SP 4-20d – Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid

Colorado Community College System / System Procedure

SP 4-20d

EFFECTIVE: November 9, 2004
REVISED: Fall, 2006
RETITLED: August 24, 2009
REVISED: March 18, 2010
REVISED: July 20, 2011
REVISED: November 16, 2011
REVISED: May 9, 2013
REVISED: August 1, 2014

REFERENCES: 34 CRF 668.16 Standard of administrative capability 34 CFR 668.32 Student Eligibility – general 34 CRF 668.34 Satisfactory Progress; Federal Student Aid Handbook, 2013-14, Volume 1 – Student Eligibility Chapter 1 School-Determined Requirements; CCCS Educational Services Council Guidelines ES 4-81 Academic Progress Standing;


/ Nancy J. McCallin /
Nancy J. McCallin, Ph.D.
System President


This procedure applies to all Colorado Community College System (CCCS) colleges.


The U.S. Department of Education establishes requirements for enforcing standards of Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Each college may have slightly varying internal processes based upon the organizational structure at its institution.


Overview & Applicability

SAP measures a student’s performance in the following three areas: cumulative completion rate, cumulative grade point average (GPA), and maximum time frame. The Financial Aid Office at each college is responsible for reviewing the cumulative academic progress of all enrolled students at the end of each term. The purpose of this review process is to determine whether a student is making satisfactory progress towards their educational goal in both qualitative and quantitative measurements. The qualitative measurement consists of the cumulative grade point average as determined by the Colorado Community College System Standards of Academic Progress (CCCS ES 4-81).

The quantitative measurement contains two components: (1) the cumulative completion rate of credit hours completed versus credit hours attempted expressed as a percentage rate of completion and (2) the maximum time frame allowed for a student to complete their certificate or degree program expressed as a percentage of total credit hours required.

Review of SAP will take place at a minimum of once per term for all enrolled students. A student’s entire academic record will be reviewed and evaluated for SAP whether or not financial aid was received. The process to review Financial Aid SAP eligibility will be the same for all enrolled students. All coursework, including coursework for which a college has offered academic amnesty (including credit hours excluded from the GPA cumulative calculation as in the Academic Second Chance or Academic Renewal Policies), must be included in the review process. Colleges will notify financial aid applicants of their SAP status. A student is considered to be a financial aid applicant if they complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or if they are offered funding to assist in educational costs through the Financial Aid Office.

The SAP standards apply to all applicable forms of financial assistance programs including Federal Pell Grant, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work-Study (FWS), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Direct Stafford Loans, Direct PLUS loans as well as assistance from the State of Colorado. Colleges will determine what institutional funds will be affected by the student’s SAP status.

Definitions of Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Status

Students who fail to meet either the quantitative or the qualitative criteria will be notified of their status in accordance with the definitions below:


Student is eligible to receive all types of aid.

  • Student has cumulative GPA at or above 2.0.
  • Student has cumulative completion rate at or above 67%.
  • Student has attempted less than 110% of required number of credit
    hours for enrolled degree or certificate program.

Student has attempted 110%, but less than 150%, of required number of credit hours needed for their degree or certificate program. Student is eligible to receive all types of financial aid.


Student was previously in Good Standing but failed to meet one of the SAP criteria stated below. Student will continue to receive aid while on Warning status.

  • Student has cumulative GPA below 2.0; and/or
  • Has cumulative completion rate below 67%

Student has 0% completion for evaluation period and/or failed to comply with stated SAP criteria while on Warning or Probation. Student is not eligible to receive financial aid (federal, state or designated institutional financial aid).

  • Student has under a 2.0 GPA and/or 67% cumulative completion rate.
  • Student has attempted 150% or more of required number of credit hours needed for degree or certificate program.
  • Student did not receive acceptable grades in any course(s) within a single term [see (VI)(b)].

Student will be placed on Probation if the student was previously Ineligible for Aid, made an appeal and the appeal was granted (see VIII). Student will be eligible to receive financial aid for one term while on Probation.


Student who has eligibility reinstated under an approved Academic Plan and is successfully following that plan is eligible to receive financial aid and continues to be eligible for aid while following the approved Academic Plan.

  • Financial aid eligibility will be reviewed at the end of each term according to the approved Academic Plan.

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Criteria

In order to meet SAP requirements, financial aid applicants and recipients must meet the qualitative and quantitative measurements outlined below:


Cumulative GPA Requirement

  • Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 for all credit hours attempted.
  • Students must complete at least 67% of cumulative attempted credit hours.
  • The completion rate is defined as the percentage of the total number of credit hours completed divided by the total number of credit hours attempted over the entirety of a student’s academic record at the college performing the calculation. (Credit hours Completed/Credit hours Attempted) x 100=Completion Rate
  • Transfer credit hours on the student’s record are included when computing the student’s completion rate.
  • Remedial credit hours are included in the calculation of the cumulative completion rate.

