Chapter 3. Financial Aid

Subchapter 3–100. General Provisions

Sec. 3–101. Purpose
  1. As a state institution of higher education, the University endeavors to provide higher education for all eligible persons and to assist in the pursuit of their studies those who do not have sufficient financial resources.
  2. The Office of Financial Aid is responsible for administering certain funds for financial aid to students; for keeping abreast of programs relating to financial aid to higher education and to employment opportunities for students; for disseminating information relating to available financial aid programs and the cost of attending the University to enrolled students and prospective students; and for assisting students who have been accepted for enrollment at the University or who are enrolled at the University in obtaining loans, grants, scholarships, and employment to supplement payment of their educational expenses.
Sec. 3–102. Definitions

In this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning, the following definitions apply.

  1. “Advisor” means the single individual a student has elected to accompany him or her to a meeting with the director or a hearing regarding an aid decision. As the student is solely responsible for presenting his or her case during the hearing, an advisor serves only in a support capacity and may not verbally advocate for the student in a meeting with the director or in a hearing. If an advisor poses a conflict of interest, the director or the Subcommittee on Appeals may elect to excuse his or her presence, and advisors may be dismissed from any proceedings if they disrupt the process.
  2. “Aid decision” means a written decision regarding the amount of financial aid award to a student by the University under a financial aid program administered by the Office of Financial Aid and includes the findings of fact in support of the decision.
  3. “Day” means calendar day, except University holidays and days on which regularly scheduled classes are suspended due to emergent situations; “University holidays” are staff holidays as identified in the holiday schedule published by the Office of Human Resource Services.
  4. “Director” means the director of financial aid or the director’s delegate.
  5. “Financial aid record” means a student record as defined in subsection 9–202(a)(4) of the Institutional Rules that is maintained by the director in connection with a financial aid program administered by the Office of Financial Aid. The record may include applications, forms, notices, hearing records, aid decisions, and other documents required under this chapter or deemed relevant by the director.
  6. “Student” means a person who is currently enrolled at the University, or who is accepted for admission or readmission to the University, or who has been enrolled at the University in a prior semester or summer session and is eligible to continue enrollment in the semester or summer session that immediately follows.
  7. “University” means the University of Texas at Austin.
  8. "Senior Vice Provost" means the senior vice-provost for enrollment and graduation management of the University of Texas at Austin, or his or her designee.
  9. “Weekday” means Monday through Friday, except University holidays and days on which regularly scheduled classes are suspended due to emergent situations; “University holidays” are staff holidays as identified in the holiday schedule published by the Office of Human Resource Services.

Subchapter 3–200. The Director of Financial Aid

Sec. 3–201. Administration of Financial Aid
  1. The director will administer institutional, state, and federal programs for scholarships, loans, grants, and other specified financial aid in accordance with the legal provisions and limitations, if any, of particular funds, or in accordance with policies recommended by the Committee on Financial Aid to Students.
  2. The director is in charge of the Office of Financial Aid and is administratively responsible to and will report regularly to the senior vice-provost.
Sec. 3–202. Duties of Staff

Staff members will conduct interviews with and process applications for students who need assistance in financing their educational expenses.

Subchapter 3–300. The Committee on Financial Aid to Students

Sec. 3–301. Membership
  1. The Committee on Financial Aid to Students has fourteen members and at least three administrative advisors. The members are
    1. five members from the General Faculty, representing five colleges or schools of the University, appointed by the president for two-year staggered terms;
    2. two staff members appointed by the president for staggered two-year terms;
    3. five students (four undergraduate and one graduate), including at least two who are receiving or have received financial aid from the Office of Financial Aid; four of the students are appointed by the president from a panel submitted by Student Government; the fifth student is appointed by the president from a panel submitted by the chair of the Graduate Student Assembly; student members will be appointed for two-year staggered terms; and
    4. two members from the Faculty Council, appointed by the chair of the Faculty Council for one-year terms.
  2. The director, a representative of the dean of students, and a representative of the Office of Graduate Studies serve as administrative advisors without vote. The president may appoint additional nonvoting administrative advisors from the general administration areas of the University.
  3. A Subcommittee for Appeals is designated from the full committee. The subcommittee is composed of no fewer than three of the five members from the General Faculty as voting members and the administrative advisors without vote.
Sec. 3–302. Duties of Committee
  1. The full committee initiates and reviews policies and procedures for the Office of Financial Aid.
  2. The Subcommittee for Appeals hears appeals from decisions regarding awards or policies of the Office of Financial Aid and makes recommendations to the senior vice-provost.

