FINANCIAL AID
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Financial Aid Policies

1. Refund Policy

Fellows withdrawing from the AFI Conservatory must submit a signed notification of withdrawal to the Office of the Registrar. The date on which the notification is received by the Registrar serves as the official withdrawal date and the amount of tuition refund due, if any, is calculated based on this date. If a Fellow withdraws from the AFI Conservatory at any time prior to the completion of the term of study, a refund of the unused portion of tuition shall be based upon the following formula:

Days of Attendance in Term
(Calculated from Registration Day)
Percentage of per term tuition balance
(Deposit is not refundable)
Up to 10 business days 90%
Between 11 and 20 business days 75%
Between 21 and 35 business days 50%
Over 35 business days NO REFUND

2. Return of Title IV Funds (federal financial aid)

Federal regulations specify how the AFI Conservatory must determine the amount of federal financial aid dollars that you have earned if you withdraw from the program. At AFI, the only federal financial aid program affected by this policy is the Federal Direct Loan program.

Date of Withdrawal
When a Fellow withdraws from the program during an academic term, the amount of federal financial aid that he/she earned up to that point is determined by a specific federal formula. It is the policy of the Registrar that a written intent to withdraw determines the official withdrawal date at the Conservatory. However, if a Fellow continues to attend classes as documented by attendance records, AFI will use the (later) date that he/she last attended a class as the withdrawal date. If a Fellow does not provide any written notice to withdraw, the faculty is consulted regarding any special circumstances. AFI will take into consideration any special circumstances that may have been out of the Fellow's control. If there are special circumstances, such as a medical emergency, the date of withdrawal will be set based on the dates of the event. If none exist, the 50% point of the term is set as the official date of withdrawal.

Percentage Completed
Once AFI has determined a Fellow's date of withdrawl, a percentage of attendance for the academic term is calculated by dividing the days enrolled by the total days in the payment period.

Percentage of Aid Earned
Once AFI has determined what percentage of the payment period was attended by the Fellow, the percentage of Title IV (federal) aid earned is calculated.

First, AFI adds the total of the net loans that were disbursed, or that could have been disbursed, to the Fellow. Then, the percentage of Title IV aid earned is multiplied by the total of net loans disbursed or that could have been disbursed.

If a Fellow received less federal loan funds than the amount earned, he/she may be able to receive the additional loan funding. If the Fellow received more federal loan funds than earned, the excess funds must be returned by AFI and/or the Fellow.

The amount of federal aid earned is determined on a pro rata basis. For instance, if a Fellow completed 25% of the academic term, he/she earned 25% of the federal student loan originally scheduled. However, the law states that once a Fellow has completed more than 60% of an academic term, he/she is considered to have earned 100% of the aid for the term.

If the Fellow received less Title IV aid than he/she earned, a post-withdrawal disbursement is made, provided the Fellow meets the provisions allowing a post-withdrawal disbursement. If a post-withdrawal disbursement is appropriate:

  1. A letter is sent to the Fellow within 30 days of the date AFI determines the date of the Fellow's withdrawal.
  2. The letter identifies the types and amounts of aid that would be included in this post-withdrawal disbursement.
  3. The letter offers the Fellow the option to cancel the aid to avoid additional debt. This letter asks for a response no later than 14 days from the date on the letter.
  4. If a response is not received within 14 days of the date on the letter, AFI is not required to make the disbursement. In such a case, notification of the decision is sent to the Fellow.
  5. If accepted, the Conservatory makes the post-withdrawal disbursement as soon as possible but not later than 180 days after the date the Fellow withdrew.

Return of Title IV Funds
If the Fellow or AFI received excess federal loan funds that must be returned, the Conservatory must return a portion of the excess equal to the lesser of: (1) tuition and fees multiplied by the unearned percentage of federal loan funds received, or (2) the entire amount of excess federal loan funds. If the Fellow received more aid than the Fellow earned during the period of time he/she was enrolled, funds must be returned to the Federal Stafford Loan program. Funds may be returned by AFI, the Fellow or both. Only the aid that was actually disbursed (and not the aid that could have been disbursed) must be returned.

