Students gathering in front of the North Entrance of the Cascade Building

Satisfactory Academic Progress

What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?

When students accept financial aid, they also accept responsibility for making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). This progress is based on the number of credits students enroll in per quarter, cumulative grade point average(s) as well as the length of enrollment at Pierce College in addition to any transfer courses accepted by the College. SAP is reviewed prior to awarding aid, even if the students did not receive financial aid in past quarters. *The SAP Policy is subject to change at any time due to federal regulations and/or requirements established by the Office of Financial Aid.

At the end of each quarter, Pierce College will review students’ academic records to verify if students met the following criteria:

  1. Minimum GPA (qualitative)
    Students must maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA.
  2. Minimum Pace of Progression (quantitative) - 67% Pace of Progression
    In order to meet SAP standards, students must maintain a pace of completion to ensure that they will graduate within the maximum timeframe. Students must maintain a minimum cumulative completion ratio of 67% (total number of attempted credits divided by total number of completed credits).

State Aid

Students who receive state aid must complete one-half of the credits for which they enrolled in for the quarter in order to maintain state aid eligibility. Please refer to the chart below:

Enrollment on Financial Aid Freeze Day (Census) Minimum # of Credits Needed to Maintain Good Standing Financial Aid Warning Denied Status if you complete less than:
Full Time (12 or more credits) 12 6–11 Credits < 6
Three Quarter Time (9 to 11 credits) 9 5–8 Credits < 5
Half Time (6 to 8 credits) 6 3–5 Credits < 3
Less than Half Time (fewer than 5 credits) All Credits No Warning Status All credits registered

Students not meeting the academic standard will be placed on Financial Aid “Warning.” Student files will be reviewed on a quarterly basis. Future quarters in which the academic standard is not met may result in the cancellation/loss of eligibility of aid. Students will be notified through their Pierce College email if they do not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress standards.

Maximum Timeframe for Federal Aid

The maximum timeframe number represents the maximum number of credits a student can be funded with financial aid. Students must complete all attempted credits and complete their program of study within the 150% maximum timeframe when receiving federal aid. The maximum timeframe is calculated by multiplying the total number of credits needed to complete the academic program by the maximum timeframe percentage of 150% federal.

If it is mathematically determined a student cannot complete their chosen program of study within the maximum timeframe, the student will be placed in a suspension status.

Examples for Federal max timeframe:

  • Associate degree with 90 Total Credits
    • 90 x 150% = Maximum of 135 Credits for Financial Aid Funding
  • Certificate program with 71 Credits
    • 71 x 150% = Maximum of 107 Credits for Financial Aid Funding

**Important: In addition to the SAP standards for Maximum Timeframe, individual financial aid funding types will have limitations on the length and amount of eligibility you can receive.

  • All non-completion grades (0.0, W, Z, NC, or I grades) and all credits transferred in are included in this calculation.
  • Transfer Credits: All college level credits transferred in towards the student’s program of study will be counted in the calculation towards Maximum Timeframe.
  • Changing your program of Study and Maximum Timeframe: Students pursuing a new program of study without completing their first program are considered to have changed programs. If the program of study is changed, the student may not be able to complete their new program within the maximum allowable timeframe for financial need. Students are encouraged to meet with the financial aid department to determine the impact on Maximum timeframe percentages.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Status Appeal

Warning Status

Students are eligible to receive financial aid while on Warning Status. Financial Aid Warning will be assigned at the end of the first quarter for which the student does not meet the Cumulative Grade Point Average, Pace of Progression, or Maximum Timeframe requirements described above. Students will be notified they are being placed on Warning Status via their student email. Students are eligible to appeal for an Academic Plan at this time.

If a student continues to not meet satisfactory academic standards while on Warning Status, they will become ineligible for financial aid for upcoming quarters and will need to appeal to have their aid reinstated.

Suspended Status

Students who are on “Suspended” status can appeal to have their financial aid reinstated. Students are not eligible for any federal and state financial aid while on suspension. Students on “Suspended” status are not eligible for future financial aid (grants, work-study or loans). All financial aid will be withheld for the student’s very next quarter of enrollment.

Please note: Students on suspended status MUST APPEAL to have their aid reinstated. Sitting out for a term (or several terms) or paying for one’s classes is not sufficient to reestablish aid eligibility.

