Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) | Financial Aid

Federal regulations require financial aid recipients to maintain "satisfactory academic progress" (SAP) toward a recognized degree or certificate. Satisfactory academic progress applies to all undergraduate and graduate students who receive any type of financial assistance (institutional, state or federal) administered by the university and will be reviewed after every payment period (summer/fall/spring).

The university's satisfactory academic progress policy includes both qualitative and quantitative standards. These standards are defined below. All periods of a student's enrollment, whether or not the student received aid, are included. In addition, all credit hours transferred into Carroll are included and counted toward a student's maximum time frame and are reflected in the student's cumulative grade point average (CGPA).

Qualitative Standards

Minimum grade point average

In order to graduate from Carroll University, the following grade point average standards for Associates, Bachelor and Graduate programs are as follows:

  • Associate Nursing Degree: 2.75 GPA
  • Bachelor Degree: 2.0 GPA
  • Graduate Degree: 3.0 GPA

Quantitative Standards

Minimum rate (67%) of successful course completion

For a student to successfully complete his/her program within the maximum credit hour time frame, they must successful complete 67% of all attempted credits (For example, an undergraduate student who enrolls for 12 credit hours and completes 8.5 credit hours has completed an acceptable percentage of attempted credit hours, 67% or greater). See notes below as to which courses are included as attempted and earned. This applies to all students (associate, bachelor, and graduate).

Maximum timeframe/150% Rule

Regulations state that a student must complete his/her program within 150 percent of the published credit length of their program. Students will not be eligible for financial aid for any credits that are attempted in excess of 150 percent of the published credit length. Credits transferred to Carroll shall be included in the calculation of attempted and earned credits for the purpose of determining the total 150 percent timeframe. For example, an undergraduate bachelor’s degree requires 128 credits, which would result in a maximum timeframe of 192 credits (128 x 150%). To maintain eligibility for federal financial aid, you must be able to complete all of your degree requirements before exceeding the maximum timeframe. To review students who are close to or exceeding their maximum timeframe, Carroll evaluates the number of credits a student has attempted thus far, the number of credits the student is currently enrolled in, plus the number of credits still required to complete. Please review the treatment of courses section below to determine which courses are counted in the maximum timeframe.

Associate degree:

The published length for an associate degree is 82 credits. Therefore, the maximum timeframe for attempted credits would be 123 credits.

Students pursuing a second undergraduate Associate degree after receiving a bachelor's degree can receive up to an additional 100% of the published program length. For example, a student would be allowed to attempt a maximum of 274 credits (150% of the bachelor's timeframe + 82 credits).

Bachelor's degree:

The published length for an undergraduate bachelor's degree is 128 credits. Therefore, an undergraduate student is allowed to attempt a maximum of 192 credits while pursuing their degree.

Students pursuing a second undergraduate bachelor's degree or teacher certification can receive up to an additional 100% of the published program length. For example, a student would be allowed to attempt a maximum of 320 credits (192+128).

Graduate Degree:
The maximum time frame allowed for graduate students varies based on the master’s degree they are seeking. Graduate students should check with their department on the published length of their program. Graduate students must complete their degree within 150 percent of the published length. For example, the MBA program requires 33 credits- therefore a student must complete their degree by 49.5 credits (33 credits x 150%).

Treatment of Courses and Credit Definitions

The following is how specific courses are taken into account for the purpose of satisfactory academic progress. These courses are also taken into account when determining the maximum timeframe:


Withdrawal credits will be counted as attempted but not earned.


Courses in which the student receives an incomplete will be counted as attempted but not earned credits. Once a professor-approved incomplete is changed to a letter, grade, a student can notify the Financial Aid Office to request a reevaluation of their statistics (notification no later than 2 weeks prior to the end of the next term of enrollment). It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office if an incomplete is changed to a letter grade. Incompletes due to a course not yet completed (i.e. student teaching or clinical) will be reviewed once course is finished. Any other incompletes will be accounted for at the next SAP evaluation period. Incompletes are removed by the end of the eighth week of the next semester or it automatically becomes a failure (unless an extension is granted), please review the academic catalog for more information.

Repeated courses

Courses that are repeated will show as credits attempted and earned. However, only the last reported grade will be included in the student's GPA.

Prior work experience, CLEP and AP

Credits granted for prior work experience or examinations will be included in the student's cumulative earned and attempted hours. Credits earned for previous work experience, CLEP and/or AP will be indicated on the student's transcript.

Audited courses

Audited courses do not count as attempted or earned.

Transfer credits and Transfer GPA

Transfer credits accepted from other schools will be counted toward completion of the degree program as both hours attempted and hours earned. Transfer GPA will be included in the cumulative GPA used for SAP purposes.

Remedial courses

Remedial courses are not included in the calculation of both attempted and earned credits

ESL courses

Not applicable.

Pass/Fail Courses

Students who take Pass/Fail courses will receive a grade of S or U. A Pass/Fail grade of S will be included in hours attempted and earned. A Pass/Fail grade of U will be included in hours attempted but not hours earned. Pass/Fail grades are not to be included in the calculation of the GPA.

