Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy – Graduate and Professional Students

Federal regulations require educational institutions to establish a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy for determining if an otherwise eligible financial aid applicant or recipient is making satisfactory academic progress in his or her education program.  If he or she is doing so, the student may receive assistance from the Federal Student Aid (FSA) programs.

State of Georgia Financial Aid Programs regulations require applicants and recipients to meet the SAP criteria established for Federal Student Aid (FSA) as does OSFA need-based aid.

SAP consists of two components of measurement: quantity and quality. The University of Georgia (UGA) Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) checks SAP at the end of every semester and prior to awarding aid.  Students are no longer eligible for federal and State of Georgia financial aid or OSFA need-based aid once it is determined they are no longer meeting both SAP measurement components.

Financial aid applicants and recipients who were previously maintaining SAP but are identified as failing to maintain either the Minimum 67% Pace of Completion or the Measurement of Quality will be placed on Financial Aid Warning status for one semester of enrollment.  Students who have reached or exceeded their Maximum Total Attempted Hours or are identified as being unable to complete their degree prior to reaching their Maximum Allowable Total Attempted Hours are not eligible for the one semester on Financial Aid Warning and immediately lose their financial aid eligibility.

Graduate and Professional SAP Policy

Measurement of Quantity:

Minimum 67% Pace of Completion

Graduate and Professional students must successfully complete a minimum of 67% of their Total Attempted Hours

Example of a 67% Minimum Pace of Completion Calculation:

UGA Attempted Hours

  30

Transfer Hours Accepted

  +6

Total Attempted Hours

=36

Total Successfully Completed Hours

  24

24 successfully completed hours/36 attempted hours = a .6666 (or 66.66%) Pace of Completion which is less than 67%; therefore, this student is not making SAP.

Maximum Total Attempted Hours:

Graduate and Professional students are not considered to be making SAP once their Total Attempted Hours reach the maximum number permitted for their degree program, or it is apparent they will be unable to complete their degree before reaching the Maximum Total Attempted Hours permitted for the program.

Master’s or Specialist Degree Programs:

The maximum number of Total Attempted Hours permitted students pursuing a master’s or specialist degree is 102, and

Students with Maximum Total Attempted Hours between 90-101 must be graduating at the end of the next semester of enrollment in order to be making SAP during that semester.

Doctoral and Professional Degree Programs:

The maximum number of Total Attempted Hours permitted students pursuing the following programs are:

Doctoral:  280.5

Law J.D.:  132

Law LL.M.:  36

Law M.S.L.:  45

Pharm.D.:  312

D.V.M.:  265.5

In addition, should it is apparent a student will be unable to complete his or her degree before reaching the applicable maximum number of Total Attempted Hours, the student will no longer be considered to be making SAP.

Measurement of Quality:

Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA)

Students must maintain a cumulative GPA equal to or above the following minimum GPA on all coursework applicable to their degree level.

All graduate and professional programs other than those listed below must maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA:

Law JD:  minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA

Law LLM and MSL:  minimum 2.7 cumulative GPA

Pharmacy PharmD:  minimum 2.0  cumulative GPA

DVM:  2.2 minimum cumulative GPA

Student Dismissal:

Students dismissed from a graduate of professional program are not considered to be making SAP.

Dual/Joint Graduate/Professional Degrees:

All requirements for the degrees, including the thesis/dissertation and final oral/written examination, must be completed within the maximum timeframe permitted for the degree program comprised of the greater number of credit hours.

Additional Professional and Graduate Degrees:

Students who have graduated with a masters, doctoral or professional degree who wish to pursue another degree at the same level are still limited to the number of Maximum Total Attempted Hours applicable to a single degree at the same level.

Example A:  Student had 71 Total Attempted Hours when she earns her MBA.  She is now pursuing a Master in the Study of Law (M.S.L.).  Since her Total Attempted Hours already exceed the 45 Total Attempted Hours permitted for the M.S.L., she is not considered to be making SAP.  She needs to review the SAP Appeal Policy & Procedures.  The measurement of the student’s Minimum 67% Pace of Completion and Measurement of Quality continue to be based on her Total Attempted Hours.

