Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

By now, you’ve probably heard the phrase “satisfactory academic progress” or “SAP” tossed around a few times. Unless you have spent a lot of time in the education world, you’re probably scratching your head, wondering what it means and why it matters to you. Read on to become educated on SAP!
The Financial Aid Office monitors students after every semester for successful completion of SAP standards. For financial aid eligibility, terms are defined as fall, spring and summer. Students are measured on qualitative (GPA) and quantitative (PACE) standards. Students must make satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate to receive financial aid. Students who fail to meet SAP standards are not eligible for financial aid. Students who are eligible to appeal must submit their appeal on or before the applicable deadline date listed below. SAP standards apply, regardless of whether or not students previously had financial aid.




This measures students’ quality of performance in terms of GPA, including developmental studies coursework. Students who do not meet one of the qualitative standards will be placed on financial aid warning for the subsequent term of enrollment. During the warning semester, students can still receive financial aid. Students who meet the qualitative standards while on warning shall be placed back in good standing. Students who fail to meet the qualitative standards while on warning will be suspended from financial aid for the subsequent term. CSCC does not allow students to appeal for not meeting qualitative (GPA) standards. Students must raise their GPA without financial aid, which includes student loans. Once the GPA matches the standards below, students may appeal for quantitative (PACE) standards or for exceeding maximum timeframe. Each semester students must meet the following cumulative GPA standards:

Minimum Required GPA



The Financial Aid Office calculates the PACE at which students are progressing in their SAP by dividing the cumulative number of hours successfully completed by the cumulative number of hours attempted. Students must successfully complete 66.67% of attempted hours.

*Unsatisfactory grades of F, I, W, or NP do not count as completed hours but will count as attempted hours.*

Maximum Timeframe

Students must be making progress toward a certificate or associate’s degree. To quantify academic progress, CSCC must set a maximum timeframe in which students are expected to finish a program. Students may receive financial aid until a certificate or associate’s degree is earned, or the maximum timeframe (150% of program length) is reached. Students who have reached the maximum attempted hours allowed toward a certificate or degree, or who have earned an associate’s degree or higher, are ineligible for financial aid. Students are not given a warning period for exceeding maximum timeframe. If students must take additional hours, students must submit an appeal to the Appeals Committee. Maximum hours attempted excludes developmental studies coursework.


If students have a bachelor’s degree, aid may be awarded for core curriculum only. This will be a decision of the Appeals Committee.


Developmental Studies Maximum Timeframe

Students may receive federal financial aid for up to thirty (30) attempted hours of developmental studies coursework. Financial aid for students who have exceeded this maximum timeframe will be based on college level courses only. This timeframe cannot be appealed.


Transfer Hours

All attempted transfer hours will be counted when calculating SAP. This includes coursework from a technical/vocational training facility, coursework from an unaccredited institution, coursework from schools that have been closed, and college credit received from military training, such as credits awarded from the ACE transcript.


Good Standing Status

Students are placed in Good Standing Status as long as they are meeting all SAP standards.


Warning Status

For the first occurrence of not meeting SAP standards, students will be placed in a Warning Status, which means students are one semester away from losing financial aid eligibility. Students are still eligible for financial aid; however, should students not meet SAP standards again, their financial aid will be suspended. If students subsequently meet SAP standards, they will be put back into Good Standing Status.


Suspension Status

For the second consecutive occurrence of not meeting SAP standards, students are placed on financial aid suspension. As long as they are on suspension, they are not eligible for financial aid. Students may appeal this status if they are suspended for reasons other than qualitative (GPA) standards. Appeals will not be approved if students cannot meet SAP standards prior to completing their certificate or degree.


Probation Status

When an Appeal has been approved students will be placed on probation. At the end of the probation semester, a student's eligibility will be evaluated. During the Probation period, a student must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA for the term and cannot fail or withdraw from all courses. Failure to meet these academic standards will result in financial aid suspension and the student may be allowed to file an additional appeal. At the end of the probationary period, students will then be placed in Good Standing if cumulative Satisfactory Academic Progress standards are met. If Probation terms are met, but the student does not meet cumulative Satisfactory Academic Progress, the student will be placed on an Academic Plan. If the student subsequently meets cumulative Satisfactory Academic Progress standards, the student will be placed in Good Standing.

Students may be required to meet with the Appeals Committee. The Financial Aid Office will notify students of the date and time. Students also have the option of choosing to meet with the Appeals Committee; if so, all documents must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office by the appeals deadline.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal:

Students placed on financial aid suspension are be eligible to appeal that decision to the Appeals Committee if they have a documented extenuating circumstance that prevented them from meeting PACE or Maximum Timeframe requirements. Students cannot appeal suspension for GPA.

Extenuating circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • Death of an immediate family member (spouse, mother, father, guardian, sister, brother, son or daughter)
  • Serious illness of self or immediate family member (as designated above)
  • Family Issues (divorce, separation, childcare, domestic violence)
  • Involuntary call to active military duty
  • Loss or change of job
  • Other extreme circumstances (case by case basis)

The following circumstances are not considered extenuating and beyond the student's control:

  • Not knowing the deadline or procedure
  • Voluntary overtime
  • Not needing or wanting a class, not doing well in a class, or having too heavy of a course load
  • Wishing to improve your GPA
  • Taking pre-requisite courses for another program or institution
  • Not knowing what to major in
  • Being young, not serious about school, etc.

Submitting an Appeal

Appeals and supporting documentation must be submitted by the posted deadline below. A complete SAP Appeal includes:

  • A detailed statement that explains how the extenuating circumstances prevented you from meeting the SAP requirements
  • A statement of how your situation has changed or is different; including actions you have taken or plan to take to ensure you are success in future semesters
  • Professional, supporting documentation from a third-party

The appeal form is available in your CougarNet and opens when registration opens for the semester.


Submit date-specific documentation from a disinterested third party. Documentation includes but is not limited to:

  • Letter from a physician, counselor, or therapist on letterhead indicating the dates you were under their care
  • Previous or current employer’s statement on company letterhead
  • Third-party documentation of death such as an obituary, funeral notice, or death certificate
  • Accident reports, police records, court records, attorneys’ statement, other legal documents, etc.
  • Statement from a member of clergy on company letterhead
  • Other documentation from third-party professionals on letterhead or notarized
  • Desired job description with company info, salary data comparison (, other previous certifications earned (Maximum Timeframe appeals only)

Students should explain each semester(s) in which they did not meet SAP requirements and third-party documentation should support the student’s statement and match each semester(s) in question. Appeals submitted without documentation will not be reviewed.


SAP appeals can take up to 4 weeks to be reviewed and a decision to be made once submitted and all supporting documentation is reviewed and deemed complete. Students are responsible for adhering to all fee payment deadlines, even if they have a SAP Appeal under review. The decision of the appeals committee is final. 

SAP Appeal Deadlines

The SAP Appeal deadline for each semester is the census date (14th day of class). These dates can be found on the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form for the current academic year.

 Complete appeals not turned in by the deadline date will be reviewed for the following semester.


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