Financial Aid Disbursement as a “Standard Term School”

The University of Iowa is considered a standard term school for financial aid purposes. 

What does this mean?

According to the Department of Education, the University of Iowa is considered a standard term school, which means financial aid is disbursed at the start of the semester and all students progress to the next disbursement period at the same rate. If courses overlap the University Calendar, then a school becomes either a non-standard or a non-term school for financial aid purposes according to the Department of Education. 

The University is not set up to administer the disbursement of financial aid on an individual basis. Now that the University is fully aware of these regulations and the consequences of noncompliance, steps are being taken to provide information to colleges, departments, and individual instructors to ensure that course overlap is no longer occurring. 

Federal Compliance and Course Dates

Generally speaking, section offerings must comply with the dates listed on or within the respective academic session. These dates can be identified using the MAUI Academic Calendar within the grey session banner unless an alternate collegiate context calendar exists. The Department of Education’s federal compliance issues relate to section dates that fall outside of the University calendar dates, i.e., starting before or ending after the session dates. Therefore, colleges and departments must ensure their session offerings meet this federal compliance policy. It is essential that the University continue to be able to offer financial aid to students and function as a standard term school. 

Office of Financial Aid Internal Review

It has been brought to the attention of the Office of Financial Aid from an internal review of the University’s Program Participation Agreement with the Department of Education that courses have been approved with start and end dates outside of our set session dates. Courses outside of the established academic calendar create compliance issues for “Standard Term Schools”. Therefore, the Offices of the Provost, Registrar, and Student Financial Aid are in the process of addressing these issues to move toward and establish complete compliance for the University with Department of Education requirements.

Impact of Non-Compliance

If the University is not compliant, we risk a federal audit, findings which may result in fines, and the possibility of no longer being able to disburse federal financial aid. Consequently, courses with dates that do not fall within university begin and end dates for the session will not be approved, even if the course may have been approved in the past. Instructors will need to adjust the dates to fit within the semester.

We understand that it may not be easy to change course dates; however, the University does not have a choice in this matter. The consequences of noncompliance are too great. It is essential that the University continue to be able to offer financial aid to students and function as a standard term school. It may be possible to work with the Office of Financial Aid, Office of the Registrar, and Office of the Provost to investigate alternative solutions in course configuration that reduces student impact and maintains compliance with Federal regulations.

Use of Alternate Collegiate Context Calendar

It is understood professional colleges may not follow the traditional University of Iowa Academic Calendar start and end session dates. Thus, consult the appropriate override dates on the College Context menu in MAUI Academic Calendar and compare to course offering dates to assess date compliance.

Guidelines Regarding Use of Alternate Collegiate Context Calendar

  • If the program is made up of student cohorts, no overlap between the groupings can occur.
  • No overlap of the college’s program/degree’s required courses can exist.
  • All sessions must have their own start and end dates with no session date overlap.


If you have questions regarding this required change, please contact Cindy Seyfer (Assistant Provost and Director, Student Financial Aid) at, or Kelly Carrell (Senior Associate Director, Compliance and Fiscal Management) at