Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards for Financial Aid
Federal and State regulations governing student financial aid require that students receiving financial aid must maintain specific standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress. The regulations provided by the U.S. Department of Education are geared toward improving program integrity. Cal Poly Pomona has established its own policy to adhere to these guidelines while ensuring student success.
Although the academic progress standards are similar to those set by the university or academic departments for all students, the financial aid standards for SAP are not exactly the same due to the specific requirements of the legislation. In addition to meeting the academic standards for registration, a student must also meet the requirements of the financial aid SAP policy below to be eligible to receive federal, state and need-based institutional financial aid assistance. Scholarships and other awards may also require students to meet this standard.
Financial Aid regulations (federal and state) are continuously updated and Cal Poly Pomona is required to verify that our policy meets any changes. If any changes occur, our website will be updated and notifications will be sent to those students affected.
All coursework is evaluated against these standards, including coursework completed during a period when the student did not receive financial aid.
The Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships evaluates Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) at the end of each semester once grades have been finalized and posted. Students that are included in this review include all aid applicants – regardless of program of study or enrollment status. This is a cumulative review of all semesters regardless of whether or not the student received financial aid during a particular academic year. The evaluation is based on the student meeting three criteria, which are described below:
- Meeting a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA)
- Earning a minimum number of credits (Pace of Completion)
- Cumulative attempted hours not exceeding program requirements (Maximum Time-Frame)
Students who fail to meet any one of the criteria are considered ineligible for financial aid. The information below will explain each standard in more detail as well as provide information on regaining eligibility.
Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)
The first SAP Standard is a qualitative measure of progress as measured by the student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA). The cumulative GPA includes all Cal Poly Pomona courses that have been graded as well as any courses from other institutions that have been accepted and posted to the student’s record. Cal Poly Pomona academic policies determine how the GPA is calculated including which grades count in the GPA calculation and the effect of course repeats on GPA. Students and advisors can see the current cumulative GPA on the student’s unofficial transcript and Academic Advising reports.
To meet the GPA Standard, students must meet the minimum cumulative GPA requirement as listed in the chart below:
Minimum Cumulative GPA Requirement
Undergraduate (1st Bachelors)
Masters & Doctorate
Other Post Baccalaureate Programs (Certificate, 2nd Bachelors)
The Minimum GPA Requirement listed for SAP for Financial Aid Applicants is consistent with the CPP Satisfactory Progress (academic) policy for all students.
Remedial Coursework – Courses defined as Remedial Coursework are not factored into a student’s GPA at Cal Poly Pomona (courses with a number of 1 – 999), as these courses cannot be applied to a student’s degree program.
Satisfactory Progress in Remedial Coursework is measured as defined in Executive Order 665.
Pace of Completion
Satisfactorily complete at least 67% of cumulative credit hours attempted.
The second SAP Standard is a quantitative measure which calculates the pace at which a student is progressing toward program completion. Pace is measured by the cumulative percentage of courses attempted that are successfully completed for credit. There are two steps in performing this calculation.
Not all credit posted to the student’s academic record is a good indication of the ‘pace’ at which they are completing their program. As a result, the various types of academic credit within the same academic career (undergraduate or post-baccalaureate) are evaluated based on the following:
Types of courses and credit that are included in this calculation:
- All Cal Poly Pomona courses
- All transferable courses from other colleges and universities
- Repeated coursework
- Consortium coursework
- Coursework from Study Abroad programs
- Pre-Requisite coursework
- Credit by Examination credit (grades)
Types of courses and credit that are not included in this calculation:
- Audited coursework
- Military credit
- Credit earned through examination (AP, IB credit)
Based on the courses that are included above, the student’s pace is then calculated by dividing the total number of credit hours successfully completed (passed with units earned) by the total number of credit hours actually attempted.
- Total Hours Earned/Completed = all course work where credit is earned with a grade of A, B, C, D, RP, or CR.
- Total Hours Attempted = Total Hours Earned/Completed PLUS all course work with a grade of W, WU, F, RD, I, and NC.
