Financial Aid Appeals

The vast majority of MTSU students receive some measure of financial assistance from a combination of the federal government, the state of Tennessee, MTSU and private donors. It is very important that you understand that the aid you receive is given for the purpose of you completing each course and making efficient progress toward completing your degree. Federal and state regulations, as well as campus policies, will require that we monitor the satisfactory academic progress of every student who receives financial aid. Failing to achieve acceptable grades, failing to make timely progress toward your degree, establishing a pattern of enrolling in but not finishing classes, or failing to meet any other requirements of your financial aid award may result in you becoming ineligible to receive further aid. 

At the same time, most federal, state and other aid policies recognize that there can be exceptional circumstances that prevent a student from being able to successfully meet all terms of their financial aid awards. For those exceptional circumstances, there may be a specific appeals process that will allow you to explain your extenuating circumstance and regain your aid.  Based on the source of aid, more than one appeal may be required.  In all cases, documented extenuating circumstances must exist.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals  Institutional Scholarship Appeals
TELS Appeal Process  TELS Appeal Dates  FAQ

Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals

 
NOTE:  Students should also be aware of the difference between a financial aid suspension based on the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy and an academic suspension which is based solely on grades and GPA (refer to the Academic Standing policies in the Undergraduate & Graduate Catalogs). A financial aid suspension means the student can still attend MTSU; however, the student will not receive financial aid. An academic suspension means the student cannot attend MTSU for the length of the suspension even if eligible for financial aid. These are two different suspensions, and there two are different appeal processes that are independent of each other.

 

Federal, state and other regulations require that we establish and apply reasonable standards of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for the purpose of awarding financial assistance under Federal Title IV programs (including grants, work-study, and loans), Tennessee Student Assistance Award, Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Program, and various MTSU scholarship programs. MTSU complies with this requirement by monitoring each student's “overall combined” cumulative grade point average (GPA), “overall combined” pace (percentage of credit hours passed divided by credit hours attempted), and “overall” maximum time frame for completion of the student’s program of study. 

Please read and be sure you understand our full SAP policy.

In general, students should be aware that there are three specific standards related to staying in Good Standing to receive financial aid. 

  1. You must minimally be meeting one of the following GPAs: 

    1. Undergraduate students must maintain a 2.0 "overall combined" GPA 

    2. Graduate students at the Master’s or Specialist level must maintain a 3.0 "overall combined" GPA 

    3. Graduate students at the Doctoral level must maintain a 3.25 "overall combined" GPA

  2. You must have an "overall combined" pace of 67% (percentage of credit hours passed divided by credit hours attempted)

  3. Federal law allows students to receive Title IV assistance up to 150% of the program’s published length. For most undergraduates, this means that you may receive financial aid only up to 180 attempted credit hours.  Students become ineligible for financial aid once it is mathematically impossible to graduate within the maximum timeframe.

There are limited options for appealing the status of financial aid suspension based on lack of satisfactory academic progress. You should be aware that, depending on the timing of when the appeal is submitted, the appeal may not be reviewed prior to when registration fees are due for the upcoming semester. You may need to be prepared to pay registration fees while your appeal is being reviewed. If the appeal is approved after the semester begins, the student will be considered for financial aid, if otherwise eligible. However, there is no guarantee that any appeal will be approved, and if you have paid your registration fees out-of-pocket for the term, you may not be eligible for a refund.  

Appealing SAP due to Qualitative (GPA) and / or Pace (pass-rate) Standards

Students who are suspended from financial aid due to Qualitative (GPA) and / or Pace (pass-rate) Standards. To appeal the suspension, you must submit the following documents. In-person appeals are not permitted.

  • MTSU Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form located on the forms page.
  • A personal statement that explains extenuating circumstance(s) for each semester that needs to be addressed. Please email the MT One Stop to determine which semesters your appeal must address. Students may submit an appeal on the basis of extenuating circumstances which were not anticipated prior to when all relevant semesters started. 
  • The personal statement should also address how the extenuating circumstance has been resolved to the extent that it should not create an ongoing barrier to meeting all SAP requirements.  
  • Supporting documentation pertinent for all semesters required to be addressed.  Examples include, but are not limited to, a physician’s statement on official letterhead, copy of a death certificate, or signed statements from a counselor or clergy member attesting to the extenuating circumstance.

