As the University of Cincinnati converts to semesters, students will have to rethink many academic processes. Instead of three 10-week quarters making up an academic year, two 14-week semesters will constitute the academic year. In both cases, summer is treated as an optional term (though co-op rotations and other program requirements may make summer an additional requirement for some students).
Students will see one major change with financial aid: awarded funds split between 2 terms rather than 3. However, the aid application and eligibility process will not change.
At the same time, there are some minor nuances to the semester conversion process that will affect individual students and how their aid is handled. The following information is likely to answer many questions you may have as you think more about semester conversion from a financial aid point of view.
The application and eligibility elements of financial aid remain the same so students will generally be eligible for similar annual amounts for aid sources. The differences in your aid eligibility between years are caused by changes in income, household size, or timing of your FAFSA filing.
Semester conversion's primary affect on your aid award will be that most aid sources will be split in half rather than thirds. Likewise, the cost of attending UC will be split in half rather than thirds. While your annual out-of-pocket expenses should not change, your term-by-term amount due or refunded amount will likely be different. Students will need to adjust their personal budgeting plans accordingly.
Many websites have listed the UC costs as quarter rates, one-third of the annual rate, prior to 2012-13. Most students attended autumn-winter-spring in the past, and bills were produced for each term. With the advent of semesters, you may have to project costs differently. Basic information on how bills display is also available.
Part-time students will continue to see aid adjusted as in the past. While the measurement changes from quarter hours to semester hours, the number of hours needed each term for aid eligibility remains the same.
Summer will continue to be considered separately for aid purposes.
Many renewable scholarships were limited to 12 quarters of consideration, the equivalent of 4 years. This term measure allows students in co-op programs to spread 12 quarters over their in-class terms and ensure renewibility consideration throughout their extended programs. Scholarship limits for these renewable scholarships – Cincinnatus awards being the most universal – will now be measured with 8 in-class semesters being the maximum timeframe for consideration.
Students who began their scholarships under the quarter system will have their eligibility evaluated and will also be informed of their remaining eligibility under semesters during fall semester. In most cases, students can quickly calculate their remaining eligibility through a year conversion. For instance, if a student used 9 quarters, that is 3 years of eligibility used. Therefore, 1 year of eligibility remains, which equals 2 semesters. As part of the UC pledge to ensure no increased cost if the student's IAP is followed, scholarship students will see no loss in their scholarship 4-year value if they continually meet the renewal criteria.
NOTE: Students who fail to meet renewal criteria continue to have in-class (non-co-op) terms of enrollment count against the 4-year equivalent renewal consideration measure.
Students who have community service requirements as part of scholarship renewal will only see a term-value adjustment in the requirements with semester conversion. The annual requirement of Cincinnatus was 30 hours, 10 hours per quarter of scholarship received. With the annual value of the scholarship the same, the 30-hour annual service requirement remains the same. But to reach the annual hours and account for a slightly larger semester value of the scholarship, the per-semester service requirement will be 15 hours.
Each student who receives or applies for federal financial aid is evaluated against the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy. This review of academic performance ensures that aid recipients are using their federal aid to appropriately move toward the successful completion of their degree within the timeframe allowed for federal aid consideration.
Students who have above a 2.0 and who complete their coursework while working with an academic adviser to stay on track toward degree completion should see their financial aid eligibility continue. Students who receive non-passing grades, fail to maintain a 2.0 GPA, take classes that do not meet degree requirements, or change their major repeatedly tend to have difficulty meeting the standards of satisfactory academic progress.
UC updated the academic progress policy in accordance with new standards set by the U.S. Department of Education in July 2011. The new progress policy was used to evaluate students following the completion of spring 2012. The new policy easily converts to semesters.
The quantitative measure of financial aid eligibility, timeframe, is measured in credit hours. Students are allowed the limit of 1.5 times the length of their academic program in both quarter and semester measures.
|Hours to Degree||1.5x Timeframe
|Hours to Degree||1.5x Timeframe
|NOTE: Hours provided are general. Specific academic programs may have a slightly different requirement. Students are individually evaluated based on their program of record.|
Your accumulated quarter hours of completed coursework will be converted to semester hours as part of your academic program conversion process. Likewise, Student Financial Aid will convert your attempted hours (including coursework that is part of your transcript where a passing grade was not achieved). The calculation used is 3 quarter hours equals 2 semester hours.
Pace ensures that a student is on track to meet the timeframe limit. Because pace is measured by the number of completed hours divided by the number of attempted hours, the calculation still requires a 67% minimum under semesters. To ensure accuracy, your completed and attempted hours will be properly converted from quarter hours to semesters for future calculations.
Finally, the 2.0 college GPA requirement after the second year of enrollment will become a 2.0 UC GPA requirement since college-based GPA determinations will no longer be calculated beginning fall 2012. As UC moves to semesters, students will only have a semester and a university (cumulative) GPA.
The cooperative education rotation will change under the semester system. Because a student will continue to alternate in-class and co-op terms, students may now encounter 1 co-op semester and 2 in-class terms one year and 2 co-op semesters and 1 in-class term another year.
Costs may be similar between co-op and in-class terms. They may also be substantially different. Your co-op rotation will determine your financial aid budget, eligibility, and distribution. Have you also considered how it might affect your loan borrowing?
For many students, co-op earnings meet co-op term costs as well as assist in meeting the next in-class term costs. Therefore, you may be able to reduce your loan reliance during years you co-op twice and take classes once. Just because you can does not mean you should borrow your maximum loan amount. Good financial planning places focus on earned money rather than borrowed funds that are repaid with interest.
Any student who can limit their loan reliance now is better able to meet monthly and total loan repayment obligations in the future. Take the time necessary to budget your salary and aid resources each year. Doing so with an eye on adjusting your loans to match your enrollment can make for a much easier financial future.
Summer, as always, is processed separately for students. Aid availability is limited in summer terms. Students who attended summer 2012 were instructed to review our Summer Aid Web pages and then speak with One Stop to review aid eligibility.
The shorter summer quarter 2012 may have changed your co-op rotation. However, while your rotation may adjust your cost of attendance budget for 2011-12, it did not necessarily increase your annual aid eligibility if you had used your full aid for the year. Of course, some students took an additional in-class quarter this past summer to lessen their number of in-class semesters. Co-op students, as always, should budget their financial aid and co-op earnings to account for year-round in-class and co-op enrollment.
Many students were only eligible for additional summer funding through the Federal PLUS Loan program.
UC converted from 10-week quarters (autumn-winter-spring + optional summer) to 14-week semesters (fall-spring + optional summer) beginning fall 2012.
One big change (other than length of study for the class) is that UC began the academic year in late August rather than late September. It also means the general academic year (excluding summer) will end in late April rather than mid-June. Summer classes under semesters will run early May to early August. Each semester will also begin on a Monday.
Learn more about semester conversion – particularly changes surrounding course credits, academic program requirements and individual advising plans (IAPs) – at the Semester Conversion Website.