Credit Requirements, Withdrawals, and Other Policies

Minimum Credits for Aid

Doctoral students receiving institutional aid (fellowships and assistantships) must be registered full time (at least seven credits/WIUs) to maintain eligibility.

Master's students receiving a merit scholarship must be enrolled for at least six credits to maintain eligibility.  All other scholarship recipients, must enroll for a minimum of one credit to maintain eligibility.

Any student receiving federal student aid (Federal Work-Study and Federal Direct Loans) must be registered for six or more credits/WIUs.

Auditing Classes

Audit classes do not count towards your eligibility to receive institutional and federal student aid.

Financial aid is not available for audited classes, and doctoral fellowships/master's scholarships cannot be used to cover the cost of audited courses.

Course Withdrawals

If you need to withdraw from a course, you must do so before the last date to withdraw as posted to the Academic Calendar by the Registrar. If you need to withdraw after this date, an additional signature from the VP of Student Affairs is required.

Withdrawing from courses may impact your financial aid awards - see that FAQs below for details.

The total dollar amount of aid a student is eligible to receive is affected when they drop all of their classes. Students who want to drop all of their classes should come to the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid to speak with a financial aid counselor about the implications of their decision.

Students who drop below half time (six credits/WIUs) at any point in the semester but do not withdraw from all classes will have their federal aid cancelled and must be returned. Students who drop below half time will need to compete exit counseling online, even if they plan to be at least half time the following semester. Students should consult the financial aid office if they are considering dropping below six credits and rely on federal student loans to cover their tuition and/or living expenses. Doing so may result in a large balance owed to the school.

Students who would like to return loan money that they no longer need should contact the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid.

In order to receive a fellowship, you must be registered full time (seven credits/WIUs) at the end of the third week of the semester. Audit credits do not count towards full time enrollment for financial aid/fellowship purposes.

Tuition fellowships/tuition remission will pay for the number of credits you are registered for at the end of the third week. But the number of credits you are billed for will be the number you were registered for on the first day of class. If you drop credits, you will owe the cost of those credits minus the refund you are entitled to receive. 

Students who drop below full time but remain enrolled will have their fellowship — including tuition coverage — cancelled, even if they are still being charged tuition for the credits they have dropped. You will be responsible for paying any remaining tuition charges and returning any stipend funds you have been paid.

If you withdraw from all of your courses before 60 percent of the semester has passed (for fall 2021, before October 30th. For spring 2022, before April 3), your fellowship — including tuition coverage — will be cancelled, even if you’re being charged tuition for the credits you have dropped. You will be responsible for paying any remaining tuition charges and returning any stipend funds you have been paid.

If you withdraw from all of your courses after 60 percent of the semester has passed (for fall 2021, October 30 or later. For spring 2022, April 3 or later), you will be able to retain your fellowship and tuition coverage.

Course withdrawal can affect your academic progress and future financial aid eligibility. If you are considering withdrawing from a course, you are strongly advised to speak with financial aid about the impact of the withdrawal on your financial aid.

Master's student receiving a merit scholarship must be enrolled for at least six credits to maintain eligibility. All other scholarship recipients, must enroll for a minimum of one credit to maintain eligibility. Audit credits do not count towards enrollment for financial aid/scholarship purposes.

Students who drop below the minimum enrollment requirements for their scholarship will have their scholarship cancelled, even if they are being charged tuition for the credits they dropped. You will be responsible for paying any remaining tuition charges and returning any scholarship funds you have been paid.

If you withdraw from all of your courses before 60 percent of the semester has passed (for fall 2021, before October 30th. For spring 2022, before April 3), your scholarship — including tuition coverage — will be cancelled, even if you’re being charged tuition for the credits you have dropped. You will be responsible for paying any remaining tuition charges and returning any stipend funds you have been paid.

If you withdraw from all of your courses after 60 percent of the semester has passed (for fall 2021, before October 30th. For spring 2022, before April 3), you will be able to retain your scholarship and tuition coverage.

Course withdrawal can affect your academic progress and future financial aid eligibility. If you are considering withdrawing from a course, you are strongly advised to speak with financial aid about the impact of the withdrawal on your financial aid.

