Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Progress Policy

The U.S. Department of Education requires institutions of higher learning to establish standards of satisfactory academic progress for students receiving financial aid. The satisfactory progress policy must include both a qualitative measure (cumulative GPA) and a quantitative measure (maximum time frame). Students must declare a major and be working toward the completion of that major in order to receive financial aid.

Notes: The SAP policy applies to all students regardless of whether he/she has previously received aid. SAP is checked at the end of each semester. Standards for the Title IV students are the same or stricter than non-Title IV students enrolled in the same educational program.

Qualitative:

  • Students must maintain a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.0. The GPA is computed by the Office of Registration & Records on a scale of 4.0.
  • Successful completion of learning support classes requires a C* or better.
  • Students enrolled in a program of study of more than two academic years must have a GPA of at least a 2.0.

Quantitative:

  • Students must successfully complete two-thirds (66.66%) of all hours attempted.
    Example: Cumulative hours attempted (hours at ATC as well as any hours transferred in as credit) = 25 25 x 66.66% = 16.65 (must round up to next whole number). In this example, you must successfully complete at least 17 hours to be making satisfactory progress. See unsuccessful grades below.

Successful grades include A, A*, B, B*, C, C*, and D. Unsuccessful grades include D*, F, F*, I, IP, W, W*, WF, WF*, WP, and WP* (see Grading System in catalog).

Students must also show a completion rate that will allow the student to complete a program of study in at least 150% of the time it should require (as determined by the college catalog). For example, a student in a program requiring a total of 50 semester credit hours will receive financial aid up to 75 semester credit hours for that program.  Transfer credits accepted by ATC will be counted in the maximum timeframe.

SAP is calculated at the end of each term.  Students who change their program of study for the current term to a longer program of study may request to be reevaluated by the financial aid office to determine the student’s current completion rate.  Failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress will result in the loss of financial aid including Pell, state grants and scholarships (HOPE/Zell), and private student loans. The SAP policy applies to all students, regardless of whether they have previously received aid.

 

Warning

Students that do not meet the above guidelines will initially be placed on Financial Aid Warning. A student assigned a Warning will be notified by email at their ATC student email account. The student may continue to receive financial aid for one subsequent semester under this status. SAP standards must be met to continue eligibility.

Exclusion

Students who do not meet SAP standards under the Warning status at the end of the subsequent semester will be placed on Financial Aid Exclusion. Students on Exclusion are not eligible to receive financial aid but may appeal this status. See the Appeals section below.

Probation

Students who were placed on Financial Aid Exclusion may choose to appeal the exclusion. If the appeal is approved, the student is placed on Financial Aid Probation status. A student on Financial Aid Probation may receive financial aid for one subsequent semester. A student on Financial Aid Probation may be placed on an Academic Plan that may require the student to meet certain terms and conditions as determined by the retention coordinator. At the conclusion of the Financial Aid Probation semester, the student must be meeting SAP standards or be meeting the requirements specified in the Academic Plan.

Special Considerations Affecting SAP Criteria

Learning Support Classes

Learning support classes are counted in the quantitative measures affecting SAP (both completion rate and 150% maximum timeframe).  Successful completion of all learning support coursework is required to meet qualitative progress.  This is defined as completing all learning support coursework with a grade of A*, B*, or C*.

Dropped and Repeat Coursework

All coursework taken at Athens Technical College will be included in the qualitative and quantitative measures for SAP.  This includes courses that are withdrawals or repeated.  Courses that are dropped during the drop/add period or courses in which a student is a no show are not counted.

Successful grades include A, A*, B, B*, C, C*, and D.  Unsuccessful grades include D*, F, F*, W, WP, WF, and WF*.  Grades of I or IP are treated as unsuccessful and SAP will be reevaluated once a final grade is posted.

Transfer Credits

Credits that are transferred from other institutions (including courses taken as a transient) will count in a student quantitative SAP measure (pass rate and 150% maximum timeframe) but will not count in the qualitative (GPA measure).

How to Reestablish Financial Aid Eligibility

Students may regain financial aid eligibility after being placed on exclusion by either

  • Meeting the cumulative SAP standards described in this policy in their course of study at a future evaluation (end of semester)
  • Successfully appealing as described in this policy and being placed on Probation

Appeals

Students placed on Financial Aid Exclusion may appeal the denial of financial aid if extenuating circumstances are present. A Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form must be submitted explaining the extenuating circumstances, how these circumstances have changed, and their plan to maintain satisfactory academic progress if the appeal is approved. Supporting documentation is required. Appeals must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office prior to the midpoint of the semester for which students are appealing their exclusion status. Financial aid appeals are reviewed by a committee of faculty and staff.

