Course Program of Study (CPoS)


Course Program of Study (CPOS) is a federal requirement that only allows courses that count toward a student's program of study (your declared major/minor) to be eligible for Federal Financial Aid. In order for Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Financial Aid Office to award federal financial aid, a student must be enrolled in courses that count towards his/her degree, certificate, or other recognized credential. If a student is enrolled in courses that do not count towards his/her program of study (major), Southwest cannot award federal financial aid.

CPoS only applies to federal financial aid (the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Teach Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant and Federal Work-Study). It does not impact eligibility for state or institutional financial aid (such as the Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA), Tennessee Hope Scholarship, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect), or institutional scholarships.

Important Guidelines to Follow

  • Know your program of study: Federal financial aid only pays for courses that are in your declared major.
  • Follow the timeline to change your major, if need be: If you plan to change your major, it is important to make that change prior to the beginning of the semester, or no later than the 14th day of classes. If you anticipate enrolling into a special admissions program, your major cannot reflect this program until after you are admitted.
  • Contact your Professional Academic Advisor: Work closely with your Professional Academic Advisor to ensure you are registered for courses that are within your program of study (major).
  • Act Early: If your federal financial aid has been reduced due to enrollment in courses that do not count, contact your Professional Academic Advisor immediately for assistance.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Course Program of Study (CPoS) is a federal requirement that allows Southwest to award federal financial aid only for courses that count toward your declared major/minor. A program of study refers to the courses needed to complete an approved degree.

A program of study are the courses required to complete an approved degree. This also can apply to a financial aid eligible certificate. The specific courses for a student are noted in the student’s degree evaluation. A course will count in the evaluation of a student’s degree using the degree evaluation tool to be considered a part of the student’s program of study.

No, federal aid can only be applied to courses in your degree plan. Check with the Financial Aid Office if you have questions about your financial aid.

Federal Financial Aid can only pay for eligible courses that count towards your degree/major.  Examples of federal financial aid:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Teach Grant
  • Federal Work-Study
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

State Financial Aid and most scholarships do not have the CPoS restriction. This type of financial aid assistance can be applied to any course regardless of whether it is in your degree plan. Examples state financial aid:

  • Tennessee Promise
  • Tennessee Reconnect
  • The HOPE Scholarship
  • Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA)
  • Institutional scholarships

The degree evaluation tool Degree Works will be used to determine if a course is part of the program of study. Southwest will run the program to identify students who are impacted and notify them before the start of each semester. We will also run the process before disbursement of financial aid after the census date (official 14th day of class for Fall and Spring semester). After this point, no further adjustments will be made. It is imperative that all schedule and major changes are made before the census date.

Your Professional Academic Advisor, Financial Aid Specialist, and staff members in the Records Office all have access to run an audit of your courses to determine if they count towards your degree program. You can also run your own degree audit in Degree Works to see if courses apply towards your major. You will also receive an email from the Financial Aid Office if courses are not paid by federal financial aid.

Students will be notified by email. Professional Academic Advisors are a student’s first point of contact on whether courses are included in a program of study. They will assist you with updating your schedule so that all courses are within your program of study.

Do NOT begin modifying your schedule without consulting your Professional Academic Advisor. An advisor will be able to review your account and determine whether the system is accurately assessing your enrollment. If not and your enrollment has been approved to count as part of your declared major, an override request can be submitted by your advisor to have the course(s) count toward your federal financial aid eligibility.

Once you make a change, CPoS will need to update overnight. Then, contact Financial Aid or your Professional Academic Advisor who can re-evaluate your eligibility. Contacting them will provide you peace of mind and ensure accuracy in how we update our audit and award financial aid.

Only the current semester major will be used when evaluating the courses. Major changes must be submitted prior to the 14th day of each semester to ensure financial aid is calculating payment of federal aid on courses in your major. Do not wait until the last minute to change your major, as your request is processed in the order received. Major changes received in the Records Office after the 14th day will apply to the following semester.

The 14th day of each semester is the last day to modify your schedule, or make major changes. Your federal financial aid eligibility will be based on this snapshot. Do not wait until the last minute to submit updates because major changes are not immediate. It is your responsibility to ensure your major and concentration accurately reflects your current enrollment and that any updates are submitted in sufficient time to allow for processing. We recommend major changes be submitted at least 5-10 business days before the beginning of each term.

Prerequisite courses can only be covered if they are included in your program of study, and documented on the process map or degree evaluation tool, Degree Works. This is based on your current program of study (major) at the time of payment up to the census date (14th class day). If there are “extra” courses required for your major, and they are not part of your program of study, they will not be eligible for financial aid.

If a course substitution is required, it must be submitted by your professor or Professional Academic Advisor prior to the census date (official 14th day of class for Fall and Spring semester).

Concentrations must be officially declared and reflected in the degree evaluation prior to the census date (official 14th day of class for Fall and Spring semester). Courses counting toward undeclared concentrations will not be included in the program of study.

Double majors must be officially declared and reflected in the degree evaluation prior to the census date (14th day of class). Courses counting toward undeclared majors will not be included in the program of study.

If a program of study has listed specific courses that can count as electives, then only those courses will be eligible unless a course substitution is submitted by your professor or Professional Academic Advisor.

Courses taken that apply directly towards financial aid eligible certificates will be paid for by federal financial aid.

Scholarships do not require all courses to be within your program of study (major).

There are two separate processes that will affect these courses. The first is the program of study evaluation, and the second is the repeated coursework evaluation. The repeated course will count for the program of study evaluation if it is in the program of study as documented by the degree evaluation, regardless of the presence of the same course taken previously. The course would still need to pass repeated coursework evaluation to be eligible for federal aid.

Required learning support courses will be eligible, up to a maximum 30-credit hour limit.

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