The U.S. Department of Education provides approximately $150 billion in student financial assistance every year. Financial aid is provided by the U.S. Department of Education through the use of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA application process. The FAFSA is a free application, and it is used to determine eligibility for federal student aid.

Federal loans, grants or other federal financial assistance is provided through the U.S. Department of Education. The amount of aid is determined by the FAFSA and eligible students must maintain satisfactory academic progress by the Department of Education's rules to maintain eligibility.

Once a student is determined to be eligible for federal aid, they must maintain satisfactory academic progress or SAP in order to continue receiving the finical aid. There are specific SAP financial aid requirements set by each school. These requirements are based on guidelines outlined by the U.S. Department of Education. Satisfactory academic progress is an important factor in maintaining financial aid.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

In order for students to maintain financial aid eligibility, they must meet and maintain all of the SAP financial aid requirements. While SAP requirements may vary from school to school, there are some general SAP financial aid requirements that must be met. In general, SAP financial aid requirements include two main areas:

  • Grades: students must maintain a minimum GPA
  • Time: students have a time limit to complete their degree

SAP Requirements and Grades

In general, students must maintain, on average, a 2.0 grade point average or better each semester. This is a 2.0 out of 4.0, which roughly equates to a C average. Failure to meet these SAP financial aid academic requirements will result in the loss of financial aid.

Often, private colleges and universities may have stricter SAP financial aid requirements for GPA. It is important to find out what the exact requirements are at your school. Also, sometimes the SAP financial aid requirement for GPA is higher for scholarships than compared to general financial aid.

SAP Requirements and Time

In addition to maintaining a 2.0 grade point average, there is another SAP financial aid requirement that has to do with time. Again, some requirements may vary depending on the school, however the department of education does have some general requirements to maintain SAP.

Generally, there is a time limit for students who receive financial aid to complete the degree. Again, these SAP financial aid requirements may vary from school to school, but the U.S. Department of Education generally limits the amount of time for a student to earn an associate degree to three years and no more than six years for a bachelor’s degree.

SAP Warning

As long as students are eligible and are receiving financial aid, they will undergo regular SAP financial aid eligibility reviews. As long as a student is maintaining SAP each semester, the eligibility will not change. However, if a student does not meet SAP financial aid requirements from one review period to another, he or she will receive an SAP warning. If things do not improve, the student will lose their SAP good standing status and aid eligibility.

Financial Aid Ineligibility

If a student fails to meet the SAP financial aid requirements, for either GPA or time, an SAP financial aid ineligible hold will be placed on their account. If a student receives an SAP hold, they will not be eligible to continue to receive financial aid funding. Students must meet all SAP financial aid requirements in order to continue receiving financial aid.

Satisfactory academic progress is regularly monitored by the schools and department of education. While some SAP requirements may vary from school to school, the department of education has identified some general requirements that schools must follow. In order for a student to maintain eligibility, all SAP financial aid requirements must be met.

Related Articles

About the Author

Melanie Forstall has a doctorate in education and has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. She has been a teacher, grant writer, program director, and higher education instructor. She is a freelance writer specializing in education, and education related content. She writes for We Are Teachers, School Leaders Now, Classroom, Pocket Sense, local parenting magazines, and other professional academic outlets. Additionally, she has co-authored book chapters specializing in providing services for students with disabilities.