Maximum Time Frame

  • Students who have attempted 110% of the number of credit hours required for their degree or eligible certificate program will be sent an Alert notification. This notification will explain to students that they will be Ineligible for Aid when their total attempted credit hours are 150% of their total program credit hours.
  • Federal regulations allow financial aid recipients to receive financial aid for a maximum number of attempted credit hours. Students attempting credit hours in excess of 150% of the required number of credit hours to complete their program of study will be Ineligible for Aid. If at any point in time it is determined that a student cannot complete their program of study within 150% of the program length, the student will be Ineligible for Aid.
  • Transfer credit hours are included in the calculation of maximum time frame.
  • Attempted credit hours under all courses of study are included in the calculation of attempted and earned credit hours.
  • Up to 30 remedial credit hours may be excluded from the maximum time frame calculation.
  • ESL courses may be excluded in the maximum time frame calculation.

Intersection of SAP Status and SAP Criteria

The following table demonstrates the intersection between SAP status and SAP criteria as defined in Sections II and III of this document. All measures are cumulative.

GPA 2.0 or aboveGPA below
Completion rate at 67% or aboveCompletion rate below 67%Attempted less than
Attempted between 110%-150%Attempted more than 150%Failed to complete any course during a single termPlan approved for 1 termPlan approved for more than 1 term
Good StandingYesYesYes
Ineligible for AidYesYesYesYes
Academic PlanYes

Evaluation of Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress

  1. Review of SAP will take place at a minimum of once per term. The student’s academic history is reviewed for: 1) cumulative GPA requirement; 2) cumulative completion rate; and 3) maximum time frame.
  2. A student’s entire academic record will be reviewed and evaluated for SAP, whether or not financial aid was received. Based on all academic history a student may be considered Ineligible for Aid.
  3. The SAP evaluation process will occur at the end of each term of enrollment. When the student applies for financial aid (receipt of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the evaluation process will be completed based on the student’s last term of enrollment and then updated at the end of each term for which the student is enrolled.
  4. All students who fail to meet SAP criteria will be placed on Warning or Ineligible for Aid. Financial aid applicants will be notified of their status.
  5. Students who have attempted 110% to 149% of the required number of credit hours for their program will receive an Alert notification.
  6. The Financial Aid Office will review GPA and credit hours attempted/completed through consortium agreements.

Treatment of Completion and Repeats

  1. Grades of A, B, C, D, S, S/A, S/B, and S/C earned during all periods of enrollment will be considered acceptable for courses completed.
  2. Grades of F, U, I, W, AW, Z, U/D, U/F, SP, and AU earned during all periods of enrollment will not be considered acceptable for SAP.
  3. Repeated courses are counted for all qualitative and quantitative measurements, as is coursework removed from the permanent transcript.

Treatment of Grade Changes

  1. Students are responsible for notifying the College Financial Aid Office of all grade changes that might affect current or future financial aid eligibility. A reevaluation of the students’ status will be performed by the Financial Aid Office once the grade change has been communicated to the Financial Aid Office.
  2. Colleges reserve the right to notify students of this requirement based on the College’s official means of communication.

Student Financial Aid Academic Progress Appeals

Each college is required to have a primary and a secondary process for students to appeal their eligibility. The secondary process is meant to address appeals of denied appeals from the primary process.

All decisions made at the secondary level are final.

The process for appeals at the primary and secondary level will be defined by the College. A student may appeal when they have been placed on Ineligible for Aid status. These appeals must be submitted to the College Financial Aid Office or designated location with supporting documentation. The student is responsible for presenting sufficient information and documentation to substantiate the existence of extenuating circumstances. Each college may request additional documentation as student’s extenuating circumstances warrant it.

  • why the student failed to make SAP; and
  • what has changed that will allow the student to make SAP at the next evaluation.
  • medical problems (family illness);
  • family emergency (death of a family member); or
  • other documented extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control.
  • funding for an additional degree or certificate.
  • the college has determined the student will be able to meet SAP standards at the end of the subsequent term given the merits of the appeal and reasonable resolution of a student’s extenuating circumstance; or
  • the college and the student develop a plan that ensures the student is able to meet the college’s SAP standards by a specific time or that the plan takes the student to successful program completion.

Students will be notified by the College of the outcome of their appeal. Under no circumstances can Probation be assigned to a prior term.

Colleges may notify students prior to the end of the term or prior to official posting of the financial aid SAP status if the student’s academic progress indicates they will be ineligible for aid at the end of the term. This includes students who withdraw from the term or fail to meet the terms of their conditional probation.

Colleges may set deadlines for SAP Appeal submissions to allow for processing of the appeal and, if successful, the processing of financial aid prior to the end of a term.

Reinstatement of aid:

  1. Students who lose financial aid eligibility because they are not meeting the college’s SAP standards will regain eligibility when they are again meeting the qualitative and quantitative standards as set previously in this policy.
  2. Students may also regain eligibility through the appeal process.
  3. Upon successful reestablishment of eligibility, the student will be awarded financial aid based on the availability of funds at the time of reestablishment.

Students may, or may not, receive all funds awarded prior to the loss of eligibility.


CCCS reserves the right to change any provision or requirement of this procedure at any time and the change shall become effective immediately