December 6, 2023

Policy: Satisfactory Academic Progress for Title IV Students

Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for Title IV Students

Term Programs

Federal regulations require CSU to establish and apply reasonable standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for eligible students to receive financial assistance under the programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act. CSU students who wish to be considered for financial aid must:

  • Be in good standing at the university and
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in their program of study as set forth in this policy.

SAP is an eligibility requirement and is administered by the university in addition to the academic standards of performance required under the CSU Academic Progress Policy. The SAP policy is reviewed annually by the Office of Financial Aid.

Students are evaluated for SAP at the end of every payment period, which is equivalent to eight weeks of instruction. All students are evaluated on three standards: grade point average (qualitative measure), pace of completion (quantitative measure), and maximum timeframe. To maintain eligibility under SAP, students must meet all three standards.

Standard 1: Grade Point Average (Qualitative Measure)

Students must maintain a minimum qualitative measure of progress defined as the cumulative GPA. The requirements are listed below:

• Students in undergraduate programs must maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA.

• Students in graduate programs must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA

Standard 2: Pace of Completion (Quantitative Measure)

Students (either full-time or part-time) must achieve a passing rate of at least 67 percent of all hours attempted. Hours attempted include completed courses, repeated courses, withdrawals, and incompletes. Transfer credit, if applicable, is also calculated in the pace of completion.

Standard 3: Maximum Timeframe

Students must complete their degree program within 150 percent of the semester hour requirements for the degree. Students must complete an associate degree within 90 semester hours, a bachelor’s degree within 180 semester hours, a master’s degree within 54 semester hours and a doctoral degree within 92 semester hours. Students who are unable to complete their degree program within the timeframe limitation will no longer be eligible to use federal student aid to cover any costs associated with completing their degree program. Transfer credit, if applicable, is also calculated in the maximum timeframe calculation.

Maximum timeframe is measured cumulatively for students pursuing multiple degrees at the same degree level. For example, a student pursuing a second bachelor’s degree with CSU is subject to the 150 percent maximum time frame requirement for obtaining the second bachelor’s degree.

SAP Policy Notification

Students are notified of the SAP policy in the CSU catalog, website and during the initial financial aid application process. All periods of enrollment at CSU are calculated in SAP, including periods of enrollment during which a student did not receive financial aid. Cumulative GPAs are calculated using grades earned at CSU.

Transfer Credits

Transfer credits accepted toward the student’s degree program will be included when calculating the SAP maximum timeframe and quantitative progress. This includes credit for English as a Second Language (ESL) and remedial courses, if accepted toward the degree program.

Repeated Courses

Students receiving Title IV Aid may repeat a course, as allowed under CSU academic policy. Repeated courses will count toward the quantitative and maximum timeframe SAP standards.

Incomplete Grades

Students receiving federal student aid may receive incomplete grades, as allowed under CSU academic policy. Incomplete grades will count toward the qualitative, quantitative and maximum timeframe standards of SAP. Students who do not complete course requirements after an incomplete grade is assigned will receive a course grade based on the assignments completed with zeroes being assigned for non-completed assignments.

Change of Program

Generally, all periods of enrollment count when assessing satisfactory academic progress. All attempted hours will be included in satisfactory academic progress determination when a student changes degree programs (majors) at the same degree level (e.g. Bachelor’s to Bachelor’s).

SAP Evaluation

SAP is evaluated after every payment period. Students who fail to meet SAP standards will be placed on SAP Warning for one payment period and will be expected to work with their academic advisor to discuss enrollment options. Students placed on a SAP Warning will be sent an email notification from the Office of Financial Aid. A Warning period lasts for one payment period during which a student is eligible to receive federal student aid.

Students on SAP Warning status who fail to meet SAP standards at the end of their Warning period will not be eligible to receive federal student aid unless they successfully appeal and are placed on SAP Probation.

Appeal Guidelines

Students not meeting SAP at the end of a Warning period may appeal if they have extenuating circumstances, such as injury or illness, the death of a relative, or other special circumstances. The appeal must explain why the student was not able to make satisfactory academic progress during the period of substandard academic performance and what has changed that will allow a student to meet satisfactory academic progress requirements at the next evaluation. Appeals will not be considered without supporting documentation.

Appeals should be in writing and addressed to: Columbia Southern University, SAP Appeals Committee, Office of the Registrar, 21982 University Lane, Orange Beach, AL 36561. Appeal letters should include reasons for failing to meet SAP standards, supporting documentation, and a plan of action describing what has changed that will allow a student to meet SAP standards at the next evaluation. The committee will make every effort to consider each appeal carefully and provide a decision within seven to 10 business days.

SAP Probation

Appeals that are approved will result in a student being placed on SAP Probation, and will require collaboration with the assigned academic advisor to develop an academic plan that will lead to successful degree completion. While on SAP Probation, students will continue to be evaluated for SAP at the end of each payment period to ensure the student is meeting the standards of the academic plan. If the student is meeting the requirements of the academic plan, the student is eligible to receive Title IV as long as the student continues to meet those requirements.

Reestablishing Aid Eligibility

To regain eligibility for federal financial aid, a student must do ALL of the following:

  • Successfully complete a minimum of 12 semester hours in undergraduate program or 6 semester hours in graduate program at Columbia Southern University without using federal student aid;
  • Complete 100 percent of attempted semester hours; and
  • Meet quantitative, qualitative and maximum time frame standards.

Students who satisfy the above requirements must contact the Office of Financial Aid to request reinstatement.