Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for Graduate and Law Students
The U.S. Department of Education requires that students meet certain academic standards while completing a degree and that the financial aid office establish a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy accordingly. The policy applies to federal, state and institutional grants/scholarships administered by the Graduate Financial Aid Office. This policy must ensure that students successfully complete a minimum percentage of credits attempted, make progress to complete their degree within a reasonable period of time, and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA. Students who are not meeting the SAP criteria may be placed into a financial aid warning status (eligible for financial aid during a warning status) and eventually into a financial aid suspension status (ineligible for financial aid during a suspension status). If students are placed into a financial aid suspension status, there is an appeal option/process for students with extenuating circumstances.
Admission or re-admission to the University of St. Thomas and academic standing as defined by an academic program may allow for a student’s continued enrollment at the university. However, admission, re-admission or continued enrollment does not exempt the student from meeting the terms of this policy with regard to financial aid eligibility.
Graduate and professional students must:
- Maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) that is equal to or greater than the graduation standards published by their program(s) (Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average);
- Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 67% of all credits attempted at the University of St. Thomas (Minimum Completion Rate); and
- Be able to complete their program of study/degree within a maximum number of attempted credits allowed by their degree level (Maximum Timeframe).
These standards are collectively referred to as the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards.
- Academic Plan: A decision made by the finanical aid appeals committee after a successful appeal by the student to allow more than the one term of probationary status to ensure that the student is able to meet the institution's satisfactory academic progress standards by a specific point in time.
- Appeal: A process by which a student who is not meeting the financial aid satisfactory academic progress policy standards and has extenuating circumstances petitions the financial aid office for reconsideration of the student's eligibility for financial aid.
- Attempted Credit: An attempted credit includes any credit for which a student is registered at the beginning of the term. Any attempted credits that are subsequently canceled and removed from a transcript are still considered attempted credits for purposes of determining eligibility for financial aid under this policy.
- Cumulative Grade Point Average: The weighted average of the grades earned for all of your earned credits.
- Completion Rate: The cumulative number of the credits satisfactorily completed divided by the cumulative number of the credits attempted while enrolled at the graduate level. (This must be equal to or greater than 67%.)
- Extenuating Circumstances: Events or situations beyond the student's control that negatively affected the student's ability to meet the standards of satisfactory academic progress.
- Financial Aid: All federal, state, and institutional grant/scholarship programs which are administered by the University of St. Thomas Graduate Financial Aid Office.
- Financial Aid Probation: A status assigned to a student who has successfully appealed their financial aid suspension/termination status to the financial aid appeals committee and has been allowed financial aid with specific criteria that must be met after the next term of enrollment. A student is eligible for financial aid in a probationary status.
- Financial Aid Probation Contract: A formal written contract provided to a student who successfully appeals their financial aid suspension status to the financial aid appeals committee and is approved to receive financial aid with specified criteria that must after the next term of enrollment. This contract must be signed and returned by the student before any financial aid will be awarded/processed/reoffered/reprocessed during the Financial Aid Probationary Status period.
- Financial Aid Warning: A status assigned to a student who fails to meet one or more satisfactory academic progress standards at the end of a payment period (i.e. semester/term). A student remains eligible for financial aid during a warning status.
- Financial Aid Suspension: A status assigned to a student who is not meeting one or more of the standards of the satisfactory academic progress policy standards following a Financial Aid Warning period. A student is not eligible for financial aid in a suspension status.
- Good Standing: Meeting or exceeding each of the satisfactory academic progress standards.
- Maximum Timeframe: The total number of credits typically required for your degree program level multiplied by 150%.
- Satisfactory Grades: Grades of "A", "B", "C", "D", "S" and all plus or minus variations on these grades.
- Unsatisfactory Grades: Grades of "F", "R", "I", "NR" and "W".
Graduate and professional students must maintain a cumulative GPA that is equivalent to the graduation standards published by their program(s). The cumulative GPA is calculated on all courses attempted at the University of St. Thomas at the graduate level and all transfer credits accepted by the University of St. Thomas. If students are in a dual degree program at the University of St. Thomas they must be meeting the individual degree program GPAs on all attempted credits within each individual degree program.
Students must satisfactorily complete 67% of all credits attempted. Satisfactory grades are "A", "B", "C", "D", "S" and all plus or minus variations. Unsatisfactory grades are "F", "R", "I", "NR" and "W". Failure to maintain a minimum 67% completion rate will result in a warning for the next term of enrollment. Failure to bring the overall completion rate equal to or greater than the minimum 67% by the end of the "warning" term will result in the student being placed into a suspension status (i.e. ineligible to receive financial aid) until the student raises his or her overall completion rate to at least 67%.
