Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Effective July 1, 2011


The University of Mary Washington (UMW) is required by federal regulation (34 CFR 668.34) to ensure students are meeting standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) measures a student’s completion of coursework toward a degree, in a timely manner.  Satisfactory Academic Progress is measured both for GPA standards and pace and checked at the end of every spring semester for every student. Based on those findings, individual students may be reviewed again at the end of summer sessions and the following fall. Failure to comply with any component of the progress standards will result in a loss of financial aid eligibility.

Financial Assistance Programs Affected

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
  • Federal PLUS Loans
  • Federal Work-Study and all other student employment
  • All state grant programs, including Virginia Guaranteed Acceptance Programs (VGAP) and Virginia Commonwealth programs (VACOMM).
  • All scholarship and grant programs offered through the University and outside federal, state and private organizations.
  • All other resources as determined

Satisfactory Academic Progress includes three components:

  1. Maximum time frame
  2. Course completion requirement
  3. Grade requirement

Maximum time frame

Students who have attempted hours in excess of 150% of the hours required to complete the program are not eligible for financial aid. There are no exceptions.  For example, students in a program that requires 120 credit hours will not receive any type of financial aid after attempting 180 credit hours.  This includes coursework attempted at other institutions.  Appeals for students who have exceeded 150% of the normal time it would take to complete the degree they are pursuing will not be entertained. Students who have exceeded this cap may only pursue alternative loan funding. They will no longer be considered for financial aid during their academic career.

Course completion requirement

To receive financial aid, students must successfully complete a minimum of 75% (no rounding up) of the credit hours attempted in an academic period. An academic period is normally the academic year consisting of the fall and spring semesters; however, it may be summer sessions or just one semester.

 EXAMPLE of SAP Policy: Students enrolled for 30 credit hours during an academic year must successfully complete 23 credits. Part-time students enrolled in 6 credit hours per semester must complete a total of 9 credits for the two semesters. The census date to determine hours attempted is the date in which students may not receive a refund for dropping a course. This is approximately three weeks after the first day of classes.

 Grade requirement

 The UMW cumulative grade point average (CGPA) standard for credits taken at UMW is as follows:

Freshman Grade Level: Less than 30 credit hours, minimum 1.650 CGPA
Sophomore Grade Level: 30 – 45 credit hours, minimum 1.800 CGPA
Sophomore Grade Level: 46 – 59 credit hours, minimum 1.900 CGPA
Junior Grade Level: 60 – 89 credit hours, minimum 2.000 CGPA
Senior Grade Level: 90 credit hours or more, minimum 2.000 CGPA
Graduate Level: minimum 2.000 CGPA for UMW courses

Coursework transferred from other institutions is included in the total number of credit hours, but is not factored into the cumulative grade point average. Students who do not meet the above criteria may request reevaluation at the end of summer sessions or the fall semester if additional courses have been completed to meet these requirements. Students’ financial aid awards are determined at the appropriate grade level when awards are made. For example, students with fewer than 30 credits at the end of their first two semesters are considered third semester freshmen and are awarded financial aid at the freshman grade level for the academic year. This is the case at every grade level. Priority for all scholarship and grant funds is given to students who achieve and maintain a minimum cumulative and semester 2.000 grade point average.  However, many programs require a higher grade point average.

Students who withdraw from any or all classes after the start of a semester will have their aid reduced. Additionally, if proceeds have been disbursed it is very likely that eligibility will be prorated and funds returned to the appropriate programs.


Students who fail to maintain satisfactory academic progress will receive notification of noncompliance from the Office of Financial Aid at their permanent home addresses, regardless of whether or not they intend to apply for financial assistance.

Special Grades (“I”, “W”, etc)

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 the following grades:

A 4.00 quality points – Excellent
A- 3.70 quality points
B+ 3.30 quality points
B 3.00 quality points – Commendable
B- 2.70 quality points
C+ 2.30 quality points
C 2.00 quality points – Acceptable
C- 1.70 quality points
CF Repeated Course Prior to 1999
D+ 1.30 quality points
D 1.00 quality points – Marginal
F 0.00 quality points – Failure
P Pass in a Pass/Fail Class
PA Pass in a Pass/Fail Class
F Failure in a Pass/Fail Class
FA Failure in a Pass/Fail Class
S Satisfactory
SA Satisfactory
U Unsatisfactory
UN Unsatisfactory
W Course Withdrawal
WP Withdrawal Passing
WF Withdrawal Failing
PW Withdrew Passing
FW Withdrew Failing
I Incomplete
IA Incomplete in Pass/Fail Course
G Delayed Grade
CI Test Incomplete (Test Failed For Credit-by-Examination)
CR Credit-by-Examination
R Credit by Exam
RP Course repeated in future term
RT Repeated Course
TR Transfer Credit
NG Audit
NC No Credit
VW Voluntary Withdrawal
ZC Zero Credit


 Credits completed

Credits completed are defined as all classes for which a student receives a passing grade of “D -” or better, or “PA”.

