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Satisfactory Academic Progress

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Federal Financial Aid

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policies

Effective July 1, 2011

The Office of Financial Aid has established the following policies and procedures stated to fulfill the requirements expressed in the Higher Education Act (HEA) as revised for the 2011-12 academic year. The College’s Federal Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress policy and procedures are reviewed when changes at the federal or institutional level require review to ensure compliance with Federal Regulations. All Franklin & Marshall College students applying for Title IV federal financial aid must meet the criteria stated hereafter regardless of whether or not they previously received federal financial aid.

Policy Requirements – The HEA revised section 668 contains updated regulations concerning Satisfactory Academic Progress. Section 668 requires that an institution establish, publish, and enforce reasonable standards for measuring a student’s ability to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. Such standards must meet the following qualifications: 

·         Contain standards that are the same as or stricter than the institution’s standards for a student enrolled in the same educational program who is not receiving assistance under a Title IV, HEA program.

·         Include both a qualitative (grade-based) element and a quantitative (time-based) element.

·         Evaluate student progress in both elements annually, at a minimum.

·         Provide specific procedures under which a student may appeal a determination that the student is not making satisfactory progress including documentation of extenuating circumstances.

·         Provide specific procedures for a student to re-establish that he or she is maintaining “satisfactory progress.”

·         Describe the pace at which a student must progress toward a degree to complete degree requirements within the allowed timeframe providing measurement at each evaluation.

·         Describe how GPA and pace of completion are affected by transfer credits.

·         Require that if the student is not making satisfactory academic progress, the student is no longer eligible to receive aid.

·         Notify students of the results of the evaluation at the end of each increment as to whether the student has met the qualitative and quantitative components if it impacts their eligibility for Title IV, HEA program funds.

·         Define terms used in discussing the evaluation of satisfactory academic progress including the terms appeal, probation, academic plan, and maximum timeframe.

·         Provide for consistent application of standards to all students within categories of students, e.g., full-time, part-time.

 The federal programs governed by these regulations are:

Federal Pell Grant, Federal Work-Study (FWS), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS).

SAP Components

Satisfactory Academic Progress standards include three components:

·          Maximum Time Frame (MTF) within which a degree must be granted

·          Pace – Quantitative (time based) Measure

·          Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) – Qualitative (grade based) Measure

The following provide detailed information regarding the evaluation of the three components required in the review of SAP.

Maximum Time Frame (MTF)

Maximum Time Frame is defined as the required length of time it will take a student to complete a degree program based on the appropriate enrollment status. Federal regulations allow a student to be eligible to receive federal aid up to 150% of the time that it would normally take to complete a degree. All course credits in which a student enrolls or transfers to the College are included in the maximum time frame calculation, regardless of the number of degrees a student chooses to obtain. Grades that are considered course credit hours attempted and completed in the calculation of maximum time frame include: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F,NP,W,NG.

The maximum time frame is calculated for aid applicants regardless of whether or not they previously received federal financial aid. All hours attempted are considered when determining the maximum time frame calculation for earning a degree. Proper withdrawal from classes or a class during the Drop/Add (“withdraw-without-record” period which is typically 13 calendar days after the start of the semester) will not affect maximum time frame.

For a student, 150% of the course credit hours that it would normally take to complete a Baccalaureate Degree is 48 course credit hours. This is determined by multiplying 32 course credit hours required for graduation by 150%. For a student seeking a degree, the student may remain eligible through 48 course credit hours attempted of enrollment. If the 48 course credit hours maximum time frame limit is exceeded while pursuing a degree, a student is no longer eligible for federal financial aid.

Required Pace (Quantitative Measure)

Cumulative Course Credits Hours Attempted

% Completion Rate of Course Credit Hours Attempted

Less than or equal to 8




Greater than 16


Definition of Attempted Hours:

·         The hours for which the student is registered at the end of the Drop/Add period.

·         All transfer hours

·         All hours are included, even if the student did not receive financial assistance during these time periods.

Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average GPA (Qualitative Measure)

Students must also satisfy the qualitative portion of the Federal SAP regulations by maintaining the minimum cumulative GPA accepted by Franklin & Marshall as described below. The award year begins with the fall semester and ends with the spring semester.

Cumulative Course Credits Earned

Minimum Cumulative GPA



More than 4 to 8


More than 8-12


More than 12 to 16


More than 16-20


Greater than 20



When calculating grade point average and credits attempted vs. credits earned, the following conditions apply:

·         Transfer credits will be included in course credits attempted and earned. Grades received for transfer credits will not be computed in the cumulative grade point average.

·         Progress will be reviewed once the temporary grade of I (Incomplete) or NG (No Grade) has been replaced with an official grade.

·         Repeated courses will count as attempted – the higher grade will be used to calculate the GPA.

·         A grade of P (Pass) counts toward credits attempted and earned, but is not calculated in the GPA.