Subchapter 3–400. Appeals to the Committee on Financial Aid to Students

Sec. 3–401. Procedure for Denial or Revocation
  1. If a recipient of or an applicant for a loan, grant, scholarship, or Federal College Work-Study job administered by the Office of Financial Aid is not entitled to financial aid, the recipient or applicant will be notified in writing of the denial or revocation of aid and of the reason(s) thereof.
  2. Reasons for the denial or revocation of financial aid include, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. failure to maintain a satisfactory academic record; or
    2. failure to enroll for or to maintain the minimum academic course load requirement; or
    3. failure to show continuing need because of a change in financial status; or
    4. failure to meet requirements established by the financial aid agreement and the Committee on Financial Aid to Students; or
    5. failure to provide required financial documents; or
    6. background indication that the applicant might constitute an unnecessary credit risk in the matter of loans; or
    7. evidence of fraud, or intent to defraud; or
    8. failure to meet federal, state, or institutional requirements for financial eligibility.
Sec. 3–402. Appeal
  1. A person whose aid has been denied or revoked under section 3–401, after exhausting all internal review processes through the Office of Financial Aid, may appeal the decision to the Subcommittee for Appeals.
  2. The senior vice-provost may review decisions of the Subcommittee for Appeals.
Sec. 3–403. Appeal to Subcommittee for Appeals
  1. To appeal a denial or revocation of aid under section 3–401 and subsection 3–402(a) to the Subcommittee for Appeals, the student must submit a written appeal to the director and the chair of the Committee on Financial Aid to Students. The appeal must state the name of the student, the date the aid decision was issued by the director, and specific reasons for the appeal, including any related argument and all relevant documentation.
  2. The appeal must be submitted by letter or by e-mail within ten days from the date on which the student received the aid decision from the director. A letter or an e-mail message sent to an address listed in the registrar’s records will constitute full and adequate notice. A letter will be considered to have been received on the third day after the day of mailing. An e-mail message will be considered to have been received on the second day after the day of sending the message.
Sec. 3–404. Hearing Before the Subcommittee for Appeals

The Subcommittee for Appeals will preside over the hearing and will:

  1. determine whether the Office of Financial Aid has satisfactorily performed the requirements of section 3–401 and subsection 3–402(a);
  2. rule on the admissibility of evidence and on objections to the procedure; facilitate the hearing process, which includes the ability to excuse any party present at the hearing if he or she is disrupting the process; render a written decision, which will contain findings of fact; approve, reject, or modify the decision of the director; and provide the student and the director with a copy of the decision; and
  3. certify the record of the hearing.
Sec. 3–405. Duties of the Director

The director, in consultation with the Subcommittee for Appeals, will:

