For purposes of federal, Title IV, student financial assistance, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) requires institutions to be able to demonstrate that federal aid recipients established eligibility for federal aid by participating in academic related activities for all enrolled course work.
Academically related activities include, but are not limited to —
Academically related activities do NOT include activities where a student may be present, but not academically engaged, such as —
Participation in academic counseling and advising are no longer considered to be academic attendance or attendance at an academically related activity.
In a distance education context, documenting that a student has logged into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate academic attendance by the student. A school must demonstrate that a student participated in class or was otherwise engaged in an academically related activity, such as by contributing to an online discussion or initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a course-related question. (paraphrased from Volume 5, Chapter 2, Page 90 of the 2011 - 2012 Federal Student Handbook under the topic of ‘Withdrawals and the Return of Title IV Funds.’)