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Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that student financial aid recipients are meeting satisfactory academic progress standards. In an effort to comply with federal regulations, Columbia College ("College") has developed the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for students to maintain or reestablish eligibility to receive Title IV funds.

Scope

This policy applies to all student receiving financial aid at Columbia College.

Policy

According to the United States Department of Education regulations and Missouri Department of Higher Education policy, all students applying for federal and/or state financial assistance (as well as some private, credit-based loans) must meet and maintain satisfactory academic progress in a degree program to receive funding. Students who are not making academic progress when they initially apply for aid will not be eligible for financial aid at Columbia College until academic progress is met or the student submits an appeal for financial aid and the College approves the appeal.

 

The Financial Aid Office will review the satisfactory academic progress of enrolled financial aid recipients following each semester; students will be reviewed up to three times annually. Each such review includes the Qualitative (GPA), Quantitative (Pace of Completion), and Maximum Timeframe (150%) measurements discussed below.

Qualitative Measure (GPA)

The quality of a student's progress is measured by grade point average (cumulative GPA). The minimum cumulative GPA for financial aid recipients is the same as the academic standard for Columbia College: 

Cumulative
Attempted Hours
(with transfer credit)

Minimum Cumulative
Grade Point Average
at Columbia College

0-30.9

1.75

31-45.9

1.90

46 or more

2.00

Graduate Program

3.00

Quantitative Measure

The quantity of a student’s progress is measured by the Cumulative Completion Rate (credit hours earned divided by credit hours attempted). Students are required to complete 2/3 (66.67%) of attempted credit hours.

Courses and grades considered in determining Satisfactory Academic Progress 

All courses attempted and on the academic record (that is, every time a student is enrolled in a course past the add/drop date, the course will count as an attempt) at the time of progress check are considered when determining the Cumulative Completion Rate. (For definition of grades please see academic policies, regulations, and procedures in the academic catalog.)

Please note the following:

  • Incomplete courses (I) will count toward total hours attempted for the Cumulative Completion Rate, will not be considered completed courses, and will not be included in the GPA calculation. 
  • Withdrawals (W and WE), including excused withdrawals, will count toward total hours attempted for the Cumulative Completion Rate, will not be considered completed courses, and will be included in the GPA calculation.
  • Failing (F) grades will count toward total hours attempted for the Cumulative Completion Rate, will not be considered completed courses, and will be included in the GPA calculation.
  • Repeated courses will count toward total hours attempted for the Cumulative Completion Rate (but only one passing grade will be considered as a completed course). The newest grade will be included in the GPA calculation and the older grade will be excluded. Federal student aid is available for only one retake of a passed course.
  • Pass/Fail courses will count toward total hours attempted for the Cumulative Completion Rate (calculation of both cumulative attempted credit hours and, if passed, cumulative completed credit hours), but will not count in the GPA calculation.
  • Transfer credits accepted by the college (including those received during consortium student) will count toward the Cumulative Completion Rate (calculation of both cumulative attempted credit hours and cumulative completed credit hours), and will not count in the GPA calculation.
  • Change in Majors. Only courses counting toward a student's program (major) will count toward maximum timeframe. There is not a limit to the number of times a student can change majors.
  • Undergraduate and Graduate Courses. All undergraduate courses count in the calculation of the Cumulative Completion Rate for undergraduate students. All graduate courses count in the calculation of Cumulative Completion Rate for graduate students.
  • Remedial, Enrichment and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses will count toward total hours attempted for the Cumulative Completion Rate (calculation of both cumulative attempted credit hours and cumulative completed credit hours), and will count in the GPA calculation.

Maximum Timeframe Measure

Financial aid recipients must complete an educational program within a timeframe no longer than 150% of the published length of the educational program. Students for whom it is no longer mathematically possible to complete their educational programs within 150% of the published length will no longer be eligible for federal financial aid. In addition, students who do not complete their educational programs within 150% the published length, will no longer be eligible to received federal financial aid.

For example, a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree requiring 120 credit hours may attempt up to 180 hours before financial aid eligibility is suspended (120 x 150% = 180). However, if that student fails the first 61 attempted hours, it is no longer mathematically possible for the student to complete the 120-hour program within 180 attempted hours (61 + 120 = 181), and the student’s financial aid eligibility will be suspended at the 61-hour mark.

All attempted course credits that apply to a student’s program count toward this Maximum Timeframe limit. This includes courses designated as incomplete, withdrawn, repeated, failed, pass/fail, transferred and/or remedial/enrichment/ESL. It also includes courses taken while attending an institution part-time and courses for which a student did not receive financial aid.

Financial Aid Warning 

Failure to meet the minimum satisfactory progress requirements will result in a status of federal financial aid warning. If a student is in a satisfactory status and fails to meet the minimum (quantitative, qualitative, or maximum timeframe) requirement, he/she will be automatically placed on financial aid warning status for one semester. Notification will be sent to the student via CougarMail that he/she is not meeting satisfactory academic progress requirements and he/she are at risk of future suspension of aid. All federal and state aid will remain for future semesters while in a warning status. These students will be reviewed at the end of the following enrolled semester to determine if they meet the minimum requirements (quantitative, qualitative, or maximum timeframe) and will either be placed in a suspended status or reinstated to satisfactory.