Example B:  A student who previously pursued a doctoral degree now wishes to pursue either a different doctoral or a professional degree. The student attempted 74 doctoral level hours pursuing the previous degree, so he has accrued 74 Total Attempted Hours at the doctoral level.  The maximum number of Total Attempted Hours permitted students pursuing a doctoral degree is 280.5; therefore, the student has 206.5 (280.5 minus 74) doctoral or professional level hours he can attempt before reaching his Maximum Total Attempted Hours (150%).  The 74 hours will also be included in calculating the student’s Minimum 67% Pace of Completion and overall cumulative GPA.

Study Abroad/Student Exchange/Consortium Courses:

Hours based on enrollment in Study Abroad, Student Exchange or approved consortium courses are counted toward Total Attempted Hours.

These courses will not count as Successfully Completed Hours until the applicable academic transcript reflecting successful completion is received by the appropriate graduate school and grades are entered into Athena.

Students should contact the UGA Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) once Study Abroad, Student Exchange or Consortium grades are entered so OSFA can determine if the student now meets the Minimum 67% Pace of Completion.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Evaluation Process:

SAP is evaluated at the end of every semester. After grades are posted, OSFA e-mails all financial aid recipients informing them of the need to review their SAP status on Athena, which either informs them they are maintaining SAP or provides the reason(s) for their failure to maintain SAP.  Those students not maintaining SAP are informed of the specific SAP standard(s) not being met and provided a link to the SAP Appeals Policy & Procedures.

Financial Aid Warning:

Financial Aid Warning status is defined by federal regulation and cannot be altered or modified.

Financial aid applicants and recipients who were previously maintaining SAP but are identified as failing to maintain either the Minimum 67% Pace of Completion or the Measurement of Quality will be automatically placed on Financial Aid Warning status for one semester of enrollment.

Although students placed on Financial Aid Warning status are no longer making SAP, they are still eligible to receive any federal or state financial aid for which they are otherwise eligible during their one semester on Financial Aid Warning.

All financial aid awarded for any semesters subsequent to the Financial Aid Warning semester will be cancelled.

Students who have been placed on Financial Aid Warning due to their failure to meet the Minimum 67% Pace of Completion and/or the Measurement of Quality will retain their financial aid eligibility if, at the end of their Financial Aid Warning semester, they are again meeting both of these requirements. Previously cancelled aid for which they are otherwise eligible will be reinstated. See "How to Regain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) on Your Own".

Students who have either exceeded their Maximum Total Attempted Hours or cannot regain SAP on their own during their Financial Aid Warning semester should skip the following section and read the SAP Appeal Policy and Procedures.

How to Regain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) on Your Own

This option applies only to those students not maintaining the Minimum 67% Pace of Completion and/or the Measurement of Quality.  This is not an option for students who are nearing or have reached their Maximum Allowable Total Attempted Hours.

Jack is not making SAP

How Jack regained SAP

He is pursuing a Masters in History and has not Successfully Completed 67% of his Total Attempted Hours. 

He has now earned 67% of his Total Attempted Hours

At the end of fall Semester OSFA reviews Jack's SAP status. He has a 3.2 Overall GPA, but has successfully completed only 48 of 73 Total Attempted Hours, which is a 48.91% Pace of Completion.  Jack must enroll in and successfully complete enough hours during his Financial Aid Warning semester so that when those hours are added to his prior successfully completed 48 hours and 73 Total Attempted Hours, his Pace of Completion will equal or exceed 67%. If he does not accomplish this, he will not be eligible for financial aid during future semesters until such time he is either in compliance with the 67% Pace of Completion requirement, or he submits an appeal to OSFA that is subsequently approved.

During Jack’s Financial Aid Warning semester he enrolled in 12 hours and successfully completed 10 hours.  His Overall GPA is 3.15.  He now has 85 Total Attempted Hours and 58 Successfully Completed Hours. Since 58 Successfully Completed Hours divided by 85 Total Attempted Hours equals 68.23%, Jack is now making SAP because he is meeting the Minimum 67% Pace of Completion; the Measurement of Quality, and has not exceeded his Maximum Allowable Total Attempted Hours.

Jill is not making SAP

How Jill failed to regain SAP

She is pursuing an MBA and is not meeting the minimum 3.0 Overall Grade Point Average (GPA) Measurement of Quality.

Jill’s Overall GPA is still less than 3.0.

At the end of spring semester, Jill is successfully completing 92% of her Total Attempted Hours, but she does not have a 3.0 overall GPA.  During her Financial Aid Warning semester she must earn the grades necessary to raise her overall cumulative GPA to at least a 3.0. If she does not, she will not be eligible for financial aid during future semesters until either she is again in compliance with the 3.0 cumulative GPA Measurement of Quality, or she submits an appeal to OSFA that is subsequently approved.

