Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
The Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid (Undergraduate students)
Federal Regulations require UNCW to establish Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in the following three areas: cumulative GPA (qualitative), hours earned (quantitative), maximum time limit.
The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA) is responsible for establishing SAP standards and monitoring students’ progress at UNCW.
Financial aid recipients must maintain satisfactory progress in all three areas whether or not aid was received in the past. This requirement applies to all financial aid applicants and assesses all students equally, regardless of enrollment hour status (full-time, part-time, etc.). It is the student’s responsibility to stay informed of UNCW’s SAP standards and to monitor their own progress. Graduate students should see SAP in the graduate catalogue.
Financial Aid Programs Affected by This Policy: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (National SMART Grant), Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Federal PLUS Loans and Federal Work-Study. This also includes North Carolina’s State Scholarship and Grant Programs and UNCW’s scholarship and grant programs.
Frequency of Evaluation: Financial aid satisfactory academic progress is monitored at the conclusion of each term. If a student is academically suspended between monitoring periods, the student’s eligibility for financial aid is suspended and must be reassessed by OSFA at the time the student is readmitted to UNCW.
Reinstatement of Eligibility: Eligibility may be regained only by remedying all deficiencies (except the maximum time limit). In rare cases, exceptions are granted through a formal appeal (See Reinstatement of Financial Aid Eligibility and Appeals sections).
Qualitative Measure Defined (Cumulative GPA)
The qualitative measure can be summarized as a student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) measured once a year at the completion of spring semester. Financial aid is suspended if the qualitative measurement is not met. The minimum GPA required may be found within the Minimum Cumulative GPA Required for Financial Aid chart that follows.
UNDERGRADUATE MINIMUM CUMULATIVE GPA
REQUIRED FOR FINANCIAL AID
Total Quality Hours Plus
Cumulative Grade Point
46 or more
Cumulative GPA Required for Graduate Students, 3.0, as described in Graduate Retention Policy
Quantitative Measure Defined: (Hours Earned Compared to Hours Attempted)
The quantitative measure for all students can be summarized as the total number of credit hours successfully completed divided by the total number of credit hours actually attempted. This includes grades of A, B, C, D, F, I, IP, W, WF, NR, Z and P.
Students must complete 75 percent of all attempted hours, including transfer hours.
It is recommended students attempt to earn at least 31 hours per academic year in order to graduate in four years.
For financial aid purposes, the following definitions and conditions apply:
- To earn hours at UNCW, one must receive a grade of A, B, C, or D (including “+” or “-“). All other grades, including F, I, W, WF, WP, Z or AU do not earn hours.
- Classes from which a student withdraws after the drop/add period count as attempted but not earned hours. Therefore, withdrawing from classes after the drop/add period negatively affects students’ ability to satisfy the hours earned standard. (Also see Policy on Return of Title IV Funds)
- Financial aid recipients should report grade changes to the OSFA in order to reassess financial aid eligibility.
- When students repeat a course, the total attempted hours increase with each repeat, but the student may only earn hours for each successfully completed course once. Therefore, repeating courses may negatively affect students’ ability to meet the SAP standard and complete 75 percent of attempted hours.
- Audited hours (AU) do not count toward graduation and students may not receive financial aid for audited courses.
- Accepted transfer credit counts as both attempted and earned hours.
Maximum Time Limit
A student is expected to complete a degree/certificate program within a prescribed time frame. There are maximum total accumulated attempted credit hour time frame restrictions to receiving financial aid. Financial aid is suspended if the maximum time frame for the student’s program is exceeded.
The longer a student stays in school, the more likely the chances of not meeting the satisfactory academic progress policy because of maximum time limit.
To remain eligible for federal and state financial aid, undergraduate students must complete their degree requirements within 150 percent of the published length of their academic program. At UNCW, this means that students in programs requiring 124 hours for graduation are eligible for financial aid during the first 186 attempted hours as an undergraduate. All attempted hours are counted, including transfer hours, whether or not financial aid was received, or the course work was successfully completed. This also applies to students admitted under the five-year rule since their attempted hours include hours attempted during prior enrollment. Students who are attempting a double major are still required to complete one of the degrees within 186 hours. UNCW institutional aid is no longer available when the student has attempted 140 hours and the state surcharge is imposed.
