Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for Federal Title IV Financial Aid
Federal regulations mandate that institutions of higher education establish minimum standards of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for students receiving Title IV (federal) financial aid. Satisfactory academic progress is comprised of three evaluative standards: (1) A student must achieve a GPA that is consistent with meeting graduation requirements (Qualitative); (2) demonstrate he/she is making progress towards the completion of his/her degree by earning a minimum number of credits hours each semester (Pace); and (3) complete his/her degree within a specified period (Time Frame). Students receiving federal aid are evaluated at the end of each academic year.
Federal aid programs affected are Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work Study, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Direct Loan, and Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS).
Credits attempted include all work at Furman plus any credits earned elsewhere that contribute toward the degree such as AP, IB, and transfer credits. Credits transferred to Furman are not used in computing grade point averages, however.
Qualitative Measure of Satisfactory Academic Progress
A student must maintain satisfactory academic progress as measured by cumulative attempted hours and minimum GPA.
Cumulative credits attempted are: Minimum cumulative GPA
28 or less 1.58
29 - 50 1.70
51 - 82 1.90
Pace Measure of Satisfactory Academic Progress
Federal regulations require that a student make steady progress or “pace” toward degree completion. This pace is calculated by dividing the cumulative number of hours earned by the cumulative number of hours attempted. A student must have earned a minimum of 67% of all hours attempted after each academic year.
Maximum Time Frame
Federal regulations specify that a student may receive federal financial aid for a maximum time frame of 150% of the published length of the program. At Furman, students are required to earn 128 credit hours in order to graduate. Therefore, the maximum time frame for a student to receive federal aid is 192 attempted credit hours. There is no appeal process for the maximum time frame regulation.
Students who are not meeting SAP standards at the end of the academic year are notified, via his/her individual campus email account, that they are not meeting the SAP standards for federal financial aid and that they cannot be awarded federal financial aid for the fall semester. The email advises them to write a formal letter of appeal to be considered for a fall probationary semester.
Submitting an Appeal
A formal letter (or email) from the student explaining any mitigating circumstances and how the circumstances have or will be resolved in order to achieve SAP must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid. Mitigating circumstances are considered to be any situations beyond a student’s control that prevent a student from successfully completing the required number of hours attempted or earning the required cumulative GPA necessary for SAP.
Some examples of mitigating circumstances include student illness, family illness, other family problems, emotional upsets, interpersonal problems with other students, problems adjusting to college life, balancing school, employment obligations, etc. A financial aid counselor may determine if other circumstances documented by the student may be considered.
Appeal Decision Process
In most cases, financial aid counselors have the responsibility for reviewing and making a decision regarding an appeal. However, if the counselor cannot make a decision, the Financial Aid Appeals Committee will meet when necessary and will make the decision to approve or suspend aid.
If the appeal is approved, the financial aid counselor will award aid only for one semester on a financial aid probation status. The student will be sent an email explaining that financial aid will not be awarded for spring unless an additional SAP appeal is submitted and approved. All instructions for an appeal are sent again to the student.
When a subsequent appeal is submitted, the financial aid counselor may approve it and follow the same procedures. However, students who are not meeting SAP standards for consecutive or multiple terms are likely to be presented to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee for review.
If the Financial Aid Appeals Committee agrees that the student should be denied aid based on the newest appeal, notification will be sent to student via email, and alternative financing options (such as private loans that do not require school certification or payment plans) will be suggested to the student. The student may decide to self-pay or take a leave of absence. However, a student does not regain eligibility for financial aid by sitting out a semester. That student will need to make an additional appeal prior to returning to Furman to once again to be considered for financial aid eligibility. A student does not automatically regain eligibility for financial aid if financial aid has been suspended for a semester.