To meet Standard 2, students must satisfactorily complete at least 67% of all cumulative credit hours attempted - as calculated above. The 67% completion rate maintains a pace of progression toward completion of the academic objective within the maximum time frame allowed.
Maximum Time Frame
Complete a degree or certificate program within 150% of the published length of the program, measured in credit hours.
The third Standard is also a quantitative measure to determine if the student is actually completing the academic program within a reasonable overall time frame based on units attempted. Students may not continue to receive financial aid once they have reached this standard. It is important to emphasize that once the maximum time frame is reached the student is considered ineligible for further financial aid and must complete their program without the benefit of these financial assistance programs. There are two steps in performing this calculation:
First the maximum units allowed for the academic program must be determined. This is calculated by multiplying the minimum units required for the academic program by 150% to determine the maximum number of units a student can attempt before becoming ineligible for financial aid.
- For undergraduate students:
Most baccalaureate programs require 120 units so the maximum time frame is 180 attempted units (120 units times 150%). Higher unit majors are adjusted based on the minimum units required. Undergraduate students can pursue additional academic objectives (majors, minors, certificates) and receive financial aid as long as they do so within the units allowed for the 'primary' academic major. In other words, extra attempted units are not granted so that students can pursue additional objectives with the baccalaureate degree (Please note: This approach is consistent with the Cal Poly Pomona Undergraduate Timely Graduation Policy; however, this financial aid standard measures units attempted whereas the Timely Graduation policy measures units completed.
- For post-baccalaureate students:
The maximum attempted units allowed is also calculated by multiplying the minimum units required for the academic program by 150%. For students that are officially pursuing a financial aid eligible credential or certificate concurrently with a Master's program, the minimum units required of each program will be added together and then multiplied by 150%.
The total number of units attempted by the student in that academic career (undergraduate or post-baccalaureate) is calculated and compared to the maximum allowed in Step 1. As not all credit posted to the student's academic record can count toward the degree program requirements, the following exclusions/adjustments are made:
- Remedial course work is excluded as it does not carry baccalaureate credit.
- A maximum of 70 units of transferable credit from a 2-year institution is counted based on CSU and Cal Poly Pomona policy.
- Test credit (AP, IB, etc.) and Military credit are excluded.
- Additional transfer credit may be excluded by request if it cannot be used to meet any Cal Poly Pomona degree requirements including general electives.
To meet Standard 3, students must have attempted less than 150% of units required for the academic program as calculated above.
Graduate Students: Impact of Undergraduate Level Courses
Graduate students may be required to complete undergraduate level coursework to resolve pre-requisites or other necessary activities to complete their program of study. Graduate students should be aware of how undergraduate courses impact the three SAP Standards:
- Impact on Standard 1 - GPA
Graduate GPAs are calculated based upon 3000-level or higher coursework taken after completion of the baccalaureate degree. Any coursework taken as a Graduate student that is below the 3000 level will be excluded from the student’s GPA.
- Impact on Standard 2 - Pace
Graduate students receive degree credit on their transcript for completing coursework at the 3000-level or higher. For determining your PACE calculation, any courses attempted that are below the 3000-level will be considered "attempted" units, but not "completed" irrespective of your final grade. This will negatively impact your PACE calculation.
- Impact on Standard 3 - Maximum Time Frame
The maximum timeframe is calculated using the published minimum degree requirements. If undergraduate coursework is required to satisfy pre-requisites or program requirements, it is expected that it will be accomplished within the 150% maximum timeframe.
Be Aware: To receive graduate level financial aid in any term, students must be enrolled at least half-time (4 units for graduate degree students) in courses designated to meet the graduate degree requirements as specified in the catalog.
How Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards are Monitored
The office of Financial Aid & Scholarships evaluates Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) at the end of each semester – which includes Fall, Spring, and Summer. The evaluation includes any student who has completed a FAFSA or California Dream Application, and is a cumulative review of all semesters regardless of whether or not the student received financial aid during a particular academic year.
