Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy
Federal regulations mandate minimum standards of “satisfactory progress” for students receiving financial assistance. These requirements apply to the student’s entire academic history, whether financial aid was received or not, and to all types of aid: grants, loans and work-study. The standards for determining progress at the university are composed of three separate measurements: grade point average (GPA), pace of completion and maximum hours allowed for a degree level. All students must be enrolled in a degree or certificate program.
Satisfactory academic progress will be evaluated after each fall, spring and summer terms. Although summer terms include Maymester, Summer I and Summer II, the summer SAP evaluation will only occur at the end of Summer II. Students who fall behind in their coursework or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes may lose their eligibility for all types of federal, state and university aid.
Students who are admitted to Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) as non-degree, provisional, transient, career interest or self-improvement, audit courses and concurrent enrollment are NOT eligible to receive financial aid. When the student is admitted to a degree program or the student status has changed, a student may then be considered for financial assistance. Students on academic suspension who are allowed by their academic department to attend may receive aid if they meet the financial aid satisfactory academic requirements. The U.S. Department of Education does not recognize academic fresh start and requires an institution to count all courses applicable to a student’s major in evaluating SAP.
Financial aid probation/suspension is different from academic probation/suspension. Students on academic suspension who are allowed by their academic dean to attend may receive financial aid only if they meet the financial aid satisfactory academic requirements.
Grade point average (GPA)
The grade point average is the qualitative measurement used for academic work at the university. For financial aid purposes, an undergraduate student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better, and a graduate student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.
Pace of completion
Pace of completion is the quantitative measurement of the number of hours completed each semester at SFA. Pace of completion is measured at the end of each semester at SFA.
In order to continue receiving financial assistance, students must complete 67% of the cumulative hours attempted at SFA and any accepted transferred hours to SFA. Students must complete 67% of the cumulative hours attempted at SFA, including all accepted transferred hours.
Grades of A, B, C, D, RA, RB, RC, RP or P denote satisfactorily completed credit hours. Repeated and remedial courses are counted in the calculation of pace of completion. Grades of F, W, WH, WF, WP, RD, RF, RWH, RWP, RWF, RW or QF are not satisfactory.
Maximum hours allowed for degree or certificate
The maximum number of hours allowed is one-and-a-half times the minimum program length for all degree programs and allowable certificate programs. A student’s entire academic record is used in calculating maximum hours allowed. Students exceeding the maximum number of hours will be denied further financial aid and are not eligible for a warning period.
Students will be given a warning semester when the required GPA or pace of completion is not met. A student who is placed on financial aid warning may receive financial aid for one subsequent semester. At the end of the warning semester, students not in compliance are not eligible for financial aid. Students who have reached the maximum hours allowed for their program are not eligible for a warning semester.
Appeals process (probation & academic plan)
Students who are not making satisfactory academic progress and have had a warning semester may file a written appeal to the financial aid office. The deadline to file an appeal is 30 days after the first class day of the semester. Appeals should state why the student failed to meet satisfactory academic progress and what has changed that would allow the student to re-achieve the requirements at the end of the next semester.
Appeals should include documentation that supports the circumstances concerning the failure to maintain the expected level of satisfactory progress. Appeals will only be accepted in the case of extenuating circumstances, such as death in the family, illness or injury to the student or immediate family member, or mitigating circumstances beyond the student’s control. A student who filed a financial aid appeal must be prepared to pay registration costs regardless of any pending appeal status.
If an appeal is completed and the financial aid appeals committee determines the student can meet the satisfactory academic requirements at the end of the next semester, an appeal is granted. The student is then placed on financial aid probation. A student who is placed on financial aid probation may receive financial aid for one subsequent semester. At the end of the probation semester, students not in compliance are not eligible for financial aid.
If an appeal is completed and the Financial Aid Appeals Committee determines that it will require more than one semester for a student to meet satisfactory academic requirements, the student may be placed on an academic plan. An academic plan will require the student to make an appointment with their counselor. The student will be notified via mySFA of whom to contact to make that appointment. Once the student and the counselor agree upon a plan, the student is responsible for meeting those requirements in order to continue to receive financial aid. A new plan must be completed at the end of each subsequent semester until the student consistently meets all satisfactory academic requirements.
Students may audit regular academic courses; however, these courses are not eligible for financial aid. Audited courses will not impact a student’s SAP eligibility.
Change of major
Students are allowed to make changes in their course of study and major for purposes of this policy; however, all changes will count in a student’s SAP calculation. Change of major can result in a possible overage of attempted credit hours, which would impact the maximum time frame component.
All conflicting information is reviewed for SAP monitoring. For example, late posted grades or grade changes will not automatically change current status. Students may request that the SAP status be recalculated after they have confirmed with the registrar that the grade change has been posted to their academic record.
Incompletes (grade of WH) do not affect a student’s cumulative GPA for SAP but count as credit hours attempted toward both pace and maximum time frame. Students with a grade of incomplete are encouraged to contact the financial aid office for further evaluation.
In some classes, students receive a grade of either pass or fail. A passing grade will be included in the student’s pace of completion and maximum time frame calculations. A grade of F will be included in the student’s GPA, pace of completion and maximum time frame calculations.
Financial aid probation
If an appeal is granted, the student is placed on financial aid probation. A student who is placed on financial aid probation may receive financial aid for one semester. At the end of the financial aid probation semester, the student must meet the SAP standards or will no longer be eligible for financial aid.
Students are eligible to receive financial aid for developmental courses. These courses are counted in the calculation of both attempted and earned hours for determining satisfactory progress.
Undergraduate, graduate and professional students are all subject to repeated coursework rules beginning July 1, 2016.
Students are allowed to repeat a course and, if passed, have it count toward enrollment for financial aid eligibility once. Each course attempt will count toward a student’s pace of completion, and all prior attempts with lower grades will count as unsuccessful credit hours attempted.
NOTE: Per federal guidelines, students may only receive federal financial aid funding for one repeat of a previously passed course. Ex: A student receives a D in a course and decides to repeat the course to improve his/her GPA. The student may repeat this passed course one time and still receive financial aid. If the student wants to repeat it a second time, the second repeat would not count for financial aid purposes. The student could lose eligibility for financial aid, depending on how many hours he or she is enrolled. If you are in this situation, please contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.
Transfer credit grades will not count toward a student’s cumulative GPA; however, these will count as both attempted and earned hours toward both pace of completion and maximum time frame for SAP.
Withdrawals do not affect a student’s cumulative GPA for SAP but count as credit hours attempted toward both pace of completion and maximum time frame. A withdrawal (grade of W) is different from a course that is dropped (no grade and no record of attempt). Students who withdraw prior to the first class date will not be penalized for SAP purposes. Should a student withdraw after the first class date, those hours will count towards a student’s pace of completion and time frame calculation.
Financial aid warning
Students will be given a warning semester when the required GPA or pace of completion is not met. At the end of the warning semester, students not in compliance are not eligible for financial aid. Students who have reached the maximum hours allowed are not eligible for a warning semester.