In accordance with requirements of the Higher Education Act (34 CFR 668.34), Plymouth State University has established certain standards for evaluating the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) of Title IV Financial Aid recipients. This policy applies to federal, state and institutional aid programs (grant, loan, and work study). Satisfactory Academic Progress policies and procedures are reviewed when changes at the federal or institutional level require us to do so to ensure compliance with federal regulations.
Note: PSU has a separate Academic Standing Policy from the Student Financial Services Office. Please contact the Office of the Registrar for more information concerning the university’s academic standards. Students are not eligible for financial aid if academically severed from the college.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the measurement of a student’s academic progress towards the completion of their degree. The measurement evaluates three components to determine eligibility for financial aid. The review of a student’s SAP status is based on his or her entire academic record, even if he/she did not receive financial aid for previous semesters of enrollment. In order to be eligible for financial aid, students must satisfy all three components.
Undergraduate students must meet the following SAP criteria
- Minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.00
- Minimum completion rate of 67%
- Maximum time frame of 150% of defined academic length for bachelor’s degree/certificate programs.
Graduate students must meet the following SAP criteria
- Minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00
- Minimum completion rate of 67%
- Maximum time frame of 150% of defined academic length for master’s degree/certificate programs.
Cumulative Grade Point Average
All of a student’s grades are used when calculating minimum grade point average. (NOTE: Grades of I, IC, and AF count as F grades in the calculation). Audited coursework and Grades of W are not used when computing minimum cumulative GPA.
Students who have applied for and been approved for Academic Bankruptcy under the Plymouth State University Academic Bankruptcy policy should note that Federal regulations do not allow for ‘excluded’ grades to be excluded from the SAP calculation as well. The SAP minimum cumulative GPA standard applies to all grades a student has received for all courses regardless of if they have been forgiven under the Plymouth State University Academic Bankruptcy Program.
Completion rate is calculated by dividing total attempted credits by total earned credits. A student’s completion rate must stay above the required percentage to be considered satisfactory for this component. For example: to graduate in four years (eight semesters), bachelor’s degree students must complete an average of 15 to 15.5 credit hours per semester for eight semesters.
- Attempted credits include successfully completed courses with non-passing grades, incomplete courses, withdrawn courses, transfer credits and repeated courses.
- Earned credits include successfully completed courses (courses with grades of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, and P) and transfer credits.
- Audited coursework is not included in attempted/earned credits or GPA.
Maximum Time Frame
Maximum time frame is calculated by multiplying the published program length by 150 percent.
Undergraduate Example: Published program length of 120 credits X 150% = 180 credits maximum time frame allowed to complete degree requirements.
Graduate Example: Published program length of 60 credits X 150% = 90 credits maximum time frame allowed to complete degree requirements.
- An undergraduate student who has attempted (not necessarily earned) 180 credits for a program that requires only 120 credits, has now exhausted his/her eligibility for financial aid.
- A graduate student who has attempted (not necessarily earned) 90 credits for a program that only requires 60 credits, has now exhausted his/her eligibility for financial aid.
Change of Major may sometimes impact a student’s maximum time frame. Students who must remain enrolled beyond their maximum time frame due to a change of major will be required to submit an SAP appeal once they reach their maximum time frame.
Evaluations and Notifications
The PSU Student Financial Services Team evaluates SAP:
- Annually at the end of each spring term for undergraduate and graduate degree students
- Each semester for students solely enrolled in certificate programs
- Upon re-enrollment into the college
- At the end of each probationary period as applicable
Students must be making SAP to continue to receive financial aid in a subsequent payment period, including summer term. Financial aid applicants not meeting SAP standards will be deemed ineligible to receive financial aid and will be sent notification to the student’s campus email account.
Financial Aid Termination
INELIGIBLE satisfactory academic progress status will result in the loss of all federal, state, and PSU aid, including grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study employment, until the student has met required guidelines and returns to an ELIGIBLE status.
Students who do not meet the minimum SAP requirements for continuance of financial aid have the right to appeal when special circumstances exist. Conditions when a student may appeal include:
- If you or an immediate family member experiences a serious injury, illness or mental health condition, please attach a statement from your physician or mental health professional, reflecting date(s) of occurrence/treatment.
- If you experienced the death of immediate family member, please attach a copy of the death certificate, paper obituary/link to online obituary, or statement from physician.
- If you experienced other circumstances beyond your control, please attach documentation that supports the situation.
Students will receive communication from the PSU Student Financial Services office regarding their INELIGIBLE status and will be advised of appropriate requirements needed to file an appeal. If an ineligible student does not appeal, reinstatement for financial aid consideration will only occur once the student earns the necessary credits/GPA. Students may earn credits above the semester minimums and/or attend a summer or early spring session to meet this requirement. In addition, students must submit a signed appeal form to us and indicate they are now meeting PSU’s Satisfactory Academic Progress standards.
Approved Appeals/Financial Aid Probation
If an appeal is approved, financial aid will be reinstated for the following term and the student will be placed on PROBATIONARY status for that term. The student will be required to successfully complete all courses attempted for that term and make noticeable, overall progress toward increasing their GPA and/or increasing completed credits Failure to meet these requirements will automatically place a student back to INELIGIBLE status.
Please note: Students placed on a 2nd financial aid suspension are unlikely to have a second SAP appeal approved. Students may also regain eligibility by taking and paying for his/her classes, and raising his/her cumulative GPA and completion rate to meet the SAP standard.
Students whose appeals are denied will receive notification that they are ineligible for financial aid. The student may enroll in coursework but will be responsible for payment in full of all incurred costs. Written denial notification will be sent to the student’s campus email account. Students may wish to explore private/alternative education loan; however, please note that some private loan lenders require SAP for participation in their loan program. Be sure you are selecting a lender that does not require SAP
NOTE: the parents of SAP denied students are not eligible to take out a Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan and Graduate students are not eligible to take out a Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan.
Re-Establishing Financial Aid Eligibility
A student may regain financial aid eligibility by successfully meeting the University’s SAP policy requirements. Students must notify the office in writing of their intent to use financial aid again.