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Coursework toward Program of Study (CPoS)

Coursework toward Program of Study (CPoS)

For federal aid to pay for a course in your major, minor, or other degree requirement, it must be part of your approved Course Program of Study (CPoS) and must count in the evaluation of your approved program using the degree evaluation tool.  You need to make sure all courses count when you meet with your academic advisor and plan your schedule for each semester.

First: Officially Declare Your Major and Minor

It is essential that your major and minor are officially declared and noted in your student record.  If you have been planning to declare or change a major or minor, but have not yet done so, you should consult with your academic advisor immediately to make the official declaration.

  • Courses can only be determined to be eligible based on the officially declared major and minor as noted in your student record.

Second: Assumptions About Financial Aid Offers

Financial aid offers are based on the assumption that undergraduate students will enroll full-time, and graduate students will enroll at least half-time in eligible coursework during the fall and spring semesters.

Third: Keep Your Eligibility

Remember that dropping or not attending your courses can negatively impact your eligibility for current and future aid.  It is important that you discuss your Course Program of Study with your advisor when your enroll for next semester's classes.  If your current coursework is not correct, work with your advisor to make the appropriate changes to your major or minor.

Why is this important?

Taking courses that are not required to complete your program could result in receiving less or no federal aid.  Taking classes that are not in your Course Program of Study for your officially declared major and/or minor may result in a reduction of your overall financial aid offer since courses that are not eligible cannot be counted toward your full-time status.  In other words, the full-time Cost of Attendance (COA) requirements for undergraduates say that you must be enrolled in at least 12 eligible credit hours.  For example, if 9 of your 12 hours are in your Course Program of Study, but 3 of your hours do not count toward your major or minor, your COA will reflect that you are not a full-time student (only 3/4 time), which could reduce your federal, state, and/or university aid.  Remember:  We cannot award aid in excess of your Cost of Attendance.

What types of aid are affected by this?

Federal Aid (Examples: Pell Grant, FSEOG, TEACH Grant, Direct Loans, and Work-study) may only be paid for eligible courses that count toward your program.  State, university, and other private aid (TSAA Grant, HOPE Scholarship, C-N Grant, and Alternative Loans) are currently not subject to the same regulatory restrictions.  However, your Cost of Attendance will be reduced for courses that are not counted towards the program of study, which can result in a lower about of state, university, and private aid that you may receive. 

How does this affect Cost of Attendance?

The Cost of Attendance is an estimate of your cost to go to school for a specific amount of time (semester or year) and is based on your enrollment status, and we cannot award aid in excess of your Cost of Attendance.  Enrollment status for financial aid is based on eligible courses only.  If you are in 12 hours that count towards your program of study, you will be considered a full-time student for Cost of Attendance purposes.  If you are enrolled in 12 hours and only 9 hours are required toward your officially declared program of study, your federal aid will be reduced to 3/4 time based on 9 hours, as will your Cost of Attendance.  However, if your Cost of Attendance allows, you may still be eligible for full-time university grant/scholarship and/or TN state grant/scholarship.  Federal Direct Loans require half-time attendance (at least 6 credit hours).  If you are enrolled in 6+ hours, but only 3-5 hours are required for your program of study, you will not be eligible to receive a Federal Direct Loan.

Enrollment Status Types Undergraduate Graduate
Full-time  12+ Credit Hours/semester  9+ Credit Hours/semester
Three Quarter Time  9-11 Credit Hours/semester  7-8 Credit Hours/semester
Half-time  6-8 Credit Hours/semester  6 Credit Hours/semester
Less than Half-time 1-5 Credit Hours/semester 1-5 Credit Hours/semester

If your federal aid has been reduced due to enrollment in coursework that does not apply towards your outstanding requirements in your program of study, you should contact your academic advisor to discuss your academic options.  Otherwise, if you have questions regarding financial aid, contact our office located in Butler Welcome Hall or by emailing

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