The institution is in compliance with its program responsibilities under Title IV of the most recent Higher Education Act as amended. (In reviewing the institution’s compliance with these program responsibilities, the Commission relies on documentation forwarded to it by the U.S. Department of Education.) (Title IV program responsibilities)

Compliance Judgment

X      In compliant     Partially compliant     Non-compliant


Francis Marion University fully complies with its responsibilities under Title IV of the 1998 Higher Education Amendment, meeting all audit and review standards for Title IV student financial aid in accordance with the Program Participation Agreement signed with the U.S. Department of Education [1]. There has been no adverse correspondence from the Department of Education, no settlement requirements, and no funds owed to the Department.

Annual Audits

University audits for the years ending June 30, 2014 [2], June 30, 2015 [3], and June 30, 2016 [4] state that there were, “No findings and questioned costs relating to federal awards” [5, 6, 7]. FMU has submitted all reports required by the U.S. Department of Education, including the Fiscal Operations Report (FISAP) [8].

Furthermore, the University monitors the cohort default rate, which is “the percentage of a school’s federal student loan borrowers who enter repayment within the cohort fiscal year…and default…within the cohort default” [9]. Based on reports provided by the United States Department of Education, the University’s cohort default rate for the fiscal years 2012 to 2014 is provided in the following table [10].

3-Year Cohort Default Rates
Fiscal Year

Table 1. 3-Year Cohort Default Rates

Financial Assistance

To help monitor student financial information, Francis Marion has contracted with SALT to provide financial education courses use a traditional methodology, as well as self-directed learning to help raise students’ financial IQ [11]. And because people learn in different ways, they provide guided tours on topics such as budgeting, loan repayment, and credit in captivating multiple mediums. SALT reaches students where and how they spend their time, delivering the right information, at the right time, in the right format, resulting in better educational outcomes. In addition, SALT is used for education debt management. Through SALT’s proactive outreach, they engage student loan borrowers throughout the entire repayment cycle, turning information into action. Before their first payment is due, SALT contacts borrowers to make them aware of all their options, and even reach out if they get off track with their payments. To keep financial matters in check daily, SALT offers rich bite-sized content; the SALT Blog offers tips for living creatively within the student’s budget [12].

Financial Assistance Awarding Policy

The University “administers financial aid without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability” [13]. The Office of Financial Assistance follows an award policy based on guidelines “authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965” [14]. Francis Marion also offers financial assistance to veterans [15, 16].

The guidelines published in the Financial Assistance Awarding Policy for 2016–2017 further detail the requirements that are associated with the above list of award items [17].

As stated in the Catalog 2016-2017, the University awards financial aid based on the following requirements. Applicants must:

  • Be accepted by the University into an eligible program
  • Be enrolled full-time. However, financial assistance may be available at reduced levels to those enrolled less than full-time
  • Not be in default on any federal student loan
  • Not owe a repayment on any Federal Pell or Federal SEOG grant
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by the University for financial assistance purposes
  • Inform the Office of Financial Assistance of all awards expected by a student from parties outside the University [18].

Noncompliance with these qualifying requirements may reduce or even eliminate eligibility.

Students who receive financial aid from federal programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, such as Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work-Study, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Stafford Loans, or Federal PLUS (Parent) Loans, are required to meet and maintain minimum standards of academic progress [19].

Satisfactory Academic Progress is defined by the following minimum requirements. Students must:

  • Receive admission to and are enrolled in an eligible program of study.
  • Meet grade point average standards for continued enrollment as published in the Francis Marion University Catalog, including continuance based on appeal.
  • Earn a minimum of 67% effective of all credit hours attempted (includes withdrawals and carry overs) at Francis Marion University. This includes all academic terms (fall, spring, and summer).
  • Must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA at the end of the second year of college.
  • Complete their degrees within attempting no more than 1 ½ times the length of their program (example: 180 hours for an undergraduate degree, 54 hours for a graduate degree in education or business, and 86 hours for a graduate degree in psychology). Attempted hours include all hours taken at FMU, coursework taken at other colleges/universities, advanced placement credits, and College Level Examination Program credits [20]. Students who do not meet these requirements cannot be awarded or maintain their financial assistance, and those who apply are informed via mail by the Financial Aid Office [21].

University Refund Policies and Procedures

The Accounting Office of Francis Marion University relies on its Policies & Procedures Manual when a student withdraws from the University. The manual’s section “Accounts Receivable” outlines responsibilities for both the student and various University offices, as described in the following subsections.

Accounting Office Policies and Procedures

The Accounting Office is notified of student’s withdrawal by Financial Assistance, Registrar, Student, or Review of Report. The Office of Financial Assistance reviews the student’s account and determines the status, and based upon the financial awards distributed to the student, alerts the student of the possibility that they might owe money to the University.

As indicated in the Accounting Policies and Procedures Manual, once all appropriate forms have been submitted to the Registrar, the Registrar’s Office notifies the Office of Financial Assistance, who notifies the Accounting Office/Accounts Receivable and requests that a refund calculation and/or Return of Title IV Calculation be processed on the student [22]. Accounts Receivable then completes a refund calculation worksheet [23] and forwards copies to the Office of Financial Assistance indicating the amount of refund or balance due [24]. The Office of Financial Assistance then adjusts the student’s award amounts in emulation and EDExpress. At that time, the Office of Financial Assistance notifies the student of any financial aid that needs to be returned to the University [25].

Additionally, when an over payment of Title IV funds has occurred, Accounts Receivable sends a certified letter notifying the student of the over payment with a request of remittance within forty-five days. If, after forty-five days of the notice, the student still owes the funds, Cashiering Services is notified [26].

Financial Assistance Refund Policy

A refund policy is published in the Catalog 2016-2017 for students who withdraw from the University. The refund policy includes specific requirements which exist when students have completely terminated enrollment and payment has already been received from Title IV funds [27].

Financial assistance refund policies are reviewed and updated, as needed, with each catalog publication. Refunds are calculated based on the most recent edition.


  1. Program Participation Agreement
  2. FMU Financial Statement FYE 2014
  3. FMU Financial Statement FYE 2015
  4. FMU Financial Statement FYE 2016
  5. FMU Financial Summary Statement FYE 2014
  6. FMU Financial Summary Statement FYE 2015
  7. FMU Financial Summary Statement FYE 2016
  8. FISAP 2017-2018
  9. Cohort Default Rate Quick Guide, p. 3
  10. FY 2014 3 Year Cohort Default Rate Notification Letter
  11. SALT Overview
  12. SALT FMU Website
  13. Catalog 2016-2017, Financial Assistance Programs, p. 29
  14. Catalog 2016-2017, Satisfactory Academic Progress, p. 31
  15. Catalog 2016-2017, Veterans Benefits, p. 31
  16. Veteran Affairs Audit
  17. Financial Assistance Awarding Policy 2016-2017
  18. Catalog 2016-2017, Award Criteria, p. 29
  19. Catalog 2016-2017, Satisfactory Academic Progress, p. 31
  20. Catalog 2016-2017, Standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress, p. 31
  21. Satisfactory Academic Progress Decision Examples
  22. Accounting Policies & Procedures Manual, Accounts Receivable, p. P.III.E.4
  23. Accounting Policies & Procedures Manual, Accounts Receivable, p. P.III.E.6-7
  24. Accounting Policies & Procedures Manual, Accounts Receivable, p. P.III.E.4
  25. Accounting Policies & Procedures Manual, Accounts Receivable, p. P.III.E.5
  26. Accounting Policies & Procedures Manual, Accounts Receivable, p. P.III.F.1
  27. Catalog 2016-2017, Refunds, p. 27-28