Students who fully meet all three standards are considered to be Meeting SAP. Students who are not meeting the standards will lose their eligibility to receive financial aid. A student who has lost eligibility may submit an appeal.
Students who have reached the Maximum Time Frame are immediately ineligible to receive additional financial aid assistance. Students may appeal this ineligible status. In addition, students who have been academically disqualified or suspended are not eligible to receive financial aid until formally reinstated to the University (and either meet the SAP Standards, or have an appeal of their status approved).
Financial Aid Warning status
Financial Aid Warning is a status assigned to a student the first time she fails to make satisfactory academic progress (under either the GPA or Pace Standard). Students who are not meeting the GPA and/or Pace standard are first placed on Financial Aid Warning if their status was Meets SAP in the prior term. A student on Financial Aid Warning will continue to receive financial aid for the next period of enrollment despite the determination that she was not making satisfactory academic progress.
At the end of the next period of enrollment, a student on Financial Aid Warning must meet all three SAP Standards to be deemed eligible for continued assistance. A student who remedies her deficiency and is fully meeting the SAP Standards will be considered to be Meeting SAP again. If the GPA or Pace Standard is still deficient, the student becomes ineligible for financial aid. The student may appeal her ineligible status. A student whose appeal is approved will be defined as on Financial Aid Probation, and may receive aid for the next term of enrollment.
Financial Aid Probation status
Probation Status is assigned to a student who is failing to make satisfactory academic progress and who successfully appeals. Eligibility for aid may be reinstated for one semester/payment period only.
At the end of the financial aid probation semester the student must be meeting all three SAP Standards to be deemed eligible for continued assistance, or must successfully appeal the status – with the inclusion of an academic plan.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal
A Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal is a process by which a student who is not meeting SAP Standards petitions for reconsideration of eligibility for financial aid funds.
An Academic Plan, when followed, will ensure that you will meet SAP Standards by a specific time.
If an appeal that includes an academic plan is approved, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Probation and continued aid eligibility will be monitored each semester based on the details of the plan.
- If the student continues to make progress based on the approved plan he will be considered to be Meeting SAP.
- Failure to fully satisfy the approved plan will make the student ineligible for financial aid.
Once a student has failed to make Satisfactory Academic Progress based on an approved plan, no further appeal opportunity is allowed. Students can only regain financial aid eligibility if they complete additional coursework without the benefit of financial assistance which brings them in full compliance with the SAP Standards or the approved academic plan.
All students are notified of the results of the Satisfactory Academic Progress evaluation – regardless of their status. In addition, students can view their SAP status at any time in Bronco Direct.
A student in an Ineligible status may regain eligibility as follows:
- For students not meeting the GPA and/or Pace Standards, enroll without the benefit of financial aid assistance and complete coursework that improves your cumulative GPA and/or Pace of Completion rate to bring them in full compliance with the SAP Standards or the approved academic plan.
- Submit a written appeal that is approved by CPP’s Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships SAP Committee.
If adjustments have been made to the student’s academic record after their SAP status has been calculated, the student may request in writing that his or her SAP status be re-reviewed. This may be necessary when:
- Grades for the term were posted after SAP was calculated
- Grade changes occur, including the resolution of a course incomplete
- Transfer credit has been posted
- A change of Academic Objective has occurred
When a student loses financial aid eligibility for failing to make Satisfactory Academic Progress, he or she may appeal the status. An appeal must be based on extenuating circumstances. Supporting documentation may be requested and/or required as part of a student’s appeal (depending on her circumstances). Circumstances for appeals include, but are not limited to:
- Illness, accident, or injury experienced by the student or a significant person in her life.
- Death of a family member or significant person in the student’s life.
- Divorce experienced by the student or her parent.
- Significant trauma in the student’s life that impaired her emotional and/or physical health.
- Other significant unexpected and documented circumstances beyond the student’s control.
- Courses with a Grade of WX are included in the SAP calculation; however, course withdrawals for extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control (illness or other problems or a serious nature beyond the student’s control) can be excluded – if requested & documented in the student’s SAP Appeal.
