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Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

The Satisfactory Academic Progress standards measures a student's progress toward degree completion using both qualitative (GPA) and quantitative (units completed compared to units attempted) methods. To be eligible for federal, state or institutional financial aid, students must exceed or meet these standards. The standards apply to all college coursework attempted and completed, regardless of whether financial aid was received or not, including coursework transferred from another institution. Academic progress is reviewed at the end of each semester when grades are available. Students who fail to meet the Standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress will have their financial aid eligibility suspended.

The SAP requirements fall into three areas: 

  • Making progress toward your degree by completing a minimum number of units based on your total years of enrollment (pace).
  • Maintaining a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) or academic standing consistent with HSU graduation requirements
  • Completing your degree within a maximum specified number of years of enrollment.

I. Introduction

Federal regulations require Cal Poly Humboldt to establish standards for evaluating Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). These standards measure qualitative and quantitative requirements and maximum timeframe for a student's progress toward degree completion. To be eligible for federal, state or institutional financial aid, students must meet these standards. Failure to maintain these standards will result in suspension of your financial aid eligibility. This policy was developed using HSU academic policies and federal regulation.

In addition to meeting academic standards outlined in the Catalog, financial aid recipients are required to meet the satisfactory academic progress standards outlined in this policy, regardless of their enrollment status (number of units enrolled in each term). Satisfactory academic progress for financial aid recipients enrolled in degree programs, as described below, is evaluated at the end of each semester. Failure to maintain SAP, as described in this Policy, may result in cancellation of financial aid awards, and the student may have to repay funds already received.  Note:  Alternative or Private Loans are exempt from SAP.

II. Minimum Standards

A.Humboldt's institutional requirements for minimum SAP requirements for financial aid recipients are defined as follows:

1. Minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA):  
The student must meet minimum GPA requirements as stated in the Academic Policies of the institution as stated in the Catalog.   (Minimum 2.0 cumulative for undergraduates, second BA and certificates; minimum 3.0 for credential and MA.)
2. Minimum completion rate.
The student must maintain a minimum cumulative completion rate of two-thirds of credits attempted (67%) as measured by comparing the total completed credits to the total attempted credits, regardless of program of study, or whether the student is full or part-time.
3. Maximum Timeframe
The student must complete his or her educational program within a time frame no longer than 150 percent of the published length of the educational program, as measured by credits attempted and including transfer credits (for example, the undergraduate student must complete his or her program after attempting a maximum of 180 credits for a 120-credit program).

B. Federal regulations require that Humboldt track the academic progress of financial aid recipients from the first date of enrollment at Humboldt, and include units transferred in from another institution, whether or not financial aid was received.

C. Students who do not earn their degree within the maximum timeframe to completion, outlined above, are ineligible for financial aid. No financial aid will be disbursed for the student during subsequent semesters/periods of enrollment unless the student has made an appeal and the appeal (described in section VI of this Policy) is granted.

D. Students who are academically disqualified are ineligible for financial aid.

III.  Treatment of grades for calculation of GPA and Pace

GPA calculation (minimum 2.0 cumulative for undergraduates, second BA and certificates, minimum 3.0 for credential and MA):

Grades included in the GPA calculation:  A, B, C, D, F, WU

Grades NOT included in the GPA Calculation:  W, CR, NC, RD, I

PACE calculation (cumulative earned units divided by max attempted units ‚– minimum 67%)

For cumulative earned units, earned units are:  A, B, C, D, and CR

For cumulative earned units, attempted but not earned units are:  F, NC, W, and WU

Not included in PACE calculation:  Inc, RD, RP

Maximum Time Frame Calculation:

            Attempted units included:  A, B, C, D, F, CR, NC, W, and WU


  • Incomplete grades are not counted in the GPA or Pace calculations.  If the student does not complete the requirements within one year, the grade will revert to an F.  At that time, the F will be included in both GPA and Pace.
  • Audit (AU) grades are not considered attempted coursework and are not included in completion rate determinations.
  • Withdrawal units:  Official Withdrawals (W) are not included in the GPA calculation, nor the Pace Calculation.  Unofficial Withdrawals (WU) are not included in Pace calculation but are included in GPA calculation.
  • Each repeated course attempt will be included in the GPA and Pace calculations, and maximum time-frame determinations.
  • Transfer credits will be counted as attempted and completed credits for the calculation of completion rate and maximum time frame, and will affect the student's GPA calculation as well.
  • Students with Private loans and/or outside scholarship only (ie. NO federal, state or institutional aid) are not subject to SAP.

