Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires that each student maintain satisfactory progress in the course of study the student is pursuing in order to receive Federal Title IV financial aid. Students receiving financial assistance are required to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) during their enrollment at Cornell.  The SAP policy is used for determining federal, state and institution financial aid eligibility.  Merit and Fine Arts scholarships may have further maintenance criteria beyond SAP requirements.  Academic policies that relate to probation and dismissal from Cornell College may differ.

SAP standards apply to a student’s entire degree program including terms for which financial aid was not applied or for which enrollment was less than full-time. SAP for federal financial aid recipients is measured at the end of each semester of the academic year for which a student is enrolled. The specific criteria of SAP and the consequences to the student if progress is not achieved, is outlined in the SAP Policy listed below. Students should contact the Office of Financial Aid with questions regarding the intent or the interpretation of these standards.

Cornell College has developed standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress cited in the academic catalogue under "Academic Review." Satisfactory academic progress is based on the quality of your academic performance, which is represented by your GPA, and a quantitative review of progress, defined as “Pace”, which is represented by the total number of credits successfully completed toward your degree compared to the total credits you have attempted.

The Academic Standing Committee conducts academic reviews of all students and determines a student’s status based on criteria outlined under “Academic Review.” Some categories of Academic Review have implications for a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid. At Cornell, these standards are also applied to state and institutional aid programs.

The Cornell College Satisfactory Academic Progress standards apply to all students who wish to establish or maintain financial assistance eligibility. It is the responsibility of all students to be familiar with these standards. The standards apply to each student’s entire academic record at Cornell, whether or not the student received financial assistance for previous terms of enrollment. All federal and state grants, loans, work-study, and Cornell College scholarships and grants, are subject to the following Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress policy.

Required GPA (Qualitative Measure) 
At the end of each semester students must have a 2.00 cumulative GPA.  Students who do not have a 2.00 cumulative GPA are granted one warning semester in which to raise their GPA to the 2.00 level. 

Required PACE (Quantitative Measure)
In addition to maintaining the GPA specified above, students must be progressing toward completion of a degree program within a specified time frame.  In order to meet these minimum requirements for SAP, a student must meet the following percentages of their attempted credit hours [on a cumulative basis]:

Class Level

Minimum Percentage of Attempted Credits
Successfully Completed

First year


All years following


Pace and GPA are prorated for less than full-time students.  The college does use standard rounding rules when calculating percentages for PACE.  For example, 66.5% would be rounded up to 67%.

Failure to earn credit for courses due to receiving an F, W, WH, WR, NC, I, or IP are included as attempted hours for determining “Pace” toward graduation for purposes of Satisfactory Academic Progress [SAP].   Pace and GPA are prorated for less than full time students.

The calculation of GPA for purposes of Academic Review and subsequent determination of federal financial aid eligibility does not include grades of Incomplete (I), Withdrawal (W), Withdrawal for Health (WH), Registrar’s Withdrawal (WR), or grades for courses that have been transferred to Cornell College

Transfer credits, accepted by Cornell, are counted as both attempted and completed hours for purposes of SAP.

For repeated coursework, the original grade earned remains on the transcript and is not replaced by the subsequent grade.   A repeated course does not gain the student an additional course credit toward graduation, unless the course description indicates that it may be repeated.

Maximum Timeframe – 150% Rule
The college’s published program length is 31 credits to complete a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Special Studies or Bachelor of Music degree. The time frame to complete your degree is 150% [47 credits].  Cornell College aid is not available beyond eight semesters of full-time attendance.  

Specific financial assistance programs may require higher minimum standards for GPA and pace; additionally, an individual Cornell department may require the student to earn more credit hours or maintain a higher grade point average than required by minimum standards.

SAP Policy and Procedures
Financial Aid reviews the decisions of the Academic Standing Subcommittee at the end of each semester to determine if the student should be placed on FINANCIAL AID WARNING, FINANCIAL AID SUSPENSION, or FINANCIAL AID PROBATION.

The following policy and procedures will be followed in determining satisfactory academic progress for the purpose of establishing eligibility for financial aid.

Financial Aid Warning
At the end of a semester, a student placed on ACADEMIC PROBATION by the Academic Standing Committee (or a student continuing on ACADEMIC PROBATION if placed on that status during the semester) will be placed on FINANCIAL AID WARNING. A student placed on FINANCIAL AID WARNING remains eligible for financial aid in the subsequent semester. The Financial Aid Office will send letters to all students placed on ACADEMIC PROBATION stating that they have also been placed on FINANCIAL AID WARNING. For the purpose of this policy Strict Probation is considered a subcategory of ACADEMIC PROBATION.

  1. At the end of the following semester, a student who has been placed on FINANCIAL AID WARNING at the end of the previous semester s/he will be reviewed. If the Academic Standing Subcommittee
    1. removes him/her from ACADEMIC PROBATION, s/he will be removed from FINANCIAL AID WARNING. The Financial Aid Office will send letters to all students removed from ACADEMIC PROBATION stating that they have also been removed from FINANCIAL AID WARNING.
    2. continues him/her on ACADEMIC PROBATION, s/he will be placed on FINANCIAL AID SUSPENSION and will be ineligible to receive financial aid in the following semester. S/he can file an appeal to be placed on FINANCIAL AID PROBATION by meeting the following conditions:

Financial Aid Suspension
If a student is placed on Financial Aid Suspension a Student must appeal in writing, noting extenuating circumstances, such as the death of a family member or an illness or injury to the student if applicable. 

Requirements of the Appeal:

  1. All appeals MUST include information regarding why the student failed to make SAP, and what has changed in the student’s situation that will allow the student to demonstrate SAP after the next academic term of enrollment.
  2. The appeal MUST include an academic plan established with the Academic Support and Advising Office. The plan MUST demonstrate how the student will progress both GPA and cumulative credits to get back on track in seeking his/her degree.  This academic plan must include details for each term/semester from the time of the appeal until the student will meet SAP or graduate with their intended degree program.  The student must be able to demonstrate that it is reasonably likely to get back on track towards successful program completion while staying within the 150% rule. 

The Academic Support and Advising Office will review the student’s appeal and academic plan and notify the Financial Aid Office of its completion.  An appeal committee will review the student’s request and notify the student of their decision in writing within one calendar week of receipt of the appeal. 

If a student is granted an appeal, they will remain on SAP warning and the Academic Support and Advising Office will monitor the student’s academic plan. The SAP warning will be in effect until either the student is removed from Academic Probation or the student does not achieve the goals set forth in their academic plan, which may result in suspension.

Financial Aid Suspension
If the student strays from the academic plan, he/she will again have all financial assistance suspended for the following academic term.
Students will have the option to submit an appeal and recreate an academic plan, if appropriate at that time.  The same requirements for the appeal, as described above, must be met.  If a student does not submit an appeal, or their appeal is not approved, they will not be eligible to receive financial assistance the following academic term.

 Re-establishing Eligibility
A student whose financial aid has been rescinded as a result of the preceding policies and procedures reestablishes eligibility when removed from ACADEMIC PROBATION by the Academic Standing Committee.  A student who has lost financial assistance eligibility can regain eligibility by making up deficiencies while not receiving aid.  It is the student’s responsibility to notify the office of Financial Planning and Assistance to request aid reinstatement when this has been accomplished.

Students that have left the college may re-establish financial assistance eligibility after spending one semester or more away from Cornell while attaining credits somewhere else that are transferrable toward the completion of their degree at Cornell with at least a 2.5 GPA.

A flow chart outlining this process can be found on the Registrar's website. The chart is a tool; the official procedure is contained in this policy.