·         A grade of NP counts toward credits attempted, but is not calculated in the GPA.

·         A grade of W (Withdrawal) counts as credits attempted, but is not calculated in the GPA.

·         A grade of WF (Withdrawal with a grade of F) counts as credits attempted and will count as an F when calculating the GPA.

·         Proper withdrawal from a class prior to the end of the Drop/Add period will not affect the cumulative GPA.


SAP Notification

Students will be notified at a minimum once a year of the results of the annual SAP review if their eligibility for Title IV program funds has been impacted and will be sent the following letter via email.

A letter will be sent to students who have failed to meet, at least, one component of SAP. Students found to be deficient in GPA, Pace, and/or MTF after the annual review are considered ineligible for all forms of federal financial aid during the subsequent award year. Aid can only be reinstated through a successful, documented appeal or by resolving all deficiencies.

SAP Appeal

Federal regulations do not require that a school allow students an opportunity to appeal an unsatisfactory status. Franklin & Marshall College has chosen to exercise the ability to use professional judgment and entertain appeals for reinstatement of aid for no more than one term of probation during their education.

The SAP Appeal process provides for a student who is not meeting the College’s Federal financial aid academic progress policy to petition the College for reconsideration of their federal financial aid eligibility. Students are evaluated annually at the close of the spring semester. At this time, any student not meeting any of the Federal SAP components will be ineligible for further federal financial aid. Students may submit an appeal to be considered for reinstatement of federal financial aid on a probationary status of no more than one semester in order to resolve all deficiencies. Per Federal Regulations, Franklin & Marshall College may only consider appeals based on the death of a relative, an injury or illness of the student, or other extreme circumstance. Appeals must provide documentation detailing the circumstances on which the appeal is based. Appeals must also specify why the student failed to satisfy federal SAP requirements and their plan to satisfy SAP requirements by the end of their next semester.

A students whose appeal is accepted, but for whom it would be mathematically impossible to resolve all SAP deficiencies after one semester of attendance, will be placed on an Academic Plan which gives more flexibility in federal financial aid reinstatement and with the end goal being to resolve all SAP deficiencies. An academic plan varies in length and is determined by the Financial Aid SAP Committee. It does not have to equate to the exact number of terms it would take a student to resolve all deficiencies. Students granted aid eligibility through an academic plan may receive aid for up to one year before conducting a review of the student’s performance. If the student is meeting the criteria identified in the SAP appeal approval at the annual review, the student’s academic plan may be extended.


Per federal regulations, only appeals documenting specific circumstances will be considered for approval. Only appeals that document the following reasons will be considered:

·         Serious physical or mental illness of the student

·         Serious physical or mental illness of the student’s immediate family member

·         Death of the student’s immediate family member

·         Other extreme circumstances

If the appeal is not submitted for one of these reasons, it will automatically be denied and will not be heard by the Financial Aid SAP Committee. If the appeal is submitted based on an approved circumstance, but does not provide documentation of said circumstance(s), the student will be contacted and requested to provide the documentation. If the appeal is complete and all necessary documentation is provided, the appeal will be received by the Financial Aid SAP Committee. Students may only submit one appeal per academic career.

There is no secondary appeal process. If an appeal is denied, students can only be reinstated for federal financial aid eligibility if they satisfy all SAP deficiencies. If an appeal is approved and the student does not fulfill the conditions of his or her probation or academic plan, the student will not be eligible for federal financial aid for any future semesters during their academic career unless the student satisfies all SAP deficiencies.

SAP Probation is the status assigned to a student who fails to satisfy SAP requirements and who has successfully appealed and had their academic eligibility for federal financial aid reinstated.  Reinstatement of aid during this probationary period may be no longer than one semester. Future semesters of probation will be determined based on the student’s performance during each probationary term. Unless otherwise specified, students must maintain the minimum cumulative GPA required (as noted above) and must meet the PACE (quantitative standards) to be extended for the subsequent semester. Students on SAP Probation for timeframe will be reviewed to determine if the academic plan (timetable) is currently being followed and future enrollment is following this plan.

At the end of each semester, all students who were on probation or an academic plan during their most recent semester of attendance will be reviewed to determine whether or not the student maintained the minimum cumulative GPA and MCP and/or the MTF academic plan is being followed. If a student fails to meet the criteria, the student loses federal financial aid eligibility. It will not be reinstated unless the student satisfies all SAP deficiencies at the end of the evaluation period. Notification of the semester probation review will be sent to students.

Reinstatement occurs when a student has removed all SAP deficiencies acquired during all periods of enrollment or caused by transfer credits and their federal financial aid eligibility for academic reasons is restored. Reinstatement is not a status granted in regard to an appeal. Students who regain eligibility by resolving all deficiencies will be identified during the annual SAP review. After eligibility has been established, any aid will depend upon the availability of funds and other aid eligibility criteria.