Satisfactory Academic Progress: What You Need to Know
The Department of Education has standards set for any college student receiving Federal Student Aid (FSA). One of these standards applies to Satisfactory Academic Progress, better known as SAP. SAP is a very important aspect of FSA, and it is imperative that you as a student understand your school’s SAP policy fully.
Since SAP policies can differ amongst schools, it is important that you take the time to research your school’s SAP policy. SAP policies should always be outlined in the student handbook, but FSA specialists at your school will always be willing to help you understand.
What exactly is SAP? SAP is a measure of your academic engagement at your university or college. Schools can set their own SAP standards as long as they fall within the basic requirements laid out by the Department of Education, but all SAP policies encompass two distinct areas: qualitative standards and quantitative standards.
- Qualitative standards — this is a measure of how well you are doing in your classes. You must maintain a certain GPA to meet SAP. In many schools, that GPA is a 2.0; however, it can be higher or lower depending on the standards of the school. It can also be on a sliding scale, where freshman have more leniency than seniors. In addition, schools can also set up a SAP policy where your GPA must meet SAP each semester, as well as cumulative. Furthermore, schools can decide to make students meet SAP both for their institutional credits as well as for their transfer credits.
- Quantitative standards — this is a measure of how many attempted classes a student completes. To meet SAP, you must successfully complete a certain number of classes that you attempt. Ideally your completion percentage will be 100%. However, if you fail or withdraw from courses, your completion percentage will drop. A rough estimate for the average completion percentage to meet SAP is 70%. Quantitative standards can also be on a sliding scale, with students who have earned fewer credits having more leniency than students who have earned more credits.
SAP is so important because not only does it obviously affect your academic record, it can negatively impact your FSA. Students who fail SAP are no longer eligible for FSA. This decision can be appealed, but appeals can be lengthy and are not accepted unless there are extenuating circumstances causing you to fail SAP. In many cases, failing SAP once will result in the end of your FSA. Therefore, it is critical that you clearly understand your school’s SAP policy and make every effort to satisfy SAP each semester.
By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews