Satisfactory Academic Progress Progress (SAP) Appeals

If your school has deemed you ineligible to receive financial aid due to a lack of academic progress, you may file a Student Academic Progress Appeal for financial aid reinstatement. In an SAP Appeal, students are expected to show that their lack of academic progress is due to an undue hardship and that steps have been taken to remedy the situation.

What Is Satisfactory Academic Progress?

To qualify for federal student aid, students must maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP). Although each school’s SAP policy must adhere to federal guidelines, such policies can differ significantly from school to school. When a student fails to meet his school’s standards, he will be placed on financial aid warning or suspension. In some cases, a student whose aid has been suspended due to unsatisfactory academic progress can file a SAP appeal to regain his financial aid.

When Is a SAP Appeal Appropriate?

The SAP appeal process is designed for students whose unsatisfactory progress resulted from extenuating circumstances, such as a death in the family, a debilitating illness, or a natural disaster. Perhaps you were stretched thin by other demands in your life, such as required overtime at work or caring for a sick family member. In cases where your academic progress was hindered by something sudden or outside of your control, a SAP appeal would be appropriate.

What Is Needed for a Successful Appeal?

Before writing your appeal, check with your school’s financial aid office to find out what will be required for your SAP appeal. In general, a successful SAP appeal will include the following:

  • Completed appeal form. This can often be found on the web page of your school’s financial aid office. Here is an example of one schools guidelines and tips regarding how to write a SAP appeal.
  • Letter of explanation. In addition to the appeal form, you will likely need to submit a letter explaining why you failed to maintain satisfactory academic progress. Be as specific as possible.
  • Supporting documentation. You will also need to provide documentation that supports your explanation. Examples include a death certificate, a police report, or even a statement from your doctor, lawyer, counselor, or pastor.
  • Concrete action plan. Your school will not reinstate your financial aid if looks like the problem that caused your unsatisfactory progress is likely to recur. You must take concrete steps to resolve the situation and explain your action plan in your appeal.

What Happens After the Appeal Is Granted?

If your SAP appeal is granted, you will be placed on financial aid probation. You can receive financial aid during this time. The terms of financial aid probation, including how long it lasts, vary by school. Make sure you understand your school’s evaluation schedule and other SAP-related policies.

Keep in mind that a SAP appeal is not the only way to get your financial aid back. If your appeal is denied, you may be able to regain your eligibility by switching majors or transferring to a different school. You can also turn to other sources of financial aid, such as private student loans, while you work to raise your GPA back to where it needs to be.