Satisfactory Academic Progress

Federal regulations require schools to monitor student academic progress for financial aid purposes. Section 132 of the Educational Amendments of 1976 states that a student shall be entitled to receive Federal Student Assistance Benefits only if “that student is maintaining satisfactory progress in the course of study he is pursuing according to the standards of the institution.”

For the purposes of this policy, financial aid includes the Federal Pell Grant, FSEOG, Federal Work-Study, and all grants offered by the State of North Carolina (NCCCG, NCELS and NC Childcare Grant). Federal regulations require students to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in three areas. Students must have a Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 at the end of each semester. Students must have a minimum 67% pass rate (Pace), including grades of R, W, WP, WF, I, F and X at the end of each semester. Finally, students must not exceed the 150% maximum time frame of their published program (major) for financial aid eligibility. 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 must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher to be eligible to receive assistance. If a student’s GPA falls below the required minimum, a one semester warning period will be granted to allow the student the opportunity to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. Students who achieve the minimum standards by the end of the warning period may have their financial aid reinstated. If the student fails to bring the GPA up to the minimum standards by the end of the semester, financial aid may be suspended.

The calculation of GPA includes all semesters from the beginning date of student enrollment at the College. This applies whether or not the student received financial aid.

Pass Rate (PACE)

Students must show sufficient progress towards completion of their program in a timely manner to retain financial aid eligibility. Financial Aid recipients must pass a minimum of 67% of the credit hours attempted on their academic transcript. For example, a student who has attempted 56 credit hours over the course of their enrollment must pass at least 37 hours to be considered making satisfactory academic progress (56 x 67% = 37.52).

A student who fails to meet the minimum pass rate at the end of a semester will be granted a one semester Warning period to allow the student the opportunity to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. Students who achieve the minimum standards by the end of the warning period may have their financial aid reinstated. If the student fails to achieve a 67% pass rate by the end of the semester, their financial aid may be suspended. Only grades of A, B, C, D, P or X will be considered passed. Course withdrawals (W), (WP), incompletes (I), and course failures (R, F, WF) will be counted as hours attempted but not completed.

The calculation of PACE includes all semesters from the beginning date of student enrollment at the College. Repeated courses, courses from a previous program and credits transferred from another institution will be counted in the total attempted hours. This applies whether or not the student received financial aid.

Maximum Time Frame

Financial Aid recipients will have a maximum time frame in which they are to complete their program requirements. Federal regulations state that the maximum time cannot exceed 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 a degree has not been earned in this time frame, financial aid may be suspended resulting in the student completing the degree at his/her own expense.

Hours completed in pre-curriculum courses (up to a maximum of 30) are not used to determine the maximum time frame. Course withdrawals (W), (WP), incompletes (I), course failures (R, F, WF), repeated courses, credits attempted in a prior program and credits transferred from another institution will be counted in the attempted hours regardless of whether the student received financial aid.

What Happens If You Do Not Meet The Minimum Requirements for SAP?

Financial Aid Warning

A student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress due to the GPA and/or PACE requirements may be placed on Financial Aid Warning for one semester. During the warning period, the student may be eligible to receive financial aid. Academic progress for financial aid purposes will be re-evaluated at the end of each semester. Students who achieve the minimum requirements may have their financial aid reinstated. Students who fail to attain the minimum SAP requirements by the end of the semester may become ineligible for aid. Once Satisfactory Academic Progress for financial aid purposes has been achieved, financial aid eligibility may be reinstated.

WCC Returning Students: Cumulative GPA’s will be carried forward and attempted credit hours will be reviewed in accordance with SAP regulations. SAP is cumulative and includes all periods of enrollment at the College, even those for which the student did not receive financial aid. 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 satisfactory academic progress at the time of enrollment. However, 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 counted 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.

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 refused or suspended or that special circumstances warrant further consideration of their case. A student who has become ineligible for financial aid due to unsatisfactory academic progress has 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 hardship or extensive personal problems that were beyond the student’s control. The procedure for submitting an appeal is as follows:

  1. The student must complete the SAP Appeal Request. The student must explain, in detail, why he/she is requesting the appeal (i.e. what circumstances occurred to prevent the successful completion of previous semesters at the College) and what has changed that will allow the student to be successful in the future. This request must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid and must be accompanied by supporting documentation. An incomplete application WILL NOT be considered.
  2. The student will be notified by mail of the decision regarding the approval or denial of the appeal.
  3. The student is responsible for all semester tuition expenses while the SAP Appeal Request is being reviewed.

Tips for Achieving Satisfactory Academic Progress

  • The Back2College website has a free online calculator that you may use to determine what grades, number of credit hours or GPA are 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.
  • Follow your curriculum carefully. Taking classes outside of your major will count against your maximum time frame.
  • Be cautious about changing majors. Time frames are cumulative and may not start over with the 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 as both an F and 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 7:00 pm. Hours may vary during the summer.