Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Procedures

Federal and state regulations governing student financial aid require that an institution develop standards to measure academic progress toward a degree.  All students will be monitored for financial aid satisfactory academic progress (SAP) whether or not financial aid was applied for or received during any academic period in which the student was previously enrolled.

You will not be eligible for financial aid if you do not meet the financial aid SAP requirements.  In order to maintain SAP for financial aid eligibility, students must meet four standards: a GPA requirement, a pace requirement, a minimum cumulative unit requirement and a maximum timeframe requirement.

Students failing to maintain SAP will be notified that he/she is ineligible for financial aid beginning with the term immediately following the term the SAP requirements were not met. Westmoreland County Community College monitors SAP at the end of each term. Students pursuing a double major or a second degree objective will be held to the same standards as all other students.

Eligibility for continued financial aid will only be re-established if the student subsequently meets the SAP requirements; or the student successfully appeals.

Students have the right to appeal the suspension of financial aid. A written appeal must be submitted to the financial aid office stating the reasons for not maintaining satisfactory academic progress. The appeal, academic plan and all supporting documents will be reviewed by the Financial Aid SAP Appeals Committee in the order in which they are received.

Appeals are reviewed usually within 10 days after submission. The committee will notify the student of its decision in writing. Students whose appeal is approved will have their aid reinstated for the upcoming term. This term will be called Probation as their continuing eligibility will be determined after their Probationary term is over.

SAP Policy and Related Forms

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended by Congress, mandates that institutions of higher education establish standards of “satisfactory academic Progress” (SAP) for students receiving federal financial aid. These standards apply to all Federal Title IV aid programs. The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards apply to all students seeking federal Title IV financial aid, regardless of whether a student has received Title IV financial aid in the past. Federal regulations require that all students receiving federal financial aid make continued progress in their educational
programs and toward their educational goals. (CFR 34 668.34).

Federal financial aid programs include:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Federal Direct Student Loans (including Parent Loans)
  • Federal Work Study

Institutional financial aid programs that follow this policy include:

  • Westmoreland County Community College Scholarships
  • Other financial assistance programs awarded by Westmoreland County Community College

IMPORTANT: Students may be academically eligible to continue to take courses at Westmoreland, but be ineligible for federal financial aid.

Program of Study

A student must declare an eligible program of study to be eligible to receive federal financial aid.

Process of Determining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

In accordance with the HEA regulations, the Financial Aid Office will monitor SAP after grades are posted at the end of each term (fall, spring, and summer).

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards

  • Qualitative Standard (Cumulative Grade Point Average) –A student must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0. Cumulative GPA is calculated by dividing the total number of quality points earned by the total credit hours attempted for which the student received grades. Credit hours attempted will be cumulative and will include all hours for which the student was enrolled as of the census date, defined as the day following the last day for registration and payment outlined in the College catalog, of each academic term, or for which the student received a grade.
  • Quantitative Standard (Completion Rate) –A student must maintain a minimum cumulative completion rate of 67%. A student's completion rate can be calculated by dividing the number of credit hours completed by the number of credit hours attempted. Transfer credits should count as both attempted and completed credits.
  • Maximum Timeframe –A student must successfully complete the program of study within its timeframe. Federal regulations specify that the timeframe may not exceed 150% of the published length of the program. When students exceed the timeframe for their programs of study, they are no longer eligible to receive financial
    aid. However, students can submit an appeal to have their eligibility extended if there are extenuating circumstances.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Review

Students are evaluated at the end of each academic term (fall, spring and summer). A student with a status of Unsatisfactory may either appeal to have their financial aid eligibility reinstated, or may notify the Financial Aid office when they are meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy. The appeal procedure is detailed in the College catalog.

