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General Financial Aid Policies

The policies below provide valuable information about the administration of financial aid at Drake University.

Student Eligibility

In order to be eligible for financial aid, a student must be enrolled as a degree-seeking student in a program that is approved for financial aid. To remain eligible for financial aid, a student must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress towards his or her degree. Students must not have exhausted their eligibility for financial aid (see Aggregate Limits).

Generally, undergraduate students must be enrolled full-time to be eligible for Drake-funded scholarships and grants.

To receive federal student aid or Iowa student aid, a student must complete the FAFSA and meet all federal eligibility requirements. For some Iowa programs, the Iowa Financial Aid Application is also required.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires students to maintain satisfactory progress toward their degree in order to receive financial aid. At Drake University, these standards apply to students who are receiving or applying for financial aid from any of the federal, state, or institutional grant, scholarship, work or loan programs.

The Drake University Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards for Financial Aid apply to all students seeking to establish or maintain financial aid eligibility. These standards apply to a student’s entire degree program including terms in which financial aid was not applied for or disbursed.

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Cost of Attendance Budget

Each student has a cost of attendance (COA) budget, which estimates the student’s educationally-related expenses for an academic year. Generally, the COA budget includes cost estimates for tuition, fees, housing, meals, transportation, course materials, personal expenses, federal loan fees, and applicable professional licensure costs. A student’s total financial aid may not exceed their COA budget, and a student’s financial aid will be reduced if necessary. Reductions will be applied first to a student’s loans and Federal Work-Study, and then if necessary to Drake-funded scholarships or grants.

Students wanting detailed information about their COA budget can access Financial Aid in Self-Service or contact the Financial Aid Office. The University's default COA budgets are available here.

If a student’s actual educationally-related expenses exceeds the amount that has been budgeted, a student may submit a Financial Aid Appeal. COA budget increases related to a computer purchase are generally limited to one computer purchase per degree. All appeals must include supporting documentation.


Cost Specificity of Awards

Some awards are available only for a specified expense. For example, a tuition-specific scholarship can be applied only towards a student’s unmet tuition charges. If a student’s total amount of tuition-specific awards exceeds a student’s actual tuition charges, a reduction to a student’s tuition-specific awards will be necessary.

Timing of Disbursements

Generally, financial aid is disbursed (credited to a student’s account) each semester on or before the first day of a student’s classes. If a student has secured financial aid in excess of their billed educational charges, the overage will be refunded to the student to assist with paying for other educationally-related expenses, such as books & supplies, rent, etc. (See "Credit Balance Refunds".)

Students that have not submitted all required documentation or completed all required loan steps will experience delays in, and potentially cancellations of, their financial aid disbursements. Financial aid may be cancelled for students whose documentation requirements are not completed within 45 days of the student's last date of attendance. Certain types of financial aid, such as loans or state grants, may have earlier deadlines. 

Credit Balance Refunds

On at least a weekly basis, Student Accounts distributes refunds to students with a credit balance on their account. Students are encouraged to enroll in direct deposit to receive student account refunds. Students may view their account activity online through the “Student Account” section on their MyDrake portal, by clicking “Make a Payment” and then “View Activity”.

Renewal of Awards

Most scholarships offered at Drake are renewable. Scholarships often have renewal requirements, such as minimum GPA or satisfactory participation. It is your responsibility to know the renewal requirements for the scholarship(s) you are receiving. If you are unsure, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

Grants are usually based on financial need, and require completing the FAFSA each year for continued consideration.

Loans are year-specific and must be accepted/applied for each academic year. Students who complete the FAFSA will automatically be notified of their eligibility for federal student loans.

Financial aid notifications for continuing students will be available in May, for students who have completed the FAFSA and satisfied all requests for documentation.

Aggregate Limits

Most types of financial aid have maximum aggregate limits that apply to how long a student may receive that assistance. Information about these limits is given for each of the types of financial aid listed below.

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Academic Calendar and Terms

At Drake, the summer semester is the beginning of the academic year, followed by the fall semester, J-Term (if applicable), and spring semesters. For financial aid purposes, J-Term enrollment is included in the calculation for spring semester financial aid (see J-Term section below). For example, the 2023-24 FAFSA covers the Summer 2023, Fall 2023, and J-Term/Spring 2024 semesters. Depending on your program, you may need to take additional steps (other than complete the FAFSA) to receive financial aid in the summer (see Summer Financial Aid section below).