Changes in major and double majors are not viewed as extenuating circumstances, since the standard is quite generous in the time frame allowed to complete a degree.
Taking Pre-Requisites for a program (classes required in order to be fully admitted to a program) is not viewed as an extenuating circumstance – as a student’s financial aid eligibility is tied to the published length of the program only – and students are only eligible to receive financial aid for those courses required as part of their program of study.
To appeal her failure to meet SAP due to any of these or similar personal issues, a student submits the Cal Poly Pomona SAP Appeal form (a direct link is provided in her email notification from our office).
Appeals are reviewed by the SAP Committee (which consists of the Financial Aid Counseling Team) on a weekly basis. Based on the volume of appeals received, the Committee may at times meet 2 – 3 times per week (typically during the first 2 – 3 weeks after SAP Notifications are sent out).
Appeal for Not Meeting GPA and/or Pace
When a student has not met the GPA and/or Pace Standard, his SAP Appeal must include an explanation statement which must contain the following:
- Explanation of What Happened: Why the student was unable to make Satisfactory Progress
- Explanation of What Has Changed: What has changed / what corrective measures the student has taken – or will take – to achieve and make satisfactory academic progress.
If the appeal occurs following a Financial Aid Probation semester, you must also include an Academic Plan which you will be required to adhere to.
Appeal for Exceeding Maximum Time Frame
When a student has exceeded the Maximum Time Frame, his SAP Appeal must include an explanation statement which must contain the following:
- Explanation of What Happened: Why the student was unable to make Satisfactory Progress
- Explanation of What Has Changed: What has changed / what corrective measures the student has taken – or will take – to achieve and make satisfactory academic progress.
In addition, the student must include a detailed plan showing how he will meet remaining program requirements.
When to Appeal
A student may submit a SAP Appeal and Academic Plan at any time, up to the published deadlines for each semester, as financial aid cannot be reinstated retroactively for a prior term. Students are responsible for checking their email and responding to any additional requests for information / incomplete appeals by the stated deadline in the email.
The following deadlines apply with regards to consideration for aid eligibility:
Semester Student is Seeking Aid Eligibility
Last day to submit SAP Appeal for consideration of aid eligibility
July 17, 2019
Fall Semester 2019
November 15, 2019
Spring Semester 2020
April 17, 2020
These deadlines have been implemented to be consistent with the Cal Poly Pomona deadlines for submitting a Withdrawal Petition to receive a grade of “W.”
If An Appeal Is Approved
If a SAP appeal is approved, the student will be put on Financial Aid Probation for one semester / payment period. A student on Financial Aid Probation must meet all SAP Standards by the end of the probationary term, or will need to follow the specific details of an approved Academic Plan as specified in the approval communication.
Impact on the Disbursement of Financial Aid
Financial Aid regulations do not allow for the disbursement of any financial assistance for the next semester of enrollment until the campus can ensure that the student will be eligible to receive financial aid under the established SAP Standards. As a result, a hold will be placed on the disbursement of financial aid for those students who are at risk of becoming ineligible. This includes:
- Students who are on Financial Aid Warning
- Students who are on Financial Aid Probation
- Students who are being monitored based on an Approved Academic Plan
- Students who are approaching the Maximum Timeframe
Once grades are posted and SAP can be evaluated, the hold will be released for those deemed eligible. The hold will not be released for those deemed ineligible until such time as an appeal is approved.
Due to the timing of grade submission for Spring and Summer terms, this will mean a delay in the release of funds past the beginning of the next term. As a result, students in one of the statuses above during a spring term who are enrolled in the Summer term will have their Summer financial aid held until at least mid-June. Students in one of the above statuses during a summer term will have their Fall financial aid held until at least mid-September.
If An Appeal is Denied
If a SAP Appeal is denied, the student will be eligible to continue to enroll and attend classes at Cal Poly Pomona; however she will be responsible for all charges, as she will not be eligible to receive financial aid (until meeting the SAP Standards).
