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CPoS (Course Program of Study) Impact

CPoS (Course Program of Study)

Course Program of Study (or CPOS) is a federal requirement by the U.S. Department of Education that mandates that only the courses in a student’s declared major or minor program will determine that student’s eligibility for federal or state financial aid, which can include the Pell Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal loans, Federal SEOG Grant, the PROMISE Scholarship, West Virginia Higher Education Grant, etc.

Specifically, for federal aid to pay for courses in your major, minor, or other degree requirements, it must be part of your program of study or be necessary to earn the total hours required for your degree.  Taking courses that are not a part of your program of study could result in receiving less federal financial aid and potentially having to pay for courses out-of-pocket. Courses for elective minors or concentrations are not considered degree-pursuant courses unless the minor or concentration is required in order to obtain the degree. 

Note: If a student is full-time in degree-pursuant coursework, they may also consider taking courses required for a minor above that full-time enrollment. For example, they may be in 12 degree-pursuant hours (full-time for undergraduates), then take two courses for a minor, putting them at 18 hours of overall enrollment.

For undergraduate degrees, CPOS normally includes general education + major requirements + required electives.  Academic departments determine program requirements which are then built into the degree evaluation program, DegreeWorks.  The degree requirements for your program of study can be found by visiting your course catalog or your Degree Works.

Common Reasons for Ineligibility

  • Student registers for courses that are not required for the declared program.
  • The course is a substitution, but the official substitution process is not complete.
  • Courses are not required in the student’s catalog year.
  • The course was previously repeated and no longer qualifies for aid.
  • If the course is already repeated twice, with passing grades, it is not eligible for financial aid. The student may register for a different eligible course.
  • The course is an elective and the student already fulfilled all electives.
  • Electives are correctly calculated in Degree Works. If electives are fulfilled and a substitution is not completed, the course is not eligible for federal aid.
  • Student has registered for courses for a major that they have not declared.

What is the Impact on Your Financial Aid?

You may only receive federal and state financial aid for outstanding coursework that counts towards your declared program of study.  Institutional aid (such as scholarships) are not subject to the same federal regulatory restrictions; however, your cost of attendance will be based on coursework that applies to your declared program of study.  This could result in a reduced amount of aid as total aid cannot exceed the cost of attendance.  Dropping or not attending courses can negatively impact your eligibility for current or future aid.

Each aid program has its own, specific enrollment requirements for the aid to disburse as payment on a student's account.

Enrollment Requirements for Aid to Disburse

  • Courses Must be Federal/State Aid-Eligible to Count Toward Enrollment Requirements
  • Institutional scholarships and grants
    • Full-time (Exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement are students who cannot be enrolled full-time based on the availability of degree pursuant coursework)
  • Federal Aid that requires at least half-time enrollment
    • Direct Graduate PLUS Loan
    • Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan
    • Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
    • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
    • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • Federal Pell Grant
    • Pro-rated** based on enrollment in courses that count for Title IV federal aid
  • HEAPS Grant
    • Must be enrolled less than full-time
  • State Aid Programs that require full-time enrollment (Exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement are students who cannot be enrolled full-time based on the availability of degree pursuant coursework)
    • WV Higher Education Grant
    • WV Promise Scholarship
      • Full-time (Exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement are considered if the student is in their last two semesters of eligibility)
    • Engineering Science and Technology Scholarship
    • Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program