Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

To continue to participate in Title IV, Higher Education Act (HEA) program, Sacred Heart University shall demonstrate that the institution is capable of adequately administering these programs under each of the standards established in federal regulation and set forth here in University policy.

For purposes of determining student eligibility for financial assistance under Title IV, HEA programs, the University establishes, publishes, and applies Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards that meet all federal requirements. To be eligible to receive federal (and institutional) financial aid, a student is required to maintain satisfactory academic progress in his or her course of study according to the University’s published standards. SAP standards are based on cumulative measures of a student’s progress toward degree completion. The Office of Student Financial Assistance is responsible for ensuring that all students who receive financial aid meet these standards. 

It is important to note that SAP standards are separate from, and in addition to, the Academic Standing policy established by the faculty of the University. The Records Committee is responsible for ensuring that all degree candidates meet the University’s academic standing requirements. For additional information regarding academic standing requirements, students should refer to the Academic Policies and Procedures section of the University Catalog.  

Sections included in this policy are:

A printed copy of this SAP policy will be provided upon request.

SAP Standards

Federal regulations require that the University’s SAP policy contain reasonable standards for measuring whether an otherwise eligible financial aid student is maintaining satisfactory academic progress in their educational program. The Secretary considers an institution’s standards to be reasonable if the standards:

  1. are as strict or stricter than the University’s satisfactory academic standing requirements (listed in the University Catalogfor a student enrolled in the educational program who is not receiving assistance under a Title IV, HEA program; and include the following elements:
    • Qualitative Standard: the University measures a student’s progression toward degree completion using a fixed grade point standard on a 4.0 GPA scale. To be eligible to receive federal, state, and institutional financial assistance, a student is required to maintain the minimum cumulative GPA associated with their level of study: 

Undergraduate: Federal regulations further specify: “A student is making SAP if at the end of the second year, the student has a GPA of at least a “C” or its equivalent, or has academic standing consistent with the institution’s requirements for graduation." At the end of the second year, the University requires students to maintain a "C"/2.00 GPA - which is consistent with the University’s requirement for graduation and satisfies federal requirements. 

Graduate: A graduate student is required by the University to maintain a 3.00 GPA which is a requirement for graduation and for federal aid.

    • Quantitative Standard: the University also measures a student’s progression toward degree completion based on a quantitative scale that consists of a maximum timeframe in which a student must complete his or her degree. The quantitative standard includes:

Maximum Timeframe = 180 Attempted Credits (150% X 120 Credits) the University defines a maximum timeframe as 150% of the published lengths of the education program in attempted credits

This maximum timeframe of 180 attempted credits is a standard applicable to federal aid eligibility and not to institutional grant funds. University policy limits the maximum number of terms for which a student may receive institutional grant assistance based on their enrollment status and the number of transfer credits accepted by the University. 

      • Increments: University policy divides the maximum timeframe into equal periods of enrollment known as semesters or terms.

      • Pace: the University has established a schedule designating the minimum percentage of work, known as pace, that a student must successfully complete at the end of each semester to complete their degree within the maximum timeframe: 
Pace = Cumulative Number of Credits Successfully Completed
     Cumulative Number of Credits Attempted

To be eligible to receive federal, state, and institutional financial assistance, students are required to successfully complete a minimum of 66.67% of all attempted credits (Minimum Pace = 66.67%). 

Definitions

University policy defines the following terms for the calculation of Pace and review of credits counted toward the maximum timeframe of 180 attempted credits:

Credits Successfully Completed - includes all courses for which students receive a passing grade of D- or better; transfer credits are included. 

Credits Attempted - includes all courses for which students receive a passing grade of D- or better, pass, incomplete, “W”, “F”,“I”, “IX”, or “NG”; all transfer credits that are counted towards the degree are included. All credits attempted must be counted toward the maximum timeframe.

Incompletes - all courses for which students receive a provisional designation of “incomplete” must be counted toward the maximum timeframe and included in the calculation of Pace.

Withdrawals - all courses for which students receive a “W” on the permanent record must be counted toward the maximum timeframe and included in the calculation of Pace. 

Remedial Courses (noncredit)- not counted toward the maximum timeframe and not included in the calculation of Pace since they are not offered nor accepted at the University.

Repeated Courses - all repeated courses must be counted toward the maximum timeframe and included in the calculation of Pace. Repeated courses for which a student receives additional credit are counted both in the cumulative number of successfully completed and attempted credits. Repeated courses for which a student does not receive additional credit are not counted in the cumulative number of successfully completed credits but are counted in the cumulative number of attempted credits.

English as a Second Language (ESL) - not counted toward the maximum timeframe and not included in the calculation of Pace since ESL courses are not offered nor accepted at the University. 

Transfer Credits - all pre-matriculation (including AP credits) and post-matriculation transfer credits must be counted toward the maximum timeframe and included in the calculation of Pace. Transfer credits are counted in both the cumulative number of successfully completed and attempted credits but are not included in the calculation of GPA.

Second Majors - students who elect to declare a second major must complete all degree requirements within the maximum timeframe; credits applicable to second majors are included in the calculation of Pace.

Additional Degrees - students who pursue a second undergraduate degree at the University are only eligible to receive Federal Direct Loans; all credits applicable to the second degree are counted toward the maximum timeframe and included in the calculation of Pace.

SAP Reviews
At the end of each semester; fall (which includes winter), spring, and summer, normally within two-four weeks of grade posting, the record of each financial aid applicant enrolled in that semester is reviewed to determine if they are making satisfactory academic progress toward degree completion. The review includes a determination as to whether the student has met the cumulative qualitative and quantitative standards set forth in the University’s SAP policy. 

