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Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Minimum Standards Overview

The U.S. Department of Education mandates institutions of higher education to establish minimum standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to be evaluated and monitored for all students in order to receive federal (Title IV) aid. Any student who is otherwise eligible must meet the standards used by the institution to determine if the student is maintaining satisfactory progress in his or her course of study, regardless of whether the student had previously received Title IV aid. Students must meet SAP requirements in order to receive Federal (Title IV) financial aid including Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans and Federal Work Study. Clarks Summit University has separate standards and requirements for students receiving institutional financial aid. These can be reviewed under the Institutional Aid section of this document. This policy describes FINANCIAL AID Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements and is in addition to, and operates separately from, the ACADEMIC Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.

Evaluating Satisfactory Academic Progress

All students will be evaluated using qualitative, quantitative and maximum timeframe standards. Academic records of all students will be reviewed after the end of each term (fall, spring and summer). The review is cumulative and includes all courses taken at the student’s current academic level. After the evaluation, letters will be sent to all students who have not successfully met SAP requirements. Warning letters will be sent to those who did not meet the requirements at the end of the first term, and those who are not making progress at the end of the second term will receive a letter that their financial aid has been suspended until the deficiency is made up.

Qualitative Standard

To meet the qualitative standard, students must obtain a minimum cumulative GPA as determined by their classification and program. Cumulative GPA is composed of all coursework at the current academic level and is calculated by the Registrar’s Office.

For transfer students, only courses taken at CSU (or through Acadeum) will be used to calculate cumulative GPA.

Student Classification Minimum GPA Minimum GPA for Accel. Counseling
Undergraduate Programs
(1–18 credits attempted)
1.4 2.4
Undergraduate Programs
(19–36 credits attempted)
1.6 2.6
Undergraduate Programs
(37–55 credits attempted)
1.8 2.8
Undergraduate Programs
(56+ credits attempted)
2.0 3.0
Graduate Programs
(except M.Min. and M.Div.), including Doctoral Programs
3.0 at all times
M.Min. and M.Div. 2.0
Quantitative Standard

In order to meet the quantitative standard, students must complete 67% of their cumulative attempted credits at their current level. Withdrawals, incompletes, repeated courses and failure grades will count as attempted but not earned credits and will lower the completion rate. Transfer credits will count as attempted and earned. Completion rates are NOT ROUNDED UP to meet progress. If a student has a completion rate of 66.777%, they are not meeting the minimum 67% requirement of satisfactory academic progress for Title IV aid. 

Maximum Time Frame

A student may not exceed a maximum number of attempted credits in any program, even if aid was not received during that term or prior terms. The maximum number of credits is 150% of the program’s required credits. Once the student reaches the maximum timeframe allowed, the student will be ineligible to receive Title IV financial aid; students may appeal on the basis of coursework not applicable to current degree program (see Appeals section below). The maximum number of attempted credits allowed can be calculated by multiplying the number of credits required in the program by 1.5. Program Credits x 1.5 = Maximum Allowed. Some examples are provided below.

Academic Program Required Program Credits Maximum Number of Attempted Credits Allowed
General Education 60 90.0
Pastoral Ministry 131 196.5
Music Education 168 252.0
Master of Arts 30 45.0
Master of Divinity 94 141.0
Withdrawals and Incompletes

Credits for a course in which a student has withdrawn or received a grade of incomplete are not considered successfully completed. When the incomplete grade becomes a letter grade, academic progress may be reevaluated; however it is the student’s responsibility to inform Financial Aid of the grade change.

Break in Enrollment

When a student has a break in enrollment and is readmitted, the SAP status for prior terms will apply. For example, if a student is placed on financial aid suspension at the end of the spring term, does not return in the fall term, and is readmitted the next spring term, the student will continue in a financial aid suspension status for that term.

Terms/Parts-of-terms/Summer Sessions

A traditional semester is referred to as a standard term (e.g. fall, spring and summer). Standard terms, as defined by Clarks Summit University, are comprised of a combination of smaller “sub-terms” (such as online sessions 1 and 2 in any given semester). Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements are calculated based on the combined sub-terms as defined by Clarks Summit University.  Any other intensive courses will fall within a standard term (and be attributed to only that specific standard term). Summer sub-terms (summer online sessions and modules), for the purpose of credit hour load and measurement of progress, are combined together into the summer term.

