Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid Eligibility

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is defined as the successful completion of coursework toward an eligible certificate or degree. Federal regulations require the Office of Student Financial Aid to monitor the academic progress of students receiving financial aid.

Students receiving federal student financial aid must maintain “Satisfactory Academic Progress” at Vermont State University in order to remain eligible for federal aid consideration. 

The Financial Aid Office evaluates Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) once a year after the completion of the spring term for students enrolled in Associate, Bachelor and Graduate programs. Students enrolled in certificate programs will be evaluated at the end of every term.  All semesters of enrollment, including summer, must be considered in the determination of SAP (even periods in which federal aid funds were not received).

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) tests three standards:

1. GPA (Qualitative) Standard

As a student progresses through their academic program, their cumulative GPA must meet the following standards as recorded and documented by the Registrar’s Office:

  • Undergraduate students with fewer than 30 earned credits must maintain a cumulative GPA of 1.75
  • Undergraduate students with 30 earned credits or greater, must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0
  • At the end of the undergraduate student’s second academic year, defined as being at the institution for 4 semesters, regardless of enrollment status, the student must have a GPA of at least 2.0
  • Graduate students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
  • GPA calculations will not be rounded.

2. Pace (Quantitative) Standard

Undergraduate students must successfully complete 67% of their attempted courses as recorded and documented by the Registrar’s Office. Dropped courses will not be included. Courses withdrawn from after the end of the add/drop period will be counted as attempted credits.  Transfer credits accepted towards student’s program are counted in Pace calculations.  Pace calculations will be rounded to the nearest whole percentage.

  • Pace Calculation Example:  If you attempt/enroll in 12 credits for one semester you must successfully complete 8 credits (8/12 = .67 or 67%)

3. Maximum Timeframe Standard

An undergraduate student’s maximum time frame for completion of their academic program must not exceed 150% of the published program length, measured in credit hours. All semesters of attendance in addition to accepted transfer credits will be counted in this evaluation. 

A graduate student’s maximum time frame is 150% of the published length of the program and/or within 5 academic years from the date of enrollment.

  • Maximum Timeframe Example:  If your program requires 120 credits, the maximum time frame allowed to complete the program would be (120 x 150% = 180 credits).  Please note different programs have different credit requirements.  Consult the catalog description for your degree program requirements.

Students who are eligible to graduate but haven’t are no longer eligible for financial aid.

Monitoring Period

Students enrolled in Associate, Bachelor, and Graduate programs will have their satisfactory academic progress evaluated once a year at the end of the spring semester regardless of whether the student received financial aid. Students in certificate programs will be evaluated at the end of every term.  Students not meeting these Satisfactory Academic Progress standards will receive communication to their VTSU email address.

Financial Aid Warning

Students enrolled in certificate programs who are evaluated at the end of each term may be placed in a “WARNING” status if failing to meet SAP for the first time.  The student may continue to receive financial aid for one payment period.  No appeal is necessary for this status.  Students receiving a warning need to bring their academic standing up to SAP standards in their following term as outline or they will lose their eligibility for aid.

Financial Aid Suspension

A student not meeting SAP after their evaluation period is no longer eligible for financial aid and will be placed on a financial aid “SUSPENSION” status.  Students on SUSPENSION status are not eligible to receive financial aid including grants, scholarships federal loans, and work study. This may also apply to scholarships/loans from an outside resource. Scholarships that have specific requirements in order to maintain eligibility (GPA for example) will not be reinstated even with an appeal approval.

SAP Appeal

A student who fails to meet a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standard will be placed in a Financial Aid Suspension Status and will lose all financial aid eligibility until the student is in compliance with the SAP standards. A student whose aid eligibility has been suspended may appeal for a Probationary Semester by completing a SAP appeal.  The appeal consists of:

  • SAP Appeal Form and Academic Plan
  • Written explanation detailing circumstances that led to not meeting SAP and how their situation has changed which will allow them to meet SAP the next academic term
  • Written confirmation from an academic advisor, success advisor, or academic support staff member that they have met with the student and gone over their plan to regain good standing.

An appeal must be based on significant mitigating circumstances that seriously impacted academic performance. Examples of possible mitigating circumstances are serious illness, mental health, severe injury, death of a family member, and other similar situations. Also, the student will need to describe what has changed in their current situation that will allow the student to demonstrate SAP at the next evaluation.

