Satisfactory Academic Progress
Federal and state financial aid is intended to assist students as they make successful progress towards completing a certificate or degree. Therefore students have a responsibility to successfully complete the classes they enroll in to maintain their eligibility for federal and state financial aid. All students receiving federal and state financial aid must enroll in courses which lead to the specific degree or major they are pursuing.
There are several factors that impact your satisfactory academic progress. It is very important for you to read and understand this information and all the variables involved in keeping your financial aid eligibility.
What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?
Federal regulations require the Financial Aid Office to monitor the progress of each student toward certificate and degree completion. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to denote a student's successful completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree.
The State Fair Community College SAP policy is applied equally to new, continuing and transfer students, and to all federal and state financial aid programs administered through the SFCC Financial Aid Office. All students are required to meet the cumulative requirements to be eligible to receive funds from these programs. Students who fall behind in their coursework, or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes, lose their eligibility for all types of federal and state financial aid.
What is required to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?
There are three components to maintaining SAP. They are maximum hours limit, Pace, and GPA. These are cumulative standards. This means we look at all credit hours attempted.
Maximum Hours - You must complete a degree or certificate program in no more than 96 credit hours attempted unless your program of study has more than 64 hours required for your degree. This is known as the 150 percent limit.
Pace - You must successfully complete (pass) a minimum of 67 percent of the hours that you attempt.
GPA - You must maintain the minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) required for the number of hours that you have attempted. All students are required to maintain a cumulative grade point average as described below:
Attempted 12 semester hours................................. 1.50 GPA
Attempted 24 semester hours................................. 1.75 GPA
Attempted 36 semester hours................................. 1.85 GPA
Attempted 48 semester hours................................. 2.00 GPA
What is meant by the 150 percent limit?
For most SFCC degrees a student needs to successfully complete 64 credit hours in order to be awarded the degree. Students are allowed to attempt up to a maximum of 150 percent (normally 96 credit hours) of the credit hours required for the degree and still be eligible to receive their federal and state financial aid, assuming all other criteria are met. All coursework attempted during every semester, including fall, spring and summer, are evaluated and all hours enrolled in whether repeated, dropped, withdrawn (past the 100% refund period), or graded are counted in the 96 credit hours (150%) limit whether you received financial aid or not.
Students participating in the State Fair Community College Financial Aid Program are required to submit official college transcripts from previous institutions. Transfer credit accepted from other colleges and universities will be included in the number of credit hours attempted and earned.
What is meant by hours attempted?
Hours attempted is calculated as all hours enrolled per semester or term minus any hours withdrawn or dropped during a semester before the end of the 100 percent refund period. Students must complete 67 percent of all coursework attempted, including degree and remedial coursework within the regular semester.
In the fall, Joedie attempts 15 credit hours and completes nine. She withdrew from two, three-credit hour courses. Joedie completed 60% of the coursework she attempted. This is below the minimum standard of 67%. Therefore, Joedie is on WARNING status going into the spring semester. While on warning status she can continue to receive financial aid. However, she must carefully consider the number of credit hours she attempts in the spring semester.
In the spring, Joedie attempts nine credit hours and successfully completes all of them. Now, her cumulative record shows that she has attempted 24 credit hours and completed 18. She has improved her standing and now has completed 75% of all coursework she has attempted. Now Joedie is back in good standing and removed from financial aid probation.
However, if Joedie did not improve her attempted versus hours earned ratio at the end of the spring semester, she would be placed on financial aid suspension and, therefore, ineligible to receive financial aid until her cumulative completion rate is at least 67%.
What is a successful completion of a class?
Successful completion is defined as receiving a grade of A, B, C, D, P, or CR.
A grade of "F" (Failure), "W" (Withdrawal), "AU" (Audit), “U” (Unfinished) or "II" (Incomplete) is considered unsatisfactory. For financial aid eligibility purposes, all coursework must be completed within the regular semester time frame. Although the College allows a student to take an incomplete grade in a course and complete the course in the following semester, the course was not completed in the specified time frame, and the grade is therefore, unsatisfactory at the time the Financial Aid SAP calculation is performed.
How is Grade Point Average (GPA) calculated?