The P4 year in the College of Pharmacy is defined by the college and divided by financial aid into two equal terms (beginning mid-May and mid-November) which function as semesters for the purpose of processing financial aid.

For the purpose of administering financial aid, an “academic year” at Drake consists of a minimum of 24 semester credit hours earned over a minimum of 30 weeks of instruction.

Undergraduate Grade Level Classification

Some types of financial aid depend in part on an undergraduate student’s grade level classification. Grade level classification is based on a student’s cumulative earned credit hours, as follows:


Earned Credit Hours


Less than 30


30 to 59


60 to 89


90 or more

Appeals for Special Circumstances

Offers of need-based financial assistance are based on information reported on the FAFSA. However, sometimes the FAFSA provides an inaccurate or incomplete portrayal of a student’s ability to pay for college. Federal regulations allow financial aid administrators to make adjustments to a student’s FAFSA for certain situations. Examples include a recent involuntary change in income, or atypical out-of-pocket medical expenses. To report situations for further review, students may submit a Financial Aid Appeal. Appeals should be submitted soon after the FAFSA is submitted, or whenever the situation becomes known. Supporting documentation is required for all appeals.

Enrollment Status

Most types of financial aid are affected by a student’s enrollment status for the semester. For example, undergraduate students must be enrolled full-time to receive Drake scholarships or grants, and students must be enrolled at least half-time to borrow federal student loans. Enrollment status is based on the number of credit hours in which the student is enrolled and that will apply toward the student’s degree. The tables below show how enrollment status is classified.

Undergraduate & College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Credit Hours



Three-Quarter Time







Graduate (non-Law) Student

Credit Hours








Law Students

Credit Hours







Prior to changing enrollment plans, students should consult with the Financial Aid Office to understand any impact to their financial aid eligibility.

Complete Withdrawal & The Impact on Financial Aid

Financial aid awards are determined in part by a student’s eligible attempted credits for a semester. Therefore, a course that is dropped after the drop/add period may not result in a financial aid adjustment.

However, when a student completely withdraws from all courses during a semester, regulations specify how Drake University must determine the amount of federal financial aid (Title IV aid) that was earned prior to withdrawal. The Title IV aid programs covered by this regulation follow, and are organized in the order that the funds will be returned, from first to last: Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Direct Subsidized Loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate Students, Federal Direct PLUS Loans for Parents, Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants, Federal TEACH Grants, and Federal Iraq & Afghanistan Service Grants.

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Consortium Agreements

Under a consortium agreement, a student’s home institution agrees to give credit for courses taken at a host institution on the same basis as if it provided the training itself. This includes counting that coursework in determining eligibility for federal and state financial aid programs. Drake may approve consortium agreements for students in certain situations. The most common situation is students who are participating in an approved study-abroad program administered by another institution.

Consortium agreements may also be considered for students who are enrolled at Drake University and another school during the same semester. Federal regulations permit a student to receive federal student aid at only one school at a time. A consortium agreement allows a student’s federal and state financial aid eligibility at Drake University to be based on all eligible coursework at both schools. Drake-funded financial aid will be based only on the courses the student is taking from Drake University.

To be considered, a student must:

  • Be enrolled at Drake University on a less than full-time basis
  • Have already completed at least one semester at Drake University
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress at Drake University
  • Have completed the FAFSA and satisfied any documentation requirements
  • Be currently registered/enrolled in courses that are required for the student’s Drake University degree at another accredited college or university
  • Complete and submit Drake’s Consortium Agreement Form (available upon request) and agree to all terms and conditions.

Summer Financial Aid

The process to apply for financial aid in the summer depends on a student’s enrolled program. Undergraduate and Pharmacy students enrolled in 6 or more credit hours in the summer should complete the Summer Financial Aid Form (available here) after they have finalized their registration and completed the FAFSA for the upcoming academic year.

Graduate and Law students will automatically be offered financial aid for the summer semester, provided they have completed the FAFSA for the upcoming academic year and are registered at least half-time (5+ credits) for summer courses. If a graduate or law student receives a financial aid notification without summer financial aid, they may complete the Summer Financial Aid Form or contact the Financial Aid Office.


J-Term is a three week term that precedes the spring semester. More information about J-Term can be found here.

For financial aid purposes, J-term enrollment is combined with spring semester enrollment. Financial aid associated with J-term enrollment will not be applied to your Drake account until the spring semester begins.

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