Appeal information will be emailed to students to their school email address.  The appeal form itself is an online form.  Any additional information such as the written statement and emails from faculty or staff in support of their appeal can be emailed to

Appeals will be reviewed by a committee on a weekly basis as they are received.  Students can expect to receive a decision within 2 weeks of submitting a complete appeal.  The student will be notified of the appeal decision via their VTSU email and the decision is final.

Appeal approval will be based on the likelihood that the student will meet SAP at the next review.  Please note that merely filing an appeal does not guarantee continued eligibility for financial aid.  Appeals based on circumstances that were under the control of the student are rarely approved.  Students should make every effort to improve their SAP standing as they may be limited to two SAP appeals.  Third appeals will only be considered if the student has shown significant improvement in their SAP standards.

Appeals will not be considered after two weeks prior to the last day of the semester.  Appeals must be complete and received prior to that date to be considered.  Additionally, appeals received after mid-term progress is available will have mid-term progress taken into consideration when reviewing the appeal.

Financial Aid Probation

If a student’s appeal is approved they will be placed on “PROBATION” status. The student will be considered for federal aid during a probationary period but only for the semester that is current at the time the appeal is submitted- aid will not be reinstated retroactively. Once the probationary semester has concluded the students’ progress will be reviewed. Continuation of federal aid eligibility will be based on adherence to the “Academic Plan” and the general requirements of a probationary period which requires the student to earn all credits attempted (no F’s, no W’s/Withdrawals or NP/Not Passed) and to also earn a GPA of at least 2.00

The student’s probationary period ends once they are meeting both components: GPA (Qualitative) Standard and Pace (Quantitative) Standard as outlined in Vermont State University’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.

The Following May Affect Your SAP Evaluation

Academic Dismissal

Students academically dismissed from their program are automatically recognized as failing to meet Vermont State University’s Satisfactory Academic Progress standards.  If they are reinstated by the University they will be sent SAP appeal information.

Grades and Credits

Courses with grades of “W” (withdrawn), “NP” (not passed), “I” (incomplete), and/or “F” (failed) are counted as courses attempted but not earned AND count toward the Maximum Timeframe Standard and the Pace Standard. Satisfactory Academic Progress will include repeated and remedial coursework unless determined otherwise by the Financial Aid Office during review of a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal. Please note that transfer credits from outside the VSC system do not count in determining the GPA (Qualitative) Standard, but do count in Pace (Quantitative) Standard and Maximum Timeframe Standard for Satisfactory Academic Progress. The Financial Aid Office will NOT automatically adjust a student’s Satisfactory Academic Progress status when grades are changed or finally reported. For any grade change (especially regarding a prior grade of “I” incomplete that has now been assigned a traditional letter grade), a student is responsible for notifying the Financial Aid Office of such a change and requesting a review of their Satisfactory Academic Progress evaluation.

Second Bachelor’s Degree

Undergraduate students seeking a second bachelor’s degree are allowed 60 additional attempted credits to complete their degree requirements up to a maximum of 240 attempted credits (includes all undergraduate credits).

Change in Degree Program

All credits earned at VTSU plus transfer credits will normally be counted when the student changes degree programs.  Each case will be evaluation on its own merit.  Students may not extend their period of enrollment by changing their major after accumulating 90 credits.


Grades and credits excluded from the calculation of a student’s grade point average by amelioration must be included in the evaluation of a student’s Satisfactory Academic Progress for both PACE and GPA per Federal Regulation.

Repeat Coursework

If you repeat a course, it will be added to your attempted credit hours total. However, only the most recent grade received in the course will be included in the calculation of your cumulative GPA/qualitative measure.

Note: Federal financial aid will pay for only one repeat of a previously passed course.

Leave of Absence

A student who takes a leave of absence after the add/drop period of the semester receives a grade of “W” for all courses withdrawn from which may cause the student to not meet SAP Pace requirement.  This can be considered as part of the student appeal.

Leaving VTSU then being readmitted

A student who resigns from or leaves VTSU whose last SAP status was SUSPENSION will need to submit an appeal upon returning to VTSU to be considered for financial aid.  Students who exhausted appeals while enrolled, leave, and then are readmitted will be allowed one more appeal when returning.


Federal guidelines have allowed schools to exclude Spring 2020 from student’s PACE calculations when Spring 2020 negatively impacted PACE.  We will continue to exclude Spring 2020 from future PACE calculations for any student in this category.

Special Circumstances

Students with documented disabilities may be allotted additional time for completion of courses.