Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal regulations (34 CFR 668.16 and 668.34) require that Ave Maria University establish policies to monitor the academic progress of students who apply for and/or receive federal financial aid. The standards were established to encourage students to complete courses for which aid is received and to progress at a reasonable rate toward the completion of their degree.

SAP Policy

Ave Maria University Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress measure a student’s performance in the following three areas in order to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress:

Standard 1: Maximum Time Frame
Obtain a First Bachelor’s Degree within 192 attempted credits

Standard 2: Pace of Completion
Satisfactorily complete a minimum cumulative completion rate of 66.67% of all attempted credits

Standard 3: Qualitative – Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)
Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA in accordance with the Student Handbook

Programs Covered by the SAP Policy

All federal, state and institutional grants, loans and work-study programs are covered by this policy. Institutional scholarships are covered by this policy and also are monitored by the criteria defined for the specific scholarship. The chart below outlines the three standards established by the Financial Aid Office at Ave Maria University.

Terms and Conditions:

Students receiving aid must meet each of the three criteria and a minimum of half-time enrollment (6-8 credit hours) or full-time enrollment (12 or more).

Standard 1: Maximum Time Frame to Receive Aid

The maximum length of time for which a student may receive financial aid at Ave Maria University is 192 hours.

Federal regulations require that institutions establish a maximum time frame in which students receiving Title IV funds are expected to complete the program of study and beyond which they no longer qualify for assistance. At Ave Maria University, this means that students in programs requiring 128 hours for graduation will be eligible for financial aid during the first 192 (12 semesters) attempted hours as an undergraduate, including any transferred hours accepted toward for credit toward the degree.  Graduate students in the Masters of Theology Program will be eligible during the first 72 attempted hours; the Institute for Pastoral Theology, 54 attempted hours; and doctoral program, 120 attempted hours.

Eligibility for financial aid ends once the students reach this maximum time frame.

Standard 2: Pace of Completion

The minimum percentage of completion of cumulative attempted versus earned credits required is 66.67%

Students must also satisfactorily complete a cumulative minimum of 66.67% of all credit hours for which they are registered (attempted) each semester. Example: If a student receives aid based on 16 credit hours, he/she must successfully complete a minimum of 11 credit hours in that semester to remain in good standing.

Successful completion of courses is defined as having received a grade of A, B, C, D or P. Unsatisfactory grades are “F”, “W”, or “I.” Courses audited may not be used to qualify for financial aid and are not counted toward the attempted and earned hours. Transfer credits are calculated in cumulative pace of completion.

Standard 3: Qualitative

The minimum cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) the student must earn:

  • 1-31 credits: 1.7 GPA
  • 32-63 credits: 1.9 GPA
  • 64 + credits: 2.0 GPA
  • IPT:  2.5 GPA
  • MA and PhD:  3.0 GPA

Federal regulations require a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher after the end of the second academic year. Students who have attempted four semesters and do not meet the minimum required GPA are ineligible to receive financial aid until their cumulative GPA reaches 2.0 or above. Cumulative GPA is calculated using only courses attempted at Ave Maria University. Transfer credits accepted by Ave Maria University count only toward Standard 1.

Repeated Courses: All courses designated as repeated for grade improvement count as hours attempted, but only count once if passed as hours earned. The highest grade earned stands as the official grade and is used in calculating the cumulative GPA.

Incompletes: Grades of Incomplete (I) are counted as hours attempted and not earned. However, if students are able to complete successfully the incomplete course by the end of the following semester, their progress will be re-evaluated at that time.

Remedial Courses: Remedial courses, taken within the student’s first year at Ave Maria University, will count towards Standards 1, 2 and 3. Courses taken at any other point will count only towards Standard 1.


1. Initial Review — Monitor Progress

At the completion of each semester (fall and spring) the Financial Aid Office receives grade reports from the Registrar’s Office. The office then reviews all aid recipients’ progress for the semester. The review includes all semesters of attendance at Ave Maria University, whether or not financial aid was received. First, overall progress towards the degree (Standard 1) must be checked, then the number of credits completed for the semester compared to the attempted credit hours (Standard 2), and finally the cumulative grade point average (Standard 3) of each student. If the student meets each standard’s minimum, no further action is necessary and the student remains in good standing. If students do not meet any of the requirements for all three standards, they will be placed on financial aid Warning until the next review.  Students who receive any combination of W, F, WF, or I without earning any credit for a term will not be eligible for a semester of Warning and will be placed on Financial Aid suspension.

2. Warning

Students who receive financial aid, but fail to meet any of the Standards 1, 2 or 3, will be place on Warning for the following semester. The student will be issued a letter indicating their status and the minimum criteria the student must meet to remain aid eligible. The student will remain on Warning until the minimum cummulative GPA and Pace by the end of the next term.  If the student does not meet the minimum criteria to remain aid eligible, the student will be placed on suspension for the following term.

3. Suspension

Students who do not maintain satisfactory academic progress while on Warning will be placed on Suspension and will not be awarded future financial assistance. Any continuation of course work will be at the student’s own expense. Students who are on Academic Dismissal will be automatically placed on SAP Suspension.  Students who receive any combination of W, F, WF, or I without earning any credit for a term will be placed on Financial Aid suspension.

4. Appeal Process/ Probation

SAP Suspension may be appealed if unusual and/or mitigating circumstances affected a student’s academic progress. Such circumstances may include severe illness or injury to the student or an immediate family member, the death of the student’s relative, student activation into military service or other circumstances that result in undue hardship to the student as documented by a third-party professional such as the academic advisor, a healthcare provider, cleric, etc. The process for an appeal is as follows:

  • To appeal the student must submit a Petition for Reinstatement to the Financial Aid Office accompanied by any supporting documentation and Academic Plan stating how and in what time frame the student will improve his or her GPA. The form should explain in detail why the student failed to meet the minimum academic standards, the unusual and/or mitigating circumstances that caused the failure and how the situation has improved or will be improved with an Academic Plan.
  • Appeals must be received by the Financial Aid Office within thirty (30) days of notification of suspension.
  • The SAP Appeals Committee’s decision will be sent to the student by mail or electronic means.  Appeal approvals will stipulate the conditions and time frame for maintaining aid eligibility.
  • Appeal approvals are not applied retroactively after the end of the semester for federal grant or federal campus based aid eligibility.
  • SAP Appeals Committee decisions cannot be appealed to another source.
  • Each appeal is reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the SAP Appeals Committee.  Submission of an appeal does not guarantee a reinstatement of aid eligibility.

5. Reinstatement

A student’s eligibility for financial aid may be reinstated after suspension in one of two ways:

  • students may successfully appeal their termination; if so, the student is placed on Probation under written terms and conditions of his or her continued eligibility.
  • students improve their academic records to meet the minimum standards