The review process will assign a status for each student of:

  • SATISFACTORY: Student has met progress standards and is eligible for aid for the following semester or
    academic year.
  • WARNING: Student has not met progress standards, but may continue receiving federal aid. Student is encouraged to seek tutoring to assist with the improvement of his/her GPA and progress. A student in the ‘Warning’ category is calculated based on cumulative evaluation through prior term enrollment.
  • UNSATISFACTORY: Students who fail to meet the conditions of a Warning, which are to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 and a minimum cumulative completion rate of 67%, will be placed on Unsatisfactory. Students who are placed on Unsatisfactory forfeit their financial aid.
  • MAXIMUM TIME-FRAME: A student is no longer eligible to receive Federal or State financial aid due to having exceeded the maximum allowed credits for earning his/her program of study. Students submitting a Maximum Time Frame Appeal must include an Academic Plan reflecting the date for completion of their program of study. The advisor or counselor must sign the academic plan prior to submittal.
  • PROBATION: Probation occurs when students on Unsatisfactory or Maximum Time Frame have had their SAP Appeal and Academic Plan approved by the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal’s Committee for financial aid reinstatement. Students in the status of probation will have their financial aid eligibility reinstated for one more semester. A student on probation may not receive aid for the subsequent payment period unless:
    • The student is now meeting the financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress policy at the end of the probation period (semester); or
    • The student adheres to the financial aid student academic plan.
  • CONTINUED PROBATION: Students may remain on Continued Probation status for an additional term, as needed to raise their cumulative GPA above a 2.0 as long as they maintain a 2.3 term GPA each semester and complete 6 credit hours in the Fall and Spring and 3 credit hours in the Summer. Students with a completion rate of less than 67%, must complete all attempted classes taken during the probation period. That means that each
    continued probation student would have to make a 2.3 GPA in the classes they are currently enrolled in and not withdraw or make failing grades. The student will be cleared from probation when their cumulative GPA reaches a 2.0 or higher and/or their completion rate is 67%.
  • DENIED: If the appeal is denied by the SAP Appeal’s Committee, no further financial aid will be awarded to the student until the conditions of the SAP policy have been met. The student will be responsible for the payment of all tuition, fees, book charges, and any other costs associated with enrollment.

Appeal/Review Deadlines

Students wishing to appeal their SAP status of ‘Unsatisfactory’ must submit their SAP appeal form with submitting documentation to the Financial Aid Office no later than the Census date for each term. Please refer to the academic calendar for this date.

Regaining Eligibility

If a student fails to meet the satisfactory academic progress standards, but meets the standards later at some point, the
student can once again be eligible to receive federal Title IV. In such cases, financial aid eligibility will begin with the  academic semester after which the student re-establishes progress. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the Westmoreland Financial Aid office after completing coursework that allows the student to regain eligibility for financial aid.

Remedial Coursework

Remedial credits do count for the pace/completion calculation for Satisfactory Academic Progress, but are not included in the calculation of cumulative GPA, or Maximum Time Frame. Note: Maximum of 30 attempted Remedial credits are funded with federal financial aid. This restriction holds for all the federal grants and loans described on this site. You can, however, still receive federal financial aid payments for credit bearing course work, subject to your ability to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.

Repeated Courses

All Repeated courses will be counted in the total number of attempted credits for SAP calculation. A student who passes
a course (with a letter grade of D or higher, may retake the class one additional time and receive financial aid for that course.

Incompletes

Courses with an “I” (incomplete) will be considered as courses attempted, but not successfully completed. Although
Westmoreland’s academic policy provides students up to an additional semester to complete an incomplete (I) grade, one or more “I” grades can adversely affect the Minimum 67% Pace of Completion component of the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.

Transfer Credits

Transfer credits accepted by Westmoreland County Community College will be included in overall attempted credits, but not the GPA calculation. Attempted credits will be used in the calculation of Maximum Time Frame and Completion rate.

Change in Program

A change of program does not “reset” SAP. All attempted and completed credits are used when calculating GPA, Completion Rate, and Maximum Time Frame. Students must make sure that they have their correct program of study “active” on their school record and must only take coursework that is required to complete that program of study. SAP evaluation is completed on the most recently added, highest level, “active” program on a student’s record.

Self-Paid Enrollment

All periods of enrollment at Westmoreland must be included when calculating SAP regardless of whether or not federal financial aid was previously received.

Notification

Students will be notified via the student’s Westmoreland email account. It is also the responsibility of the student to be aware of these guidelines and his/her academic progress in his/her educational program.

State Grant Academic Progress

Academic progress requirements for state grant programs can vary from the federal academic progress policy. Academic progress requirements for the Pennsylvania State Grant are communicated directly to recipients with their state grant notification by PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency); questions about appeals for Pennsylvania State Grant eligibility must be directed to PHEAA at 1-800-692-7392 or www.pheaa.org.

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