Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students receiving financial assistance through a federal, state or institutional aid program must be making satisfactory academic progress towards a degree.  The Office of Financial Aid monitors all students utilizing both qualitative and quantitative measures.


Frequency of SAP Assessment

The Financial Aid Office will review the Satisfactory Academic Progress of undergraduate students after the spring semester of each academic year for any student that attended any term of the academic year. All students, regardless of enrollment status, will also be reviewed at the end of the second academic year for compliance with the GPA requirement only. Failure to have a 2.0 at the two year checkpoint will result in a full SAP review and financial aid probation.

Grade Point Average (GPA)
The qualitative measurement of progress is a student’s grade point average.  Undergraduate students must maintain a minimum career GPA of 2.0. Graduate students must maintain a minimum career GPA of 3.0.

Hours Ratio
The hours ratio is a measurement used to define the quantitative component of a student’s SAP. 
Hours ratio is measured using the following equation:

Hours Ratio  =  Cumulative Number of  Hours Successfully Earned
                          Cumulative Number of Hours Attempted

 All students must satisfactorily complete at least 67% of all attempted credit hours.  Transfer credit hours, developmental coursework, and repeated coursework will be included when accessing the hours ratio.  Grades of “F,” “I,” “FA,” “WP,” and “W” may endanger a student's eligibility for aid in future terms.  This means for every 12 credits of enrollment the student must complete 8 credits successfully. 

Maximum Timeframe (CAP)

Students are no longer eligible for aid if the number of attempted credit hours exceeds 150% of the published program length. For example, the maximum number of attempted hours eligible to be covered by aid is 190 semester hours for a 127 credit hour bachelor’s degree. For a 36 hour graduate degree, 54 hours would be the maiximum. All attempted hours, including hours for which no federal aid was received, at any college attended count in the CAP calculation.


Students that change majors or are starting a second bachelor’s degree and have credits that do not count toward the new major or degree may be eligible for an “hours reset”, depending on major program and reason for program change. Students will have the option to request a reset during the appeal process. An “hours reset” is not guaranteed.



For the purposes of Satisfactory Academic Progress, Columbia College does not distinguish between full-time and part-time enrollment. Students’ progress is accessed on both a qualitative (GPA) and quantitative scale (percentage of hours completed). Basing the qualitative measure on percentage of hours completed negates any differences in enrollment status.


Re-admit and Entering Transfer Students

Re-admitting students will be assessed for eligibility upon re-application to Columbia College and will be considered eligible for Title IV Assistance if they have completed at least 67% of all the credits attempted and have a 2.0 cumulative career GPA. New transfer students will be assessed for eligibility upon acceptance.


Repeats, Withdrawals, and Remedial Coursework

Any academic course work including incompletes, withdrawals, repetitions and non-credit remedial courses that the student begins and is charged for by the institution will be counted as attempted credit hours.  Non-credit remedial courses and repeated course work that the student successfully completes will be counted toward the hours ratio. Any incomplete grade changed to a passing grade will be counted toward the hours ratio if the change occurs prior to the first day of class.



Students who are determined to be ineligible for federal financial aid under the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy may appeal this determination if the student feels extenuating circumstances are major factors in his/her inability to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards.  Extenuating circumstances are documented conditions beyond the student’s control (i.e., injury, illness, or family crisis).  Appeals governing that circumstance will only be granted once.  All appeals must be in writing and submitted to the Financial Aid Office. 

SAP Statuses
Probation – This status is assigned to a student who is not meeting the SAP requirements, but has successfully appealed to qualify for aid for one additional semester.  At the end of this probationary period, the student must meet SAP requirements or financial aid will be suspended until minimum SAP standards have been met. 

SuspensionThis status is assigned to a student who is not meeting the minimum SAP requirements and is not eligible for appeal or has had an appeal denied. Students on Financial Aid Suspension are not eligible to receive aid until they are once again meeting minimum SAP requirements.

Appeals Process

Students who do not meet these guidelines will be sent a letter and/or e-mail explaining that they are on financial aid probation.  Students who feel there are extenuating circumstances which may affect the denial of financial aid have the right to appeal in accordance with the Financial Aid Appeal Process.  In order to appeal, the student will need to submit a letter of explanation detailing the extenuating circumstance and what steps will be taken to ensure SAP requirements will be met by the end of the next term.  All appeals must be submitted prior the first day of classes for the semester in which the student is seeking financial assistance.  Appeal documentation will be reviewed by the Office of Financial Aid. 


Appeals can only be granted if it is mathematically possible for the student to achieve both the quantitative and qualitative SAP standard by the end of the next academic semester. Any appeal that requires more than one semester to achieve SAP standards will be denied or re-evaluated under the Academic Plan process.


After a reinstatement is made, the Financial Aid Office will review the student’s grades at the end of the reinstated period.  The student will be required to successfully complete each semester with a “C” or better in each course attempted.  If the student fails to meet this requirement, they will be denied financial aid for the upcoming semester and appeals will not be accepted a second time.  Repeated appeals are considered a violation of the intent of the satisfactory academic progress guidelines. If a student’s appeal is denied then the student will be required to successfully attain minimum SAP requirements using their own financial resources to continue enrollment. Once minimum SAP requirements have been met aid eligibility is reinstated.


Appeals for the upcoming Fall semester will be reviewed after Spring grades are available (if necessary) and prior to the last day of the add/drop period for the Fall semester.  Appeals for the upcoming Spring semester will be reviewed after Fall grades are available (if necessary) and prior to the last day of the add/drop period for the Spring semester.  Appeals for the upcoming Summer sessions will be reviewed during the Spring semester and prior to the last day of the add/drop period for the Summer session.


Academic Plan

Students appealing their ineligibility for aid that cannot achieve minimum SAP requirements within one semester may be considered for an Academic Plan. If a student can achieve SAP minimum requirements in a reasonable amount of time, one academic year or less (3 semesters: Fall, Spring, and Summer), exhibits character consistent with the mission of Columbia College, has a balance less than $1000 owed to the college, and can satisfactorily demonstrate a willingness to do the work necessary to attain minimum SAP requirements, then an Academic Plan will be offered.


An Academic Plan will detail the specific expectations and requirements that must be met for each semester the student receives aid until SAP requirements are met. The Academic Plan will be created by the Provost’s Office and forwarded to the Office of Financial Aid. Requirements may include, but are not limited to: regular meetings with faculty, advisors, and the Academic Skills Center, presentation of progress reports to the Director of Financial Aid or other representatives, and optional sessions with the campus Counselor. A specific GPA and percentage of hours completed will be assigned for each semester to ensure that SAP requirements are met within the required time-frame. Failure to comply with any part of the Academic Plan requirements or to achieve the expected GPA and percentage will terminate the Academic Plan provision and the student will become ineligible for aid. No additional appeals will be considered.


Columbia College reserves the right to terminate an Academic Plan at any time. Any decision to terminate a plan early will be approved by the Financial Aid Committee. Academic Plans are an optional part of the appeals process and may not be offered to every student that can mathematically meet SAP requirements within 3 semesters.


Students that have exceeded the 190 attempted hour cap may appeal. Appeals for the extension of aid beyond the 150% maximum timeframe are available only to those students for whom one additional semester of aid will result in graduation. No appeal will be granted for students that require more than one term beyond the maximum timeframe to attain a degree. Students that will not graduate within one term can request consideration for an “hours reset”. Under this provision only the hours that count toward the current major would be used to determine SAP compliance. Not all students will qualify for a reset. Eligibility for a reset will be determined in conjunction with the Office of the Registrar.