Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Students receiving federal financial aid are required to make timely progress towards the completion of their degree/certificate. This policy, known as Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), looks at a student’s grade point average (GPA), and the percentage of credits they have successfully completed, known as Pace or completion rate. Students that fail to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) may be placed on warning or financial aid suspension.

The SAP regulations also require that students complete their degree within a maximum timeframe. Undergraduate students who are approaching the limit have to file a separate appeal detailed on the Undergraduate Maximum Timeframe webpage. Similarly, graduate students who are approaching the limit have to file a separate appeal detailed on the Graduate Maximum Timeframe webpage.

SAP regulations require that a student’s complete academic record be considered regardless of whether the student received aid each term they were enrolled. UM reviews a student's SAP status after every autumn, spring and summer term.

Policy Details

All undergraduates and students pursuing a Doctorate in Pharmacy must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0.

Beginning autumn 2016, newly matriculated law students must maintain a GPA of 2.3. Those that began their programs prior to that term are required to have a cumulative GPA of 2.0.

Students pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5. All other graduate and professional students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0.

If a student takes only remedial courses in a given term, a GPA will be calculated using the grades earned in those courses, even though the grades are not normally factored into the cumulative GPA.  The student’s SAP standing will be based on this modified GPA.

In subsequent terms, the grades from the remedial courses will not be used in the GPA calculation, but the SAP standing calculated for that term will be used in determining a student’s SAP standing the following term.

All students must pass at least 70% of cumulative attempted credits. Only courses receiving grades of 'A', 'B', 'C', 'D', 'N', or 'CR' will count as completed courses. Courses with all other grades, including withdrawals ('W', 'WF', 'WP') and incomplete's ('I'), are considered unsuccessful attempts and will lower the Pace percentage. Repeated courses are counted as attempts each time they are taken.

For calculation purposes transfer credits that are recorded as earned will be included in both the total credits attempted and the total credits earned. Transfer credits that were attempted elsewhere but did not result in earned credits will not be counted in the Pace calculation.

Remedial courses, whether they are passed or failed, are not counted in the Pace calculation. However, no student may receive aid for more than 30 attempted remedial credits.

If at the end of a term a student fails to meet either the GPA requirement or the Pace requirement, a calculation will be done to determine if it is mathematically possible for them to come into compliance with the SAP standards within one semester, if so they will automatically be placed on financial aid warning. Students on warning continue to be eligible for financial aid for one semester. At the end of the semester of warning if their cumulative GPA and percentage of credits earned are not in compliance with both the GPA and Pace requirements they will be ineligible for financial aid and have to appeal to have their aid eligibility reinstated.

Some students will not be able to mathematically come into compliance with the SAP standards in one semester, if this is the case they will be placed on suspension and would need to appeal to request aid reinstatement for future semesters.

Students on financial aid warning who do not come back into compliance with the SAP policy in one semester will go on financial aid suspension. Students on suspension are not eligible to receive federal or state financial aid including tuition waivers. A student will remain on suspension until they come back into compliance with the policy using alternate financing or successfully appeal to have aid eligibility reinstated.

Students who have grades changed that will result in them coming into compliance with the policy should notify the financial aid office so that their eligibility status can be reviewed. If they are indeed now eligible, then their aid eligibility will only be reinstated for the current semester.

If on financial aid suspension a student can appeal to have their aid eligibility reinstated. Appeals must be in writing. Though not required, the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form is available for use in the appeal process. Students should appeal as soon as they are notified of their financial aid suspension so as to give staff in the financial aid office adequate time to review the appeal prior to the start of the next semester. Appeals are reviewed daily, but can be delayed at busy times of the year.

The written appeal must explain specifically what circumstances prevented the student from making satisfactory academic progress and what changes have occurred so that the same circumstances will not hinder future progress. Documentation confirming the student’s extenuating circumstances and confirming that the student is able to return to school is required.

Having a documentable extenuating circumstance in and of itself is not a guarantee that an appeal will be granted. In reviewing appeals, the nature of the extenuating circumstance, the likelihood of the circumstances reoccurring and the overall academic record of the student are all considered. The more times a student appeals the less likely the appeal will be granted.

Most students whose appeals are granted will be placed on extended eligibility. Students on extended eligibility are considered to be on an academic plan. Students on extended eligibility will be allowed to continue to receive aid until they come back into compliance with the SAP policy as long as they meet the SAP standards measured on a term by term basis. In other words, if an undergraduate is on extended eligibility they will continue to be eligible as long as they earn a term GPA of at least a 2.0 and pass 70% of the credits attempted each term.

In limited situations a student may be placed on financial aid probation. Students on probation have one semester to come back into compliance with the SAP policy or they will be on financial aid suspension again. Similarly, in limited situations some students who are on an academic plan (extended aid eligibility) will have additional stipulations such as a limited course load or being required to seek assistance from academic support staff.

Students who fail to meet the terms of the academic plan or who were on probation and failed to come back into compliance in one term will once again be placed on financial aid suspension.

If a student's appeal is denied, the letter they receive will include the reason the appeal was denied.

Appeals are most often not approved because:

  • The explanation the student gives for why they did poorly academically is not considered an extenuating circumstance (what constitutes an extenuating circumstance is detailed on the appeal form)
  • The student did not provide adequate documentation supporting their claim of an extenuating circumstance

Sometimes a student adequately documents an extenuating circumstance but the appeal is denied because:

  • The circumstance hasn't resolved to the point that the student could be reasonably expected to succeed in the immediate term
  • The student has such a poor academic record (usually multiple appeals) that no more appeals are likely to be granted until the student improves their academic performance

Students whose appeals are denied should contact the financial aid office to speak with a senior staff member. That individual will be able to determine if there is additional documentation that can be submitted to reverse the decision of the committee. They will also be able to discuss what other options are available to the student until their eligibility is reinstated.

Students who choose not to appeal their ineligibility, or who have an appeal denied, will have their eligibility reinstated once they come back into compliance with the policy. This means that they will need to find alternate means of funding their education until they are once again eligible.

Senior staff in the financial aid office are available to outline exactly what a student needs to do to come into compliance with both the GPA and Pace component of the SAP policy. They can also suggest alternate means for paying for classes.

The financial aid office will automatically recalculate a student's SAP status if a grade change is submitted by an instructor for the term immediately preceding the current semester. This includes changing grades of I (incomplete), N (course in progress) and MG (missing grade) to a passing grade.

Grade changes for coursework older than the most recent term will be reflected when the financial aid office reviews SAP standing at the end of the term. If a student wants it reviewed sooner, they will need to specifically request to have the financial aid office reevaluate their SAP status.

All grade changes must be reflected on a student's transcript before the SAP status will be recalculated.

If a student takes advantage of the Academic Forgiveness policy their GPA will be adjusted. However, all “forgiven” credits will still be considered in the Pace calculation as attempted credits. They will not be counted as earned credits even if they previously received a passing grade.