AFI returns the lesser of:
  1. The amount of aid unearned, or
  2. The amount of AFI tuition/fees incurred, multiplied by the percentage of aid unearned.

AFI returns funds in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidized Direct Loan funds
  2. Subsidized Direct Loan funds
  3. Direct Graduate PLUS Loan funds

AFI returns these loan funds to the lender within 45 days of the date of the Fellow's withdrawal. If the Fellow must return funds, he/she does so in accordance with the loan repayment process.

3. Satisfactory Academic Progress

The AFI Conservatory is required to monitor the satisfactory academic progress of its financial aid recipients to ensure that Fellows receiving federal aid are sufficiently progressing towards completion of the program. To be eligible for financial aid at the Conservatory, a Fellow must continue to make satisfactory academic progress towards his/her degree or certificate. AFI applies this satisfactory academic progress policy equally to all federal financial aid recipients. As required by law, the policy contains both a qualitative and a quantitative component; Fellows are reviewed each term for compliance with these components. At the completion of each term, notification is sent to any Fellow not meeting the required academic standards. A Fellow not meeting the standards is placed on financial aid probation for a period of one term. The Fellow is notified in writing of his/her probation status and conditions for remediation in the program. Once the conditions are met within the program, the financial aid probation ends.

Quantitative Component

The AFI Conservatory's Master of Fine Arts/Certificate of Completion program is a five-term program. However, the maximum time frame to complete the program is seven terms. All Fellows must complete their requirements by December 31 of the year of their scheduled commencement.

The Conservatory does not permit Fellows who are admitted in a specific discipline to change disciplines once enrolled. A Fellow who wishes to change disciplines must withdraw, or complete the current program and reapply as a candidate to the Conservatory in another discipline. If accepted, the Fellow would be entering in the first term, first year program, eligible for up to seven additional terms of aid, provided that the Fellow does not reach aggregate loan limits in the Federal Direct Loan program. AFI Fellows must complete all required coursework to be maintaining satisfactory academic progress. This minimum amount is described below, by discipline:

Discipline 1st Year Credit Hours 2nd Year Credit Hours
Cinematography 38 30
Directing 34 30
Editing 34 30
Producing 35 34
Production Design 39 38
Screenwriting 35 33

Any Fellow not completing the required number of credit hours per term is placed on financial aid probation for a period of one term. An academic hearing is conducted where the Fellow is given the requirements to complete the credit hours. If the credit hours are not completed satisfactorily, the Fellow will not be eligible for further financial aid after his/her one term of probation.

Qualitative Component

AFI Conservatory Fellows are evaluated by their faculty each term. Evaluation designations are:

E = Excellent/Exceptional
S = Satisfactory
U = Unsatisfactory
P = Pass
F = Fail

If a Fellow receives an "Unsatisfactory" at the end of the year, the AFI Conservatory Policies Committee may dismiss the Fellow. If this occurs, no additional financial aid will be available at AFI for the Fellow. If the Committee allows the Fellow to continue, the Fellow will be placed on financial aid probation for a period of one term. The Fellow may be required to retake the course the following year, receive a grade of "Excellent" or "Satisfactory" — and that grade will replace the initial evaluation.

If for any extraordinary reason a second year Fellow must re-take a course after the seventh term of enrollment, there will be no financial aid available for assistance with the repeated course.

Appeal Process

A Fellow may appeal a determination of unsatisfactory academic progress after he/she becomes ineligible for financial aid. The Fellow must submit a detailed appeal request to the director of financial aid, including any special or unique circumstances causing academic deficiency. The director of financial aid and the registrar evaluate the appeal. If the appeal is granted, the Fellow continues to receive Title IV funds due to the special circumstances. However, the Fellow's unsatisfactory academic status is not eliminated; it must be addressed by re-taking classes.

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