Appeal of Denial
If a student’s appeal was denied and the student wishes to challenge the denial, they must provide a clearly written (typed) rationale for the challenge to the Associate Director of Financial Aid & Scholarships. The Associate Director will consult with the Director of Financial Aid & Scholarships, the Senior AVP of Enrollment Management & Services, and/or the Provost, as appropriate in responding to the appeal.
The deadline to submit a second level appeal is 14 calendar days from the date of the SAP ineligibility communication.
Students will receive a response from the Associate Director by email. Be aware that this decision is final. If the Associate Director renders a decision to uphold the denial, the student is not permitted to submit additional appeals until the next academic year. The student may also regain eligibility for financial aid if their progress allows them to meet all three Satisfactory Academic Standards.
If you repeat a course, credit hours for each registration will be added to a student’s attempted credit hours total. However, only the most recent grade received in the course will be included in the calculation of the cumulative GPA/qualitative measure.
Note: Federal Financial Aid will pay for only one repeat of a previously passed course.
Withdrawal from Courses (W)
If a student withdraws from a course during the semester, after the add/drop period (when a grade of W begins to be assigned), the course credit hours will be added to his attempted credit hours total.
Unofficial Withdrawal from Courses (WU)
If a student unofficially withdraws from a course during the semester, the course credit hours will be added to his attempted credit hours total. Additionally, per CPP academic policy, the grade of WU is included in the calculation of the students GPA (as the equivalent of an F).
Retroactive Withdrawals (WX)
Courses with a Grade of WX are included in the SAP calculation; however, course withdrawals for extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control (illness or other problems or a serious nature beyond the student’s control) can be excluded – if requested & documented in the student’s SAP Appeal.
Remedial (or Pre-Baccalaureatte) Courses
Credit hours for each remedial course a student takes are included in the calculation of attempted credit hours total in determining pace. Remedial courses are not included in the calculation of the GPA nor the Maximum Time Frame standards.
Credit hours for incomplete courses are included in the calculation of a student’s attempted credit hours total, but not in the calculation of her GPA. When a grade is updated, it will be included in the GPA calculation and passing grades will be counted as completed hours.
Credit hours transferred from other schools that are accepted toward completion of the Cal Poly Pomona program count as hours attempted and hours completed. These are also factored into the Maximum Time Frame.
- A maximum of 70 units of transferable credit from a 2-year institution will be counted based on CSU and CPP Policy.
- Units from a 4 year institution are not limited to 70; however, transfer credit may be excluded by request if it cannot be used to meet any CPP Degree requirements (including general electives).
Credits are not earned for audited courses. Therefore they are not included in the calculation of a student’s attempted credit hours total or the GPA Standard.
Credit hours for pass/fail courses are included in the calculation of a student’s attempted credit hours total, but not in the calculation of the GPA.
Report In Progress
The "RP" symbol is used in connection with courses that extend beyond one academic semester. The symbol indicates that work in progress has been evaluated as satisfactory to date but that the assignment of a precise grade must await the completion of additional coursework.
Courses with a grade of RP will be treated as units attempted and completed in the student’s Pace Standard, but not in the calculation of the GPA.
The "RD" symbol may be used where a delay in the reporting of a grade is due to circumstances beyond the control of the student. The symbol may be assigned by the Registrar's Office only and, if assigned, shall be replaced by a substantive grading symbol as soon as possible upon submission of a Grade Change Form.
Since no evaluation has been done as to the status of the coursework (satisfactory vs. unsatisfactory), courses with a grade of RD will be included in the calculation of a student’s attempted credit hours total (attempted but not completed), but not in the calculation of the GPA.
Undergraduate Courses at the Graduate Level
Undergraduate courses taken by graduate students do not earn graduate credit, and therefore, they are not included in the calculation of the GPA. However, credit hours for the courses are included in the calculation of the student’s attempted credit hours total (counted as attempted but not completed).
If a student changes majors, the credit hours taken under all majors will be included in the calculation of the attempted credit hours total, the GPA calculation and the maximum timeframe for degree completion.