If your appeal is approved, you will be placed on an academic plan and will be eligible to continue receiving financial aid so long as you meet the conditions of the plan.  However, if the Financial Aid Appeals Committee denies your appeal, you will remain on financial aid suspension. To regain eligibility for financial aid, you will have to take classes and successfully meet both the Qualitative (GPA) and / or Pace (pass-rate) Standards. The decision of the Financial Aid Appeals Committee is final and cannot be further appealed for one year unless the student satisfactorily completes additional credits for further consideration.

In a small number of cases, the finding of the Financial Aid Appeals Committee may be that the appeal, as presented, has merit but lacks sufficient documentation. In those limited cases, you will be afforded the opportunity to re-appeal to the MTSU Faculty Financial Aid Appeals Committee. You will be notified through campus email if you are granted the option to re-appeal. 

Re-appealing for additional consideration will be allowed only if you are able to present new documentation, not previously submitted for consideration in your initial appeal. Re-appealing does not imply a guarantee of a positive outcome.

To re-appeal the suspension to the MTSU Faculty Financial Aid Appeals Committee, you must submit the following documents. In-person appeals are not permitted.

  • MTSU Faculty Financial Aid Appeals Committee Re-Appeal form.  Students eligible to re-appeal will receive this form through their MTSU email account.
  • Supporting documentation, not previously submitted, pertinent to the semester(s) in which you failed to make adequate academic progress. Examples include a physician’s statement on official letterhead, copy of a death certificate, or signed statements from a counselor or clergy member attesting to the extenuating circumstance.
  • If denied, the decision of the Faculty Financial Aid Appeals Committee is final and cannot be further appealed for one year unless the student satisfactorily completes additional credits for further consideration.

Appealing SAP based on Maximum Timeframe Standard

Students who are suspended from financial aid due to either not graduating within the allowed Maximum Timeframe or who cannot mathematically graduate within the Maximum Timeframe can appeal.  To appeal, submit the Request for Extension of Maximum Timeframe Form which will be reviewed by a financial aid administrator.  The decision is final.

Institutional scholarship appeals

Most MTSU Scholarships have continuing eligibility requirements the student must meet in order to receive the scholarship for the next semester and/or next academic year, such as GPA and/or enrollment. Scholarship recipients  should be notified of these requirements during the scholarship acceptance process and/or in the scholarship award letter.

Continuing Scholarship eligibility is checked after the census date (14th day of classes) for every Fall and Spring semester, and after grades are submitted for every Fall & Spring semester. Failure to meet the continuing eligibility requirements for a scholarship, such as GPA and/or enrollment, will result in scholarship suspension for future semesters. Student will be notified via a PipelineMT message and an email indicating their failure to meet a scholarship requirement.

Possible Reasons for the cancellation of a scholarship award

  • Not enrolled during the Fall and/or Spring semester
  • Not enrolled Full-time during the Fall and/or Spring semester
  • Not enrolled Full-time in CPoS (Coursework Towards Program of Study) eligible classes during the Fall and/or Spring semester
  • Failure to meet the GPA renewal requirement after a previous semester
  • Change of major

How do I regain eligibility for my Institutional/Foundation Scholarship?

Students can potentially regain eligibility for their scholarship by submitting an appeal. If student could not meet GPA or enrollment requirements because of extenuating circumstances such as serious illness, financial hardship, CPoS/Major course limitations, or other difficulties, student may be eligible to appeal the cancellation of their scholarship. Furthermore, incoming freshmen and incoming transfers who met the academic requirements for a guaranteed scholarship but were unable to apply for admission by the scholarship deadline due to serious extenuating circumstance may also be eligible for appeal.

To appeal the cancellation of your scholarship, you must submit the following documents. In-person appeals are not permitted. For additional information, please contact the MT One Stop.

  • Institutional Scholarship Appeal Form found on our forms page.
  • A personal statement explaining the circumstances that prevented you from meeting your scholarship requirements.
    • Circumstances acceptable to sufficiently justify failure to meet scholarship standards should generally reflect an issue that was not anticipated and was substantially beyond your control.
    • Your statement must also include an explanation of what has changed about the situation that will allow you to successfully meet all scholarship requirements in the upcoming semester. If you lost scholarship due to failure to meet GPA requirement, please provide a written plan for raising your GPA to the required level.  
  • Supporting documentation pertinent to the circumstance that prevented you from meeting your scholarship requirements . Examples of appropriate documentation would include a physician’s statement on official letterhead, attesting to an illness; or signed statements from a counselor or academic advisor attesting to the extenuating circumstance and your plan for improvement.