Graduate and professional students must be able to complete their program(s) of study by attempting no more than 150% of the credits normally required for attainment of the degree at that degree level. This includes situation where a student seeks additional degrees at the same level without advancing to a higher degree level. If a calculation/review at the end of a term indicates that a student will not be able to complete their program of study within the attempted number of credits allowed they are placed into financial aid suspension immediately at that point in time.
For the Master's Degree Level all courses attempted at the Master's, Licensure, Certificate level will apply to the evaluation of Maximum Timeframe.
For the Doctorate Degree Level all courses attempted at the Education Specialist Degree and Doctorate Level will apply to the evaluation of the Maximum Timeframe. For example, if a degree program can normally be completed with 50 credit hours, a student's financial aid eligibility will be suspended once the student has attempted 75 credit hours, whether the student has attained the degree or not and all credits attempted at that level will be evaluated.
Attempted credits include all grades of "F", "R", "I", "W" and "NR". Repeated courses are counted as attempted credits each time they are attempted. All transfer credits accepted by the University of St. Thomas count as attempted credits.
This policy applies to all federal or state aid programs and institutional grants/scholarships administered by the Graduate Financial Aid Office. This does not apply to private educational loan programs if the lender does not require that the applicant be meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. Graduate Assistantships and departmental scholarships and grants are awarded at the discretion of the awarding department, and may be withdrawn if the student does not meet this satisfactory academic progress policy.
Academic progress will be monitored at the end of each of the following payment periods or terms (Fall semester, combined J-term/Spring Semester and Summer Term). The assessment will be based on the student's entire academic record at the University of St. Thomas, including all transfer credit hours accepted. All of a student's academic coursework within the degree level is considered in the review process, without regard to whether or not the student received financial aid for all terms. All courses attempted within the degree level (even if in a different academic program) will be considered. Admission to the University of St. Thomas or maintaining good academic standing as defined by individual graduate programs does not necessarily constitute maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress for financial aid purposes. A student's ability to remain in the academic program (without financial aid) is up to the individual academic program.
When a student is not meeting one or more standards of the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy they are placed into a warning status (eligible for financial aid during a warning status term) for their next term of enrollment. After this one term of warning status, if the student is still not meeting one or more standards of the SAP policy they are placed into a suspension status (ineligible for financial aid during a suspension status). A student who is placed into a suspension status is not eligible to receive financial aid until the student:
- Attains the required minimum standards of the SAP policy by successful completion of additional credits without benefit of financial aid; or
- Submits a financial aid appeal that is approved by the financial aid appeals committee. A student may be placed into a probationary status for one term only (eligible for financial aid during a probationary status term) and/or an academic plan for multiple terms if more than one term of probationary status is needed to achieve the SAP policy standards.
Students who have had eligibility for financial aid suspended due to not meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy may be allowed to submit the appropriate appeal form and supporting documentation to the Graduate Financial Aid Office for reconsideration. This option is available to students who have not previously submitted an appeal unless there are new and different extenuating circumstances. A discussion with the Director of Financial Aid for Graduate and Law Programs would be required to determine if a second appeal is possible. A complete appeal must be received no later than 45 days from the date of the suspension notice in order to be considered by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee.
For GPA and/or Percent Completion
To appeal, a student must follow the guidelines on the SAP Appeal - GPA and Percent Completion Appeal Form. Part of the appeal process includes submitting an explanation describing in detail the circumstances relating to their academic history. A student whose academic performance was affected by circumstances beyond his or her control including, but not limited to, personal or family accident, illness or crisis; death of a close family member; loss of employment or employment transition; or divorce, should include specific information about how those circumstances affected their ability to meet the satisfactory progress standards detailed in the University of St. Thomas policy. In addition, independently verifiable supporting documentation from a third party is required in most instances. Documentation may include a letter from a medical practitioner, lawyer, priest or pastor who is familiar with the student's circumstances; copies of bills; or copies of reports from government or local authorities. The documentation must contain the name and telephone number of a contact person in the event that the appeals committee wishes to confirm the authenticity of the documentation or to request additional information. Included in the appeal must be an explanation from the student what has changed in the student's situation that will allow them to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress after their next term of enrollment as well as an academic plan signed by an academic advisor that outlines (term by term) the student's plan to improve cumulative GPA and/or percent completion.