Financial Aid Suspension

Students in a warning status who fail to meet the minimum satisfactory academic progress requirements will be placed on federal financial aid suspension. Satisfactory academic progress requirements are reviewed at the completion of the warning semester to determine if the student meets the minimum (quantitative, qualitative, or maximum timeframe) requirements. Those who do not will be placed on financial aid suspension, and will be ineligible to receive federal financial aid.

Students will be notified of financial aid suspension in writing via CougarMail. If a student is placed on financial aid suspension, all federal and state aid will be withdrawn for future semesters. Students on financial aid suspension have option to reinstate aid as described below.

Reinstatement

Financial Aid may be reinstated when one of the following conditions has been met:

  • The student completes courses without federal aid in one or more terms (semesters) at Columbia College until the cumulative GPA and Cumulative Completion Rate meet the required standard (while meeting maximum timeframe conditions). It is the student's responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office when reinstatement conditions have been met. OR
  • The student files an appeal and the  Financial Aid Appeal Review Committee approves the appeal. (See appeal procedures below).

Appeal Procedures

Students who are suspended from federal financial aid may make a written appeal for reinstatement of eligibility if extenuating circumstances have contributed to their inability to meet the requirements for satisfactory academic progress, and the students’ circumstances have changed such that they are likely to be able to meet those requirements at the next evaluation or through an appropriate academic plan. Extenuating circumstances include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Death of an immediate family member
  • Severe injury or illness of the student or an immediate family member
  • Emergency situations such as fire or flood
  • Legal separation from spouse or divorce
  • Military reassignment or required job transfers or shift changes.

Students who have extenuating circumstances may appeal using the following procedures:

  1. Submit a completed Appeal Form online and additional supporting documentation. Submission of additional supporting documentation is optional. A link to the form is provided in the CougarMail notification and available on the Financial Aid "Forms Page" on the institutional website. All supporting documentation that a student wishes to have reviewed by the appeal board should be submitted by the student.
  2. The appeal packet is presented to the Financial Aid Appeal Review Committee for review. See Appeal Information regarding deadline submission and result notification dates. The Appeal Information deadline is provided in the CougarMail notification and also available on the institutional website.
  3. The student is notified via CougarMail of the Committee's decision and recommendations. The Committee's decision is final.

Financial Aid Appealed Probation

Financial aid appealed probation is a status assigned to students whose written appeal has been reviewed by the Appeal Committee and the decision was made to reinstate aid for one semester. Students will be required to meet minimum satisfactory academic progress requirements for the semester and an individual academic plan while in appealed probation status. 

Minimum satisfactory academic progress requirements for the term (semester) are defined as a term GPA of 2.0 and a 66.67% term pace of completion rate for an undergraduate student. Graduate students must meet a 66.67% term pace of completion rate and a term GPA of 3.0.

The individual academic plan will consist of the individual academic requirements that the student needs to obtain in order to graduate from Columbia College before reaching the federal aid maximum time frame. Students will be notified of the academic plan requirement via CougarMail.

At the end of the appealed probation semester, a student's cumulative GPA and Cumulative Completion Rate will be reviewed to determine if the student met minimum satisfactory academic progress for the term (semester) and the student’s academic plan requirements.

What happens when the appealed probation semester is complete?

A student may regain or lose federal eligibility following the appealed probation semester. The status for the semester following the appealed probation semester will fall into one of the categories below:

  • Stay in an appealed probation status. In order to remain in appealed probation status, a student must meet minimum satisfactory academic progress requirements for the term (semester) as well as his or her academic plan requirements. The student will continue to have an individual academic plan for regaining Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  • Move back to a suspension status. If a student does not meet either
    • the required pace of completion or GPA for the semester or
    • the requirements of his/her academic plan

              the student's status will return to suspension and federal aid will be cancelled for future semesters. 

  • Move to a satisfactory status. If a student meets the overall GPA and Cumulative Completion Rate (while meeting maximum timeframe conditions) for satisfactory academic progress, aid will be reinstated.

Students who remain in an appealed probationary status will have aid in place for the next semester (if they meet all other general eligibility requirements) and will continue to be monitored each semester. Students who move back to a suspension status will not have aid in place the next semester and have the options of Reinstatement. Students who move to a satisfactory status will have aid reinstated and will be reviewed again at the time of the next upcoming satisfactory academic progress evaluation.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Application to Students Not Receiving Federal Student Aid

The College does not award federal financial aid to students who are ineligible due to being non-degree seeking or failing to meet other eligibility requirements. Students who apply for aid after enrolling at Columbia College must meet all general eligibility requirements including Satisfactory Academic Progress before any federal aid is awarded. 

Suspension procedures

The Financial Aid Office will review internally generated reports identifying students who received Federal Title IV aid. The reports will include:

  • Students who failed to meet minimum satisfactory requirements for
    • Qualitative measurement
    • Quantitative measurement
    • Maximum Timeframe measurement
  • Students are reviewed using the following criteria
    • Undergraduate programs: cumulative undergraduate GPA from Columbia College, accepted undergraduate transfer credit, and attempted Columbia College undergraduate courses.
    • Graduate programs: cumulative graduate GPA from Columbia College, accepted graduate transfer credit, and attempted Columbia College graduate courses. 

 

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