Graduate Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Point Loma Nazarene University

Post Baccalaureate Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

Federal regulations require that PLNU students adhere to a policy of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to retain eligibility for financial aid (this policy applies to federal aid recipients as well as Cal Grant A and B recipients). The SAP policy does not apply to any form of PLNU Institutional Aid. Recipients of Academic Awards and Departmental Awards must maintain the renewal eligibility criteria as stated in the PLNU Catalog.

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.

Qualitative Standard (GPA Requirement)

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

  • Master of Ministry students: 2.75
  • Educational Specialist students: 3.00
  • All Other Post-Baccalaureate students (M.A., M.B.A., M.S.N., M.R.): 3.00

*Note: The GPA used to assess the SAP Qualitative Standard is a combination of all graduate programs attended at PLNU. The GPA does not reset if a student starts a new program.

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 units attempted each semester (rounded down to the nearest whole unit).
    Example: if a student were to attempt 6 units during the semester, the SAP policy would require that student to complete at least 4 units (6 x 66.7% = 4). If a student were to complete fewer than 4 units, that student would have failed SAP because of a unit deficiency. This deficiency would equal 4 units minus the number of units that were completed. 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 two deficient units.
  2. Maximum Unit Completion
    Under federal regulations, teacher credential students are eligible to receive financial aid up to 150% of the published length of their academic program. The time limit is based on the number of units required for the program multiplied by 150%. For example, a student whose program length is 36 units can apply for financial aid for the first 54 units (36 times 150%).
    Graduate students are eligible to receive financial aid for up to eight years of attendance from the time of initial enrollment in the program. Students desiring financial aid after exceeding the maximum eight years of attendance would need to file an appeal with the Graduate Student Financial Services Office explaining the extenuating circumstances that merit a reconsideration of aid eligibility. This appeal would require endorsement by the academic program as well.

Financial Aid Warning

Students who have not met the qualitative and/or quantitative requirements are placed on financial aid warning for the following semester. A Satisfactory Academic Progress Warning Letter will be e-mailed to the student. If a student is placed on financial aid warning, he/she is still eligible to receive financial aid for one semester and no appeal is necessary. The student will be made aware that the requirements for SAP have not been met and that if SAP requirements are not met at the end of the warning semester, the student will be disqualified from receiving financial aid.

Financial Aid Probation and Appeal

Students who fail to meet SAP requirements during a warning semester are disqualified from receiving financial aid for the next semester and any subsequent semesters in which the SAP requirements have not been met. However, a student in this category may appeal to be put on Financial Aid Probation.

The SFS Office will notify any student not making SAP of their status in writing, and will indicate whether or not the student is eligible to submit an appeal. If an appeal is approved the student will be put on probation for one semester.

Students who are eligible to file an appeal must do so within 10 days of being notified that they have lost their financial aid eligibility. The appeal must include an explanation of the extenuating circumstances that resulted in the student’s inability to make SAP, and supporting documentation, if appropriate. The student should state what has changed that will allow him/her to make SAP by the end of the probation period. The student’s appeal must also include a formal plan from the Academic Advising Office that shows how the student intends to make up the unit deficiency and/or raise his/her GPA. The SAP Committee will review the appeal and respond in writing. If the appeal is approved, the student must adhere to the formal academic plan in order to remain on probation and eligible for financial aid. The Committee’s decision is final.

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 Advising Office will monitor the student’s progress.

If the appeal is not approved, the student will not be eligible for financial aid, but 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 making SAP 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 making SAP or not successfully following the approved academic plan after the probationary semester, the student will be disqualified from receiving financial aid. Eligibility for aid will not be reinstated until the student makes SAP.


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:

  • Repeat failed courses
  • Receive a satisfactory grade for a course with an I, IP, or Z (See SAP definitions below for further explanation).

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, IP, NC, W, WF, or Z.

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. Until made up, a grade of I is considered as F in determining the student’s grade-point average, and eligibility for financial aid.

A grade of IP (In Progress) must be completed within one calendar year from the end of the semester date of enrollment (two years for Graduate Education 687 and 796). An IP grade carries no grade points and is replaced by the grade earned when the requirements for the course are properly completed.

A grade of Z (No grade has been entered) carries no grade points and 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 W grade carries no grade points.

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. A grade of WF is considered the same as an F in calculating the grade-point average.

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.

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.