Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships to apply reasonable standards for measuring whether you are making progress toward a degree. This is to ensure that you are successfully progressing through your program of study. Maintaining satisfactory academic progress is not only important for your academic success, but it is also a key factor in terms of minimizing student debt. If you do not meet the minimum requirements, you could lose your eligibility for financial aid.

The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy applies to all students who receive federal and state financial aid.

In addition, if specified by the donor or program administrator, institutional grants and scholarships may be subject to this policy.  Generally, academic or performance-based merit aid, which has no need component, does not include a SAP requirement.

It is your responsibility to be aware of SAP requirements.

Explanation of Requirements

Student academic progress is measured against the following standards: Grade Point Average (GPA), Pace and Max Time. All coursework included on your transcript (no matter the length of time) is evaluated against these standards, including coursework you completed during a period when you did not receive financial aid.

Pace: You must earn credit for at least 67% of the hours you attempt. This calculation is performed by dividing the number of credit hours earned by the number of credit hours attempted. We do not use rounding when determining the Pace percentage, so 66.5% will not be rounded up to 67%.

Max Time: You may not receive financial aid for more than 180 attempted hours. However, once you reach 150 attempted hours, we will require that a degree audit be completed in collaboration with your advisor, to see if it is mathematically possible for you to meet graduation requirements before reaching 180 attempted credits.

Grade Point Average: The minimum GPA requirement is based on the number of credit hours attempted. GPA standards mirror the university’s academic suspension policy. (see table below)

Credit hours attempted*
(includes transferred hours)
Minimum GPA requirement
(cumulative JMU GPA for financial aid)
1-27 1.500
28-44 1.650
45-59 1.750
60-74 1.850
75-89 1.900
90-104 1.994
105-119 1.999
120 or above 2.000

* To determine the GPA requirement, start by calculating your total attempted hours.  You will need to add:

    1. All hours attempted at JMU.
    2. Credit hours transferred to JMU.
    3. Credit hours earned by departmental exam and AP credit.
    4. Credit hours for courses taken on a credit (CR)/no credit (NC) basis (whether the final grade was CR or NC).

In the example below, a student has attempted 60 credit hours at JMU, received 30 credits for transfer work, and 2 hours of no credit work. The hours attempted at JMU plus the no credit and transfer hours place this student in the 92 credit hour category, even though the total number of hours earned is equal to 82. With a cumulative GPA of 1.991, the student does not meet SAP requirements.

JMU Hours Attempted 60
Transfer Hours 30
Non-Credit Hours 2
JMU Hours Earned 52
Cumulative Hours Earned 82
Total Hours Attempted 92
Cumulative Quality Points Earned 119.5
Cumulative GPA 1.991

Explanation of Attempted Hours

The financial aid office uses the university's academic suspension policy to evaluate your GPA. In compliance with federal regulations, financial aid developed procedures for evaluating Pace and Max Time. The chart illustrates how we view attempted hours for each component.

Once credit of any type is posted to the academic transcript, it cannot be removed for any reason other than documented error. Removing earned credits to benefit SAP calculations is a violation of Federal Financial Aid regulations.

A special note about GPA.  A “Y” in the GPA column indicates that the credit type is included in your total attempted hours for GPA purposes.  With the exception of “Repeat/Forgiveness” and “Repeat/Credit”, the credit type identified with a “Y” will not affect the calculation of your GPA.  However, all attempted hours will be used to determine the GPA level you much achieve.  See table under “Grade Point Average” above for attempted hours and required GPA.

Type Grade Point Average Pace Max time
Transfer/Transfer Equivalent Y Y Y
Dual Enrollment Y Y Y
Advanced Placement Y Y Y
International Baccalaureate Y Y Y
Withdrawal Y Y
Withdrawal while passing Y Y
Withdrawal while failing Y Y
Repeat/Forgiveness ** Y Y
Repeat/Credit Y Y Y
Incomplete Y Y
Credit/No Credit Y Y Y
Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (SAP) Y Y Y
College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Y Y Y
Departmental Exam Y Y Y

** For Repeat/Forgiveness, your most recent grade and credit(s) count toward your GPA.

Note: Because of COVID-19, Federal regulations allow us to exclude from the SAP evaluation any class in the spring 2020 semester with an NC (no credit) designation.


SAP Evaluation Frequency

  • Annually – Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is monitored at the end of each academic year.  Federal regulations prevent us from calculating SAP more than once each academic year (unless your 4th semester is summer or fall). Even if you take/transfer courses that alleviate your GPA and/or Pace issue, the status cannot be updated. To have financial aid eligibility reconsidered, an appeal must be submitted for review.
  • 4th Semester – Federal regulations require that a review of your GPA status be conducted after you have completed four semesters (including summer) of enrollment. This typically coincides with the annual review but if your 4th semester of enrollment is in the summer or fall, we will conduct an additional evaluation.


Notification of Your Status

If you were unable to meet the Grade Point Average, Pace, or Max Time requirements during your previous enrollment, we will send you an email message regarding this matter.  In addition, a reminder will appear on your “To Do List” in MyMadison.  (No information will appear in MyMadison regarding SAP until you have filed your FAFSA and received an email explaining that you are not eligible for financial aid.)


Opportunity to Appeal

If extenuating circumstances led to your noncompliance with the SAP requirements, you may submit an appeal for review. More information about appealing, including deadlines and the form to use, is located on the “SAP Appeals Process” portion of this website.

Contact us if you have any questions.

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