IV. Financial Aid Warning Status

A.Students who fail to maintain the minimum completion rate of 67 percent will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for the next semester of enrollment. Students are eligible for financial aid during the warning semester and have one term to return to satisfactory status. 

V. Financial Aid Suspension

A.Students unable to meet the SAP standards during their Warning semester are placed on financial aid suspension. Additionally, students who do not earn their degree within the maximum timeframe to completion are ineligible for additional financial aid. No aid will be disbursed during subsequent semesters of enrollment unless the student has made an appeal and the appeal is granted (See section VI.B. of this Policy which describes appeal procedures). There are no exceptions to this requirement.

VI. Regaining Eligibility After Financial Aid Suspension (Appeal process)

A. Reinstatement of financial aid after a student who has not met the SAP standards and is on Financial Aid Suspension is achieved in one of the following ways:

  1. The student attends Humboldt or another institution, pays for tuition and fees without the help of student financial aid, and completes at least 6 units in one term without benefit of aid.  The student regains aid eligibility.
  2. The student submits an appeal (see section B.1 below) and the Financial Aid Appeals Committee grants the appeal. The student is placed on Financial Aid Probation for the next semester of enrollment. Financial Aid Probation means that the student failed to make SAP, has appealed and has had eligibility for aid reinstated. At the end of that probationary semester, their SAP status will be re-evaluated. The student must meet all SAP requirements at the end of that semester or he/she will return to Financial Aid Suspension and must reestablish eligibility.

B. Appeal Process

  1. The student must submit an appeal of Financial Aid Suspension to the Financial Aid Office.  (Appeal forms located in our Student Forms portal.)
  2. The appeal must include documentation of the circumstance that led to the student not meeting SAP standards as well as a description of how he/she will be able to meet SAP at the end of the next enrollment period. Circumstances which may be considered include death of a relative, unexpected injury or illness of the student or other circumstances, as supported with documentation. For an appeal to be considered it must contain:
  • The SAP appeal form
  • Any documentation that supports the extenuating circumstances (death certificate, divorce decree, police report, medical documentation)

3. The Financial Aid Appeals Committee will review the appeal and notify the student in writing of its decision after the Appeals Committee meets and makes its determination. Appeals will not be granted unless the student's proposed enrollment in the upcoming semester would be adequate to reestablish their progress under this Policy.

4. Appeals are approved for just one semester of Probation ‚– if the student does not meet SAP at the end of the probationary semester they will be returned to Financial Aid Suspension.  Appeals for a second probationary term are only considered if the reason is different than the first appeal, and are only approved in rare circumstances by the Financial Aid Director.

5. Students have the right to appeal any financial aid decision to the Financial Aid Director.

VII. Requesting an Extension for Maximum Time Frame

  1. Students who are beyond the maximum timeframe to completion cannot regain financial aid eligibility except on a semester‚–by‚–semester basis through the appeal process.
  2. The student must submit an appeal to the Financial Aid Office.  (Use the "Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal ‚– Unit Cap" form on the Financial Aid Website.)  Extenuating circumstances include death of a family member, injury/illness, military service, vocational units taken at another institution or other extenuating circumstance that can be documented. Financial need, double majors, and or adding of minors are not extenuating circumstances.
  3. The Financial Aid Appeals Committee will review the appeal and notify the student in writing of its decision after the Appeals Committee meets and makes its determination.  Extensions are generally granted for one additional semester only.

VIII.  Communications with Students

1.  Students who are placed into the status of Warning, Probation, or Suspension at the end of any term are communicated with via email (official Humboldt email address), and an item is placed on their "ToDo List" in their student center indicating their status.

2. When appeals are approved or denied, students are communication with Via email that includes, if denied, an explanation of the denial and the process for seeking a further appeal.

3.  Monitoring status:  All financial aid recipients have access to the "financial aid summary" in their "myHumboldt" portal, which shows, among other things, their Satisfactory Academic Progress that indicates whether they are meeting or not meeting SAP.  It links them to the following page for definitions:…

VII.  Effective Date

This Policy was revised and updated on June 23, 2023.