meet with the Office of Disability Services. If the appeal was personal in nature such as illness or a death in the family, they may be referred to the Counseling Center.

All specific requirements will be detailed in the Terms of Probation that will be included in the letter informing the student of the results. The student must sign and return a copy of the Terms of Probation, agreeing to these stipulations, before financial aid eligibility will be reinstated.

Notification of Unsuccessful Appeals

If the financial aid appeal is denied, a letter is sent informing the student that in order to regain eligibility, they must either take classes without federal financial aid and bring themselves up to the required standards, or appeal for a future term when the circumstances have changed.


Students who have lost their federal aid eligibility, but have subsequently met all three standards as stated above, will have their aid eligibility reinstated. Reinstatement will be considered effective with the next term of attendance. Students should contact the Financial Aid Office once they have completed coursework that would bring them back into good standing.

Withdrawal from the University and Return to Title IV Policy

Withdrawal Process:

The Registrar’s Office (Dacotah Hall 103) must be notified if a student decides to withdraw from all courses at the University. The notification may be in writing, by phone, by email, or in person. The student’s withdrawal date is the date the student began the withdrawal process or officially notified NSU of intent to withdraw by contacting the Registrar’s Office. For students who fail to officially withdraw, the institution may administratively withdraw the student. The withdrawal date for an administrative withdrawal will be determined by the University’s option to be 1) the midpoint of the enrollment period, or 2) the last documented date of attendance at an academically related event, or 3) the date an event occurred which prevented the student from officially withdrawing from the institution. Such events include illness, grievous personal loss, or other such circumstances beyond the student’s control. To be considered “withdrawn” a student must have ceased enrollment in all classes at all SD Regental Universities.

Refund Policy:

Refunds for room are based on the percent of the enrollment period remaining after the date of withdrawal. Board refunds are based on the account balance as of the date of withdrawal. No refunds for room or board will be issued after 60% of the enrollment period has been completed.

Students who withdraw, drop out, or are expelled from the University within the drop/add period receive a 100% refund of tuition and related fees.

Students who withdraw, drop out, or are expelled from the University after the 60% point of the enrollment period will receive no refund.

Students who withdraw, drop out, or are expelled from the University after the drop/add period and before 60% of the enrollment period has been completed may be entitled to a refund as identified below:

Students Who Do Not Receive Federal Title IV Financial Aid

The refund shall be determined by computing the percentage of the enrollment period remaining after the date of withdrawal times the tuition and fees originally assessed the student. At no time will refunds be awarded after the 60% point of the enrollment period.

Students Who Receive Federal Title IV Financial Aid (R2T2 Policy)

General Information: The U.S. Department of Education requires institutions to apply the Return to Title IV Funds policy for students withdrawing from a University who receive Title IV financial aid. Title IV funds include the following financial aid programs: Direct Stafford Loans, Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Pell Grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, TEACH Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and other Title IV assistance.

The requirements for Title IV program funds when withdrawing are separate from the NSU refund policy. Therefore, the student may still owe funds to the school to cover unpaid institutional charges. NSU may also charge the student for any Title IV program funds that were required to be returned that were initially used to cover institutional charges.

A student who withdraws after the 60% point of the semester is entitled to retain all Title IV aid for that semester. However, if the student withdraws prior to the 60% point of the term, unearned Title IV funds are determined by the federal policy must be returned to the various programs. These funds must be returned even if the University provides no refund to the student. This means the student could owe the University and/or the U.S. Department of Education a significant amount of money.

Post Withdrawal Disbursement: If the student did not receive all of the funds that were earned prior to withdrawing, a post-withdrawal disbursement may be due. If the post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, the student must give permission before the funds can be disbursed. NSU may automatically use all or a portion of the post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds for tuition, fees, and room and board charges. Permission is required to use the post-withdrawal grant disbursement for all other school charges. Students will be notified of post-withdrawal disbursement eligibility within 30 days of the date of withdrawal determination.

Documenting Attendance: Before processing a Return to Title IV Funds, the University must verify the student began attendance in all classes used to determine financial aid eligibility. The University will contact all instructors to verify class attendance. If a faculty member indicates the student never attended, the University will first adjust the disbursed aid if there is a resulting change in eligibility and then calculate the Return of Title IV Funds. As a result, the student may end up owing the institution for the amount of unearned aid. If the student never attended any classes, all aid will be canceled and the student billed for all outstanding charges.

Determining Earned Aid: Title IV financial aid is earned by the calendar day, not class day. This includes weekends, holidays, and breaks of less than five consecutive days. The University is required to determine the amount of Title IV aid the withdrawing student has earned and then either disburse any additional funds the student may be entitled to up to the amount earned, or return funds in excess of the amount earned which the student has already received.

If an amount to be returned to a federal program is determined, then a further calculation is made to determine how much of the amount needs to be returned by the University and how much, if any, needs to be returned by the student.

For example: If $1000 in federal aid is disbursed, and the student withdraws at the 30 % point of the term, $700 of the aid is unearned and needs to be returned to the identified aid program.

Order of Aid to be Returned: The amount to be returned is distributed in a specific order - Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, Subsidized Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, PLUS Loan, Pell Grant, SEOG, TEACH, other Title IV assistance, other federal, state, institutional, and private aid, and last to the student.

Grant Overpayment: Any amount of unearned grant funds that the student must return is called an overpayment. The maximum amount of a grant overpayment the student must repay is half of the grant funds that were received or scheduled to receive. The student does not have to repay a grant overpayment if the original amount of the overpayment is $50 or less. Arrangement must be made with NSU or the Department of Education to return the unearned grant funds. The student will be notified of any grant overpayment within 30 days of the date the school determined the student withdrew.

Timeframe for Returning Title IV Aid: The Return of Title IV Funds calculation will occur as soon as possible but no later than 45 days after the date the University determined the student withdrew.

Notification to Student: Once the Return to Title IV Funds calculation has occurred, the Finance Office will notify the student of the results of the calculations, the aid that was returned, and any outstanding balance now due to the institution as a result.

The University strongly encourages students and parents to consult with the Financial Aid Office and/or Finance Office to determine the financial impact of withdrawing before making a final decision.

Unofficial withdrawals (all failing unearned grades): Title IV aid recipients who fail to withdraw but stop attending class are considered unofficial withdrawals. Either the last day of academically related activity or mid-point of the term will be used to determine the amount of Title IV assistance that must be returned. If the student stopped attending prior to the 60% point of the term, the student will be billed for the outstanding charges as a result of the Return to Title IV funds. The last date of attendance for unofficial withdrawals is calculated within 30 days of determining the student was an unofficial withdrawal and the Return of Title IV funds is processed within 45 days.

Other Sources of Financial Assistance

Short-term loans of up to $100 are available during the academic year for students who encounter short-term financial difficulties. There is a service fee of $1.00 per hundred for this loan. An interest rate of 12 percent will be charged for loans not paid by the due date. Students may apply for this loan at the Finance Office. Short-term loans are not available in the summer.

Monthly Payment Plan

Northern State University contracts with Nelnet Business Solutions to offer an interest-free monthly payment plan to students and/or parents. Contracts are done per semester with a $40 Enrollment Fee. Automatic bank payments are made monthly from savings or checking, or by credit card (MasterCard, Discover, American Express). Contact the Finance Office or Financial Aid for more information.