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Mistakes That Can Cost You Your Financial Aid
(Continued from 1)

Pass Rate

The pass rate standard requires all students to pass 67 percent of their attempted credits.   Attempted credits include all courses except ungraded, audited, and no-credit courses.

The consequences: According to ASU’s Satisfactory Academic Progress policy, if you don’t pass at least 67 percent of your attempted credits, you’ll be placed on academic probation. If after three consecutive semesters, you still haven’t met the standard, you’ll be ineligible for financial aid for the current and subsequent semesters, and all aid that has been awarded will be placed on hold. If the measurement occurs after a semester has begun, aid for that semester will be canceled.

The solution:  Pay for a semester’s worth of classes out of your own pocket and pass all of them. Also, submit an SAP Review form signed by your advisor along with a letter of appeal and documentation explaining your circumstances to the financial aid office.

Tip: Your chances of getting your aid reinstated are proportionate to your letter of appeal. Make it short and to the point, including an academic action plan (i.e. the courses you need to take and when, with a projected graduation date).

Maximum Credit Hours

Undergraduates are typically allowed to earn a maximum of 180 credits without graduating. Credits include up to 64 transferred hours plus all attempted credits-even those that were withdrawn (audited courses don’t count).

The consequences: After you have accumulated 150 credits, you may be sent a warning that your financial aid could be terminated. At 180 credits, it will be.
Terry accumulated 184 credits before her aid was terminated. She didn’t know that transferred and withdrawn courses were tallied. She had also changed her major five times, and completely withdrew from all of her classes one semester, after she was assured that doing so would not negatively impact her financial aid. No one warned her about the maximum credit hour standard. 

The solution: Submit an SAP Review form, signed by your advisor, to the financial aid office stating how many credits you still need to graduate.  Attach a letter of appeal and documentation.

Tip: When you really want to take courses that don’t count toward your major, audit them.  

If you’ve already violated one of the standards and are on probation, don’t lose heart. Terry didn't.

‘I'm using this probationary period as reinforcement to do well,” she said. “I’m not giving up on myself.”

Neither should you.


Karen Michelle Sarver, 49, graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a Bachelor's of Arts in Theatre. She is working on a post-baccalaureate certificate in dramatic arts education at Rio Salado College.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards (SAP) for Federal Financial Aid

Federal regulations require students eligible for financial aid to be enrolled in a degree-seeking program, take classes necessary for that program, and maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward their degree.

Aid programs impacted by SAP standards include the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Perkins Loan, and Federal Stafford Loans.

The regulations require the school financial aid office to regularly assess student academic progress. Generally, you must maintain a standard cumulative GPA, and complete enough courses to successfully complete your degree in an acceptable time frame to your college/university. Each school has their own SAP Policy. Contact your financial aid office or visit their Web site to learn their policy.

Among things the policy will include:

  • The necessary grade point average (GPA) for eligibility
  • The number of credits that need to be completed each year (or the pace at which a student must progress to complete the program within the maximum time frame)
  • How SAP is affected by course withdrawals, incompletes, course repetition, change of majors, or transfer of credit from other schools
  • How often student academic progress will be evaluated
  • The consequences of failure to make SAP when evaluated
  • If the decision can be appealed (extenuating circumstances may include unforeseen illness or injury, death of a friend or relative, or divorce)
  • Steps necessary to reinstate eligibility

When submitting an appeal, you will need to explain and provide documentation for the special circumstances that impacted your progress. The appeal must show how your situation has changed and how you are now able to meet SAP standards. If you think you need help in a subject, then take advantage of tutoring services and study workshops to help get yourself back on track. If under stress or overwhelmed, consider counseling. Your academic advisor can provide advice on ways to raise your G.P.A.

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