What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?

To keep receiving your financial aid while you’re in college, you need to make sure you meet your Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). In other words, you must complete enough classes and maintain high enough grades to get your financial aid.

But there are some specifics to keep in mind.

Schools Can Have Different SAP Standards

While federal regulations require schools to establish SAP standards, they don’t have to follow one set of guidelines. Therefore, each school can have a different set of requirements for what it considers SAP.

To learn about the SAP standards at your school, check the website or ask someone at the financial aid office. Look out for specific requirements, such as:

  • The grade point average (GPA) you need to maintain
  • How many credits you have to successfully complete by the end of each year
  • How often the school will examine your progress
  • What will happen if you don’t meet SAP standards one semester
  • If you’re allowed to appeal the school’s decision on not meeting SAP
  • How having a transfer of credits, incomplete class, repeated class, or withdrawal will affect your SAP
  • How you can regain eligibility for student aid

Examples of SAP

Even though schools can set up different policies, most generally require you to keep a GPA of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale, which comes out to at least a C average.

You also have to pass enough classes each semester to progress toward your degree in the timeframe the school has set. For example, undergraduate students at both the University of Minnesota and the University of California, Berkeley, must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher and earn at least 67 percent of the credits they attempt.

Regaining Eligibility for Financial Aid

If you lose your financial aid because you didn’t meet your school’s SAP, you can take steps to regain it. If you weren’t able to meet SAP because of illness, injury, the death of a relative, or other circumstances, you might be able to apply for an appeal. If you can’t appeal, you’ll have to work to bring your grades back up to SAP before you’re eligible to apply for financial aid again.

Meeting satisfactory academic progress is vital for maintaining your financial aid through college. Make sure you know your school’s requirements for SAP before you begin taking classes so you don’t risk losing out on money to pay for your education.