Repeated Courses

Repeated courses are considered in all areas of SAP measurement. Courses will be considered attempted, even if they are not earned, each time the course is taken. This will affect the student’s maximum time frame and completion rate. A student is allowed to receive Title IV Federal aid for a passed repeated course only once. Failed courses can be repeated as many times as is necessary. Repeating failed courses will negatively affect the completion rate.

Transfer Credits

GPA’s for transfer courses are not considered in determining eligibility under the qualitative measure, but transfer credits are considered in the quantitative and maximum timeframe measurements. Transfer students are awarded as first-year students without regard to grade or warning status at the prior post-secondary institution. SAP requirements would then be used to measure the transfer student’s continued status. Transfer credits must be evaluated, and a grade-level established, before any educational loans are processed.

Consortium Agreements

The number of credits earned under an approved consortium agreement is integrated into the student’s record upon completion of the course. Courses must first be approved for transfer by the Clarks Summit University Registrar’s Office. The Consortium Agreement is also subject to approval by both the home and host institution’s authorized Financial Aid staff. Failure to complete the course(s) could negatively reflect in the SAP evaluation. Financial Aid staff from the home school will request information from the host school during the enrolled term to confirm continued enrollment and satisfactory academic progress.

Change in Major/Additional Degrees

When a student changes his/her major or seeks an additional degree, the student may appeal to Financial Aid to have courses attempted and earned that do not count toward the student’s new major or degree excluded from the Maximum Time Frame calculation of the student’s SAP standing.

Changed Grades

If a grade is changed, the student is required to notify Financial Aid immediately. Financial Aid will then initiate a review of the effect of the grade change on academic progress within 30 days of notification. A grade change late in, or after, the term in question, or failure to notify Financial Aid may result in the loss of financial aid eligibility because regulations may limit the time within which aid may be re-awarded or disbursed.

Failure to Make Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students who fail to meet the qualitative, quantitative or maximum timeframe standards at the end of a term will be placed on financial aid “warning” status for the next term and will remain eligible for financial aid while on a warning status. Students on financial aid warning status must meet SAP qualification requirements by the next term’s measurement of progress. Students not meeting the requirements at the next term’s measurement of progress will be placed on financial aid suspension and considered ineligible for future financial aid until the deficiencies are resolved.

Re-establishing Eligibility for Financial Aid

Students may re-establish eligibility for financial aid by taking appropriate action that brings the student into compliance with the standards. Readmission to Clarks Summit University after ACADEMIC suspension or approval of an ACADEMIC suspension appeal does not automatically reinstate FINANCIAL AID eligibility after a FINANCIAL AID suspension. Reinstatement of aid eligibility is not retroactive and only affects current or future enrollment periods. Once a student has made up either a credit deficiency or a GPA deficiency, it is his/her responsibility to notify Financial Aid to request that aid be reinstated.


Any student placed on Financial Aid Suspension has the opportunity to appeal such action. Circumstances under which a student should submit an appeal include death of a relative, personal injury or illness or other extreme circumstances outside the control of the student.

To make an appeal, complete and submit the appeal form to the Director of Financial Aid within 30 days of receipt of the SAP letter for the semester in question. Students should address the following areas of concern in their appeal letter:

  • What were the circumstances in your life that prevented you from meeting SAP requirements?
  • What has changed that will enable you to meet SAP at the next evaluation?

If the university can confidently determine that the student will be able to meet SAP requirements after the subsequent term, the appeal will be granted. However, at the Director’s discretion, if it is uncertain that the student will meet the requirements for the next evaluation, an academic plan suitable to the student’s specific academic circumstance may be developed to ensure that the student is able to meet SAP standards by a specific point in time. If a student decides to return to Clarks Summit University after a lengthy absence and was on academic probation when they withdrew from the institution, the student must write an appeal letter to the Director of Financial Aid explaining the above-mentioned items. If the appeal is granted, the student will be given financial aid for one semester so that the appropriate GPA can be attained in order to meet the Satisfactory Academic Policy (SAP) guidelines.

Student Progress

Students are responsible to review their grades (when midterm and end-of-term grades are available) and compare their progress to the standards set forth in the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Policy to ensure that they are aware of their standing. As they review their academic information, students are encouraged to proactively seek assistance. For example, students could pursue additional academic advising, arrange tutoring, or regularly discuss their academic work with their instructor(s). The student’s responsibility to monitor their own academic progress is important, especially as the evaluation may immediately affect their financial aid eligibility for the next term. For example, a student who fails to meet standards after receiving a financial aid warning at the start of the fall semester will be immediately affected for aid eligibility in the spring semester.

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