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Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Policy

In order to receive federal, state or institutional financial aid, all matriculated students must make satisfactory academic progress toward the attainment of a degree/certificate. These policies apply to all degree, certificate and certification programs. At Montclair State University, satisfactory academic progress is determined annually after the spring term for any program more than one year in length. For programs less than a year in length, SAP is monitored at the end of each term (payment period). All financial aid applicants are subject to the standards outlined here whether or not they have received aid in the past. These standards have been developed in accordance with federal, state, and institutional regulations that govern financial aid programs. It is very important to recognize that this policy is different from the University Standards of Academic Performance or policies established by any academic department.

Aid Programs Affected by Academic Progress

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • Federal Work-Study Program
  • Federal William D. Ford Direct Loans (including the subsidized and unsubsidized student loans, Federal Parent Loan (PLUS) and Federal Grad PLUS)
  • TEACH Grants
  • New Jersey State Programs
    • Tuition Aid Grant (TAG)
    • Governor’s Scholarship Program
    • Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF)
    • NJ Stars
    • NJCLASS Loans
  • University Grants and Scholarships

There are three distinct dimensions to the satisfactory academic progress standards:

  • completing the degree requirements within an established timeframe.
  • maintaining the minimum required grade point average (GPA).
  • achieving a minimum rate of academic progression each year.

These standards also include an opportunity to appeal the denial of financial aid if the student has faced unusual circumstances which prevented the student from attaining the minimum standards described in this document.

PART 1: Program Guidelines

A. Undergraduate Students:

1) Timeframe:

Federal regulations allow a student to receive funding for up to 150% of the normal timeframe required to complete their academic program. The majority of undergraduate programs require at least 120 credits for graduation; therefore, the maximum timeframe for students in these programs is 180 credits. Programs that require more than 120 credits for a degree will have a higher maximum timeframe accordingly.

WARNING: Due to individual financial aid program limitations, students that attempt and complete only the minimum amount of credits required each semester (e.g. 12 credits per semester) may run out of eligibility for specific types of aid (Pell Grants, Direct student loans, State TAG grant) prior to completing their degree.

2) Grade point average required:

All undergraduate students must maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA each year. The University’s minimum GPA for Academic Standing status and graduation is a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA.

3) Progression:

At the end of the spring semester, a student’s academic progress will be measured by comparing the total number of attempted credits (any course for which the student has remained enrolled past the Add/Drop period) with the total credits earned (any course with a grade).

A student with 30 attempted credits or less must complete sixty (60%) of cumulative credits attempted to maintain satisfactory academic progress.

A sophomore or above (attempted more than 30 credits) must complete sixty-seven percent (67%) of cumulative credits attempted to maintain satisfactory academic progress.

B. Graduate Students (degree and graduate certificate programs):

1) Timeframe:

All graduate students will have 150% of the length of their program (measured by credits) to complete their courses plus additional time to complete their thesis (1 additional year) or dissertation (2 additional years).

2) Grade point average required:

Graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA after attempting 12 or more credits.

3) Progression:

At the end of the spring semester, a student’s progress will be measured by comparing the total number of attempted credits (any course for which the student has remained enrolled past the

Add/Drop period) with the total credits earned (any course with a grade). Graduate students must complete seventy percent (70%) of their attempted credits.

C. Teacher Certification/Abbott School District Students

1) Timeframe:

Federal regulations allow a student to receive funding for up to 150% of the normal timeframe required to complete their academic program. This calculation is based on the number of credits required to complete the program.

2) Grade point average required:

Students must achieve a 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA.

3) Progression:

At the end of the spring semester, a student’s progress will be measured by comparing the total number of attempted credits (any course for which the student has remained enrolled past the Add/Drop period) with the total credits earned (any course with a grade). Students must complete 67% of their attempted credits.

PART 2: General Information

A. Withdrawal from courses after Add/Drop

Credits for any dropped course will remain in the total number of attempted hours but are not added to the earned credits. This will have a negative effect on the total number of earned credits for the year. The GPA is not affected by these classes as there is no grade.

B. Incomplete courses

Credits will be counted when determining the number of credits attempted. When a grade is received, the grade will be included in the GPA calculation and the course is added to the number of credits earned. The student is responsible for informing the Financial Aid Office within two weeks that their INC grade has been changed. Failure to convert an incomplete grade to a final grade will negatively affect the SAP calculation.

C. Repeated courses

These courses are counted each time the course is taken and will be included in the total number of attempted hours. The grades resulting from each occurrence will be included in the GPA calculation to produce a Financial Aid GPA.

D. Remedial Courses

Remedial courses taken within a program of study are included in attempted credits. The grades are not included in the GPA calculation.

E. Pass/Fail Grades

These courses are counted in the total number of attempted hours. When a course is successfully completed, the credits are added to the total number of earned credits hours but the Pass grade is not included in the GPA calculation. Failing a course of this nature will negatively impact the progression and GPA of the student.

F. Audited courses

Because audited courses are not credit bearing or graded, these courses do not impact the progression, GPA, or timeframe and are not included in the SAP calculation.

G. Failing Grades

Any grade of ‘F’ will have a serious negative impact on the student’s academic record, decreasing GPA and academic progression; the credits are counted as attempted but not in earned and in the ‘F’ grade is a 0 for the GPA calculation.

