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Course Program of Study (CPOS)

US Department of Education (ED) regulations require that a student be enrolled in a degree-seeking program to receive federal financial aid. Funds will only be disbursed for the courses needed to fulfill the program of study requirements. Federal financial aid (Pell grants, FSEOG grants, Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized and PLUS Loans and Federal Work Study (as well as CO Student Grants and CO Graduate Grant), will be adjusted if a student is not registered in course(s) that apply to their officially declared program of study. Students should plan carefully and ensure that their registration aligns with their degree program requirements.

Effective Fall 2024, students enrolling in courses that are not required to complete their officially declared degree could see their financial aid reduced and/or cancelled as required by the US Department of Education.

For federal aid to pay for a course in your major, it must be part of your Course Program of Study (CPOS) or be necessary to help you earn the total hours required to complete your degree. For those depending upon federal aid to attend UNC, not paying attention to this rule could affect your full-time enrollment status and ultimately your financial aid awards. 

Why Is This Important?

Taking classes that are not in your Course Program of Study for your officially declared major may result in a reduction to your overall financial aid award.  Making sure the courses you are taking are required for your program of study will ensure that you graduate as soon as possible with limited borrowing. 

Make it Count! – Utilize your Academic Advisor 

As a student, academic advisors are available to you to assist with discussing your short-term and long-term educational goals, the best degree fit for you at UNC, and planning your courses each term to help you complete your declared degree as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

Officially Declare Your Major 

It is essential that your major is officially declared and noted in your student record. If you have been planning to declare or change your major, but have not yet done so, you should consult your academic advisor immediately. 

Courses can only be determined to be eligible based on the officially declared major as noted on your student record. Changes cannot be made retroactively, and most changes will not be approved once a determination is made that a course is not financial aid eligible. 

Assumptions About Financial Aid Awards 

Financial aid awards are based on the assumption that undergraduate students will enroll full-time and graduate students will enroll half-time in eligible coursework during Fall and Spring terms. Any enrollment level different than those assumed above can create a recalculation of financial aid award. However, in many cases, a student can enroll in less than the assumed hours listed above and still receive financial aid.

Keep Your Eligibility 

Remember that repeating the same course multiple times, dropping or not attending your courses can negatively impact your eligibility for current and/or future aid. It is important that you discuss your Course Program of Study with your advisor when you enroll each semester. If your degree program is not listed correctly in UNC system (Banner), work with your advisor to make them aware of your request.   

Contact your academic advisor to discuss options if your federal financial aid has been reduced due to enrollment in courses that do not apply towards outstanding requirements in your Course Program of Study. 

Importance of Timely Submission of Course Adjustments

Courses can only be determined to be eligible based on the officially declared program of study as noted on the student record. It is essential for students choosing to use other courses in lieu of the prescribed curriculum outlined in UNC's UG and/or GR catalogs to have their advisor(s) submit course adjustments (substitutions, force complete/waivers, etc) to their respective advisee(s) program of study (major/minor/certificate/licensure) requirements. 

Enrollment Level and CPOS 

Financial aid is initially awarded based on the assumption that undergraduate students will enroll full-time and graduate students will enroll half-time in eligible coursework during fall and spring semesters. Students may only receive federal and state financial aid for outstanding coursework that counts towards their officially declared program of study. Institutional, and private aid requirements may vary when it comes to CPOS requirements. Please check with the Office of Financial Aid to ensure you are meeting all requirements for funding. Dropping, multiple repeating of the same course or not attending your courses can negatively impact your eligibility for current and/or future aid. 

Type of Student

Undergraduate

Graduate 

Full Time 

12+ credits per semester

9+ credits per semester 

Three Quarter Time 

9-11 credits per semester

7-8 credits per semester

Half Time 

6-8 credits per semester

5-6 credits per semester

Less than Half Time 

1-5 credits per semester

1-4 credits per semester

If your federal financial aid has been reduced due to enrollment in coursework that does not apply towards outstanding requirements in your program of study, you should contact your academic advisor to discuss your academic options. Otherwise, if you have questions regarding financial aid, contact financial aid at ofa@unco.edu.

Examples 

  • If you are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and enroll in 12 hours and only 9 of the 12 hours are required towards your officially declared program of study, the Federal Pell Grant will be reduced to an award based on the 9 hours. 
  • Federal Direct Loans require 6 hours of enrollment for all undergraduate students and 5 hours of enrollment for graduate students. If you are enrolled in 6 hours and only 3 of the 6 hours are required for your program of study, you are not eligible to receive a Federal Direct Loan. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  •  Is the Colorado Opportunity Fund (COF) stipend impacted?

    No.

  • What if I want to take a course that is not required for my degree? 

    You may still do so. You have the opportunity to maintain your full financial aid by enrolling in at least 12 required credits as an undergraduate or five required credits as a graduate. By meeting the required credits, you can confidently pursue your academic goals and interests without impacting your aid.  Exploring courses outside of your program requirements may reduce your financial aid support if your required courses are below 12 credits for the term undergraduate or five credits at the graduate level. 

  • What if I make a mistake and register for a course that does not meet requirements?

    After registration, the Financial Aid Office will begin reviewing enrollment and will let you know if a course for which you registered cannot be used to determine your aid eligibility. You will have time to drop that course before the term begins and add another in its place. However, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure you are enrolled in courses that are required for your degree and the number of credit hours for federal aid program funds you are receiving.

    Students can also look in DegreeCheck under the “Not Counted” heading to find out if a particular course(s) will not be financial aid eligible.

  • What happens if I change my program for a future term?

    Financial aid is not retroactively adjusted for prior terms. Students may change degree programs as needed for future terms. The CPOS process only looks at the program declared for each term.