Making the Grade
VCCS Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy
Federal regulations require that a student receiving federal financial aid make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in accordance with the standards set by the College and the federal government. These limitations include all terms of enrollment, whether or not aid was awarded or received. SAP standards also apply to state aid. Progress is measured throughout the academic major by the student’s cumulative grade point average (qualitative) and by credits earned as a percentage of those attempted (quantitative or pace of completion). In addition, students must complete their majors before attempting 150% of the credits required to complete the major. The College Financial Aid Office will evaluate SAP before aid is awarded and after grades are posted for every term, starting with a student’s first term of enrollment. Some career studies certificate programs (i.e., less than 16 credits in total length) are ineligible for student financial aid, but those credits will be counted toward all SAP requirements (GPA, completion rate, maximum timeframe, and developmental maximum) if the student later enrolls in an eligible major.
Note: Federal-student loan borrowers must meet SAP requirements at the point of loan certification and again prior to the disbursement of any loan proceeds.
- Student Financial Aid Status
Financial Aid Good Standing (GS): Students who are meeting all aspects of the SAP policy or successfully following a designated academic progress plan.
Financial Aid Warning Status (WS): Students who fail to meet SAP for the first time (excluding students who have already attempted 150% of the credits required for their major) will be automatically placed in a Warning Status (WS) for one (1) term and are expected to meet SAP requirements by the end of that term. Students who fail to meet SAP requirements at the end of the WS term will be placed on financial aid suspension. However, with a successful SAP appeal, those students will be placed on financial aid probation and will retain financial aid eligibility.
Financial Aid Probation Status (PS): Students who have successfully appealed financial aid suspension are placed in Probation Status (PS). Students in PS are eligible to receive financial aid for one (1) semester, after which they MUST be in Good Standing (GS) or meeting the requirements of an academic progress plan that was pre-approved by the College Financial Aid Office. (See “Appeals” for additional information.)
Financial Aid Suspension Status (SS): Students who do not meet the credit progression schedule and/or the cumulative grade point average standard, or who fail to meet the requirements of their pre-approved academic progress plan, will be placed in Suspension Status (SS). Students in SS are not eligible to receive financial aid.
- Evaluating Progress
Quantitative Standards or Pace of Completion
Completion Rate (67% Rule): Students must, at a minimum, receive satisfactory grades in 67% of cumulative credits attempted. This calculation is performed by dividing the cumulative total number of successfully completed credits by the cumulative total number of credits attempted. All credits attempted at the College are included. All credits accepted in transfer count as both attempted and successfully completed credits. Credits with satisfactory grades at the College are those for which a grade of A, B, C, D, S, or P is earned.
Example: Sally Smith attempted 25 credits at JTCC, but only successfully completed 12 credits at JTCC. Sally also has 12 transfer credits. Divide the successfully completed credits (12 JTCC + 12 Transfer credits) by the attempted credits (25 JTCC + 12 Transfer credits).
Sally has a completion rate of 64%, meaning that Sally is not meeting the 67% completion rate and her financial aid will be canceled.
Maximum Hours (150% Rule): In order to continue receiving financial aid, a student must complete his/her major before attempting 150% of the credits required for that major. Developmental and ESL course work are excluded in this calculation. Attempted credits from all enrollment periods at the College plus all accepted transfer credits are counted; whether or not the student received financial aid for those terms is of no consequence.
Example: John Jones must complete 60 credit hours to graduate. 150% of his major equals 90 credit hours. If John has not graduated after 90 credit hours of coursework, his financial aid will be canceled.
Transfer Students: Credits officially accepted in transfer will be counted in determining the maximum number of allowable semester credit hours for financial aid eligibility.
Second Degree Students: Credits earned from a first degree or certificate must be counted if the student changes majors or attempts a second degree or certificate. Depending on the circumstances, an appeal might be warranted.
