Attendance and Earning Financial Aid

The return of Title IV aid to the federal government


Failure to Establish Attendance - Never Attended Process:

A student cannot received financial aid for a course he or she did not attend. Therefore, DMACC's Financial Aid Office will verify that a student has attended with his or her instructor. If a student does not show up for class, he or she will have their financial aid reduced and/or eliminated. This is referred to as a required recalculation. Prior to the 10th day of class, instructors can view their class lists online and must identify students who have attended or have never attended their class. Students will receive an email indicating the classes that they were reported as having never attended. If they have been reported as never-attending, the student is dropped from enrollment in the associated course, and the student's financial aid is adjusted accordingly. If an instructor error was made, instructions will be included within the notice concern how to re-establish enrollment within the dropped course.


Discontinuing Attendance - Quit Attending Process:

Instructors are asked to report students who have quit attending their courses at approximately the midterm point. An email is sent to the student showing in which classes they have been reported as having quit attending. If all instructors report a student as QA, a “Return of Title IV" calculation (see below) is completed. Those students who are reported in some, but not all of their classes as QA should consider officially withdrawing from the remaining courses in order to avoid receiving a failing grade.


Leave of Absence:

DMACC does not currently have a leave of absence policy or process for the purposes of a Return of Title IV calculation (see below) or an academic leave of absence policy.

There is a DMACC Education Services Procedure formatted to support military members that are being called to active duty in the United States Armed Forces (see ES 4460​). This policy outlines the steps a student must take if called to active duty, and the options available to the student.


Return of Financial Aid Title IV Funds:

Students may need to repay financial aid that they received but did not earn since they did not complete the term.  This is commonly referred to as the Return of Title IV (federal financial aid).

A student's financial aid is based on the number of classes the student is enrolled in and the number of days the student is enrolled in classes. When a student initiates a withdrawal from one or more classes the amount of financial aid the student is eligible to receive is affected. The Return of Title IV funds to the federal government is based on a calculation which determines how much aid the student is eligible to receive and how much the student is no longer eligible for because he/she is no longer enrolled in school. This calculation is applicable until the student has completed more than 60 percent of the semester. Once the student has completed more than 60 percent of the semester, all financial aid is considered earned.

To calculate the percent of the “payment period" (term) completed, take the number of calendar days the student attended in their payment period for the term and divide that by the number of calendar days in the payment period for the term (less scheduled breaks of at least five consecutive days).


  • A payment period for students in at least one course spanning the full term would be the full term. (Fall and Spring terms = 16 weeks each; Summer term is 10 weeks)
  • A payment period for a student in only one module (courses that do not span the entire length of the term) would be the length of the module (Fall or Spring term = 10 week, 8 week, or 5 week modules; Summer term has 5 or 8 week modules).
  • A payment period for a student in a combination of two modules would be the length of the combination (Fall or Spring term could have two 8 week modules to equal 16 weeks; Summer term has a two 5 week modules to equal 10 weeks). A student who dropped all courses in the second module before attending the second module would have a payment period of the first module.


Unearned Financial Aid:

By federal law, unearned Title IV funds (Pell, Stafford loans, SEOG) must be returned to the federal government for a student who totally withdraws (official/unofficial) on or before the 60% point of the enrollment period. The amount of return is determined by the following:  

  1. Determine percentage of enrollment period student completed.
  2. Earned aid = total awarded Title IV aid multiplied by same percentage.
  3. Unearned aid = earned aid subtracted from total dispersible aid.
  4. DMACC returns: the total institutional charges incurred by the student multiplied by the unearned percentage of Title IV aid.
  5. Student returns: unearned aid minus DMACC's return; if a student received grants, the student's return will be multiplied by 50% after being reduced by the amount of loan funds the student is required to return. This amount is then subtracted from the initial amount of grant funds due from the student.


DMACC or the student is required to return unearned financial aid assistance in a particular order when a student officially or unofficially withdrawal: 

  1. Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans
  2. Subsidized Federal Direct Loans
  3. Direct PLUS Loans
  4. Federal Pell Grant
  5. Federal SEOG


The College is required to return Title IV funds as soon as possible but no later than 45 days from the date of the institution's determination that the student withdrew. Students will be notified, via DMACC email, of any adjustments made.


Unofficial Withdrawals:

A student is considered to have withdrawn from a term (Fall, Spring, or Summer) if the student does not complete all the days in the term that the student was scheduled to complete.

