Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

Federal regulations require that all student financial aid recipients progress at a reasonable rate or "make satisfactory progress" toward achieving a degree. The standard applies to all terms regardless of whether or not students received financial aid. Students’ cumulative grade point average and credits earned in relations to those attempted and the length of the academic program measure academic progress.  SAP evaluation for undergraduate and graduate students occurs at the conclusion of each semester and summer.  

All students who receive financial aid at Alcorn State University must conform to the standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) set by the University and outlined here. These standards encourage students to successfully complete their educational goals in a timely manner. It is important to remember that this SAP policy is administered by the Office of Student Financial Aid and is separate from the Academic Standards administered by the Office of the Executive Vice President & Provost for Academic Affairs.  

Components of SAP

The following components are measured to determine whether students are meeting SAP standards: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Maximum Time Frame.

Qualitative Standard (Grade Point Average):
The qualitative component measures the quality of students’ SAP by conducting a review of the cumulative grade point average (GPA). To meet the qualitative requirement, students must have a minimum cumulative and overall GPA of at least a 2.0 (undergraduate) or 3.0 (graduate/specialist). Credits accepted from other schools that may be applied to a degree are counted in the calculation of students’ GPA and therefore are included in the qualitative measure.      

(Specific federal, state, and institutional scholarships and grants may require a higher GPA for continued eligibility. This is a separate and distinct factor in renewing or continuing eligibility for these specific financial aid funds. The GPA for specific scholarships and grants supersedes the GPA requirements referenced above. Information about the terms and conditions of specific student aid programs that have GPA requirements are provided to students at the time the award is offered).     

Quantitative Standards (Calculating PACE or Completion Ratio):      
The quantitative component measures the pace at which students must progress through his/her program of study to ensure completion (within the maximum time frame permitted and provides for the measurement of students’ progress) at the end of each evaluation.  Pace or completion rate is calculated according to the formula below:  

Cumulative Earned/Cumulative Attempted = Completion Ratio of 67% or higher

Credits accepted from other schools that may be applied to a degree are counted in the calculation as both attempted and earned hours. To meet the quantitative requirement, students’ completion ratio must be 67% or higher (undergraduate and graduates).  “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”, and “P” grades count as successfully completing the course.  “F”, “I”, “W”, “WF”, and “WP” grades do not count as the successful completion of a course.  Repeated courses also count as attempted hours.   


45 / 12 = .26
Student’s completion ratio is 26% (.26 x 100). Therefore, the student did not meet this standard.

45 / 36 = .80
Student’s completion ratio is 80% (.80 x 100). Therefore, the student met this standard.   

Maximum Time Frame Measure: 
Students’ financial aid is available up to 150% of the number of hours required to complete the specific program of study.   


 Degree Seeking 

 Required Hours 

150%  Required Hours













If a bachelor’s program requires 124 hours, students may attempt a maximum of 186 hours before becoming ineligible for financial aid. Students who change majors or degree programs may reach eligibility limits before obtaining a degree. Students who decide to change majors or degree programs should do so early to prevent jeopardizing eligibility for student financial aid.  

Students Seeking Subsequent Degree: 
Students that have graduated and which to seek another degree must complete a Subsequent Degree Certification of Hours Plan before financial aid eligibility can be determined.  Students must (1) TYPE all information in the space provided, (2) PRINT Application (3) MEET with the Academic Advisor, and (4) SUBMIT completed form to the Office of Student Financial Aid.  Students’ application will not be reviewed if all documentation is not submitted by the deadline.  

If approved, students must be admitted into the subsequent degree program and are restricted to enroll in only courses listed on the Subsequent Degree Certification of Hours Plan.  Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 (undergraduate)/3.0 (graduate/specialist) Financial Aid GPA; earn 67% of hours attempted at the end of academic semester or summer; and not exceed 150% of hours required to complete the degree.    Students are required to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Alcorn State University Financial Aid Application, other required documents, and review their loan status at  

SAP Review Process   

SAP will be reviewed at the end of each academic semester and summer to determine if they met the GPA, PACE, and Maximum Time Frame standards.  If students fail to meet SAP after one semester, status will change to “Financial Aid Warning.” Students will be eligible to receive aid for one semester.  At the end of the warning semester, students’ SAP will be evaluated again.  There is no further action required if SAP standards are met.  Students will remain eligible for financial aid. For those students who fail to regain SAP, status will change to “Financial Aid Suspension” and will be ineligible to receive financial aid until SAP is met. 