  1. set the date, time, and place for the hearing and notify the student of the date, time, and place;
  2. arrange for recording the hearing as provided in subsection 3–410(e); and
  3. furnish a suitable room, necessary equipment, and clerical assistance for the hearing.
Sec. 3–406. Notice of Hearings
  1. The director will notify the student by letter or by e-mail of the date, time, and place for the hearing. The notice will be delivered in person or sent by e-mail or postal mail to the student at an address listed in the registrar’s records.
  2. The notice will specify a hearing date at least ten days after the date the letter or e-mail message is received, unless the student has requested an earlier date as allowed by subsection 3–406(c). A letter or an e-mail message sent to an address listed in the registrar’s records will constitute full and adequate notice. A letter will be considered to have been received on the third day after the day of mailing. An e-mail message will be considered to have been received on the second day after the day of sending the message.
  3. The student may request, in writing, that an earlier hearing date be set if feasible to arrange. The Subcommittee for Appeals, for good cause, may postpone the hearing and will notify the director and the student of the new hearing date. A student’s failure to provide and to maintain current addresses, refusal to accept delivery of a letter, or failure to receive an e-mail message because the mailbox is full or the message is inappropriately forwarded will not constitute good cause for failure to comply with the notice. (Policies on the use of e-mail for official correspondence are given in Appendix M.)
  4. Notice sent under subsection 3–406(a) will
    1. direct the student to appear on the date and at the time and place specified;
    2. advise the student of his or her right
      1. to request a private hearing;
      2. to appear in person and to have an advisor at the hearing;
      3. to challenge a member of the subcommittee designated to hear the charges;
      4. to know the identity of each witness who will testify against the student;
      5. to present testimony of witnesses, to present documentary and other evidence, and to argue on the student’s behalf;
      6. to cross-examine each witness who testifies against the student;
      7. to be assisted by an advisor; and
      8. to appeal under section 3–413;
    3. contain the name of the persons appointed to serve on the Subcommittee for Appeals;
    4. contain the names of witnesses who may testify against the student, a brief summary of the testimony to be given by each, and a list of documentary and other evidence that will be offered against the student; the University may supplement the list of witnesses and documents for good cause, as determined by the Subcommittee for Appeals;
    5. contain a copy of the financial aid decision by the director; and
    6. notify the student that, if the student is advised by an attorney at the hearing, then the Subcommittee on Appeals may be advised by an attorney at the hearing. An advisor may confer with and advise the subcommittee or the student but will not be permitted to question witnesses, introduce evidence, make objections, or present arguments to the subcommittee.
  5. At least five days before the hearing, the director will make copies of documents to be introduced at the hearing available to the student.
  6. The Subcommittee for Appeals may proceed with the hearing in the absence of a student who fails without good cause to comply with a notice sent under this section. A student’s failure to provide and to maintain current addresses, refusal to accept delivery of a letter, or failure to receive an e-mail message because the mailbox is full or the message is inappropriately forwarded will not constitute good cause for failure to comply with a notice sent under this section.
Sec. 3–407. Preliminary Matters in Hearings
  1. At least five days before the hearing date, the student will furnish the director with a list of any witnesses who may testify on behalf of the student, together with a summary of each witness’s testimony and a copy of any documents and other evidence he or she may offer; the student may supplement the list of witnesses and documents for good cause, as determined by the Subcommittee for Appeals.
  2. At least five days before the hearing date, the student will furnish the Subcommittee for Appeals with
    1. any objection that, if sustained, would postpone the hearing; and
    2. the name and relationship of the advisor to the student, if any, who will appear with the student.
Sec. 3–408. Challenges to Members of the Subcommittee for Appeals

The student may challenge a member of the subcommittee’s alleged lack of fairness or objectivity but is not entitled to disqualify that person from serving. It will be up to the challenged person to determine whether he or she can serve with fairness and objectivity. If the challenged person disqualifies himself or herself, another eligible member from the Committee on Financial Aid to Students will be appointed by the chair.

Sec. 3–409. Hearing Procedure
  1. The Subcommittee for Appeals will review written arguments and then meet with both parties together to ask questions, seek clarification, and hear any final comments by the parties.
  2. The Subcommittee for Appeals’ meeting with the parties is informal and is closed, except that, upon request of the student, the meeting may be open.
  3. Although the hearing will proceed generally as follows, the Subcommittee for Appeals may adjust the sequence of the hearing as necessary to ensure fairness:
    1. the director reads the aid decision;
    2. the director and the student are each given the opportunity to make an opening statement; the student has the right to reserve his or her opening statement until after the director has presented the University’s case;
    3. the director is given the opportunity to present the University’s witnesses and evidence and the student then has the opportunity to question any of the University’s witnesses;
    4. the student is given the opportunity to present his or her witnesses and evidence and the director then has the opportunity to question any of the student’s witnesses;
    5. the director and the student are given the opportunity to present rebuttal evidence and argument;
    6. the director is given the opportunity to present a recommendation regarding the aid decision under review;
    7. the student is given the opportunity to present a rebuttal and recommended outcome;
    8. the director is given the opportunity to present a closing statement;
    9. the student is given the opportunity to present a closing statement;
    10. the Subcommittee for Appeals decides whether the aid decision made under section 3–401 and subsection 3–402(a) should be upheld, reversed, or modified; and
    11. the Subcommittee for Appeals informs the student of his or her right to appeal to the senior vice-provost.
  4. If, without good cause as determined by the Subcommittee for Appeals, the student fails to appear at the scheduled hearing after receiving the proper notice in accordance with subsection 3–406(a), the director may proceed with the hearing in the student’s absence and the student loses his or her right to appeal the decision of the Subcommittee for Appeals under section 3–413.
Sec. 3–410. Evidence in Hearings
  1. Legal rules of evidence do not apply to hearings under this subchapter; the Subcommittee for Appeals may admit and give effect to evidence, including testimony, that possesses probative value and is commonly accepted by reasonable people in the conduct of their affairs. The Subcommittee for Appeals will exclude irrelevant, immaterial, and unduly repetitious evidence. All evidence admitted during the hearing will be made a part of the record. The Subcommittee for Appeals will give effect to the rules of privilege recognized by law.
  2. Upon a hearing of the aid decision made under section 3–401 and subsection 3–402(a), the University has the burden of going forward with the evidence and the burden of proving the merits of the aid decision by the greater weight of credible evidence.
  3. A witness will testify unless the testimony is privileged as recognized by law or is excluded by the Subcommittee for Appeals.
  4. The Subcommittee for Appeals will review the aid decision made under section 3–401 and subsection 3–402(a) on the basis of admitted evidence. The Subcommittee for Appeals may consider the student’s financial aid record that was admitted into evidence at the hearing in determining an aid decision.
  5. A recording will be made of the hearing under supervision of the director. If either party appeals the decision, the senior vice-provost may request that the recording be transcribed and both parties will be furnished a copy of the transcript.
Sec. 3–411. Decision of the Subcommittee for Appeals
  1. Within fourteen days from the completion of the hearing, but not before the certification of the recording and of the transcript, if any, the Subcommittee for Appeals will render a written decision and will set forth findings of fact in support of the decision. The student and the director will each be given a copy of the decision. The Subcommittee for Appeals’ written decision is the official decision on the matter from which any appeal is taken.
  2. The criteria on which the Subcommittee for Appeals’ decision will be based are fairness; reasonableness; compliance with the Institutional Rules and federal and state law; and the student’s financial aid record, if any. The Subcommittee for Appeals may approve, reject, or modify the director’s decision.
Sec. 3–412. Hearing Record

