Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Procedures

Federal and state regulations governing student financial aid require that a college develop standards to measure academic progress toward a degree.  All students will be reviewed 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.

What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?

SAP measures completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree.  If you fall behind in your coursework, fail to achieve the required GPA and fall behind in the completion of classes, you may lose eligibility for federal and state aid.

What do I need to do to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress status?

  • Maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA).
  • Maintain a cumulative successful completion rate of a minimum of 67.00% of courses attempted.
  • Complete an eligible academic program in no more than 150% of the number of hours to finish the program. For example, if your program requires 60 credit hours, financial aid will not help pay your costs after you have taken 90 credit hours.

How will I know if I am meeting the policy requirements for SAP?

All students who are failing to meet the requirements of SAP will be contacted by email in your student email account.

How do I appeal my Maximum Timeframe Status?

  • Download and complete Maximum Time Frame form.
  • Submit completed appeal to the Financial Aid Office prior to the census date.
  • The SAP Appeal Committee will review your appeal and notify you via email.

What if I want to appeal my status?

  • Download and complete the Appeal Form.
  • Meet with your advisor/counselor to create an academic plan.
  • Include any supporting documentation. Examples could include photos, documentation from physicians or counselors, and other information to support your extenuating circumstances.
  • Submit completed appeal to the Financial Aid Office prior to the census date.  The Financial Aid Office is located in the Student Achievement Center on the Youngwood campus.  
  • The SAP Appeal Committee will review your appeal and notify you via email. Appeals are reviewed usually within 10 days after submission.  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.  If you decide to appeal, please complete the form below. 

If I have read all of the information and still have questions, who can help?

Your assigned advisor will help you with any additional questions you may have.  

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(W), medical withdrawal (MW), earn an F (F), or I (I) grade.   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.