Satisfactory Academic Progress - Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate Students

The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy below reflects Federal regulation changes effective July 1, 2011.

Federal regulations require that PLNU students 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 SAP review at the end of each semester including summer.  The policy, in some circumstances may be stricter than the institution standards.

Qualitative Standard (GPA Requirement)

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

  • Undergraduate students: 2.000

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 summer session (if registered for summer courses).  Units are rounded down to the nearest whole unit.

Example: if a student were to attempt 30 units during the academic year, the SAP policy would require that student to complete at least 20 units (30 x 66.7% = 20). If a student were to complete fewer than 20 units they would have failed SAP because of a unit deficiency. This deficiency would equal 20 units minus the number of units that were completed. For example, completion of only 15 of 30 attempted units would result in a deficiency of 5 units (20 minus 15). To regain SAP, a student would have to complete 66.7% of the units attempted the following semester in addition to the five deficient units.

2. Maximum Unit Completion

Under federal regulations, undergraduate students are eligible to receive federal financial aid for up to 150% of the published length of their academic program.

Since the PLNU Undergraduate program is designed to be completed in four years and 128 units, students will not be eligible for federal financial aid after attempting 192 units (including transferred coursework) or beyond the sixth year of undergraduate study (part-time study may extend, but on an appeal basis).  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 & Probation

Students who do not meet the qualitative or quantitative requirements are placed on financial aid warning for the subsequent semester in which they are not making SAP.   If a student is placed on financial aid warning , they are still eligible to receive financial aid, but are made aware that they are not meeting the requirements for SAP.  Students failing to meet SAP requirements following the warning semester are disqualified from receiving financial aid for subsequent semesters. The SFS Office notifies such students in writing of their status and indicates whether or not they are eligible to submit an appeal to be on probation.

Extenuating Circumstances & Appealing

If a student is eligible to file an appeal, this must be done within 10 calendar days of being notified of 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 their circumstances that will allow them to make SAP, include supporting documentation, if appropriate.  All SAP Financial Aid appeals require the student to meet with the Academic Advising Office.  The student’s appeal must include a formal plan from the Academic Advising Office that shows intent to make up the unit deficiency or raise the GPA. Any delay in an appeal may result in a loss of financial aid after a semester has begun. The SAP Committee, which consists of representatives from academics, student development, wellness, and financial aid, will review all appeals and vote to approve or disapprove based on documentation provided. The committee may impose conditions that the student must follow to insure that they are 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. 

If the appeal is successful, the student will be put on probation for the next semester and is still eligible to receive financial aid.  Students who do not make SAP after the probationary semester are not eligible for financial aid for subsequent semesters and may not appeal.  Students may be approved to have their probation extended based on their academic plan.


A student’s eligibility for financial aid may be reinstated if they make up their unit deficiency or raise their GPA. The student, however, will never receive federal or state financial aid retroactively for periods in which they failed to maintain SAP.

Treatment of Course Grades and Credits

Courses with grades of W, I, WF, and/or F are counted as courses attempted but not earned AND count toward the maximum time frame.

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.

Courses graded solely on a Credit/No Credit basis that are accepted toward the academic program are included when measuring academic progress.  Audited courses count as unearned credit hours in the evaluation of the qualitative and quantitative standards.

A student who withdraws and returns must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress in order to receive Federal and State aid.  If student has a deficiency, students may be eligible for appeal to be on probation, if they have not appealed before.

Both qualitative and quantitative standards begin anew for students seeking a graduate or professional degree after completing an undergraduate degree.

SAP Definitions

Academic Year – an academic year is 30 continuous weeks of instruction.

Attempted Units – the cumulative number of units on their academic transcript at the end of the semester. Attempted units include course repetitions and courses for which they received a letter grade of F, I, IP, NC, W, or WF. Attempted units do not include remedial courses (099).

Completed Units – the cumulative number of units on their academic transcript for which they earned a grade of A, B, C, or D. An incomplete course “I” counts as a grade of “F” in determining SAP. In order to clear SAP and receive financial aid, the incomplete course must be completed by the end of the next regular semester. Once completed, the student will be able to receive financial aid retroactively for that semester. Completed units do not include remedial courses (099).

Study Abroad Units – units completed in a Study Abroad program count toward the number attempted and completed units, but not toward the student’s PLNU cumulative GPA. PLNU must receive transcripts from the host school upon completion of the term.

Transferable Units – the units that PLNU accepts for transfer from another institution may include attempted and completed units. PLNU does accept “F” graded courses for content.

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.

Second Degree Students - The units that PLNU accept for your second degree will count towards units attempted and units completed.

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