  • Students who are suspended will have future term “anticipated financial aid” removed from their billing account and become fully responsible for payment of their tuition and fees.

Financial Aid suspension will occur if:

  • Student failed to meet satisfactory academic standards while on Warning/Probation status.
  • Student is exceeding their Maximum Timeframe.

Submitting a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal

If extenuating circumstances prevented a student from meeting the SAP Policy requirements, they may submit a Petition for Reinstatement of Financial Aid. The Petition must include a letter, with supporting documentation (if possible) that explains what prevented them from successfully completing the quarter, a plan for success and (if requested) an education plan identifying required classes needed to complete the certificate or degree. Submitting a petition does not guarantee the students financial aid will be reinstated.

Extenuating circumstance can include (but are not limited to):

  • A death in the immediate family (parent, siblings, children, spouse, grandparent)
  • A physical or mental health illness of the student or an immediate family member.
  • The student is a victim of a serious crime.
  • The student, or an immediate family member, is involved in a serious accident.
  • Unstable housing or sudden job loss.
  • Academic difficulties – the student must demonstrate that they have taken steps to resolve or address the difficulty in their appeal.

Reinstatement Approved

If the students’ Petition for Reinstatement of financial aid has been approved, they will be placed on Probation for the next quarter of enrollment. If it is determined, based on the appeal, that a student will require more than one quarter to meet progress the student may be placed on probation and have an academic plan developed. Students on probation status must meet SAP standards (or conditions outlined by their Academic Plan) by the end of their probationary quarter to remain eligible for financial aid.

Reinstatement Denied

A student whose petition for financial aid reinstatement has been denied may be considered for reinstatement after they are able to demonstrate they can meet SAP standards. If it is mathematically impossible to meet graduation requirements the student’s Petition may be denied.

Students who have grade changes or late posting grades may request review of their financial aid SAP status by notifying the Financial Aid Office that their grades for the term in question have been updated.


Students who appeal to have their financial aid reinstated and are approved will be placed on Probation.

Students approved for funding based on a Petition for Reinstatement are considered to be in Probation Status and must meet specific academic outcome expectations until they return to good standing meeting the requirements of the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy.

Academic Plan

The school and student develop a plan that ensures the student is able to meet the school’s SAP policy by a specific time. At the end of each payment period, the student will be reviewed to ensure they are meeting the requirements of the academic plan as outlined.


  • Summer Quarter: The Summer quarter is treated like a regular quarter (i.e. like Fall, Winter and Spring). For example, to be a considered a full-time student in summer, a student needs to be enrolled in 12 or more credits. Please note that the tuition refund dates are different for Summer Quarter.
  • Incompletes: All incomplete grades count towards attempted hours for pace of progression and maximum timeframe.
  • Developmental Coursework: Developmental courses have course numbered under 100. Students can receive financial aid funding for up to 45 developmental credits.
  • Repeated Classes: Financial aid can pay for a student to repeat a class (or classes) under two scenarios: 1) the class was failed or withdrawn from or 2) for grade improvement. Classes in which the program of study specifies a grade requirement to progress toward graduation may also be repeated if the required grade was not earned the first time the class was taken.
    • *Important: In the event a class is being repeated for grade improvement (previous grade of D or better was received), the course will only be eligible for funding one additional time.
    • Developmental classes can be repeated multiple times if the grade earned is not sufficient to move to the next level, or if the class is needed to support a student’s learning. All repeated classes are included in the maximum timeframe/credits funded calculation and the pace of progress requirement. It is also important to note that continually repeating coursework may limit or exhaust financial aid eligibility in future quarters. See the Student Handbook to learn about replacing grades policy.
  • Official and Unofficial Withdrawals: Students who withdraw from all classes after receiving financial aid (including tuition payment only and/or student loan money) may be required to repay Pierce College and/or the financial aid programs as determined by the withdrawal calculation.
    • The Financial Aid Office is required by federal statue to recalculate aid eligibility for student who withdraw, drop out, or are dismissed from Pierce College prior to completing 60% of the quarter. Students receiving State Aid will have their state aid recalculated if they withdraw, dropout, or are dismissed from Pierce College prior to completing 50% of the quarter.
    • Students will be notified in writing and billed based on the calculation performed by the Financial Aid Office. Please review the Return to Title IV Funds Policy for more information.