Students will be notified in writing of the results of an evaluation that impacts the student’s eligibility for federal, state, and institutional financial assistance. SAP reviews will result in a student being placed on one of the following statuses:

Good Financial Aid Standing
A student who has met the SAP qualitative and quantitative standards listed above is making satisfactory academic progress toward degree completion. This student is in good financial aid standing with the University and is eligible to receive assistance under federal Title IV, state, and institutional financial aid programs during the next semester of enrollment, providing the student remains in good academic standing with the University and meets all other program requirements.

Financial Aid Warning
The first time a student has not met all SAP qualitative and quantitative standards listed above, they will be placed on financial aid warning. This student is not making satisfactory academic progress toward degree completion and must repair the deficiencies during the next term of enrollment. A student on financial aid warning may continue to receive assistance under federal Title IV, state, and institutional financial aid programs during the next semester providing the student remains in good academic standing with the University and meets all other program requirements. The financial aid warning status will be assigned automatically without an appeal or other action required by the student.

A student cannot be placed on two consecutive terms of financial aid warning; a student must return to good financial aid standing by the end of the financial aid warning period to remain eligible to receive financial aid. A student who has returned to good financial aid standing but at a later date does not meet SAP standards can be placed on a second term of financial aid warning.

Financial Aid Probation
A student on financial aid warning who has not met all SAP qualitative and quantitative standards by the end of the next semester of enrollment is no longer eligible to receive assistance under federal Title IV, state, and institutional financial aid programs unless the student has an approved SAP appeal on file with the Office of Student Financial Assistance. All SAP appeals must be submitted to the Office of Student Financial Assistance according to the process outlined in the Appeals section of this policy. If the appeal is approved, the student will be placed on financial aid probation. A student on financial aid probation is eligible to receive assistance under federal Title IV, state, and institutional financial aid programs during the next semester of enrollment, providing the student remains in good academic standing with the University and meets all other program requirements.

Financial Aid Suspension
A student on financial aid warning who has not met all SAP qualitative and quantitative standards by the end of the next semester of enrollment and who does not have an approved appeal on file with the Office of Student Financial Assistance is no longer eligible to receive assistance under federal Title IV, state, and institutional financial aid programs. This student will be placed on financial aid suspension and will be required to make up all SAP deficiencies to regain eligibility for federal, state, and institutional financial aid.

Appeals

As stated above, students may appeal to have their eligibility reinstated for one term of financial aid probation if mitigating circumstances prevented them from meeting the requirements, such circumstances would include:

  1. the death of a relative;
  2. an injury of the student;
  3. an illness of the student; or
  4. other special circumstances.

Students who wish to appeal their financial aid suspension must adhere to the following procedures:

  1. complete and sign the SAP Appeal Form (located in SHUAwards under the General SFA Forms tab);
  2. attach supporting documentation to the SAP Appeal Form; and
  3. submit the entire appeal to the Office of Student Financial Assistance, prior to the start of the semester you would like to attend.

Submitting a SAP appeal DOES NOT guarantee approval or reinstatement of financial aid eligibility.

The Directors of Student Financial Assistance will review all submitted SAP Appeals within ten business days of receipt of the appeal. Decisions are made after a careful evaluation of the student’s unique circumstances, federal Title IV requirements, and University policy. Notification will be sent in writing to the student as to the outcome of the appeal review. SAP Appeal reviews will result in one of the following outcomes:

Not Approved - students will remain on financial aid suspension and will not be eligible to receive financial aid until all SAP deficiencies have been repaired .

Approved with Probation - students will be placed on financial aid probation and will be eligible to receive financial aid during the next semester of enrollment, provided they remain in good academic standing with the University and meets all other program requirements. Students on financial aid probation must repair all SAP deficiencies during the next term of enrollment in order to remain eligible for financial aid.

Approved with an Academic Plan (Learning Contract)
In some cases, it may be mathematically impossible for a student to repair their SAP deficiencies within one term of enrollment. In such cases, SAP Appeals may be approved with an academic plan to restore SAP deficiencies over more than one term. The student is responsible for developing this academic plan with their academic advisor to ensure that they will meet the University’s SAP standards by a specific point in time. The academic plan may require students to fulfill specific terms and conditions, such as taking a reduced course load or enrolling in specific courses.

Students on an approved academic plan are eligible to receive financial aid during the next semester of enrollment and each subsequent term of enrollment, provided they meet the SAP standards outlined in the academic plan; students must remain in good academic standing with the University and meet all other program requirements.

Regaining Eligibility

Students who have been placed on financial aid suspension may re-establish their eligibility to receive federal, state, and institutional financial assistance by one of the three paths described below:

  1. Successfully appeal the suspension and get approved for a term of financial aid probation or approved with an academic plan.

  2. Meet the minimum SAP quantitative and qualitative standards by completing a course(s) at the University without receiving financial assistance. To enroll in a course(s) at the University, all students must meet academic standing requirements of the University.

  3. Meet the minimum SAP quantitative and qualitative standards by completing a course(s) at another institution without receiving financial assistance. A student who wishes to take a course(s) at another institution must first receive approval according to University policy. The following explains the impact of transfer credits on SAP standards: 

    • Qualitative Standards: According to University policy, post-matriculation transfer grades will be indicated on the transcript, but will not be included in calculations of GPA, rank-in-class, or other academic standings. Therefore, a student will not be able to repair the SAP qualitative standard by completing a course(s) at another institution. A student who needs to restore his or her GPA to the minimum SAP standard will need to enroll in a course(s) at the University without receiving financial assistance or successfully appeal their financial aid suspension. The Director of Financial Aid will, however, consider transfer grades when reviewing and approving SAP appeals.
    • Quantitative Standards: All transfer credits must be counted toward the maximum timeframe and included in the calculation of a student’s Pace. Transfer credits are counted in both the cumulative number of successfully completed and attempted credits.