Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended by Congress, requires that institutions of higher education establish and monitor the academic progress of students who receive federal financial aid. St. Mary’s established the following minimum standards and practices for financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for eligible students to continue receiving financial assistance. Please note some state and institutional aid programs may have higher academic requirements, and eligibility is subject to the requirements of each program. Federal and institutional SAP is reviewed at the end of each semester and is based on the student achieving both a Qualitative Standard and a Quantitative Standard at St. Mary’s as defined below: The Qualitative Standard of SAP requires a student to be eligible for financial aid (defined as federal, state, or institutional financial aid, including merit scholarships, need-based grants, loans, and federal/state work-study) after the first academic year of attendance at St. Mary’s, a student must have a cumulative C (2.0 or better) average or its equivalent or have academic standing at that point in the program that is consistent with the university’s requirement for graduation.
The Quantitative Standard for SAP, also referred to the Pace of Progression, considers the number of credit hours that are successfully completed by a student in comparison to the number of credit hours attempted by a student. At St. Mary’s, full-time students are expected to complete 67 percent of all hours attempted with a minimum completion of 12 hours each semester for an undergraduate student (see chart below). Courses a student repeats or those for which the student receives a grade of incomplete (I) will not count against a student’s GPA but will be factored into their completion rate.
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- In addition to the Qualitative and Quantitative Standards, to be eligible for financial aid, a student must not exceed 150% of the required program hours to graduate from any one degree program. A student who exceeds the maximum hours is ineligible for financial aid. For example, a student requiring 128 credits to graduate from a program may not attempt more than 192 hours and still receive financial aid.
- The University awards federal, state, and institutional funds based on need on a continuing basis to its students, according to the following policy and at the end of each semester, the Office of Financial Assistance reviews your progress. If a student meets ALL the above standards, the student will receive a SAP status of GOOD STANDING and will be able to continue receiving eligible federal, state, and institutional aid.
If a student fails to meet one or more of the above standards, the student will be placed on one of three financial aid SAP statuses, as described below and receive notification from the Office of Financial Assistance:
- SAP Warning: If the student is not meeting SAP, the student’s status will be designated under SAP WARNING status for one semester, meaning that the student is being warned that he/she is not meeting SAP eligibility and has one semester to correct his/her eligibility before being placed on Suspension. During this semester, the student will continue to be able to receive financial aid. Warning status does not need to be appealed since the student is still eligible to receive financial assistance.
- Probation: If a student is placed on Suspension, he/she has the option of appealing this suspension through the SAP appeal process. If the appeal is granted, the student will be placed on Probation for the next semester, and the student must bring his/her SAP eligibility to Good Standing status during the semester or be placed on Suspension. While on Probation, the student may continue to receive financial assistance if he/she is otherwise eligible.
- Suspension: If a student was previously under a Warning or Probation SAP status and fails to meet SAP eligibility requirements during the next semester, the student’s status will be placed under Suspension and the student is NOT eligible for federal, state, or institutional financial aid during the next semester he/she attends the university. A student who is placed on Suspension may appeal this decision through the appeal process.
When a student is placed on Suspension for not maintaining the required SAP eligibility standards of cumulative GPA, pace of progression, or having not met the program completion time frame requirements and reached the maximum number of hours or time frame allowed to complete his/her degree, a student must complete courses at his/her own expense.
A student awarded a merit-based academic scholarship also has a minimum GPA requirement to maintain each semester. A letter stating the scholarship guideline is provided to the student from the Office of Admission. If a student is not meeting the required cumulative GPA at the end of each semester, the student will receive notification from the Office of Financial Assistance and a status of Fails Scholarship Requirement is recorded. If a student believes there are unusual or extenuating circumstances that contributed to the student’s failure to meet the scholarship requirement, an appeal may be submitted to the Office of Financial Assistance, Appeal Committee for review during the designated time period. If the appeal is granted, the scholarship will be awarded under the status of Scholarship Probation for the next semester.
Note: Undergraduates who exceed the maximum number of years to complete a degree program will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
If you withdrew or have been out for a semester or more, you must reapply for admission to the University.
Renewal Eligibility (for State Programs)
A student awarded the Tuition Equalization Grant (TEG), a Texas resident need-based program, must complete a minimum of 24 hours per year and maintain a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA for renewal. If a student fails to meet the required cumulative GPA at the end of each academic year, a student will receive notification of TEG Suspension.
If a student believes there are unusual or extenuating circumstances that contributed to his/her failure to meet the requirements of the TEG, an appeal may be submitted to the Office of Financial Assistance, Appeal Committee for review during the designated time period. If the appeal is granted, the TEG will be awarded under the status of TEG Probation for the next semester.
Students may request a copy of the Hardship Policy from the Office of Financial Assistance.
The Department of Education has recently published new regulations limiting the number of times a student may repeat a course and receive financial aid for that course. These regulations are part of a series called Program Integrity Rules and are effective July 1, 2011.
- A student may receive financial aid when repeating a course that was previously failed (received a 0.0 or No Pass), regardless of the number of times the course was attempted and failed.
- A student may receive financial aid to repeat a previously passed course one additional time.
- Once a student has completed any course twice with a passing grade, no longer eligible to receive financial aid for that course.
- If a student retakes a course that is not financial aid eligible, a recalculation of aid is done to exclude the credits for the repeated course.
- This rule applies whether or not the student received financial aid for earlier enrollments in the course.
- Students will receive notification if receiving financial aid and attempt to repeat coursework beyond the limits.
NOTE: Federal regulations specify that students may not receive financial aid for repeating courses previously passed if the student is required to retake those courses as part of a structured program.
For example, a student who fails a course in a semester and is required by the college or department to repeat all courses taken in that semester before moving on in the program; would not be eligible to receive financial aid for the passed courses, only for the failed one(s). This may mean that the student would not be eligible for financial aid for the semester, depending upon the number of previously passed courses being repeated.
How to Appeal
If you fail to meet the minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress standards (SAP), you will be placed on the Suspension SAP status. We understand that there are many factors that impact a student’s academic success, and that in any given semester, there may be extenuating circumstances which may also hamper a student’s success. We are sensitive to these issues, provided you document in a professional manner.
You can appeal this suspension by writing a letter to the appeals committee after receiving the official notification from the Office of Financial Assistance. A good financial assistance appeal should:
- Explain in detail what happened within the semester that hampered your achievement.
- Explain in detail what your plan of action will be to allow you to meet SAP guidelines in the future.
- Be professional.
- Be submitted prior to established deadlines.
The Appeals Committee will review your appeal and determine whether the suspension is approved. If the appeal is granted, the student will be placed on a SAP Probation status and will be allowed to receive eligible financial aid for the next semester. If your appeal is not approved, you may become eligible again by meeting the standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress. You will be notified in writing of the final decision.
Conditions for Reinstatement
A student who has been denied aid for academic reasons can become eligible for financial aid again by meeting the appropriate standards for SAP while enrolled at St. Mary’s University. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Office of Financial Assistance if SAP requirements are met again.