Tips for Submitting the SAP Appeal Form

  1. Read the SAP Appeal form thoroughly. Incomplete appeal forms will not be accepted.
  2. Please explain in detail the extenuating circumstances in your personal statement (Step 3 of the SAP form) and be sure to include documentation to support your statement. An attempt should be made to explain all terms with failing grades or withdrawals since SAP uses cumulative GPA and credit hours.
    Examples of extenuating circumstances include, but are not limited to:
    • Death of a relative
    • Hospitalization of immediate family members
    • Personal injury or illness
    • Unexpected work issues beyond the student's control
  3. Once you have completed your appeal and the attached documents, please submit it to the Financial Aid Office.

Academic Plan

Students who file a successful appeal and require more than one term to regain good financial aid standing may have the option to enter into an academic plan. The academic plan consists of the following four major elements:

  1. A 100% pass rate for the term: Any withdrawals or failing grades will result in suspension of an academic plan. A grade of D in a class that requires a C will not be considered passing.  A cumulative 66.66% completion rate is required for students on a plan for maximum timeframe.
  2. A 2.5 term GPA for students who have a cumulative GPA higher than 1.5 and a 2.00 term GPA for students who have a cumulative GPA of less than 1.5.  A cumulative 2.00 GPA is required for students on a plan for maximum timeframe.
  3. Advisement and follow up with the Student Support Services, and/or other on campus services that will ensure students are successful in both following the academic plan and successfully completing their program of study on time.
  4. The estimated time the student will have to be on the academic plan to be back in good standing.

*The above guidelines are general recommendations intended to move a student toward program completion.  Plans may be designed by the retention coordinator to meet a student’s individual needs. 

Each agreement will set the minimum pass rate, GPA, the offices/services to be included in the student's plan, and the expected time for the student to be back in good standing. Failure to meet the terms of the plan will result in the student being placed on financial aid exclusion until he/she meets SAP standards. Students who fail to meet the terms of their academic plan due to uncontrollable, one-time, documentable circumstances (medical problems, death or illness in the family, etc.) will be able to appeal their financial exclusion status for the following term under the existing financial aid exclusion appeal process. Academic plans may include guidance and input from various Student Affairs and Academic Affairs offices. The plans will be maintained and administered each term by the financial aid office using Banner student records.

Process for Those Who Fail to Follow the Academic Plan

If a student fails to meet SAP standards despite prior SAP approvals or academic plans, and consequently loses financial aid eligibility, the student may submit a written appeal with supporting documentation for reinstatement of financial aid eligibility - only if mitigating circumstances exist.

Mitigating circumstances include:

  • Serious injury of the student and/or the student's immediate family
  • Serious extended illness of the student and/or the student's immediate family
  • Death of a student's relative

 

Financial Aid Warning and Exclusion

The Financial Aid Office initially places students on financial aid warning if they do not maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress as described in the preceding section. Students will continue to receive financial aid benefits while on financial aid warning. Students placed on financial aid warning have one semester to meet satisfactory academic progress standards or the Financial Aid Office will place them on financial aid exclusion. Students on exclusion are not eligible to receive financial aid until they again meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards or file a successful appeal.

Appeals

Students placed on financial aid exclusion may appeal the denial of financial aid if extenuating circumstances are present. Students submit appeal forms to the Financial Aid Office explaining the circumstances, how these circumstances have changed, and their plans to maintain satisfactory academic progress if the appeals are approved. This form is available in the Financial Aid Office on the Athens Campus and in the administrative office at the Elbert County, Greene County, and Walton County campuses. A committee of faculty and staff reviews all financial aid appeals. Students who are successful in appealing their financial aid exclusion will be placed on financial aid probation and may be required to meet requirements of an academic plan. During this probation period, they will be eligible to receive financial aid benefits. Students on financial aid probation must be making satisfactory academic progress at the end of the term for which the appeals committee approved the appeal and/or meeting requirements of the academic plan. Otherwise, the Financial Aid staff will again place students on financial aid exclusion. They will not be eligible to appeal the resulting financial aid exclusion. Students who are not successful in appealing their financial aid exclusion are not eligible to submit another appeal; all appeals are final.

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