Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Students receiving federal financial aid are required to make timely progress towards the completion of their degree/certificate. This policy, known as Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), looks at a student’s grade point average (GPA), the percentage of credits they have successfully completed, known as Pace or completion rate, and at the maximum time frame in which the degree/certificate must be completed. Students that fail to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) may be placed on warning or financial aid suspension. SAP regulations require that a student’s complete academic record be considered regardless of whether the student received aid each term they were enrolled.
Grade Point Average Requirements
All undergraduates, law students and students pursuing a Doctorate in Pharmacy must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0. Students pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5. All other graduate and professional students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0.
All students must pass at least 70% of cumulative attempted credits. Only courses receiving grades of A, B, C, D, N, or CR will count as completed courses. Courses with all other grades, including withdrawals (W, WF, WP) and incompletes (I), will not count towards progress.
For calculation purposes transfer credits that are recorded as earned will be included in both the total credits attempted and the total credits earned. Transfer credits that were attempted elsewhere but did not result in earned credits will not be counted in the Pace calculation.
Remedial courses, whether they are passed or failed, are not counted in the Pace calculation. However, no student may receive aid for more than 30 attempted remedial credits.
If a student takes advantage of the Academic Forgiveness policy their GPA will be adjusted. However, all “forgiven” credits will still be considered in the Pace calculation as attempted credits. They will not be counted as earned credits even if they previously received a passing grade.
Maximum Time Frame Requirements
Undergraduates must complete their degrees within 150% of the average length of their program. A student pursuing an associate’s degree that is 60 credits long would need to complete the degree within 90 attempted credits. Similarly, a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree requiring completion of 120 credits must meet the degree requirements within 180 attempted credits.
The maximum time frame for graduate students is measured in time rather than attempted credits. Students pursuing a Master’s Degree must complete their degree within five years. Doctoral students must complete their degrees within seven years.
Once an undergraduate reaches a threshold equal to or slightly above the length of their degree program they will receive notice from the financial aid office that their aid eligibility is on hold until they submit a degree plan as part of a max credit review. The plan will then be reviewed to determine whether the student can complete their degree within the required timeframe. If a graduate student exceeds the time frame no aid will be disbursed until the faculty advisor has been contacted and confirmation and support received for an extended timeline.
Degree plans must detail the minimum coursework required for completion of the degree in the fewest course attempts. Students can only receive aid for courses required for their program, which in most cases would include an option but not include a minor. If a student only has one remaining course that is less than six credits they will not be eligible for student loans for that semester so students should plan accordingly.
Undergraduates who are enrolled in dual degrees or dual majors must complete the requirements for one of the degrees in the required timeframe. Once the requirements for one bachelor’s degree have been met the student will be treated as a post-baccalaureate student for aid purposes regardless of whether they formally apply for the degree.
At the point in time that an undergraduate can no longer mathematically complete the degree within the required timeframe they are ineligible for federal aid even if they have not reached the limit.
Students who submit a degree plan and have their eligibility reinstated are expected to adhere to the stated program. If the student does not pass all the classes or does not complete within the detailed timeline because they take additional courses not in the plan they may have to resubmit a revised plan and may not receive approval under the revised plan.
If a student has reached the max credit threshold and they are also on financial aid suspension they should submit both the degree plan and the SAP Appeal Form. The degree plan will be reviewed first. IF the student is still able to complete the degree within the required time frame then the SAP appeal will be submitted for review by the appeals committee.
Financial Aid Warning
If at the end of a term a student fails to meet either the GPA requirement or the Pace requirement they will automatically be placed on financial aid warning. Students on warning continue to be eligible for financial aid for one semester. At the end of the semester of warning if they are not in compliance with both the GPA and Pace requirements they will be ineligible for financial aid and have to appeal to have their aid eligibility reinstated.
Some students will not be able to mathematically come into compliance with the SAP standards in one semester. This will be taken into account during the review of any appeal; however, the expectation is that the student’s performance will have greatly improved during the semester of warning.
Suspension of Financial Aid
Students on financial aid warning who do not come back into compliance with the SAP policy in one semester will go on financial aid suspension. Students on suspension are not eligible to receive federal or state financial aid including tuition waivers. A student will remain on suspension until they come back into compliance with the policy using alternate financing or successfully appeal to have aid eligibility reinstated.
Students who have grades changed that will result in them coming into compliance with the policy should notify the financial aid office so that their eligibility status can be reviewed. If they are indeed now eligible their aid eligibility will only be reinstated for the current semester.
Appealing For Reinstatement of Aid
If on financial aid suspension a student can appeal to have their aid eligibility reinstated once a semester. Students who appeal must do so in writing using the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form. Students should appeal as soon as they are notified of their financial aid suspension so as to give the appeal committee adequate time to review the appeal prior to the start of the next semester.
The written appeal must explain specifically what circumstances prevented the student from making satisfactory academic progress and what changes have occurred so that the same circumstances will not hinder future progress. Documentation confirming the student’s extenuating circumstances and confirming that the student is able to return to school is required.
Having a documentable extenuating circumstance in and of itself is not a guarantee that an appeal will be granted. In reviewing appeals the committee considers the nature of the extenuating circumstance, the likelihood of the circumstances reoccurring and the overall academic record of the student. The more times a student appeals the less likely the appeal will be granted.
Extended Aid Eligibility
Most students whose appeals are granted will be placed on extended eligibility. Students on extended eligibility are considered to be on an academic plan. Students on extended eligibility will be allowed to continue to receive aid until they come back into compliance with the SAP policy as long as they meet the SAP standards measured on a term basis. In other words, if an undergraduate is on extended eligibility they will continue to be eligible as long as they earn a term GPA of at least a 2.0 and pass 70% of the credits attempted each term.
In limited situations a student may be placed on financial aid probation. Students on probation have one semester to come back into compliance with the SAP policy or they will be on financial aid suspension again. Similarly, in limited situations some students who are on an academic plan (extended aid eligibility) will have additional stipulations such as a limited course load or being required to seek assistance from academic support staff.
Students who fail to meet the terms of the academic plan or who were on probation and failed to come back into compliance in one term will be once again placed on financial aid suspension.
Financial Aid Office
The University of Montana - Missoula
Lommasson Center 218
Missoula, MT 59812
Phone: (406) 243-5373
Fax: (406) 243-4930