Financial aid funds are subject to denial when a student’s completed hours exceed the maximum time frame allotted by federal policy to achieve graduation. Universities and the federal government alike realize that “Unsatisfactory Academic Progress” can result from uncontrollable life situations like extended illness, death, natural disaster or similar catastrophe and have provided recourse. Students able to document extenuating circumstances can request a time frame extension and, with a well-prepared appeal package, likely win extended financial aid eligibility.

Contact the school financial aid office to obtain the forms you will need to request a time frame extension and document meeting with your academic adviser.

Schedule an appointment with your adviser; make it a few days out so there is time to prepare your time frame extension request package.

Write a statement detailing the events that led to your unsatisfactory academic progress status and explaining how you have overcome them. If your grades are good and/or you have been active in student organizations, include that information in support of your desire and ability to successfully complete your degree in a timely manner.

Take your statement and all supporting documentation to the meeting with your adviser; you will benefit from any revision she might suggest. Work with your adviser to develop a graduation plan; financial aid will require your plan to result in expeditious graduation and require your completion of it without deviation. Be sure you can follow through before you and your adviser finalize it with your signatures.

Make a copy of the institution required forms, your statement, supporting documentation and signed degree plan, and deliver the entire package to the financial aid office. You will be notified of their decision in a few weeks; the specific time frame varies according to your school’s policies.


Do not give up if your initial request for a time frame extension is denied. Your school and the federal government have created a multi-level appeals process; patiently scale the chain of command, and you may well still prevail.


Many institutions require you be enrolled in classes during the semester in and for which you are requesting a financial aid time frame extension. Be prepared to pay tuition and fees out of pocket.

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