H. Transfer credits

Transfer credits accepted by the University that are applicable to the declared major/degree will be added to both the attempted credits and earned credits. These courses will count toward the maximum timeframe. The grades for transfer credits are not included in the GPA calculation.

I. Changes in Major

The SAP calculation will be performed for the current declared major in the system.

J. Double Majors or Majors and Minors

Students studying for a double major or a major and a minor will have their SAP calculated based on the program requirements for both majors and/or the major/minor.

K. Readmitted Students

Students readmitted to the college after a period on non-attendance must have their SAP status determined prior to the awarding of any financial aid.

L. Number of Appeals accepted

While a student can appeal their SAP status more than once, the regulations prohibit a student from using the same reason for a subsequent appeal. When considering an appeal the SAP committee will review the academic history of the student, remaining financial aid eligibility, and the student’s ability to mathematically recover SAP standards, as well as prior appeals to get the most comprehensive picture of the student.

M. Maximum Timeframe

All students are expected to complete their program within 150% of the program length. Students who exceed the maximum timeframe can appeal with appropriate documentation. This should be a very rare occurrence.

N. Academic Amnesty or Academic Renewal

FSA regulations do not recognize academic amnesty. All previous coursework applicable to the program of study is considered towards GPA, academic progression, and maximum timeframe.

PART 3: Notification Process

Students not making Satisfactory Academic Progress toward their degree will receive correspondence via their campus e-mail address and on NEST. This correspondence includes the appeal process instructions. Students will be notified of all deadlines related to the appeal process in this communication.

PART 4: Appeal Procedures

Students have the right to appeal their status by submitting an appeal form with letter and related documentation to the Financial Aid Office by the established and published deadline. Generally, the Financial Aid Appeals Committee will consider appeals that involve circumstances beyond the student’s control that had a negative impact upon the student’s academic performance.

In order to appeal, the student MUST include the above and submit a typed statement which includes:

  1. A narrative of the extenuating circumstances (e.g., the student or an immediate family member suffered a serious illness or injury, death of a close relative, separation or divorce) that prevented the student from meeting the minimum requirements.
  2. A reasonable explanation of the expectation that the event/circumstances will not recur.
  3. A description of their plan to succeed in their program of study. Students are permitted to submit any additional documentation that will explain their circumstances and support their appeal. Late appeals will not be accepted. The deadline to appeal for the coming academic year (fall, spring and summer) will be stated in the e-mail correspondence (typically late June).

The appeal will be reviewed by committee; all committee decisions are final. The committee will only accept typed appeals submitted by the deadline. Again, no late appeals will be accepted.

Appeal Approval Conditions:

Appeals can only be approved if the Financial Aid SAP Appeals Committee determines that the student:

  • Will be able to meet the University’s satisfactory academic progress standards after the next payment period OR
  • Has agreed to follow an academic plan that, if followed, will ensure that the student can meet the University’s satisfactory academic progress standards by the end of the academic year.

If an appeal is granted: A student whose appeal is granted will receive aid on a conditional (probation) basis for one semester (fall). The Appeals Committee will review the student’s record at the end of the fall semester to determine his/her status for the spring semester. Students who fail to meet the conditions outlined in their individualized academic plans during their conditional semester will have their financial aid for the spring semester cancelled and will not be allowed to submit an appeal for the spring semester.

NOTE: The institution has a right to establish the number of credits a student may take during their probation period.

Any student granted an approved appeal will have financial aid reinstated in accordance with their eligibility. Additional requirements (filing an academic plan by an established deadline) will be posted to the student’s NEST account. It is the student’s responsibility to complete any requirements and submit all requested documents. Future aid eligibility will be based on completing and meeting all deadlines and stated conditions of this policy.

Students who do not wish to appeal or whose appeal is denied may consider applying for alternative/private student loans and/or make other out-of-pocket payment arrangements.

PART 5: Re-establishing Eligibility

Students not making Satisfactory Academic Progress can re-establish eligibility for Federal,
State and institutional aid in several ways:

  • Attend the summer term and successfully complete the semester with credits and grades sufficient to bring the student back into Satisfactory Progress
  • Attend Montclair at their own expense (some students may qualify for an alternative loan) and successfully complete the semester or year with credits and grades sufficient to bring the student back into Satisfactory Progress
  • Attend another institution and transfer sufficient credits to bring the student back on track for their progression (this option does not impact the GPA). Transfer credits will impact progression and maximum timeframe calculations.
  • The institution may recommend the student interrupt their attendance for one or more academic periods.
  • The institution may recommend attendance at another institution in order to reestablish eligibility.
  • A period of non-enrollment will not restore eligibility to a student who has failed to make satisfactory progress.

Justification:

2018-19 FSA Handbook, Vol. 1 Student Eligibility, Ch. 1 School-Determined Requirements, Standards of Academic Progress.

HEA Sec. 484(c), 34 CFR 668.16(e), 668.32(f), and 668.34 [The SAP regulations were rewritten in 2010 and appear in the October 29, 2010, Federal Register.]

SAP Q&As are added and updated on a continuing basis online

[Revised January 2, 2019]