Graduate Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Point Loma Nazarene University

 2015 - 2016

Post-Baccalaureate Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

In accordance with the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, all post-secondary institutions must establish a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy. 

PLNU students must adhere to a policy of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to retain eligibility for Federal and State financial aid.  The policy consists of a qualitative (GPA) and quantitative (unit) standard.  Student Financial Services (SFS) conducts a SAP review at the end of each semester or session, depending on the program being evaluated. The SAP policy does not apply to any form of PLNU Institutional Aid.

Qualitative Standard (GPA Requirement) 

Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA (grade point average) at the end of each semester or session, as follows: 

§  Master of Ministry students: 2.75

§  Teaching Credential students and all other Graduate students: 3.00 

Quantitative Standard (Unit Requirement)

The Quantitative Standard consists of two parts: 

1. Minimum Unit Completion

Students must complete at least two-thirds (66.7%) of the cumulative units attempted at the end of each semester or session. Units are rounded down to the nearest whole unit.  Field work units will be excluded from this calculation. 

Example: If a student were to attempt 6 units during the semester, the SAP policy requires completion of at least 4 units (6 x 66.7% = 4). Completing fewer than 4 units results in having failed SAP because of a unit deficiency.  For example, completion of only 2 of 6 attempted units would result in a deficiency of 2 units (6 minus 4). To regain SAP, a student would have to complete 66.7% of the units attempted the following semester in addition to the 2 deficient units. 

2. Maximum Unit Completion

Graduate students are eligible to receive financial aid for up to eight years from the time of initial enrollment in the program.  Students desiring financial aid after exceeding the maximum eight years would need endorsement by the academic program and the University.  The student would then file an appeal with the Student Financial Services office explaining the extenuating circumstances that merit a reconsideration of aid eligibility. 

Teaching credential students are eligible to receive federal financial aid for up to 150% of the published length of their academic program.  Since the PLNU Teaching Credential is designed to be completed in 39 units, students will not be eligible for federal financial aid after attempting 59 units (including transferred coursework). Once the maximum time frame is exceeded, a student cannot regain financial aid eligibility even if the student is in compliance with the other two standards.

Financial Aid Warning

Students who have not met the qualitative and/or quantitative requirements are placed on financial aid warning for the following semester.  If a student is placed on financial aid warning, he/she is still eligible to receive financial aid for one semester, but is made aware that the requirements for SAP have not been met. 

Financial Aid Probation and Appeal 

Students failing to meet SAP requirements following the warning semester are disqualified from receiving financial aid for subsequent semesters. SFS notifies such students in writing of their status and indicates whether or not they are eligible to submit an appeal to be on probation. 

If a student is eligible to file an appeal, this must be done within 10 calendar days of being notified of the loss of financial aid eligibility. The appeal must include an explanation of the extenuating circumstances that resulted in the student’s inability to make SAP and what has changed in his/her circumstances that will allow him/her to make SAP, including supporting documentation, if appropriate. The student’s appeal must also include a formal plan from the Academic Advisor that shows intent to make up the unit deficiency and/or raise the GPA. The SAP Committee will review the appeal and vote to approve or disapprove based on documentation provided. The committee may impose conditions that the student must follow to ensure that he/she is making SAP.  The Committee’s decision is final and the student will be notified in writing. A student may appeal only once throughout enrollment at PLNU. 

Appeal Committee Approval Guidelines 

Per federal regulations, an appeal may be approved only if PLNU:

 1.       Has determined that the student will be able to meet SAP standards after the subsequent semester; or

 2.       Develops an academic plan with the student that, if followed, will ensure that the student is able to meet SAP standards by a specific point in time. The academic plan may have certain conditions that the student has to meet in order for the student to retain eligibility.

 If the appeal is not approved, the student will not be eligible for Federal and State financial aid until meeting SAP requirements.  Student may be eligible for certain institutional awards.

 If the appeal is approved, the student will have a probationary semester. At the conclusion of the probationary semester, the student must be meeting SAP requirements or must be successfully following the approved academic plan.  If the student is successfully making progress on his/her academic plan, he/she does not have to re-appeal and will remain on probation and eligible for financial aid.

Financial Aid Disqualification

 If the student is not meeting SAP requirements or not successfully following the approved academic plan after the probationary semester, the student will be disqualified from receiving Federal or State financial aid.  Eligibility for aid will not be reinstated until the student meets SAP requirements.  

Regaining Eligibility 

A student’s eligibility for financial aid may be reinstated if he/she makes up the unit deficiency and/or raises the cumulative GPA. The student, however, will never receive financial aid retroactively for periods in which he/she failed to maintain SAP. 

To regain eligibility for financial aid, a student may:

 o    Repeat failed courses

 o    Receive a satisfactory grade for a course with an I or Z (See SAP definitions below for further explanation)

 o    Take courses at another college and transfer units (students must make sure that courses are transferable) 

The student should notify the SFS office when the deficiency has been made up, so that we may review transcripts and reinstate eligibility if appropriate.  If the student has taken courses at another institution, he/she should request an academic transcript to be sent to PLNU’s Records Office.  Transcripts must be evaluated first and recorded on the student’s PLNU transcript before financial aid can be reinstated.

SAP Definitions 

Attempted Units – the cumulative number of units on a student’s academic transcript at the end of the semester. Attempted units include course repetitions and courses for which the student received a letter grade of F, I, NC, W, WF, or Z.  

Change of Major/Change of Degree - If students change majors within the same degree or certificate program, or if they change their educational objective and begin pursuing a different degree without having earned the first degree, they must complete their academic program within the maximum timeframe allowed. 

Completed Units – the cumulative number of units on a student’s academic transcript for which a grade of A, B, C, D, or CR is earned. 


 A grade of I (Incomplete) must be made up, if at all, by the end of the next regular semester.   

A grade of IP (In Progress) must be completed within one calendar year from the end of the semester date of enrollment.  

A grade of Z (No grade has been entered) is replaced by the grade earned once it is recorded by the professor. 

A grade of W (Withdrawn) is recorded when a student doing passing work is given permission by the program or regional center director to drop a course after the first 50 % of the course (for exceptional circumstances such as personal and family emergency.)   

A grade of WF (Withdrawn under Failing Conditions) is recorded when a student does not request permission or whose petition to withdraw from a class is denied after 50% of the class has passed.

Readmitted Students - SAP is determined before a student is awarded financial aid.  Depending on where they are in the SAP process will determine if they are on warning or if they need to appeal. 

Semester a semester is defined as Fall, Spring, or Summer.  If a student only enrolls in one quad of a semester, that quad would be considered a semester for that student. 

Session—a session is defined as a period of academic instruction for a non-traditionally scheduled program 


Transferable Units – units that PLNU accepts for transfer from another institution based on content approval. They carry no grade points but count as completed units.

Treatment of Course Grades and Credits

GradeIncluded in GPA calculationIncluded in SAP calculation
IYes (Counted as F)Yes
WFYes (Counted as F)Yes
A, B, C, D, FYesYes

Repeated coursework are counted as courses attempted but not earned and count toward the maximum time frame.  The grade will replace the average with the first grade unless student takes course outside of PLNU and that grade replaces the first grade.