Federal regulations require schools to monitor student academic progress for financial aid purposes. The Code of Federal Regulations (§668.32[f]) stipulates that a student is required to maintain “satisfactory academic progress in his or her course of study according to the institution’s published standards of satisfactory academic progress” to be eligible to receive federal student assistance benefits.
For the purposes of this Policy, financial aid includes all federal and state aid (grants, work-study, etc.) administered by the WCC Financial Aid Office.
Scholarship recipients must meet and maintain requirements specific to the individual programs.
The WCC Financial Aid Office evaluates academic progress before awarding aid and at the end of each semester for all students who have submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is measured in three (3) areas: GPA, Pace, and Maximum Time Frame. Students must meet the minimum requirements in all three areas to qualify for and remain eligible to receive financial aid.
SAP is cumulative and includes all periods of enrollment at the College, even those for which the student did not receive financial aid.
It is the student’s responsibility to stay informed of the College’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards and to monitor his/her own progress.
Grade Point Average (GPA)
Students are required to maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher for financial aid eligibility.
**Most Pass/Fail courses (e.g. DMA/DRE) do not earn grade points and therefore are not factored into SAP calculations for GPA.
Pass Rate (PACE)
- Students must successfully complete 67% of all attempted credit hours to retain financial aid eligibility. Example: a student with 56 credit hours attempted on his/her transcript must pass at least 37 hours to be considered making SAP (56 x 67% = 37.52).
- Passing grades include: A, B, C, D, P, and X. Course withdrawals (W), (WP), incompletes (I), and course failures (R, F, WF) will be counted as hours attempted but not completed.
- Repeated coursework, pre-curriculum courses, courses from a previous program and credits transferred from another institution will be included in the total attempted hours.
Maximum Time Frame
- Financial Aid recipients are required to complete their program requirements within a reasonable amount of time. Federal regulations limit the maximum timeframe a student may receive aid to 150% of the published length of the educational program. This time frame is measured in credit hours. Example: A45380 (Human Services Technology) Program Requirements = 65 credit hours: 65 x 150% = 97.50 (round up to 98). The student may be eligible to receive financial aid until he/she has attempted 98 credit hours.
- If the student has not completed his/her program within the maximum time frame, financial aid eligibility may be suspended.
- Repeated coursework, course withdrawals (W), (WP), incompletes (I), course failures (R, F, and WF), credits attempted in a prior program and credits transferred from another institution will be included in the total attempted hours.
**Hours successfully completed in pre-curriculum courses (up to a maximum of 30) are not included in the maximum time frame calculation.
Financial Aid Warning
Students who are not meeting the minimum requirement(s) for GPA and/or Pace at the end of the evaluation semester may be placed on Financial Aid Warning.
- Financial Aid Warning allows students one payment period/semester to achieve the minimum standards of SAP.
- During the warning period, students may continue to receive assistance from the Federal Pell Grant, FSEOG, NCCCG, NCELS and NC Child Care Grant.
- The Federal Work Study Program is not available to students who are not making SAP.
- Academic progress for financial aid purposes will be re-evaluated at the end of each semester. Students who achieve satisfactory academic progress by the end the warning semester may have their financial aid reinstated.
- Failure to achieve the minimum SAP requirements by the end of the warning semester will result in a suspension of financial aid eligibility.
- WCC Returning Students: Cumulative GPA’s will be carried forward and attempted credit hours will be reviewed in accordance with SAP regulations. Student academic progress will be evaluated as stated in the preceding sections.
- Transfer Students: Students who transfer to WCC from another institution will be considered as making SAP at the time of enrollment unless the transfer hours exceed the maximum time frame. All credits transferred from another school will be counted as attempted hours and will be applied towards the maximum time frame.
- Changing Majors: When a student changes majors, the maximum time frame limit for the new program takes effect. All hours attempted in previous programs will be carried forward as attempted hours in the new program.
- A student who has earned an associate’s degree is not eligible to receive financial aid for a certificate or diploma program.
SAP Appeal Procedure
All applicants and financial aid recipients should be aware of their right to appeal their case if they feel that aid has been unjustly denied or suspended or that special circumstances warrant further consideration of their case.
Students who have become ineligible for financial aid due to unsatisfactory academic progress or maximum time frame have the opportunity to appeal if mitigating circumstances exist. Examples of mitigating circumstances may include, but are not limited to, an extended illness or accident of the student; an extended illness or death of an immediate family member; and undue hardships or extensive personal problems that were beyond the student’s control. The procedure for submitting a SAP Appeal is as follows:
A SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS (SAP) Appeal for GPA/PACE or MAXIMUM TIME FRAME SAP APPEAL must be completed by the student.
- The student must explain, in a typed, detailed statement the reason he/she is requesting the appeal and what has changed that will allow the student to be successful in the future. This statement must be submitted with the appeal form to the Financial Aid Office and must be accompanied by supporting documentation. **Incomplete appeals will be returned to the student.
- The student must meet with his/her academic advisor to discuss strategies for improving academic standing.
- The student will be notified by mail of the decision regarding the approval or denial of the appeal.
- The student is responsible for all semester tuition expenses while the SAP Appeal is being reviewed.
- Students who have a TERMINATED SAP status following a previous appeal may submit a subsequent appeal only for circumstances that occurred while on Probation.
Tips for Achieving Satisfactory Academic Progress
- The Back2College website offers a free online calculator that students may use to determine the grades, number of credit hours or GPA required to achieve a certain GPA on a 4.0 scale.
- Don’t try to take on more than you can handle. The classes in which you are registered on the first day of class are your attempted hours.
Withdrawing from classes from this point on counts as hours attempted but not completed and will impact your PACE.
- Follow your curriculum carefully. Taking classes outside of your major and/or repeating classes will count against your maximum time frame.
- Be cautious about changing majors. Time frames are cumulative and may not start over with a new program.
- Be aware that any pre-requisites you have taken prior to being accepted into a new program will count towards your maximum time frame.
- Be aware that classes that are dropped after the “last day to drop” will count both as an F and as hours attempted but not completed. (Refer to the academic calendar for this date).
If you do not understand any of the above policies and/or procedures, it is your responsibility to ask for clarification from a Financial Aid counselor. Please note that privacy regulations prohibit us from discussing a student’s academic record over the phone. Financial Aid counselors are available Monday through Thursday from 7:45 am until 5:30 pm and Friday from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm. The Financial Aid Office also has evening hours every Tuesday until 6:30 pm. (Summer hours may vary).