Credits Included in the quantitative calculations

Along with regularly enrolled classes, the following are included in the quantitative calculation:

  •  Transfer credits are included.  University excluded credits are counted as withdrawals – attempted, but not completed.
  • The university does not have ESL (English as a Second Language), CLEP, or Remedial Coursework.

Credits Excluded from the quantitative calculation

•     Audit credits do not count as credits attempted or completed.

Impact of Repeated Courses

All repeated courses affect financial aid satisfactory academic progress calculations. Regardless of whether the student received financial aid or not, all repeated coursework must be counted as attempted credits.

Appeal Process

A student who is ineligible for federal financial aid due to not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements may file an appeal if extenuating circumstances exist. Some examples of reasons for such a request may include, but are not limited to:

  1.  Serious illness (physical or mental) for which the student needed to withdraw from all classes in order to recover, or remained enrolled at the university and did poorly in his/her classes
  2. Death or serious illness or injury to an immediate family member.
  3. An injury to the student which prevents the student from attending classes and completing academic requirements.

Appeal Procedures

The student must submit a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form to the Office of Financial Aid with a typed statement that offers a thorough explanation of the circumstances that prevented the student from meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards. The statement should include:

  •  The serious and compelling circumstances that occurred during any semester in which you did not meet the standards for Satisfactory Academic progress, including prior years.
  • What your responsibility for these events has been.
  • How your circumstances have changed so your failure of the situation will not occur again.
  • The steps you have taken to ensure you will make Satisfactory Academic Progress in the future

Circumstances that may be considered for appeal include the following:

  •  Serious illness (physical or mental) for which the student needed to withdraw from all classes in order to recover, or remained enrolled at the university and did poorly in his/her classes.
  • Death or serious illness or injury to an immediate family member.
  • An injury to the student which prevents the student from attending classes and completing academic requirements.

In addition, the student must provide support documentation to include, but not limited to the following:

Written documentation or evidence that supports the reason(s) given in your statement.  This might include a letter from your doctor, court documents, death certificates or copies of University documents such as approved requests for incompletes or withdrawals accompanied by posted grade changes on transcripts, etc.  Financial hardship must be documented by bank statements, layoff notices, foreclosure notices, court documents, or other relevant legal documents.  Please attach photocopies.  Original documents will not be returned.

The student will be provided written notification of the decision of the Satisfactory Academic Progress Committee from the director that handles their caseload.

Appeal Deadlines

  • Fall semester appeals must be received by October 01 for consideration.
  • Spring semester appeals must be received by February15 for consideration.
  • Summer semester appeals must be received by June 01 for consideration.

 Appeals received after these deadlines will not be considered.

Financial Aid Probation

Probation is a status assigned to a student who fails to satisfy Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements, who has successfully appealed and had eligibility for aid reinstated. Reinstatement of aid during this probationary period may be no longer than one term. (This type of probation is for financial aid purposes only and is separate from academic probation policies for academic standing with the university.)

Academic Plan

Students who submit a successful appeal, appropriate according to federal regulations may need to develop an academic plan if it is mathematically impossible for a student to resolve all deficiencies during one term of attendance. The student will need to meet with an academic advisor to develop the Academic Plan with the end goal to resolve all deficiencies. Under an academic plan, the student has no more than three concurrent terms; beginning the term the appeal was approved, to meet University of Mary Washington Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. Failure to do so will result in the suspension of all financial aid.  While on Financial Aid Probation or an approved Academic Plan, certain conditions for academic performance will be set and monitored. Students with approved appeals will be informed of their conditions through letters sent to their permanent address of record or email.

The conditions for the approved appeal will continue each term until the student meets the minimum standard(s) or fails to meet the conditions of the approved academic plan. When the student fails to meet the conditions, the student will be suspended from receiving financial aid. Students with approved appeals who stop attendance must resubmit a Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal when reenrolling at the University of Mary Washington.

The Committee may approve a plan designed by the Academic Advising staff or by a student’s faculty advisor to return the student to good standing status and to regain eligibility for financial aid.  

Submit all materials as a single packet to the Financial Aid Office. Any missing information will delay consideration of the student’s request.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form.   Students who are approved for a SAP waiver are considered only for the Federal Direct student and parent loan programs and the Federal Pell Grant Program