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California State University, Long Beach

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards for the Receipt of Financial Aid

Background

California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) is required by federal law to establish specific standards for measuring Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for students receiving financial aid. Although the academic progress standards are similar to those set by the university or academic departments for all students, the financial aid standards for SAP are not exactly the same due to the specific requirements of the legislation. In addition to meeting the academic standards for registration, a student must also meet the requirements of the financial aid SAP policy below to be eligible to receive federal, state and need-based institutional financial aid assistance. Scholarships and other awards may also require students to meet this standard.

Overview of the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards

Financial aid recipients are expected to make reasonable and timely academic progress toward their declared program objective (degree, credential or certificate) each semester. Progress is measured by the following standards:

Standard 1 - The GPA Standard
Meet the minimum cumulative grade point average required.
Standard 2 – The Pace Standard
Satisfactorily complete at least 66% of cumulative credit hours attempted
Standard 3 – The Maximum Time Frame Standard
Complete a degree/certificate program within the maximum time frame based on units required in the program.

Details of how each standard is measured are found below. It is important to understand that a student’s entire academic history must be considered in these standards regardless of whether or not the student received financial aid for that course work.

Be aware that eligibility to enroll for classes does not mean that Satisfactory Academic Progress standards for the receipt of financial aid have been met.

Standard 1 – The GPA Standard

Standard 1 is a qualitative measure of progress as measured by the student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA). The cumulative GPA includes all CSULB courses that have been graded as well as any courses from other institutions that have been accepted and posted to the student’s record. CSULB academic policies determine how the GPA is calculated including which grades count in the GPA calculation and the effect of course repeats on GPA. Students and advisors can see the current cumulative GPA on the student’s unofficial transcript and Academic Advising reports.

To meet Standard 1, students must meet the minimum cumulative GPA requirement each semester as listed in the chart below:

Academic Level Minimum GPA Requirement
Undergraduate (1st Bachelor’s) 2.0
Master’s & Doctorate 3.0
Other Post-Baccalaureate Programs (Credential, Certificate, 2nd Bachelor’s) 2.5

Standard 2 – The Pace Standard

Standard 2 is a quantitative measure which attempts to calculate the pace at which a student is progressing toward program completion. Pace is measured by the cumulative percentage of courses attempted that are successfully completed for credit. There are two steps in performing this calculation.

Step 1

Not all credit posted to the student’s academic record is a good indication of the ‘pace’ at which they are completing their program. As a result, the various types of academic credit within the same academic career (undergraduate or post-baccalaureate) are evaluated based on the following:

Types of courses and credit that are included in this calculation:

  1. All CSULB courses
  2. All transferable courses from other colleges and universities
  3. Repeated coursework
  4. Consortium coursework
  5. Coursework from Study Abroad programs
  6. Pre-Requisite coursework

Types of courses and credit that are not included in this calculation:

  1. Audited coursework
  2. Military credit
  3. Credit earned through examination (AP, IB and other test credit)
  4. Course withdrawal for extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control (normally medical) as indicated by the assignment of a grade of WE.

Step 2

Based on the courses that are included above, pace is then calculated by dividing the total number of credit hours successfully completed (passed with units earned) by the total number of credit hours actually attempted.

  • Total Hours Earned/Completed = all course work where credit is earned with a grade of A, B, C, D, RP, or CR.
  • Total Hours Attempted = Total Hours Earned/Completed PLUS all course work with a grade of W, WU, F, RD, I, and NC.

To meet Standard 2, students must satisfactorily complete at least 66% of all cumulative credit hours attempted as calculated above.

Standard 3 – The Maximum Time Frame Standard

Standard 3 is also a quantitative measure to determine if the student is actually completing the academic program within a reasonable overall time frame based on units attempted. Students may not continue to receive financial aid once they have reached this standard. It is important to emphasize that once the maximum time frame is reached the student is considered ineligible for further financial aid and must complete their program without the benefit of these financial assistance programs. There are two steps in performing this calculation.

Step 1

First the maximum units allowed for the academic program must be determined. This is calculated by multiplying the minimum units required for the academic program by 150% to determine the maximum number of units a student can attempt before becoming ineligible for financial aid.

For undergraduate students:

Most baccalaureate programs require 120 units so the maximum time frame is 180 attempted units (120 times 150%). Higher unit majors are adjusted based on the minimum units required. Undergraduate students can pursue additional academic objectives (majors, minors, certificates) and receive financial aid as long as they do so within the units allowed for the ‘primary’ academic major. In other words, extra attempted units are not granted so that students can pursue additional objectives with the baccalaureate degree. (Please note: This approach is consistent with the Undergraduate Timely Graduation policy; however, this financial aid standard measures units attempted whereas the Timely Graduation policy measures units earned.)

For post-baccalaureate students:

The maximum attempted units allowed is also calculated by multiplying the minimum units required for the academic program by 150%. For students that are officially pursuing a financial aid eligible credential or certificate concurrently with a Master’s program, the minimum units required of each program will be added together and then multiplied by 150%.

Step 2

The total number of units attempted by the student in that academic career (undergraduate or post-baccalaureate) is calculated and compared to the maximum allowed in Step 1. As not all credit posted to the student’s academic record can count toward the degree program requirements, the following exclusions/adjustments are made:

  1. Remedial course work is excluded as it does not carry baccalaureate credit.
  2. Course withdrawals for extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control (normally medical) as indicated by the assignment of a grade of WE are excluded.
  3. A maximum of 70 units of transferable credit from a 2-year institution is counted based on CSU and CSULB policy.
  4. Test credit (AP, IB, etc) and Military credit are excluded.
  5. Additional transfer credit may be excluded by request if it cannot be used to meet any CSULB degree requirement including general electives.

To meet Standard 3, students must have attempted less than 150% of units required for the academic program as calculated above.

Graduate Students: Impact of Undergraduate Level Courses

Graduate students may be required to complete undergraduate level coursework to resolve pre-requisites or other necessary activities to complete their program of study. Graduate students should be aware of how undergraduate courses impact the three SAP Standards:

Impact on Standard 1 - GPA
Graduate GPAs are calculated based upon 300-level or higher coursework taken after completion of the baccalaureate degree.
Impact on Standard 2 - Pace
Graduate students receive degree credit on their transcript for completing coursework at the 300-level or higher. For determining your PACE calculation, any courses attempted at the 100 or 200-level will be considered "attempted" units, but not "completed" irrespective of your final grade. This will negatively impact your PACE calculation.
Impact on Standard 3 - Maximum Time Frame
The maximum timeframe is calculated using the published minimum degree requirements. If undergraduate coursework is required to complete the program of study, it is expected that it will be accomplished within the 150% maximum timeframe.

Be Aware: To receive graduate level financial aid in any term, students must be enrolled at least half-time (5 units or more) in courses designated to meet the graduate degree requirements as specified in the catalog.

How Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards are Monitored

Satisfactory Academic Progress is monitored at the end of each academic term (Fall, Spring and Summer). Students who fully meet all three standards above are considered in GOOD standing for SAP. Students who are not meeting the standards will be notified via email of the results and the impact on their aid eligibility.

Students who have reached the Maximum Time Frame (Standard 3) are immediately ineligible to receive additional financial aid assistance. Students may appeal this ineligible status (see “Appeal of the Maximum Time Frame” below). In addition, students who have been academically disqualified or suspended are also not eligible to receive financial aid assistance until formally reinstated to the University.

Warning Status

Students who are not meeting Standard 1 (GPA) or Standard 2 (Pace) are first placed on financial aid WARNING if they were in GOOD status the prior term. A student on financial aid warning will continue to receive financial aid for one term despite a determination that the student is not making Satisfactory Academic Progress.

At the end of the next enrolled term, students on WARNING must meet all three standards to be deemed eligible for continued assistance. Students who remedy their deficiency and are fully meeting the SAP Standards will be considered in GOOD standing for SAP again. If the GPA or Pace standard is still deficient, the student becomes INELIGIBLE for financial aid. This student may appeal his ineligible status (see “Appeal after Warning Semester” below). A student whose appeal is approved will be defined as on PROBATION and may receive aid for one additional term.