You will be notified via a PipelineMT message and an email indicating the appeal decision. If your appeal has been approved, you will generally see your scholarship applied to your account within five business days. If your appeal is denied, or if you choose not to appeal, you will not be eligible to continue to receive your scholarship until an appeal has been approved. 

If you lost eligibility for your institutional/foundation scholarship because you didn't meet GPA requirements AND don’t have extenuating circumstances, you may regain eligibility by bringing your GPA back up to the required level (generally 2.8 or 3.0, depending on the type of scholarship). Once you have gotten your GPA back up to the required level, then you will need to submit a new Institutional Scholarship Appeal Form, and check the box that indicates you are now meeting the GPA requirement.

If you lost eligibility for your institutional scholarship because you were not enrolled full-time in CPoS (Coursework Towards Program of Study) eligible classes during the Fall and/or Spring semester, you can appeal to request approval to be enrolled less than full-time for a semester & still receive your scholarship. Approved reasons for exceptions to the full-time CPoS enrollment requirement are waiting on acceptance into major program, availability of classes during semester, inability to take classes due to pre-requisite requirements, participation in internship/clinic/teaching, etc. If this is applicable, please submit the Institutional Scholarship Appeal Form along with a written statement explaining why unable to enroll full-time in CPoS eligible classes. In Addition, you MUST include a statement from your advisor or a printout of your DegreeWorks program completion map. If the documentation is not provided in these cases, your appeal will automatically be denied!

Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS) Appeal Process

The Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS) is awarded based on policies set forth by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC). TSAC's TELS policy allows an appeal process for students who fail to meet enrollment requirements due to extenuating medical or personal circumstances. An appeals process is not available to students who fail to meet GPA or other requirements. Lottery scholarship recipients who fail to meet continuing eligibility requirements will have their scholarships cancelled beginning with the next semester. Eligibility is determined and updated on PipelineMT approximately one week after the end of each semester.

Who can submit an appeal to the MTSU TELS Institutional Review Panel (IRP)?

  • A student who is a continuing MTSU student or who is re-admitted to MTSU, and previously lost TELS eligibility while at MTSU.
  • A student who dropped below full-time during the semester (or who was enrolled part-time and dropped below part-time during the semester) because of extenuating circumstances
  • A student who withdrew from all classes because of extenuating circumstances
  • A student who did not enroll in at least 1 hour for a required fall or spring semester because of extenuating circumstances
  • A student in a provisional eligibility status who did not enroll in at least 12 hours for a required fall or spring semester because of extenuating circumstances
  • See below for information about certain military exceptions

Who cannot submit an appeal to the MTSU TELS Institutional Review Panel (IRP)?

  • A transfer student who was initially eligible for TELS after graduating from high school but lost TELS eligibility at another institution in a semester(s) prior to transferring to MTSU
  • A transfer student who was initially eligible for TELS after graduating from high school, attended an out-of-state institution after high school graduation, and did not maintain TELS continuing eligibility requirements while attending the out-of-state institution
  • A student who did not enroll within 16 months after graduating from high school, graduating from homeschool, or completing a GED test because of extenuating circumstances
  • A student who dropped below the required GPA benchmark.
  • A student who does not meet the initial eligibility requirements, such as ACT and GPA minimums
  • A student who exceeds the maximum number of years or attempted hours that are allowed
  • A student who does not meet the residency requirement
  • A student whose parents have an Adjusted Gross Income above $36,000 cannot appeal to receive the Aspire supplement.
  • A non-traditional student cannot appeal to receive the Aspire or Merit supplement.

Appealing the cancellation of the TELS/Lottery Scholarship

If you lost TELS eligibility while attending another institution or 1 of the items listed under ‘Who cannot submit an appeal to the MTSU TELS Institutional Review Panel (IRP)’ heading applies to yourself, then you must appeal directly to the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC).  MTSU is unable to make a decision on your appeal in these situations. Please click here for more information on appealing to TSAC.   