For Maximum Timeframe (reaching the maximum number of attempted credits allowed for a degree level)
To appeal, a student must follow the guidelines on the SAP Appeal - Maximum Completion Timeframe Appeal Form. Part of the appeal process includes submitting an explanation of the student's academic history as well as an academic plan signed by an academic advisor that outlines (term by term) the remaining coursework and credits required to fulfill the outcome (i.e. degree/licensure).
If the student submits a financial aid appeal and that appeal is approved, the student may be placed into a financial aid probationary status for one term only. A student will be eligible for financial aid during this probationary status term. Sometimes it is not possible for a student to achieve the minimum SAP standards at the conclusion of the one term of probationary status. It is at the discretion of the Financial Aid Appeals committee to consider a multiple term academic plan. A student must meet minimum requirements for each term as part of the academic plan to continue to be eligible for financial aid. Some examples of such requirements may include, but are not limited to: registering for fewer or more credits in an enrollment period; achieving a minimum GPA at the conclusion of the probationary term (this GPA might be a term-specific GPA that would indicate an upward movement in overall cumulative GPA); enrolling in certain courses and demonstrating academic success in each of those courses; enrolling in and completing all attempted courses (i.e. no I's, F's, NR's, W's).
The student will be sent a Financial Aid Probationary Status/Academic Plan Contract which will clearly stipulate the criteria the student must achieve. The student will have to sign and return the Financial Aid Probationary Status/Academic Plan Contract to the Graduate Financial Aid Office before any financial aid will be offered/reoffered or processed/reprocessed. If the student does not meet the terms of the contract, then the student will be placed into a financial aid suspension status and not eligible for financial aid until the student is back into full compliance with all standards of the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.
All decisions by the Financial Aid Appeals committee are emailed to the student's St. Thomas email and are final.
A student who has failed to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards will only be reinstated for financial aid eligibility when:
- The student's University of St. Thomas Transcript demonstrates that the student now meets all of the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards; and
- The student has a Financial Aid application (FAFSA) on file for the current award year.
The Graduate Financial Aid Office conducts reviews of the academic progress of all students. These reviews are conducted three times a year at the end of each payment period (i.e. fall semester, combined J-term/spring semester and summer term). The review takes place after the University Registrar completes their end of term processing schedule.
Because grades may not be available before the beginning of the next scheduled term, it is possible that financial aid may be disbursed to a student before the automated review can be conducted. In the event that a student is found to be ineligible for the financial aid that has been disbursed due to a failure to meet one of the Standards, the aid that was disbursed will be canceled, and returned to the appropriate program(s). If excess funds had been released to the student, the funds will be returned to the appropriate program(s) and the business office will collect those funds from the student. If the student successfully appeals and is granted a probationary period, the aid can be reoffered and reprocessed for that term, provided that the student is still enrolled on an at least half-time basis.
Students who have completed all of the requirements for a degree, and who have had the degree conferred by the University, and who return seeking a second concentration for the degree are not eligible for federal, state or institutional financial aid.
If a student has completed all of the requirements for a degree/licensure and the student has elected to pursue a second degree/licensure at that same degree level (i.e. do not advance to a higher degree level) it is very likely that the student would not be eligible for financial aid for the duration of their second degree. A student would be advised to consult with a financial aid counselor to review their academic plan for their second degree/licensure to determine what their options would be, if any, to finance that additional degree.
If a student has completed all of the requirements for a degree/licensure, and elects to pursue an advanced degree from the same graduate division, the student will be eligible for financial aid provided the student has met all of the Standards in pursuit of the prior degree. For purposes of this section, the calculation of the maximum timeframe standard will not consider any credits attempted in pursuit of the prior degree, unless those credits are accepted as transfer-in credits and apply to the additional degree. The overall GPA, however, is used for purposes of the SAP policy.
The following chart details the program specific terms for the individual academic programs. Students seeking a dual degree must meet the individual degree program GPAs for all attempted credits for each respective academic program to remain in compliance.
|College/Program||Degree||Minimum GPA Requirement|
|Business - Accountancy||MS||3.00|
|Business - Business Analytics||MS||2.70|
|Business - Business Communications||MBC||3.00|
|Business - Executive MBA||MBA||3.00|
|Business - Flex MBA Part Time||MBA||3.00|
|Business - Flex MBA Full Time||MBA||3.00|
|Business - Health Care MBA||MBA||3.00|
|Business - Real Estate||MS||3.00|
|Divinity - Theology||MA||3.00|
|Divinity - Pastoral Studies/Religious Education||MA||3.00|
|Divinity (Seminary)||M. Div.||2.30|
|Law (Master of Studies in Law)||MSL||3.00|
|Music - Music Education, Piano Pedagogy||MA; MS||2.70|