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Student Academic Progress (SAP)

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)


All students at Columbus State Community College who receive federal financial aid must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward completion of their degrees within a reasonable period of time. These practices and guidelines are in accordance with regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education.

Columbus State Community College (CSCC) is required by federal law to establish, publish, and apply reasonable standards for measuring satisfactory academic progress of students applying for or receiving federal financial aid. These standards are designed to ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward completion of their program of study. The CSCC Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy applies to the following financial aid programs:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Federal Work Study
  • Federal Direct Student Loan(s)
  • Federal PLUS Loan

The satisfactory academic progress standard policy has three elements:

1. Completion of Attempted Credit Hours
2. Grade Point Average
3. Maximum Time Frame

You will remain eligible for financial aid as long as you meet ALL of the standards of progress each and every semester. Click below on each of the elements to learn about each one:

1. Completion of Attempted Credit Hours (+/-)

Evaluated at the time of application for aid and at the conclusion of each semester, and is based on the number of completed hours divided by the number of attempted hours. This review is based on the entire enrollment history of a student at CSCC, regardless of receipt of aid. Attempted hours include, but are not limited to, grades of A, B, C, and D and statuses of W (withdrew), I (incomplete), IP (in progress), E (failure), and transfer hours. For a student to maintain SAP, a student must meet the minimum completion as follows:

Credit Hours Attempted Completion Rate
1 – 16 50%
17 – 32 60%
33 – 43 67%
44 – 54 67%
55 hours or more 67%


2. Grade Point Average (+/-)

Qualitative/Grade Point Average (GPA) is evaluated at the time of application for aid and at the conclusion of each semester and is based on the total attempted credit hours at the time of evaluation. In order to be considered to have maintained SAP, a student must meet the cumulative minimum GPA requirements as follows:

Credit Hours Attempted GPA Required
1 – 16 1.5
17 – 32 1.6
33 – 43 1.75
44 – 54 1.90
55 hours or more 2.0


Financial Aid Warning and Suspension Statuses

The first time a student does not meet satisfactory academic progress, a warning will be placed on their account and the student will be notified via student email and through their Financial Aid Self Service account on CougarWeb. The student then has one semester to raise their grade point average and/or completion rate. If the student fails to raise their grade point average and/or completion rate, they will be placed on a financial aid suspension at the beginning of their next semester of enrollment.

3. Maximum Time Frame (+/-)

The maximum time frame in which students must complete a degree cannot exceed more than 150% of the published length of the student’s major.

In order to receive federal financial aid, a student must complete the first associate degree or certificate program within 150% of the published length of the program as measured by credit hours attempted. For example, if an associate degree requires 60 credits, a student must complete the degree within 90 attempted credits.

A student's record will be evaluated to determine if the degree or certificate can be completed within the maximum timeframe allowed. When it is determined a student will not complete the program within the 150% credit limit, the student will be suspended from receiving financial aid.

To determine if you will be placed on this restriction:

  • Click on “Financial Aid Checklist” under the “Complete Financial Aid Steps” on CougarWeb.
  •   Click the “Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)” rectangle at the top of the page to view your SAP details.
  • Add the number of credit hours you’ve attempted this semester to the “Total Hours Attempted”.
  • If the calculated number is equal to or greater than the number listed as “Maximum Credit Hours Allowed,” you will go on restriction at the end of the semester.

Financial Aid Warning and Suspension Statuses

When a student is approaching the maximum time frame for their major, notification will come from the financial aid department and the student will be placed on a 150- Notice. While on a Notice, the student will still be able to receive financial aid. If the student does not graduate before the Notice expires, they will be placed on a 150-Suspension or 150-Max. A student can submit an appeal at any time after they have received the Notice.

If a student is close to reaching the maximum time frame AND not meeting satisfactory academic progress, the student will be placed on a Financial Aid Warning and 150 Notice. If the student chooses to submit an appeal, they will need to address both aspects of the Warning.

Notes Regarding these Requirements:

The following grades are included in hours attempted and are considered satisfactory completion for financial aid purposes: A, B, C, D, S, K, Y and KD.

The following grades are included in hours attempted but are NOT considered satisfactory: E, U, W, I, P, V, Z, and MG

All attempted credits count toward this limit even if financial aid is not received or there are extenuating circumstances for not completing credits.

If an I (incomplete) or missing grade is effecting a student’s eligibility to meet the above standards, it is the student’s responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office once a final grade has been officially recorded by the Records and Registration Office. When the final grade has been recorded, the Financial Aid Office will re-evaluate the student’s progress and re-determine aid eligibility.

