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Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (SAP)

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. Newly enrolled undergraduate students must be admitted "in good standing."

Students who are admitted to Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) as non-degree, provisional (except graduate students who will be given one semester to remove provisional status), transient, career interest or self-improvement, audit courses, and concurrent enrollment shall NOT be eligible to receive financial aid. When the student is admitted to a degree program or special 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 grade point average is the qualitative measurement used for academic work at the university. For financial aid purposes, a student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 1.6 or better as a freshman, 1.8 or better as a sophomore, 2.0 or better as a junior or senior, and 3.0 or better as a graduate student. Grade point averages shall be checked at the end of each semester.


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.

In order to continue to receive financial assistance, students must complete 67% of the cumulative hours attempted at SFA and in any accepted transferred hours to SFA.

Credit hours shall be considered satisfactorily completed if one of the following grades is earned: A, B, C, D, or P. Grades of F, W, WH, WF, WP, or QF are not satisfactory. Repeated courses will be counted in pace of completion. Financial aid may be awarded to students enrolled for remedial courses. These courses are considered attempted hours and are also counted as earned hours for determining satisfactory progress for financial aid purposes.

If graduate students receive a WH (incomplete) for thesis/dissertation research or thesis/dissertation writing, the hours shall not be counted as hours attempted due to the length of time needed to complete this degree requirement. Time limits on the research and writing of a thesis/dissertation are determined by the academic department.


The maximum allowable hours at each level of study apply to all students regardless of the number of changes in major or concentration. A student’s entire academic record at SFA (including prerequisite courses) is used in calculating hours toward the maximum requirement. Course work transferred to SFA shall count toward the maximum number of allowable credit hours.

Maximum hours allowed shall be checked after the end of each semester to determine if the maximum hours allowed have been met. If the student has exceeded the allowable number of hours, they will be denied further financial aid for that degree level.

For all degree programs and allowable certificate programs, the maximum number of hours allowed will be set at one-and-a-half times the minimum program length.


Students not in compliance with this policy’s required GPA, or whose pace of completion falls below the necessary standard, will be given a warning semester. At the end of the warning semester, a student not in compliance is not eligible for financial aid unless an appeal has been approved by the financial aid appeals committee.

Students who are not making satisfactory academic progress and have had a warning semester may file a written appeal to the financial aid office within thirty (30) days after the first class day of the semester. Written 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 evaluation period. Appeals should include documentation that supports the circumstances concerning the failure to maintain the expected level of satisfactory progress. If an appeal is granted, the student should meet satisfactory academic progress requirements by the end of the next evaluation period. Students are allowed a maximum of two appeals. All decisions on appeals are final. Students shall be notified of the disposition of their appeal in writing and/or email.

Repeated Coursework

The Department of Education has recently published new regulations which impact students who repeat courses. These regulations are part of a series called Program Integrity Rules and are effective July 1, 2011.

Students may only receive federal financial aid funding for one repetition of a previously passed course.

Examples of repeated coursework that may, or may not, count for financial aid eligibility:

  1. Allowable: Repeated coursework may be included if the student received an unsatisfactory or failing grade. There is no limit on the number of attempts allowable if the student does not receive a passing grade.
  2. Allowable: Student is enrolled in 15 credit hours which includes 3 credits repeating a previously passed course. Because the student is enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits which are not repeats, the student's financial aid eligibility is not impacted by the repeat.
  3. Not permissible: 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, but if the student wants to repeat it a second time, the second repeat would not count for financial aid eligibility.

    In this example, the student is enrolled in 12 credits, including the 3 credit second repeat, so only 9 credits will count for financial aid eligibility.

    All repeated courses do affect financial aid satisfactory academic progress calculations. A repeated course along with the original attempt must be counted as attempted credits.

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