ESL and Developmental Studies: Students may receive financial aid for a maximum of 30 semester hours of developmental studies courses as long as the courses are required as a result of placement testing, the student is in an eligible major, and SAP requirements continue to be met. ESL credits are unlimited in number as long as they are taken as part of an eligible major and SAP requirements continue to be met.
Additional Considerations for Quantitative or Pace of Completion Standards:
- Withdrawals (W grades): Withdrawals that are recorded on the student’s permanent academic transcript will be included as credits attempted and will have an adverse effect on the student’s ability to meet the requirements of the completion rate for financial aid.
- Incomplete Grades (I grades): Courses that are assigned an incomplete grade are included in cumulative credits attempted. These cannot be used as credits earned in the progress standard until a successful grade is assigned.
- Repeated Courses: Repeated courses enable the student to achieve a higher cumulative grade point average. Students can repeat courses with financial aid until successfully completed, but repeating courses adversely affects the student’s ability to meet completion rate requirements. Financial aid can be considered for successfully completed classes that are repeated to achieve a higher grade but for only one additional attempt. Only the latest attempt will count toward the cumulative grade point average.
- Qualitative Standards
Cumulative GPA Requirements (GPA Rule): In order to remain eligible for financial aid consideration, students must meet minimum cumulative grade point average requirements based on a progressive scale. Only non-remedial courses with grades of A, B, C, D, and F are included in this calculation. Transfer credits are excluded. In order to graduate minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 is required.
Total Number of Credits Attempted GPA Requirement 1-15 1.5 16-30 1.75 31+ 2.0
- Regaining Eligibility for Financial Aid
Students who do not meet the credit progression requirements (quantitative or pace of completion) and/or cumulative grade point average requirements (qualitative) will be immediately ineligible for financial aid. Removal from financial aid does not prevent students from enrolling without financial aid if they are otherwise eligible to continue their enrollment. Unless extenuating circumstances exist and an appeal is granted (see “Appeals” for additional information), a student in financial aid suspension should expect to continue classes at his or her own expense until SAP requirements are again met. Students who fail to meet these SAP standards and who choose to enroll without benefit of student financial aid may request a review of their academic records after any term in which they are enrolled without the receipt of financial aid to determine whether they have again met SAP standards. If the standards are met, eligibility is regained for subsequent terms of enrollment in the academic year. Students should consult their campus financial aid advisors for assistance in appealing any element of this policy or to determine how to regain eligibility for financial aid.
Under certain circumstances, students who fail to meet SAP standards and lose eligibility for financial aid can appeal the financial aid suspension. Students must clearly state what caused the suspension and must also clearly indicate what has changed to now allow the student to succeed. Appeals are encouraged if:
- Extenuating circumstances exist (i.e., student’s serious illness or accident; death, accident or serious illness in the immediate family; other mitigating circumstances), or
- The student has successfully completed one degree and is attempting another.
Students appealing a suspension must:
- Complete the College’s SAP Appeal Form in entirety,
- Attach documentation in support of the appeal, including an advisor statement showing remaining credits to graduation for 150% appeals, and
- Submit all items to the College Financial Aid Office.
- Only complete appeal submissions, with documentation, will be evaluated by the Financial Aid Office.
All decisions are final. Depending on the circumstances, the student could be required to complete additional requirements (i.e., see a career counselor or another type of counselor, meet with an advisor to develop an academic progress plan for completion, limit enrollment, etc.) before an appeal is granted. The goal is to help the student get back on track for graduation. The reasonableness of his or her ability for improvement to again meet SAP standards and complete the student’s major will be carefully considered. Appeals will be approved or denied. Students who have appeals approved will be in probationary status for the coming term. During probationary status, the student must meet the conditions of the appeal as communicated to him or her by the Financial Aid Office, or the student will return to suspension status. If an academic progress plan has been pre-approved by financial aid, continuing to meet the requirements of that plan will put the student back into good standing.