To appeal the cancellation of your TELS/Lottery Scholarship to MTSU, you must submit the following documents to the MT One Stop. Appeals are considered by MTSU’s Institutional Review Panel (IRP). In-person appeals to the IRP are not permitted. For additional information, please contact the MT One Stop.

A completed and signed appeal form:

Tennessee Lottery Scholarship Appeal Form - 

  • For students who changed their enrollment status, such as dropping from full-time to part-time during a semester
  • For students who withdrew from all classes for a semester or who did not enroll for one or more required semesters
  • A detailed letter regarding your situation, including a description of why you were unable to meet the enrollment requirement
  • Documentation to support the appeal, such as statements from doctors, counselors, or other professionals
  • We strongly recommend that you submit your entire appeal at one time, including all supporting documentation. If you choose to submit documentation separately from the rest of your appeal, you must include your name and M#, along with a note that it is to be added to the appeal you already submitted.
  • Please note: Documentation that is received after an appeal is reviewed will not be considered. 

MTSU's Institutional Review Panel (IRP) meets once a month to review TELS/Lottery appeals. TELS/TSAC policy requires that appeals can be submitted no earlier than 14 calendar days before each scheduled meeting of the IRP. For upcoming IRP meeting dates and appeal submission deadlines, please check the chart below.

You will be able to view the decision of the IRP by logging into Pipeline, clicking on Financial Aid in the left menu, and then clicking on the Requirements & Holds icon. Additionally, approximately two weeks after the meeting day of the IRP, you will receive a response to your appeal via your MTSU student email address.

 Year 2021 TELS Appeal Deadline Dates

Date Task
January 7, 2021
  • Can submit starting on December 31, 2020
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on January 7
  • Appeal Committee meeting on January 13, 2021
  • Will receive emailed decision by January 17*

*Students will be notified by January 17, 2021 assuming we have no complications with COVID-19 that may preclude the IRP committee from meeting.

Feb 15, 2021
  • Can submit starting on February 5
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on February 15
  • Appeal Committee meeting on February 18, 2021
  • Will receive emailed decision by February 26
  • Due to inclement weather the Internal Review Panel was not able to meet for the Lottery Appeal Meeting scheduled for Thursday, Feb 18, 2021.  This meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb 25, 2021.  You will receive a decision letter by March 5, 2021, via email.  We are sorry for the inconvenience. 

March 15, 2021
  • Can submit starting on March 5
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on March 15
  • Appeal Committee meeting on March 18, 2021
  • Will receive emailed decision by March 26

April 19, 2021

  • Can submit starting on April 9
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on April 19
  • Appeal Committee meeting on April 22, 2021
  • Will receive emailed decision by April 30
May 17, 2021
  • Can submit starting on May 7
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on May 17
  • Appeal Committee meeting on May 20, 2021
  • Will receive emailed decision by May 28
June 21, 2021
  • Can submit starting on June 11
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on June 21
  • Appeal Committee meeting on June 24, 2021
  • Will receive emailed decision by July 2
July 2021 No TELS Committee Appeal Meeting in July 2021
August 16, 2021
  • Can submit starting on August 6
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on August 16
  • Appeal Committee meeting on August 19, 2021
  • Will receive emailed decision by August 27
September 20, 2021
  • Can submit starting on September 10
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on September 20
  • Appeal Committee meeting on September 23, 2021
  • Will receive emailed decision by October 1
October 18, 2021
  • Can submit starting on October 8
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on October 18
  • Appeal Committee meeting on October 21, 2021
  • Will receive emailed decision by October 29
November 15, 2021
  • Can submit starting on November 5
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on November 15
  • Appeal Committee meeting on November 18, 2021
  • Will receive emailed decision by November 24
December 2021 No TELS Committee Appeal Meeting in December 2021

*According to state regulations, we cannot accept appeals more than 14 business days before the appeal meeting. Please do not submit your appeal before the specified date. If you must submit your appeal early, please be sure to initial beside the 14 day statement at the bottom of the appeal form. If you fail to do so, your appeal will not be reviewed.

Military service: requesting exceptions to residency and enrollment requirements

You may be eligible for a Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship if you do not meet residency requirements due to the military service of one or both parents but you meet all other eligibility requirements. To qualify, you must submit documentation to establish that your parent's State of Record is Tennessee and that your parent has been stationed outside of Tennessee. Dependents of Department of Defense employees may qualify for a TELS award under this rule. If you believe you may qualify under this exception, please contact the MT One Stop for more information.