The hearing record consists of

  1. a copy of the notice required under section 3–406;
  2. the recording of the hearing certified by the Subcommittee for Appeals and the transcript, if any, certified by the court reporter, together with all evidence admitted under section 3–410;
  3. written motions and pleas; and
  4. the decision of the Subcommittee for Appeals.
Sec. 3–413. Appeal of the Decision of the Subcommittee for Appeals to the Senior Vice Provost
  1. Either the student or the director may appeal the decision of the Subcommittee for Appeals under section 3–411 by submitting a written appeal to the senior vice-provost. The appeal, if any, must be submitted within seven days from the date on which the appealing party was notified of the Subcommittee for Appeals’ decision. If notice of the decision is sent by mail, the date the decision is mailed initiates the seven-day period. The written appeal must state the specific reasons for the appeal and must include any related argument.
  2. If the student is the appellant, the student must provide the director with a copy of the appeal on the same date the appeal is submitted to the senior vice-provost. If the director is the appellant, the director will give, e-mail, or mail a copy of the appeal to the student on the same day that the director submits the appeal to the senior vice-provost. If the copy of the appeal is mailed, the director will mail it to the student at an address listed in the registrar’s records.
  3. The nonappealing party may submit a written response to the appeal to the senior vice-provost. The response, if any, must be submitted no later than five days after the senior vice-provost received the appeal. The nonappealing party must provide a copy of the response to the other party. The response must be limited to and specifically related to the arguments originally submitted by the appealing party. New or additional information not specifically related to the original arguments submitted will not be considered on appeal. The submission of a response to the appeal will not extend the thirty-day period within which the action of the senior vice-provost will be communicated as outlined in subsection 3–414(c).
  4. The appeal of the decision of the Subcommittee for Appeals will be reviewed solely on the basis of the hearing record, the student’s financial aid record, the written arguments of the appealing party, and the written response of the nonappealing party. The director will submit the record from the hearing to the senior vice-provost as soon as it is available to the director.
Sec. 3–414. Senior Vice-Provost's Authority
  1. The senior vice-provost may approve, reject, or modify the decision in question or may require that the original decision be reopened for the presentation of additional evidence and reconsideration of the decision.
  2. At the discretion of the senior vice-provost, both parties may present oral arguments in an appeal of the decision of the Subcommittee for Appeals.
  3. The action of the senior vice-provost will be communicated in writing to the student and the director within thirty days after the appeal has been received by the senior vice-provost. The decision of the senior vice- provost will be final.

Subchapter 3–500. Disciplinary Offenses

Sec. 3–501. Procedures for Initiating Disciplinary Action

When there is evidence of fraud, or intent to defraud, or indications of other disciplinary offenses in regard to a student application for or receipt of aid, the Office of Financial Aid will refer the student to the dean of students for disciplinary action. In addition, in accordance with federal and state law, the Office of Financial Aid will report such actions to the United States Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General.

Sec. 3–502. Disciplinary Review

Disciplinary review for student aid disciplinary offenses will be handled by the Office of the Dean of Students and governed by subchapter 11–200 of the Institutional Rules, “Administration of Discipline.”