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Attendance, Withdrawals and Grade Reporting

Memorandum #5 - Attendance, Withdrawals and Grade Reporting

Effective September 1, 2021; (Revised July 15, 2021)
Revised: July 1, 2016
Revised: March 27, 2015
Revised: February 25, 2013
Revised: April 8, 2010

Students’ participation in regularly scheduled sessions or classes is an essential part of the instructional process. College students are expected to fulfill their academic responsibilities by attending all classes unless prevented from doing so by illness or emergency.

Responsibility of Instructors

It is the responsibility of the instructor to determine the attendance guidelines that best promote learning in each course. On or before the first meeting of each course, the instructor is expected to articulate and inform students in writing via a course syllabus about specific class attendance requirements. In general, instructors should exercise fair and consistent standards in determining when to excuse an absence and/or when to provide accommodations for missed major exams and assessments. An excused absence or accommodation should be provided to students who miss class to observe a recognized religious day or to fulfill a civic responsibility (e.g., jury duty or military service). (FAQs about Memo #5)

Responsibility of Students

It is the responsibility of the students to comply with the class attendance guidelines/policies, including the general requirement for verifying attendance, and to complete assignments, including those that involve out-of-class or online participation. Students are responsible for informing instructors in advance about anticipated absences. Students should recognize that individual sections of a course may be taught differently and that the attendance policy for individual sections of a course may not be the same.

Aside from the learning opportunities missed due to absences from class, excessive absence could result in significant academic penalty (failing a course), being asked to drop the course or being counseled to withdraw from the term.

Students must attend classes, or participate in an academically-related activity such as completing and submitting an assignment, or taking a test or quiz, during the first twenty percent (20%) of a course in order to have attendance verified by the instructor. A student who does not establish attendance will be administratively dropped from that class and maintain financial responsibility for the course. Such an administrative course drop due to lack of attendance verification may result in an adjustment of financial aid received.

The twenty percent (20%) date for attendance verification in a regular 15-week fall or spring semester and the twenty percent (20%) equivalent for other terms will be published online listed in the College’s Academic Calendar.  

Beginning Attendance in a Course—20% Attendance Report

Federal regulations require that the College must have a procedure for determining whether a federal financial aid recipient began attendance in the course, in order to establish eligibility as a financial aid recipient. In the interest of maintaining adequate procedures for documenting whether or not a student began attendance in enough credit hours to support the enrollment status for which Title IV funds were awarded and disbursed, each instructor shall provide attendance information for each student in his/her classes at the 20% point in the term. This is also designed to meet our obligations with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

As permitted by federal regulations, the College is permitted to monitor attendance at least once during a period of time (i.e., the 20% point in the term) but does not continue to monitor attendance for a student after the one day of confirmed attendance. This policy ensures that the College is not a school that is required to take attendance for Title IV program purposes.

At the 20% mark, faculty must enter into Banner that a student has “Attended”/ “A” or “Never Attended”/ “NA”. Faculty reporting includes all students, including those who have dropped the course before the 20% point. Students who drop the course are reported as “Attended”/ “A” or “Never Attended”/ “NA” to determine if the student began attendance.

Any students who are reported as Never Attended/NA in a course at the 20% point will have their financial aid recalculated to remove this course and financial aid will be disbursed including only those courses in which the student began attendance.

Mid-Term Academic Progress—50% Report

In the interest of assuring earlier feedback to students, thus facilitating an earlier student decision, each instructor shall submit verification of student academic progress for each student in his/her classes at the 50% point in the term. Faculty must enter Academic Progress into Banner with the following options:  Satisfactory “S” or Unsatisfactory “U”. Fifty percent Academic Progress reports need to be entered only for terms of at least ten (10) weeks. 

Official Withdrawal

Students may withdraw from a course or courses without academic penalty up to and including the eleventh (11th) week of a regular 15-week term, and up to and including the equivalent percentage of the eleventh (11th) week in a part of term. For parts of terms, the last date for withdraw without academic penalty can be found online listed in the College’s Academic Calendar.

If the official withdrawal form is filed with the Office of Student Records and Registration within the established time limit, the student's grade report will show the grade W (withdrawal).

Students who stop participating without notifying the College or submitting a withdrawal form after the 11th week will receive an FS (Failure–Stopped Attending) grade. 

Unofficial Withdrawals 

The Community College of Philadelphia does not require faculty to take attendance; however, the U.S. Department of Education requires (34 CFR 668.22) the institution to determine if a student who received financial aid and fails to earn a passing grade in a course has actually attended and/or completed the courses, or if they unofficially withdrew without completing an official notification. 

In accordance with federal regulations relating to Student Assistance General Provision, 34 CFR 668.22, the College must determine whether a return of Title IV federal funds is necessary when a student fails to attend/participate or ceases to attend/participate in all classes and does not withdraw. This situation is referred to as an "unofficial withdrawal" and is reflected on a student’s transcript.

This process is utilized to identify students who fail to attend or cease to attend classes without officially withdrawing and to facilitate required calculations determining the amount of Title IV federal funds which must be returned to the U.S. Department of Education as a result of such unofficial withdrawals. Because students receiving federal financial aid may be financially impacted, compliance by College officials who record grades is critical.

Students who complete a term with no passing grades (any combination of Withdrawal (W) or Failure-Stopped Attending (FS)), are to be considered unofficial withdrawals from the College and the Financial Aid Office.

The College has elected to institute a grade designation of (FS), Failure-Stopped Attending, to differentiate from a student who has completed the course, but failed to make a passing grade and one who has ceased participation in the course. The College further has a requirement that faculty provide a last date of participation for students who receive FS grades to determine whether a student has unofficially withdrawn.

To serve as documentation that a student who received all “F” grades had not unofficially withdrawn, the College’s policy requires instructors to award the “F” only to students who earned the “F”, i.e., completed the course but who failed to achieve the course objectives. The policy also requires that instructors award FS to students who failed to complete the course (typically due to stopping participation).

Under this policy, if a student received at least one grade of “F”, the student would be considered to have completed the course and, like a student who received at least one passing grade, would not be treated as an unofficial withdrawal. A student who did not officially withdraw and did not receive either a passing grade or an “F” in at least one course must be considered to have unofficially withdrawn.

The withdrawal date for an unofficial withdrawal for institutions not required to take attendance is the midpoint of the period of enrollment or the last date of an academically-related activity in which the student participated. The Office of Financial Aid will perform a Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) calculation using the date entered by the instructors as the Date of Withdrawal.

FS grades require a last date of participation to be entered at the time of grade entry. If more than one instructor provides a date, the later date will be used. If the last date of participation cannot be determined, the midpoint (50%) of the period of enrollment will be used as permitted by Federal regulation.

The updated enrollment status and last date of participation will be transmitted to National Student Loan Data System. Loan repayment and grace period will be based upon the last of date participation, not the end of the term.

Students identified as unofficial withdrawals will be notified of the withdrawal date, the percentage of refund adjustment used in the calculation and any balance due to the College after adjustments to institutional charges and financial aid payments.