Additionally, a student must meet the academic requirements to remain at CSCC as defined in the official Columbus State Course Catalog.

Failure to Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements

Each of the elements of the SAP policy are monitored at the end of each term (Autumn, Spring, Summer). A student who has failed to meet one or more of the standards outlined above will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension and federal aid eligibility will be terminated. A notice will be sent via the student’s email account detailing the Suspension status and explaining the steps necessary to have financial aid eligibility reinstated.

Regaining Eligibility for Financial Aid (+/-)

Students who do not meet the minimum requirements and are placed on a Financial Aid Suspension can reinstate their federal aid eligibility in one of two ways:

1. The student can successfully complete coursework, by paying for the classes without the assistance of federal financial aid, until the standards are met (see tables above). Students must notify the Financial Aid Office for review.

2. If extenuating circumstances exist, the student may choose to file an appeal.


Students who did not meet the minimum standards may file an appeal in order to have their eligibility for federal student aid reinstated:

  • Appeal forms are available at Student Central, Upper level of Madison Hall, or on the CSCC website. Students may submit appeals in person to Student Central, via fax, or by postal mail.
  • The appeal will be reviewed by a committee and a decision notification will be emailed to the student.
  • Students may have three approved appeals during their career at CSCC.
  • Students with one associate degree from Columbus State and who return to pursue an additional associate degree(s) and/or certificate program at Columbus State may be granted additional credit hours of eligibility up to the number of credit hours required to complete the subsequent degree or certificate program. The count of attempted hours will begin with the term following graduation. If a student reaches the additional limit and has not completed a second associate degree, or certificate federal aid eligibility will once again be terminated.
  • Students submitting an appeal for the 150% Rule will be evaluated on all three elements of the policy and must be meeting all parts for an exception to be made. The completion rate and GPA for CSCC graduates seeking a second degree will be determined from the point of graduation forward.

The following are acceptable reasons for appeal:

Students not meeting the minimum credit hour completion percentage and/or minimum GPA requirement may appeal for these unforeseen situations - illness/injury, death of an immediate family member, unexpected military service or other unforeseen events.

Students exceeding the maximum time frame may appeal for these reasons - Columbus State graduate, transfer credits not applying to current program, major is no longer offered at CSCC, significant prerequisites were required, or other unforeseen events.

Consequences of Withdrawing from All Classes (Return of Unearned Title IV Funds Policy) (+/-)

Financial Aid students who completely withdraw - or are reported as not attending by instructors - from ALL classes during a given term may be subject to repayment of federal funds to the U.S. Department of Education. This requirement is called the “Return of Unearned Title IV Funds" Policy. The return of these funds may create a balance owed to the college. The policy states that a student must attend through the 60% point of the term in order to earn their federal financial aid. Students are issued financial aid at the beginning of the semester in “good faith,” meaning that the student will follow through by attending and completing the classes that were paid through financial aid. The U. S. Department of Education requires that unearned Title IV calculations be based on the number of calendar days the student actually attended the course divided by the total number of calendar days in the semester. This equation provides the percentage of earned financial aid.

Here is an example of how the policy works:

Student registers for 13 credit hours and starts attending his classes. Student withdraws from all of his classes on the 16th day of the semester. The calculation would be as follows:

Aid Disbursed for the semester:

Pell .......................................................$ 1100.00
Subsidized Direct Loan ........................$ 848.00
Total .....................................................$ 1948.00


Days Attended.................................................16
Days in Semester...........................................109
Percentage earned........................................14.7%

14.7% X $1,948 = $286.36

Aid earned X Total aid disbursed = Aid Earned

Amount of Aid to be returned:
$1,948 minus $286.36 = $1661.64

Amount to be returned by College:
Tuition/Fees $700.00
$700.00 X 85.3% = $597.10 (College returns $597.10 to Direct Loan)

Initial amount to be returned by Student: $1661.64 minus $597.10 = $1064.54

Final Calculation of what student owes: Student owes $250.90 to Direct Loan - Student owes $263.64 to Pell Program (Pell to be repaid is reduced by 50%)

Student will repay the $250.90 when they enter into repayment on their student loan. The $263.64 in Pell must be repaid immediately in order for the student to regain financial aid eligibility. The student will owe the money to the U.S. Department of Education and will be considered in overpayment status until the amount is repaid. Overpayment status will prohibit the student from receiving financial aid at CSCC or any other college. Payment arrangements may be made by calling the U.S. Department of Education.

Students will be notified of their calculation of Unearned Title IV by the CSCC Financial Aid Office.


SAP Appeal Process and Forms


SAP Policy Printout