Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy
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 must ensure that students successfully complete sufficient credits and make progress to complete their studies within a reasonable period of time as well as maintain a minimum cumulative GPA. The University of St. Thomas is committed to ensuring that graduate and professional students are successful in completing their degree programs. Students who are not meeting the SAP criteria may be placed on financial aid probation and eventual suspension from receiving financial aid.
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);
- Successfully complete a minimum of 67% of all hours attempted at the University of St. Thomas; and
- Complete their program of study/degree within a maximum number of attempted credits allowed by their degree level--referred to as Maximum Completion Timeframe.
These standards are collectively referred to as the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards.
- Academic Plan: A plan developed by the institution and the student 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 institution's satisfactory academic progress standards petitions the institution for reconsideration of the student's eligibility for financial aid.
- Attempted Credit: An attempted credit includes all credits for which you are registered at the beginning of the semester. Any attempted credits that are subsequently canceled and removed from your transcript are still considered an attempted credit 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 you have earned toward your degree divided by the cumulative number of the credits you have attempted while enrolled in your program 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 aid programs which are administered by the University of St. Thomas Graduate Financial Aid Office.
- Financial Aid Warning: A status assigned to a student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress at an institution that evaluates academic progress at the end of each payment period (i.e. semester/term).
- Financial Aid Probation: A status assigned to a student who has successfully appeals to the financial aid appeals committee and has been allowed financial aid with specific criteria that must be met by the next review period. 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 to the financial aid appeals committee with the specified criteria that must be met by the next review period. This contract must be signed and returned by the student before any financial aid will be awarded/processed during the Financial Aid Probationary period.
- Good Standing: Meeting or exceeding each of the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards.
- Maximum Completion 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.
- Second Concentration: Returning after conferral of the degree to pursue a second major designation for the degree.
- Second Degree: Returning after conferral of a first degree in a program to complete the requirements for a second or subsequent degree in the same program.
- Unsatisfactory Grades: Grades of "F", "R", "I", 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 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", and "W". Failure to maintain a minimum 67% completion rate will result in a warning for the next term. Failure to bring the overall completion rate equal to or above the minimum 67% by the end of the "warning" term will result in the student being ineligible to receive financial aid, including all student loans, until the student raises his or her overall completion rate to at least 67%.
Graduate and professional students must 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.
For the Master's Degree Level all courses attempted at the Master's, Licensure, Certificate level will apply to the evaluation of Maximum Completion 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 Completion 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", "W" and "I". 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.
Every financial aid applicant's academic progress will be monitored at the end of each of the following terms (Fall semester, 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 as to whether or not the student received financial aid for the term(s). 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.
Students who are not in compliance with all aspects of the SAP policy are considered to be in an unsatisfactory status. A student whose status is determined to be unsatisfactory is not eligible to receive financial aid, including student loans, until the student:
- Attains the required minimum standards by successful completion of additional credits without benefit of financial aid, or
- Is granted probationary standing for a limited period of time by successfully appealing the determination of loss of financial aid eligibility, or
- Attains the required minimum standards by the end of the probationary period.
Students who have had eligibility for financial aid suspended due to not meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy may submit the appropriate appeal form and supporting documentation to the Graduate Financial Aid Office for reconsideration. A complete appeal must be received no later than 45 days from the date of supsension 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 Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress 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 his or her 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 him or her to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress at the next evaluation period as well as an academic plan signed by an academic advisor that outlines (semester by semester) the student's plan to improve cumulative GPA and/or percent completion.
For Maximum Completion Timeframe (reaching the maximum number of attempted credits allowed for a degree level)
To appeal, a student must follow the guidelines on the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress 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 (semester by semester) the remaining coursework and credits required to fulfill the outcome (i.e. degree/licensure).
If the student's appeal is granted, the student will be put into a Financial Aid Probation status and will be eligible for financial aid during this probationary status period. The student will be sent a Financial Aid Probationary Status Contract which will clearly stipulate what criteria the student must achieve at the end of the next review period. The student will have to sign and return the contract to the Graduate Financial Aid Office before any financial aid will be awarded/processed. If the student does not meet the terms of the contract then the student will be placed back into 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 without the benefit of financial aid.
Sometimes it is not mathematically possible for a student on financial aid probation to achieve minimum SAP standards at the conclusion of one payment period. It is at the discretion of the Financial Aid Appeals committee to consider a long-range (i.e. multiple term) academic plan with appropriate check points and milestones to be achieved by the student. Examples of elements which may be considered in a student's academic plan may include but not be limited to: registering for fewer or more credits in an enrollment period; achieving a minimum GPA at the conclusion of the probationary period (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, W's).
All decisions by the Financial Aid Appeals committee are mailed to the permanent home address of the student 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 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 the fall semester, spring semester and summer term. The review takes place after the University Registrar completes their end of term processing schedule. For programs that do not operate on a normal academic schedule, we develop projections of when grades are expected to be posted and conduct reviews at that time for students in those programs.
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 the student successfully appeals and is granted a probationary period, the aid can be reinstated 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/certificate/licensure and the student has elected to pursue a second degree/certificate/licensure the student may receive financial aid for pursuit of this second degree/certificate/licensure up until they have reached the maximum timeframe with respect to the number of credits allowed for a degree/certificate/licensure (i.e. MA in Education = 53 credits) For example, a student who earned an MA in Education by attempting 35 credits may receive an additional 18 credits worth of eligibility for financial aid for pursuit of a second degree/certificate/licensure. (53-35=18.) A student may appeal this maximum timeframe by using the appeal process described. All decisions of the Financial Aid Appeals Committee are final.
If a student has completed all of the requirements for a degree/certificate/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, will be 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.
|Business - Accountancy||MS||47||3.00|
|Business - Business Analytics||MS||45||2.70|
|Business - Business Communications||MBC||63||3.00|
|Business - Executive MBA||MBA||75||3.00|
|Business - Flex MBA Part Time||MBA||68||3.00|
|Business - Flex MBA Full Time||MBA||81||3.00|
|Business - Health Care MBA||MBA||81||3.00|
|Business - Real Estate||MS||59||3.00|
|Divinity - Theology||MA||54||3.00|
|Divinity - Pastoral Studies/Religious Education||MA||63||3.00|
|Divinity (Seminary)||M. Div.||192||2.30|
|Law (Master of Studies in Law)||MSL||45||3.00|
|Music - Music Education, Piano Pedagogy||MA; MS||50||2.70|