Reinstatement of Financial Aid Eligibility
Financial aid eligibility may be regained by eliminating all satisfactory academic progress deficiencies (at the student’s expense) until the requirements of this policy are met, or by appealing their satisfactory academic progress status. The sections following describe the areas a student is required to remedy in order to regain financial aid eligibility. Students who do not enroll for a semester, or pay for school at their own expense, do not automatically qualify to receive financial aid in a subsequent semester. The terms and conditions of the Satisfactory Academic Policy must be met.
Cumulative GPA’s can only be brought up by class attendance at UNCW or UNCW off-campus programs where UNCW credit is earned.
- Hours Earned deficiencies may be made up by successfully completing coursework at UNCW or at another institution. However, students who are enrolling elsewhere must complete the Transient Study Form and have the coursework approved by UNCW prior to enrolling in the other institution. After transient study coursework has been successfully completed, students must provide an academic transcript to the UNCW Registrar’s Office.
Once students are in compliance with all three standards, they must notify the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid in writing to request an evaluation of eligibility. This process cannot be completed until all grades and hours are posted to the student’s official record at UNCW. No financial aid award is calculated until after the review process is complete. Evaluation cannot occur until after changes are due for the upcoming term; therefore, an award letter or deferment of charges may not be available for the semester the student regains eligibility. The student should make other arrangements to pay for tuition, fees, room, board, and all other expenses.
- Maximum Time Frame: Once the time limit has been exceeded, aid eligibility ends, even if the student is in compliance with the other two standards. Federal regulations do not allow an appeal for students who have attempted more than 150 percent of program requirements.
Federal regulations allow for certain cases in which the school may waive the standards. Appeals for the waiver may be considered if a student’s failure to comply with one or more areas of Satisfactory Academic Progress is due to events beyond the student’s control, such as a student’s extended illness, serious illness or death in the immediate family or other significant life experience that impacted the student’s emotional and/or physical health, and if such mitigating circumstances can be appropriately documented for the specific term(s) in which the deficiency occurred. Eligibility may be regained by appeal. Contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid to obtain a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal Form. SAP appeals are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Appeals Procedure. Appeals (professional judgment) are the only mechanism available to correct unresolved SAP deficiencies. All appeals shall be documented using the current form.
Some appeals may be approved for a probationary term. If this is the case, the student may be required to sign a contract that specifies conditions necessary to be eligible for the following term. These conditions may include:
- Minimum GPA requirement;
- A minimum number of hours to be taken; and/or
- Corrective measures to enhance a student’s success.
The contract states the consequences of failure to meet those requirements.
SAP Warning. Students who do not meet SAP for the first time are given an automatic warning and do not need to appeal. Academic progress is checked at the end of each semester. If the student meets academic progress at the end of the following semester no action needs to be taken. If the student is not making academic progress at the end of the following semester, they are ineligible for financial aid. The student may appeal submitting documentation explaining the reason for their failure to meet academic progress. If the appeal is approved, the student may be required to submit an academic plan and sign a contract. In the event the appeal is not approved, the student is responsible for institutional charges.
SAP Appeals Committee. Student appeals for reinstatement of financial aid eligibility are reviewed by an appeals committee. The student does not meet with the Appeals Committee. All correspondence with the student is conducted by mail. The Appeals Committee is the final authority in determining whether financial aid is extended or denied a student. The committee communicates its decision to the student by mail. The committee’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for Graduate Students
Federal regulations require that students receiving financial aid maintain satisfactory academic progress from both qualitative and quantitative measures--cumulative GPA, hours earned compared to hours attempted and maximum time limit. For graduate students, Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards regarding GPA are the same as the standards established by the UNCW Graduate School (see Retention Policy under Academic Regulations) for continued enrollment. To remain eligible for financial aid, graduate students must earn at least 75% of all attempted hours.
Satisfactory Academic Progress and eligibility for financial aid are determined
each academic year after spring semester grades are available.
Federal regulations allow for certain cases wherein, the school may waive the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. Specifically, if a student's failure to be in compliance with one or more areas of Satisfactory Academic Progress is due to events beyond the student's control, the student may appeal to the Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid (OSFA). These events may include a student's extended illness, serious illness or death in the immediate family, or other significant trauma. These mitigating circumstances must be appropriately documented for specific term(s) in which the deficiency occurred. Eligibility may be regained by appeal. Contact the OSFA to obtain a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal form.