Grade point average (GPA) is calculated by dividing total graded hours (those receiving a grade of A, B, C, D, F, or U) into the total points awarded for those hours. Developmental or basic skills courses and ungraded credit CR or W, and II are not included in the GPA calculation. A cumulative 2.00 GPA and at least a 2.00 GPA on all courses taken at SFCC are the minimum requirements for graduation.
Is it better to withdraw or take an F?
This is a frequently asked question. As you can tell by the policy above, a "W" will not impact your grade point average, but a “W” will adversely affect the attempted vs. earned ratio. A grade of "F" will negatively affect both. Thus, in most situations it is advisable for a student failing a course to withdraw by last date to withdraw.
Students admitted to SFCC as transfer students will be placed on academic probation, by the Registrar’s Office, if their transfer GPA does not meet SFCC’s requirements for the number of hours completed.
How does repeating classes impact my financial aid eligibility?
Repeated courses are included in determining total hours attempted and are included in the 150 percent limit. Courses may be repeated to improve a grade of D, F or U.
What if I change my program of study or have not attended college for a while?
If a student changes programs/majors or reenters college after a prolonged absence they will need to complete a DegreeWorks degree/certificate evaluation and provide this to the Financial Aid Office to establish limits for any remaining financial aid eligibility. The student is responsible for completing the degree evaluation and returning it to the Financial Aid Office at the earliest possible date. Your Navigator can help you with completing the degree evaluation and help you with developing an academic success plan.
What happens if I exceed the maximum number of credit hours (150 percent limit)?
Upon reaching the maximum allowable eligibility, students may continue to enroll at SFCC, but must do so without federal financial aid assistance.
Should extenuating circumstances contribute to loss of eligibility, an appeal may be submitted through the student portal (mySTAR) on the Campus Resources Tab. Students will need to complete the SFCC Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal request and submit all supporting documentation, academic success plan, financial awareness confirmation page, and a DegreeWorks program evaluation to appeal the termination of their financial aid eligibility. All students will need to meet with their Navigator to complete the academic success plan before submitting their appeal.
What happens if I fail to meet minimum SAP standards?
Warning - Failure to meet any or all parts of the financial aid SAP policy will result in financial aid warning. Students may continue to receive assistance for one semester, but must regain satisfactory academic progress status at the end of the warning period (semester).
Suspension - Continued failure to meet the financial aid SAP policy will result in financial aid suspension. Financial aid suspension means the termination of all federal and state financial aid.
Note: A student suspended academically for low grades or failure to complete classes may petition for readmission after one semester. Readmission will be approved only if it seems in the best interest of the student and the institution. Students who are readmitted will be on continued academic probation and may be restricted to limited hours or specific courses. A second academic suspension typically requires one year separation before petition for readmission is considered. This type of suspension is not handled by the Financial Aid Office nor does this type of suspension fall under the Financial Aid SAP policies.
If my financial aid is suspended, can I get state and federal financial aid funds reinstated?
A student will regain eligibility to participate in the financial aid programs, upon coming into compliance with the cumulative coursework attempted and GPA requirements as specified above.
If my financial aid is suspended, may I appeal?
Students may appeal their financial aid suspension if certain documented circumstances have contributed to the failure to meet SAP standards.
Special circumstances are defined as:
1) Injury of the student
2) Illness of the student,
3) Death of a relative
4) Other special circumstances that can be documented.
If your financial aid was suspended due to excessive credit hours attempted you may appeal for the following additional reasons as long as you had at least a 2.0 GPA for the last semester you attended SFCC:
1) Changed degree or major; or,
2) Returning to college after a prolonged absence and this has caused you to have to retake several classes, or,
3) Other extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the student that can be documented.
Should one of these circumstances exist then the student may appeal their suspension by completing the Satisfactory Academic Progress Financial Aid Suspension Appeal request through the student portal mySTAR. The appeal request is located on the Campus Resources Tab on the left-hand side of the page. Students will need to submit all applicable documentation validating the circumstances.
Generally, excessive work hours will not be considered as extenuating. Documentation of circumstances is required and will be used during the appeal review process. The appeal process is explained in detail at the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals web page.