If you withdraw from all of your courses during the term, the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid will determine if any of the federal aid you received should be returned to the Department of Education. Students who drop below half time will need to compete exit counseling online, even if they plan to be at least half time the following semester. 

Federal student aid eligibility is based on the length of time a student attends their classes. If you do not attend your classes for the entire term, federal regulations may require that you return all or a portion of the federal aid received. The Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid will be notified of your withdrawal and will perform a federal  Return of Title IV (R2T4) calculation. This calculation will determine how much of your federal aid you have earned and how much must be returned.

Federal aid will be returned in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans
  2. Subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans (undergraduates only)
  3. Federal Direct PLUS Loans
  4. Federal Pell Grants (undergraduates only)
  5. Iraq & Afghanistan Service Grants (undergraduates only)
  6. FSEOG (undergraduates only).
  7. TEACH Grants (The Graduate School and University Center does not currently participate).

If you receive all W, NGR, WA, and/or WN grades for a term, the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid must perform this calculation (if you have received federal student aid other than Federal Work-Study). The number of days remaining from the school’s last date of attendance determines the repayment percentage.

Dropping one or more classes may result in the cancellation of future loan disbursements and/or  may result in you having to return money to the school. Dropping classes may also impact your Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements apply to federal student aid recipients even when they withdraw from classes for a semester. Repayment of part of a student’s federal student aid does not release that student from the satisfactory academic progress requirements.

The Graduate Center and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY will adhere to federal policies when determining the amount of funding that must be returned by the school and/or the student to federal aid programs.

Adhering to federal regulations, the school will calculate the federal aid that must be returned. The Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid will send an email to federal student aid recipients who withdraw explaining how the school calculated what funds were returned. The student may also be required to return funds.

Contact the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid to for more details about the calculation of returns and available disbursements.

Refunds may be granted if valid reasons for withdrawal are presented. Please see the Graduate Center Student Handbook for full refund policies.

Fellowship Deferrals

The following policy applies to Graduate Center Fellows, Provost’s Enhancement Fellows, Neuroscience Fellows, CUNY Science Scholars, and Five-Year Tuition Fellows.

Download this policy

  1. First semester students are not eligible for a fellowship deferment or a leave of absence. Second semester students are not eligible for a fellowship deferment if they take a leave of absence, unless the student can provide documentation from a physician that the student is medically unable to return to school for the spring semester. With such documentation and approval from the student’s Executive Officer and the Provost’s Office, the student may defer one semester of their fellowship to a sixth year. This semester of deferment will count towards the maximum of two semester maximum as outlined below.
  2. After their first year, students on Graduate Center Fellowships (GCF), and Provost’s Enhancement Fellowships (PE) who take a leave of absence from the Graduate Center may defer a maximum of two semester of their fellowships (tuition, financial aid fellowship, benefits and services) to a sixth year. Students on Five-Year Tuition Fellowships (TF) may defer their tuition award for up to two semesters.
  3. After their first year, students on Neuroscience Fellowships (NF) and CUNY Science Scholars (CSS) who take a leave of absence from the Graduate Center may defer a maximum of two semesters of their fellowships (tuition, financial aid fellowship, benefits and service) to a sixth year. The NF or CSS may be deferred only for medical reasons or to conduct research in an off-campus setting and must have the approval of the program’s Executive Office and the student’s Research Mentor.
  4. Students holding Science Fellowships and students who are offered alternate CUNY funding should contact the Provost’s Office for more information (aellis@gc.cuny.edu and rmaldonado@gc.cuny.edu ).
  5. COVID 19 – For the duration of the COVID emergency, the GC’s deferment policy will be flexible for students facing additional challenges as a result of the pandemic.

The deferral assumes that the student is also on a Leave of Absence from the GC during the semester(s) of deferment. There are separate administrative processes and guidelines for taking a leave of absence. For more information contact the Registrar’s Office.

Students must submit the Request for Fellowship Deferment Form at least one month before the beginning of the semester they want to begin the deferral.