Students who lose eligibility for federal, state, and institutional aid due to not meeting SAP requirements may: 

      • Earn the necessary GPA or semester hours to meet the minimum requirements while not receiving federal and state need-based financial aid, or 

      • Submit a Satisfactory Academic Progression Appeal for Eligibility Application.        

      • Unless academically dismissed, students denied federal, state, and institutional aid may continue attending using other aid sources or by funding their education themselves.  It is students’ responsibility to monitor his or her academic progress and understand requirements to complete their degree according to SAP standards. 

Financial Aid Warning
Financial Aid Warning status is assigned to students who fail to meet one or more of the SAP measures indicated above at the conclusion of an academic semester or summer.  Students assigned a Financial Aid Warning status will be notified in writing. Students may continue to receive financial aid for one subsequent academic semester or summer despite the determination that students are not making SAP.    

Financial Aid Suspension 
Financial Aid Suspension status is assigned to students who fail to make SAP at the end of an academic semester or summer following the Financial Aid Warning period; does not fulfill the requirements set forth according to his or her Academic Plan of Study; or Subsequent Degree Certification of Hours Plan when placed on Financial Aid Probation.  Students can reestablish SAP eligibility by choosing one of the following options:  

      • Self-Pay – SAP Suspension does not prevent students from registering for classes.  However, payment is the responsibility of students and must be made as required by university policy.
      • Private Assistance – Students on SAP Suspension receive private assistance, in the form of scholarship or private loan, per the conditions of the individual donor or lender. 
      • Appeal – See the Appeal Process below.            

Academic Circumstances that Affect Financial Aid Status

      • Withdrawals:  Students who receive financial assistance and withdraw from the university (officially or unofficially) will adhere to the quantitative and qualitative measures listed above.
      • Incompletes:  An incomplete does not mean that students have successfully completed the course. Incompletes will be treated as failing grades until removed. An incomplete will be treated as hours attempted.            
      • Audit Courses:  Courses taken for audit do not meet degree requirements and are not eligible to meet enrollment requirements to receive aid. Change of classes to audit will be treated as a withdrawal and subject to any changes of enrollment status policies.            
      • Developmental Courses:  Students advised to enroll in developmental courses will be considered enrolled in regular classes to a limit of three (3) hours for Developmental Mathematics, three(3) hours for Developmental English, three (3) hours for Developmental Studies Lab, and three (3) hours for Developmental Reading.            
      • Repeats:  Repeated courses enable students to achieve a higher cumulative GPA. However, for financial aid purposes, repeated courses count as additional hours attempted and may affect your financial aid award.           
      • Change of Major:  A change of major can have an adverse effect on your Satisfactory Academic Progression.  The credits students earn at Alcorn State University under all majors will be included in the calculation of qualitative, quantitative and maximum time frame measures.                

Appeal Process  
If students do not meet SAP after the warning period, an appeal process is available for those students with extenuating circumstances. Students can appeal for reinstatement of Financial Aid by completing the Satisfactory Academic Progression Appeal for Eligibility Application.  Students must  (1) TYPE all information in the space provided, (2) PRINT Application and Transcript (3) MEET with Academic Advisor, and (4) SUBMIT completed form to the Office of Student Financial Aid.  Failure to submit all documentation by the deadline will result in the appeal being denied.  

The Financial Aid Committee will send official notification to students’ email address provided on application.  The decision of the Financial Aid Committee is final.  If approved, status will change to Financial Aid Probation.  If denied or student chooses not to appeal, the status will remain as Financial Aid Suspension.  Students can submit a Satisfactory Academic Progression Appeal for Eligibility Application after paying and passing twelve (12) or more hours. 

Financial Aid Probation  
Financial Aid Probation status is assigned to students who fails to make SAP and who has successfully appealed and eligibility for financial aid has been reinstated.  Students will continue on probation as long as he/she is successfully complying with the prescribed Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progression Plan or the Subsequent Degree Certification of Hours Plan. The probation status will remain on students’ financial aid file until they meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards or completes his/her degree.  The student must submit an updated Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progression Plan or Subsequent Degree Certification of Hours Plan each semester while on probation. 

Deadlines are posted on the SAP Application. 

Newly Revised Policy Effective:  Fall 2012/Spring 2014
Revised: July 1, 2012/December 9, 2013