Credit Balance and Student Refund Policy

A credit balance exists when payments/credits exceed charges.  This could be for the current term or a cumulative balance (multiple terms) depending on the source of the payment.  

A refund does not mean the account has been paid in full.  Students may receive a refund and still owe the University.  Furthermore, account adjustments (changes to enrollment status, financial aid, additional charges, etc.) may be done after a student receives a refund.  It is the student's responsibility to view their SIS financial account or monitor their email for notifications.  Refer to the Past Due Balance Policy.  

Due to federally mandated guidelines on federal financial aid, specifically Title IV aid, credit balance and prior term balances, the University applies current term payments to prior term charges to only non-financial aid payments (e.g. personal payments made online or mailed to CWRU).  That means if a student or their authorized payer makes a payment online or mails a payment to CWRU, the payment can be used to pay for prior term charges, late fees and penalty charges, or non-institutional charges (e.g.  Student Medical Plan, Disability Insurance, Parking Permit, One to One Membership, etc.). 

Since financial aid is disbursed to a specific term (i.e. Spring 2024 financial aid is disbursed to Spring 2024 term), the University will not use excess current term aid to pay for prior term charges.  This ensures that students understand adjustments or charges that may appear for each term and appeals/disputes them in a timely manner.  That means, a student with excess Spring 2024 financial aid cannot use the excess (or credit balance in the term) to pay for a prior term (i.e. Fall 2023) charges.  The student or their authorized payer will need to make a payment (online, mailed, or in-person) for prior term charges after receiving their refund. 

In addition, without prior federal financial aid authorization, the University cannot apply current term federal financial aid credit balance to current term non-institutional charges (e.g.  Student Medical Plan, Disability Insurance, Parking Permit, One to One Membership, etc.).  The federal financial aid authorization must be done prior to the financial aid disbursement and is in effect for future terms unless revoked by the student or the University. Even with this authorization, regulations do not allow federal financial aid funds to pay for late fees and penalty charges, such as late registration fees, extended payment plan fees, housing penalties, and other miscellaneous penalties. Therefore, a payment must be made separately for penalty charges.  

Only actual credits (not anticipated aid) in excess of charges may result in a refund.  Refunds are processed on or after the first day of class, issued to the student, regardless of the source of overpayment.  The only exception is if the overpayment is the result of a Parent PLUS Loan.  If the parent did not elect to have the credit balance refunded to the student, the refund will be issued to the parent on the loan application by a mailed check.  

By default, students without financial aid (scholarship, grants, loans, etc) will have their credit balance applied to a future semester.  Credit balances may be refunded upon a student's request, separation, or graduation.  Credit balances due to online or mailed payments will have a 14 calendar day hold.  Refund requests as a result of a personal payment will be honored after the 14 calendar day hold.  

Students with a credit balance in their SIS financial account will receive a refund by direct deposit or mailed check to the student's primary mailing address in the SIS system.  If a student resides in a University housing unit at the time of the refund process, the refund check will be mailed to the University housing unit address in SIS.  Notification to the student's email will be sent when a refund is processed indicating the method of disbursement.  Refer to Uncashed or Returned Student Refund Policy.

Last Updated: March 29, 2024