Attempted versus Earned Credits

Because students must complete with a passing grade 67% of all credit hours attempted to remain eligible for Financial Aid. Grades of A, AB, B, BC, C, D, and S count as attempted and earned credit hours. Grades of F, I, U, W count as attempted but not earned credit hours and will negatively impact the percentage of completion.

Grade Changes

Students may request to have their SAP status reevaluated after the confirmed grade change has been posted to their academic record. Students must contact the financial aid office and submit a copy of their unofficial transcript prior to the end of the term. Any other grade changes will be accounted for at the next SAP evaluation period.

Change of Major

A student who changes majors will have credits earned from all majors included in the GPA as well as the maximum attempted credits and in the calculation of credits that have been attempted and earned.

Failure to Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress

Financial aid warning status

Any student who does not meet satisfactory academic progress during a given semester or payment period will be put on financial aid warning status for the following semester. A student may receive financial aid while on warning. No appeal is necessary for students on warning status. A student will be notified in writing that their financial aid is now in a warning status and be instructed that they will have one additional semester/payment period to meet SAP standards.

Financial aid probation status

If after a semester of financial aid warning a student has not reestablished eligibility based on the qualitative or quantitative standards described above, the student has lost eligibility for financial aid. The student may submit an appeal to the Financial Aid Office (the appeal process is described below). This appeal will be reviewed by the SAP committee and, if approved, will allow the student to be placed on probation status (if denied, see Financial Aid Suspension Status below). If it is determined that a student cannot regain eligibility after one semester/payment period on probation, an academic plan may need to be established. Failure to adhere to the academic plan would result in the student being placed on a financial aid suspension status. A student will be notified in writing that their financial aid is now in a probationary status along with any conditions associated with this status.

Academic plan

Carroll's Academic plan will be developed on an individual basis which may include academic performance requirements, meets with academic advisors, meeting with the Director of Student Success, Learning Commons resources, etc. Failure to meet the requirements of Carroll's Academic Plan will result in ineligibility of financial aid.

Financial aid ineligible status

Any student who is failing the SAP standards and who does not appeal, has an appeal denied, or does not agree to adhere to an academic plan (if necessary) as part of their probationary status, will be placed on financial aid ineligibility. A student in an ineligible status has lost eligibility for financial aid. The process for re-establishing eligibility is outlined below. A student will be notified in writing that their financial aid is now in an ineligible status and how to reestablish financial aid eligibility.

Reestablishing financial aid eligibility

If a student is denied aid due to not meeting SAP standards or has reached the 150% of normal completion time, they will be ineligible for aid. Eligibility can be regained by raising the completion rate of credits attempted to 67% and minimum GPA requirement for the program (unless the reason the student is ineligible is for exceeding the 150% of normal completion time). A student may reestablish their eligibility for financial aid at any point during the academic year and be given the same consideration for aid as other students who are maintaining SAP. If a student has reestablished themselves during the academic year they do not need to go through the appeal process. However, the student does need to notify in writing the Director of Financial Aid of their wish to be considered for aid. At this point, the Director will verify whether the student is meeting all SAP standards.

There is also an appeal process in which a student can appeal for additional terms of eligibility (see below).

Appeal process

Students can appeal the loss of financial aid eligibility due to their failure to meet satisfactory academic progress standards after a semester or payment period on financial aid warning status. Students are also able to appeal the 150% rule if they feel there are extenuating circumstances that prevented them from completing their program of study within this defined limit. Circumstances that may warrant an appeal include, but are not limited to, the following examples: medical reasons, full-time employment, or being out of school for a long period of time. Previous non-receipt of federal financial aid funds does not qualify as an extenuating circumstance.

Students can download the SAP Appeal form (listed below). Appeals must include the form as well as an explanation in detail (1) the specific reason(s) which contributed to why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress standards (submit supporting documentation - i.e. letter from doctors, therapists, academic advisors, employer, etc.) and (2) what has changed in the student's situation that will allow them to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress at the end of his or her next semester or payment period, if reinstated. Failure to explain in detail or submit supporting documentation will not be reviewed.

Appeals need to be submitted in writing and addressed to the Director of Financial Aid. Appeals (which must include all supporting documentation) will be accepted at any time prior to the start of the next payment term, however, depending on the circumstance, may be accepted up to two weeks before the end of a payment term in which the student is appealing. A SAP Appeal Committee consisting of Financial Aid, Student Success and occasionally Registrar staff will review the appeal. This committee will be responsible for reviewing the appeals and either reinstating eligibility for financial aid via the financial aid probationary status or placing student on an academic plan. Students who are placed on an academic plan must submit an agreement in a timely manner to retain aid (usually within two weeks from the decision). Students who are not placed on either probation or academic plan will remain in a financial aid suspension status. The student will be notified in writing of the decision within two weeks from the date that the appeal was received. The appeal decision is final.

When/If approving an appeal, the school must determine that the student is able to make SAP standards by the end of the next payment period OR that the student will be placed on an academic plan. Academic plans are used when a student cannot mathematically reach the minimum GPA requirements or completion percentage after one payment period. The academic plan will be developed on an individual basis and may include academic performance requirements, and meetings with Student Success. Failure to submit a signed academic plan will result in suspension for the financial aid term. Download the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form

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