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. In each case, financial support is accompanied by a clear set of expectations about a variety of requirements for such things as the grades you earn, the course load that you carry, and, in some cases, for making a contribution to your campus through service. 

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.

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

Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals

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 Federal Pell Grants and federal loan programs), Tennessee Student Assistant Awards (the TELS Lottery Scholarship Programs) and various MTSU scholarship programs. MTSU complies with this requirement by monitoring each student's “overall combined” cumulative grade point average (GPA), “overall combined” pass-rate (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 be in academic good standing with the university.
  2. You must pass 67% of all attempted courses in order to remain eligible to receive financial aid
  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.

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 based on GPA requirements

To remain eligible for financial aid, both undergraduate and graduate students must minimally meet the academic standards as specified in the Academic Regulations section of the MTSU Undergraduate or Graduate Catalog, as applicable. If your GPA falls below the standard required to remain in Good Academic Standing, you may appeal your academic suspension to the Academic Appeals Committee. The decision of the Academic Appeals Committee is final with regard to this financial aid requirement.

Appealing SAP based on percentage of credit hours passed (Pace Standard)

Students who fail to pass 67% of all attempted courses may appeal their suspension from financial aid based on the documentation of serious extenuating circumstances including the death of a relative, injury or illness of the student. To appeal the suspension, you must submit the following documents. In-person appeals are not permitted.

  • MTSU Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form
  • A signed personal statement (typed or neatly handwritten) explaining the extenuating circumstances. Extenuating circumstances must reflect an issue that could not have been anticipated and which occurred after the beginning of semester in which you failed to make adequate academic progress. Your statement must also include an explanation of what has changed about the situation that will allow you to be academically successful during the next period of enrollment.
  • Supporting documentation pertinent to the semesters in question. 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 the appeal is approved, you will be placed on financial aid probation and will become eligible for financial aid effective with the current semester (if enrolled) or for the next semester enrolled.  You will be required to pass at least 75% of coursework attempted each subsequent semester until you achieve an “overall combined” pass rate of 67%. Once you achieve an “overall combined” pass rate of 67%, you will regain your Financial Aid status of Good Standing and will then be required to continue a cumulative “overall combined” pass rate of 67% for subsequent semesters .

If the Financial Aid Appeals Committee denies the appeal, you will remain on financial aid suspension. To regain eligibility for financial aid, you will have to take classes at your own expense and successfully complete a sufficient number of credit hours to raise your percentage of credit hours passed to 67%. 

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 Loan and Scholarship 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 Loan and Scholarship Committee, you must submit the following documents. In-person appeals are not permitted.

  • MTSU Loan and Scholarship Committee Re-Appeal form.  Students eligible to re-appeal will receive this form through their MTSU e-mail 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 Loan and Scholarship 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

Federal law allows students to receive Title IV assistance up to 150% of length of program. With the exception of military credit, students will be allowed one opportunity as an undergraduate student, and then again, one opportunity should they return to MTSU for graduate studies. The appeal to the Maximum Time Frame Standard is submitted to their Enrollment Counselor and reviewed by a financial aid administrator. The decision is final.

Prior to July 1, 2011, undergraduate students were allowed a one-time extension of 24 attempted college level credit hours if they changed their major during the their junior or senior year. These students are allowed to appeal under the new policy.

Undergraduate transfer coursework

Transfer students may request exclusion of transfer coursework with grades of “W” and “F” from consideration toward the Maximum Timeframe limitation. Students must submit a completed Request for Extension of Maximum Timeframe Form to their Enrollment Counselor to be reviewed by a financial aid administrator.

Military credit

Students may request the exclusion of military credit that does not apply toward their program of study from consideration toward the Maximum Timeframe limitation. Students must submit a completed Request for Extension of Maximum Timeframe Form and any additional required documentation to the Enrollment Counselor to be reviewed by a financial aid administrator.

Undergraduate change of major / concentration / double major

Undergraduate students who change their major, concentration, or declare a double major and wish to extend eligibility for financial aid must submit a completed Request for Extension of Maximum Timeframe Form and any additional required documentation to the Enrollment Counselor to be reviewed by a financial aid administrator. Students may be allowed to attempt 150% of the remaining credits hours which will be added to current “overall” attempted college level credit hours. 

Graduate change of major / concentration / dual programs

Graduate students who change their major, concentration, or are enrolled in dual programs and wish to extend eligibility for financial aid must submit the Request for Extension of Maximum Timeframe Form and any additional required documentation to the Enrollment Counselor to be reviewed by a financial aid administrator. Based on documentation presented, coursework attempted from a previous graduate program of study may be excluded. You may be required to obtain a Degree Plan from the Graduate Academic Advisor and/or Graduate Office. Students may be allowed to attempt 150% of the remaining credits hours which will be added to current “overall” attempted credit hours. This will allow the student to exclude coursework from a previous graduate program of study.

Institutional scholarship appeals

Each MTSU scholarship has continuing eligibility requirements in regard to GPA, enrollment, and/or service. Scholarship recipients are notified of these requirements in the scholarship agreement form sent with the original scholarship award letter.

If you fail to meet enrollment and/or GPA requirements, you may have your scholarships cancelled beginning with the next semester. Students are notified of their Scholarship Suspension status via their MTSU email account shortly after grades are posted for a semester. 

If you fail to meet service requirements of your scholarship award (as applicable) your may have the scholarship reduced for the semester in which you do not complete the service hours, and you may have your scholarships cancelled beginning with the next semester. Students are notified of their Scholarship Suspension status via their MTSU email account at the time that the reduction is made or approximately two weeks after the end of the semester.

If you could not meet GPA, enrollment, or service requirements because of extenuating circumstances such as serious illness, financial hardship, or other difficulties, and if you have a written plan for raising your GPA to the requirement and/or for ensuring your ability to meet service requirements in future semesters, you may be eligible to appeal the cancellation of your scholarship. Furthermore, incoming freshmen who met academic requirements for a freshman academic merit scholarship but were unable to apply for admission by the scholarship deadline due to serious extenuating circumstance may also be eligible for appeal.

Appealing the cancellation of a scholarship awarded by MTSU Financial Aid and Scholarship Office

To appeal the cancellation of your scholarship, you must submit the following documents to your Enrollment Counselor (link to the counselor page). In-person appeals are not permitted. For additional information, please contact your Enrollment Counselor.

  • Institutional Scholarship Appeal Form
  • A signed personal statement (typed or neatly handwritten) 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.  
  • Supporting documentation pertinent to the circumstance, which negatively impacted your ability to meet the 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.

If you receive an email that 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 institutional scholarship. You will not have the opportunity to appeal again until one year has passed. You will need to continue to meet all scholarship requirements, in the meantime. For example, you will need to enroll full-time each fall and spring semester and you will need to work on raising your GPA to the required level, if applicable. (However, you will not be required to complete service hours during any semester in which you are not receiving the scholarship.)

If you lost eligibility for your institutional scholarship because you didn't meet GPA requirements, 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). You will then need to notify your Enrollment Counselor by submitting a new Institutional Scholarship Appeal Form, and checking the box that indicates you are now meeting the GPA requirement.

If you lost eligibility because you didn't meet enrollment or service requirements, you will not be able to regain eligibility except through the appeal process as noted above.

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 RaiderNet approximately one week after the end of each semester.

Who can submit an appeal

  • 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
  • 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
  • See below for information about certain military exceptions

Who cannot submit an appeal

  • A student who dropped below the required GPA
  • 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

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

A completed and signed appeal form:

    • Change of Enrollment Status Appeal Form - For students who changed their enrollment status, such as dropping from full-time to part-time during a semester
    • Leave of Absence Request Form - For students who withdrew from all classes for a semester, who did not enroll for one or more required semesters, or did not enroll within 16 months after high school graduation
  • 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 six times each year 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 RaiderNet, clicking on the Financial Aid tab, and selecting "Student Requirements". Additionally, approximately two weeks after the meeting day of the IRP, you will receive a response to your appeal via your permanent mailing address

 TELS Appeal dates

Date Task
January 15, 2015
  • Can submit starting on December 22* ** (The Financial Aid & Scholarship Office will be closed December 24, 2014 through January 1, 2015; you may submit your appeal prior to December 22, but you must initial beside the 14 day statement on the appeal form in order for your appeal to be valid)
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on January 12
  • Will receive emailed decision by January 29
March 12, 2015
  • Can submit starting on February 23*
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on March 9
  • Will receive emailed decision by March 26
May 7, 2015
  • Can submit starting on April 20*
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on May 4
  • Will receive emailed decision by May 21
June 11, 2015
  • Can submit starting on May 25*
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on June 8
  • Will receive emailed decision by June 25
August 6, 2015
  • Can submit starting on July 20*
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on August 3
  • Will receive emailed decision by August 20
October 15, 2015
  • Can submit starting on September 28*
  • Appeal and all paperwork must be submitted by 4:00 pm on October 12
  • Will receive emailed decision by October 29

*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 your Enrollment Counselor (insert link) for more information.

If you do not meet enrollment requirements due to active military service, you may request a Military Leave of Absence for the applicable semester(s). You will be required to submit documentation to establish the location of the active service, as well as the beginning and end dates.

If you are requesting an exception due to your military service, you are not required to appeal to the Institutional Review Panel. Instead, you must submit a Military Service Appeal Form, along with documentation as indicated above. Please submit your form and documentation to your Enrollment Counselor.

Still have questions about any appeals process? 

If you still have questions, please contact your Enrollment Counselor 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, and/or service), 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.