Probation Status

At the end of the next enrolled term, students on PROBATION must meet all three standards to be deemed eligible for continued assistance. This student may appeal this decision which must include an academic plan (see “Appeal after Probation Semester” below). If an appeal that includes an academic plan is approved, the student will be placed on PROBATION and continued aid eligibility will be monitored each semester based on the details of the plan. Failure to fully satisfy the approved plan in the next semester will make the student INELIGIBLE for financial aid. If the student continues to make progress based on the approved plan they will be considered in GOOD standing. Failure to continue to comply with the plan will result in PROBATION or INELIGIBLE status depending on the circumstances. Once students have failed to maintain satisfactory progress based on an approved plan, no further appeal opportunity is allowed. Students can only regain financial aid eligibility if they complete additional coursework without the benefit of financial assistance which brings them in full compliance with the SAP Standards or the approved academic plan.

Impact on the Disbursement of Financial Aid

Important notice for Student on WARNING or PROBATION

Financial Aid regulations do not allow for the disbursement of any financial assistance for the next semesters until the campus can ensure that the student will be eligible to receive the financial aid under these SAP standards. As a result, a hold will be placed on the disbursement of financial aid for those students who are at risk of becoming INELIGIBLE. This includes:

  1. Students who are on WARNING
  2. Students who are on PROBATION
  3. Students who are being monitored based on an approved academic plan
  4. Students who are approaching the Maximum Time Frame Standard

Once grades are posted and SAP Standards can be monitored, the hold will be released for those deemed eligible. The hold will not be released for those deemed ineligible until such time as an appeal is approved.

Due to the timing of grade submission for Spring and Summer terms, this will mean a delay in the release of funds past the beginning of the next term. As a result, students in one of the 4 statuses above during a spring term who are enrolled in summer will have summer financial aid held until at least mid-June. Students in one of the 4 statuses above during a summer term will have fall financial aid held until at least mid-September.

Re-Gaining Eligibility

Students in an INELIGIBLE status may regain eligibility as follows:

  • For students not meeting the GPA and/or Pace standards, enroll without the benefit of financial aid assistance and complete coursework that improves your cumulative GPA and/or completion rate to bring them in full compliance with the SAP Standards or the approved academic plan.
  • Submit a written appeal that is approved by CSULB’s Office of Financial Aid SAP Committee.

Request to have Satisfactory Academic Progress Recalculated

If adjustments have been made to the student’s academic record after their SAP status has been calculated, students may request in writing that their SAP status be re-reviewed. This may be necessary when:

  • Grades for the term were posted after SAP was calculated
  • Grade changes including the resolution of an incomplete
  • Transfer credit has been posted
  • A change of academic objective

Appeal Guidelines

Students who fail to meet these standards and lose eligibility for financial aid can appeal the decision. As part of all appeals, the student is required to provide the following:

  1. The appropriate SAP Appeal form below including a personal statement explaining:
    • Extenuating circumstances that led to the student not meeting the SAP standards
    • What actions the student is taking to ensure future academic progress
  2. Documentation to support extenuating circumstance(s)Examples of extenuating circumstances include (but are not limited to):
    • A period of illness or injury for the student
    • A period of illness or injury for an immediate family member requiring the student’s assistance
    • Death of a family member
    • Family difficulties (financial, divorce, etc)
    • Military Service

Additional Information Required

Appeal of the Maximum Time Frame Standard

  1. SAP Maximum Time Frame Appeal Form
  2. Detailed plan showing how the student will meet remaining program requirements

Appeal after Warning Semester

  1. SAP Suspension Appeal Form

Appeal after Probation Semester

  1. SAP Appeal after Probation Semester Appeal Form
  2. Detailed academic plan showing how the student will address the SAP standard deficiencies and make reasonable academic progress toward degree. For seniors and post-baccalaureate students, the plan must also show how they will meet all remaining program requirements.

The complete appeal packet must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office within four weeks of the date of the ineligibility notification. Appeals will be evaluated by the SAP Appeal Committee within 3 weeks of receipt of the completed appeal. Students will be notified of the results by email. If a student wishes to challenge the denial of an appeal, they must provide a clear written rationale for this challenge within two weeks of receipt of the appeal denial to the Director of Financial Aid. The Director will consult with the Associate Vice Presidents of Enrollment Services, Academic Affairs, and/or Student Services, as appropriate in responding to the challenge.