If a student unofficially withdrawals (stops attending without completing the official withdrawal process) he or she's last date of attendance may be verified with his or her instructors. The student's last date of attendance may be used to calculate earned aid outline within the “Return of Financial Aid Title IV Funds" language on this page.


Official Withdrawals:

An official withdraw is when the student notifies Des Moines Area Community College of their intent to leave school prior to completing all of the days in the term they were scheduled to attend. 

Official notification can come in written form, via telephone, in person, or through email to the DMACC Registration Department.  In addition, students may officially withdrawal by utilizing the MyDMACC student portal. Additional information, including deadlines for official withdrawal, may be accessed on the DMACC Registration webpage.  


Administrative Withdrawals:

Students who fail to attend or quit attending any or all of their courses may be subject to an Administrative Withdrawal.

As previously outlined, in the case where the student has failed to attend any of their courses DMACC will contact the student via e-mail to notify them of their administrative withdrawal.  If the student feels and error was made, the student can request re-enrollment through DMACC's Add/Drop process. Instructions to complete this process are provided within the e-mail sent to students. 

Attendance includes academically related activities.  Attendance does not include activities where the student may be present but not academically engaged such as:

  • Living in the dorms (Boone Campus)
  • Logging into an online course without active participation
  • Participating in academic counseling or advisement
  • Presence in intercollegiate athletic participation courses or presence in fine art ensemble.


Module Coursework and Withdrawals:

If a student is attending only courses offered in modules (courses that do not span the full length of a term) completes the first module then drops or fails to start the courses scheduled to attend in a subsequent module that begins later in the same term (withdrawing between modules) he or she will be considered withdrawn from the term using the last day of academically related activity as the unofficial withdrawal date.

If a student provides written confirmation at the time of their withdrawal of their intent to attend courses registered in a module that begins later in the same term (example would be an eight week module in the term that had not yet started), they would not be considered withdrawn. If, however, the student fails to return as intended, the student will be considered withdrawn from the term and the last day of attendance or academically related activity would be the withdraw date and the payment period would be the modules scheduled to attend at the time of the written confirmation.


Title IV Grant Overpayment: 

If a student is required to repay an unearned grant (overpayment), the student will remain eligible for Title IV aid up to 45 days after the student has been notified of the overpayment. The student may resolve the overpayment by repaying the overpayment in full to DMACC, by making satisfactory repayment arrangements with DMACC, or by making satisfactory repayment arrangements with the U.S. Department of Education.


Outstanding Balance on DMACC Account:

If a student withdraws from DMACC prior to completing 60 percent of the semester, the student is responsible for paying any outstanding charges that remain after DMACC has repaid any unearned financial aid to the federal government.


Post Withdrawal Disbursement:

A student who had ​their attendance confirmed may be eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement if, prior to withdrawing, the student earned more federal financial aid than was disbursed. If a student is eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement for Title IV funds, it will be processed for the student and a refund will be issued within 14 days of the credit balance. 

If the post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, DMACC must get the student's permission before it can disburse the loan. Students may choose to decline some or all of the loan funds so that s/he does not incur additional debt. A notice will be sent out to the student, and the signed, original document must be returned to the School within 14 days. DMACC, with the student's permission, may use all or a portion of the post-withdrawal disbursement of loan funds for outstanding tuition and fees.

DMACC may automatically use all or a portion of the post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds for tuition and fees. However, the school needs the student's permission to use the post-withdrawal grant disbursement for all other school charges. If the student does not give his/her permission, the student will be offered the funds. However, it may be in the student's best interest to allow the school to keep the funds to reduce the student's debt at the school. 

It is also important to understand that accepting a post-withdrawal disbursement of student loan funds will increase a student's overall student loan debt that must be repaid under the terms of the Master Promissory Note. Additionally, accepting the disbursement of grant funds will reduce the remaining amount of grant funds available to the student should the student continue his/her education at a later time.


Examples of Title IV Return Calculation: 

Official Withdrawal 

Unofficial Withdrawal 

Post Withdrawal Disbursement

Questions Concerning Return of Financial Aid Title IV Funds

Contact the DMACC Financial Aid Office by calling 1-800-362-2127, ext. 6282. As the regulations governing Return of Title IV aid are subject to change, refer to the Financial Aid website for up-to-date information.