  • Tennessee Lottery Scholarship Appeal Form - Military students need to complete this form if the student graduated from high school & started college at MTSU, then enlisted in the military after starting college. Student was then unable to meet the enrollment requirement for a required Fall or Spring semester due to active duty, training, or deployment obligation. You will be required to submit documentation indicating the location of the active duty, training or deployment obligation, in addition to the beginning and end service dates.
  • Military Service Appeal Form - Military students need to complete this form if the student graduated from high school, did not start college and within 16 months of graduating from high school, the student enlisted in the military. You will be required to submit documentation indicating the date of enlistment, location of the active duty, training or deployment obligation, and the beginning and end service dates. If a student enlisted in the military AFTER the 16 month period, then the student must submit their appeal to TSAC.

Both the Leave of Absence Request Form & Military Service Appeal Form along with the required statement and supporting documentation need to be submitted to the MT One Stop. Exception is for students who enlisted in the military AFTER the 16 month period, then the student must submit their appeal directly to TSAC.

Still have questions about any appeals process? 

If you still have questions, please contact the MT One Stop for more assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is a financial aid appeal the same as an academic appeal? Can I appeal once for both issues?

No, the academic appeal process is different. If the Records Office has notified you that you are on academic suspension because your GPA is too low, you will need to appeal through the Academic Appeal process to resolve the academic suspension. An academic appeal, if approved, will allow you to enroll in classes for the affected semester; a scholarship or SAP appeal, if approved, will allow you to receive your related aid for the affected semester.

The financial aid appeals process deals specifically with whether or not you met all the terms and conditions required for the form of financial aid you received. Please note: If you are on both academic suspension and scholarship suspension, you will need to submit both types of appeals, if you wish to enroll and to receive your scholarship.

What is an "extenuating circumstance"?

An extenuating circumstance is a situation beyond your control which prevented you from being able to meet financial aid or scholarship requirements. Extenuating circumstances may include (but are not limited to) having a severe illness or extensive hospitalization which limited your ability to attend classes or complete scholarship service hours, a family member having a severe illness which required your presence for a significant amount of time, a death of an immediate family member which impacted you significantly enough to affect class attendance or participation, or extreme financial hardship which prevented you from attending classes or completing service hours.

Generally, the situation must have occurred after the semester began. If your extenuating circumstance first occurred before the semester started and you chose to enroll anyway, you will need to explain what changed after the start of the term, which affected your ability to meet your scholarship or satisfactory academic progress requirements.

What documentation should I submit?

The documentation you submit will depend on your individual situation. The suggestions below include documents, which may help you support your appeal; however, this is not a comprehensive list. You should provide any documentation you feel supports your appeal and shows

  1. that you had extenuating circumstances during the semester(s) that you didn't meet scholarship, service or Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements,
  2. how those circumstances would have affected your ability to meet your requirements, and
  3. that these circumstances have been resolved, so that you can now meet scholarship and Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.

If you are appealing because of You may want to submit
Severe illness of student
  • A doctor's statement which addresses each of the above three items
Severe illness of family member
  • A doctor's statement which addresses each of the above three items and which provides information about your involvement in the situation
Extreme financial hardship
  • A copy of your household budget. If you are filing a TELS appeal related to your lottery scholarship, TSAC strictly requires documentation of all expenses that you list as a part of your household budget. Click here for more information.
  • A copy of your most recent pay stub and/or tax return 
  • Documentation regarding any new financial issue which created the hardship
  • Documentation regarding changes in your financial situation which will allow you to meet scholarship requirements now
A death in the family
  • Documentation which names the deceased and lists you as a survivor, such as an obituary, news article, or funeral program
Other extenuating circumstances
  • Documentation will vary widely depending on the circumstance, but must address each of the above three items


A doctor's statement (or statement from another professional, such as a lawyer or counselor) should be typed on their letterhead, dated, and signed. It should generally address each of the three items listed above, unless you provide separate documentation to address one or more of the items. 

Please Note: If you have failed to meet multiple requirements (enrollment, GPA), you must provide information (and documentation, if applicable) for each of the ineligibility issues. If you have failed to meet requirements for more than one semester, you must provide information (and documentation, if applicable) for all of the affected semesters, not just for the most recent term.