At the end of Jill's Financial Aid Warning semester she has a 2.98 overall GPA.  Since her overall GPA is still below the minimum 3.0 overall GPA Measurement of Quality, she is no longer eligible for financial aid at UGA until she has raised her overall cumulative GPA to 3.0 or greater. If Jill's failure to maintain SAP was due to mitigating circumstances, she may submit a SAP appeal to OSFA during or after her Financial Aid Warning semester for consideration. See SAP Appeal Policy & Procedures below:

SAP Appeal Policy & Procedures:

Federal student aid regulations permit (but do not require) colleges to establish a SAP Appeals Policy.  Furthermore, if an institution chooses to implement a SAP policy which permits appeals, it is left solely to the institution to specify when and how such appeals will be permitted as well as how many times a student may appeal.

OSFA has established the following SAP Appeals Policy and Procedures to assist students who failed to maintain SAP due to mitigating circumstances.

Students may appeal to the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) by:

  • using the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal for Student Financial Aid Recipients to submit their written, signed appeal setting forth their mitigating circumstances, and
  • providing any supporting documentation which confirms the occurrence or circumstances, and
  • explaining how the situation has been resolved or stabilized; thereby, enabling the student to now be academically successful, and
  • providing any supporting documentation which confirms the situation has been resolved or stabilized.

Academic Plan:

OSFA’s review of student SAP appeals will include consideration of and possible approval of, an individual student academic plan.

OSFA may work with students on a case-by-case basis to identify an academic plan designed to get the student back on track and become academically successful. This is the purpose of an academic plan.

Depending on the individual student situation, an academic plan may be as simple as a mathematical calculation by OSFA that specifies the percentage of coursework the student must now successfully complete, the minimum grade point average the student must earn each semester, or the maximum number of hours in which the student may enroll in a specified semester.  Conversely, the academic plan may be as complicated as a course by course degree plan.  In these cases OSFA will instruct the student to meet with his or her UGA academic advisor to formulate a structured plan which clearly sets forth the courses in which the student must enroll, and the minimum GPA he or she must earn each term. The student will then provide a copy of the formal academic plan to OSFA for consideration.

Students for whom OSFA grants an appeal with an approved academic plan can receive the federal or state financial aid for which they are otherwise eligible as long as they strictly adhere to their approved plan. Students on an OSFA approved academic plan will be evaluated following each semester of enrollment and his or her failure to meet ALL the requirements of the academic plan will result in immediate loss of financial aid eligibility.

Financial Aid Probation

Financial Aid Probation status is defined by regulation and cannot be altered or modified.

If OSFA finds that the student’s appeal circumstances were sufficiently mitigating, and if either

  • it is mathematically possible for the student to re-attain SAP by the end of the semester of enrollment following the student’s Financial Aid Warning semester, or
  • OSFA has approved a Financial Aid Academic Plan, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Probation for one semester. Students placed on Financial Aid Probation can still receive any federal or state financial aid for which they are otherwise eligible.

At the end of the semester on Financial Aid Probation, the student must again be meeting either all SAP criteria, or must be meeting all the requirements of his or her OSFA approved Academic Plan in order to continue to be eligible for financial aid.

Students whose appeals are approved will continue to be reviewed at the end of each semester to determine if they are meeting all SAP requirements, or are meeting all the requirements of their approved Academic Plan.

Student Financial Counseling

Students who previously received Federal Direct Student Loans or previously failed to maintain SAP may also be required to complete additional financial counseling before eligibility for student financial aid can be re-established.

Effective Semester SAP Students Can Regain Financial Aid Eligibility

If otherwise eligible, a student may be awarded Federal Student Aid and state of Georgia financial aid (HOPE Scholarship, Zell Miller Scholarship, etc.) for the semester in which the student is again meeting all the SAP standards, or for which an appeal was approved.

Appeal Denial Policy & Procedures

When OSFA does not approve a student SAP appeal based on its determination the student did not have sufficient mitigating circumstances, the student may request further consideration by the University’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee. This Committee meets once a semester and is composed of University administrators.

To request further consideration by the University’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee, the student needs only to send OSFA a signed written request (or e-mail from their UGA Mail account).  The decision of the University’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee is final.

It is important to note that all stipulations and requirements of an OSFA approved Academic Plan are final and are not subject to further consideration by the University’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee.