III:00:11 Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress

I.   PURPOSE

Federal regulations require institutions to establish and apply reasonable standards of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for the purpose of awarding financial assistance under the Title IV programs authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended (34 CFR 668.34).

MTSU complies with this requirement by monitoring each student's "overall combined" cumulative grade point average (GPA), "overall combined" pass-rate (percentage of credit hours passed divided by credit hours attempted), and "overall" maximum time frame for completion of the student's program of study. "Overall combined" is inclusive of college level and remedial / developmental coursework. "Overall" only includes college level coursework.

This policy is applicable to Federal Title IV Programs, State Programs (inclusive of the Tennessee Student Assistance Award and the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship), and various MTSU Scholarship Programs. References to financial aid within this policy apply to these programs. The following standards apply whether or not a student received financial aid during the period(s) being measured.

This policy is used to determine satisfactory academic progress for financial aid. Students should reference the MTSU Undergraduate and Graduate On-line Catalogs for Academic Regulations used to determine acceptable academic standing, whether or not the student is receiving financial aid.

II.  QUALITATIVE STANDARD (GPA)

Federal law requires that the financial aid academic standard must be at least as strict as the school's standard for students enrolled in the same educational program who are not receiving Federal Title IV assistance. Additionally, federal law requires that for programs longer than two academic years, students must have a C average or its equivalent by the end of the second year (regardless of how many credits they have accrued) or have an academic standing consistent with the requirement for graduation.

MTSU elects to use the same academic standard as stated in the Academic Regulations in the Undergraduate and Graduate On-line Catalogs as appropriate.

III.   PACE STANDARD (PERCENTAGE OF CREDIT HOURS PASSED)

Pace is progression toward completion of the student's program of study. Federal law requires that students must progress toward completion of the eligible program of study at a percentage rate that will allow the student to complete the program of study within the Maximum Timeframe (Refer to Section IV of this policy) allowed for the program of study. At MTSU, this limitation is also applied toward state and specified institutional scholarship programs.

Both undergraduate and graduate students must minimally pass 67% of their cumulative "overall combined" credits attempted to remain in "Good Standing" for financial aid. Grades of "A", "B", "C", "D", "P", or "S", including any "+" or "-" options, count as credit hours passed. All courses for credit will be counted as hours attempted including withdrawals, incompletes, repeated coursework, and coursework graded as "N", "U", "WD", "WF", "WP", "F", and "FA". "Overall combined" includes college level coursework and remedial / developmental coursework. The 67% pass rate is determined by dividing the cumulative "overall combined" number of credit hours the student has passed by the "overall combined" cumulative number of hours the student has attempted.

A. Warning:    This status is assigned to students whose Pace has fallen below the required 67%.

During the semester that students are in a "Warning" status, they remain eligible for financial aid. Students will change from a "Warning" status to a "Suspension" status if a cumulative "overall combined" Pace of 67% is not achieved by the end of the "Warning" semester.

Transfer students whose transcripts from prior institutions have not been received or evaluated will be placed in a "Transfer Warning" status. This status will be updated to either "Good Standing" or "Warning" once all transfer transcripts have been evaluated.

B. Suspension: Students who have not achieved an "overall combined" Pace of 67% by the end of the semester that a "Warning" status is assigned will be suspended from financial aid for subsequent semesters. (Refer to Section XII of this policy regarding the financial aid appeal process.) Students may still be eligible for emergency short-term loans, other university funds, and alternative loans during periods of suspension from financial aid.

IV.   MAXIMUM TIMEFRAME STANDARD

Federal law allows students to receive Federal Title IV assistance up to 150% of the program's published length. At MTSU, this limitation is also applied toward state and specified institutional scholarship programs.

Undergraduates. The maximum timeframe for the completion of a baccalaureate degree is limited to 150% of the program's published length. Most undergraduate baccalaureate programs at MTSU require 120 credit hours. Therefore, the maximum attempted undergraduate college level credit hours allowed is 180 credit hours. This timeframe limitation does not include remedial or developmental courses for which the maximum federal limitation is 30 attempted credit hours. The 180 credit hours include all transfer attempted undergraduate college level credit hours and all MTSU attempted undergraduate college level credit hours. (Refer to Section XII of this policy regarding the financial aid appeal process.)

Graduates. The maximum timeframe limitation for completion of a graduate degree is 150% of the program's published length as established by the Graduate Office in the MTSU on-line graduate catalog. The limitation by program includes all transfer attempted graduate level credit hours and all MTSU attempted graduate level credit hours. (Refer to Section XII of this policy regarding the financial aid appeal process.)

V.    REPEATS

Students should refer to the Academic Regulations within the Undergraduate and Graduate On-line Catalogs as related to how repeats are counted in the GPA calculation.

For the purpose of this policy, all attempted undergraduate and graduate attempted college level credit hours are included in both the Pace and Maximum Timeframe measurements, inclusive of credit hours associated with all repeated coursework. Additionally, all attempted undergraduate remedial / developmental (R&D) coursework is included in the R&D 30 attempted credit hour limitation, inclusive of credit hours associated with all repeated R&D coursework.

When determining a student's enrollment status for Federal Title IV purposes, MTSU may pay for repeated coursework through the above specified financial aid programs. However, MTSU cannot pay for more than one completed repetition of a previously passed course. The Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Program has additional rules as related to repeated coursework.

VI.    ACADEMIC FRESH START

Any student who has not been enrolled in a college or university for a period of at least four years and who, upon reenrolling, satisfactorily completes 40 credit hours of classwork, may petition to have grades on all prior coursework disregarded in calculating his/her cumulative grade point average. Refer to the Undergraduate and Graduate On-line Catalogs for details.

For students who choose this option, it should be noted that the related coursework must still be counted for financial aid SAP. Depending upon the student's academic history, the student might be ineligible for financial aid. In such cases, the student has a right to appeal. (Refer to Section XII of this policy regarding the financial aid appeal process.)

VII.     ADDITIONAL BACHELOR'S DEGREE

Students who have already earned a bachelor's degree but are working on another undergraduate degree may be eligible to receive Federal Stafford Loans at the undergraduate limit. Students must submit a completed Request for Federal Financial Aid for Additional Coursework Form to the Financial Aid Office.

A Financial Aid Counselor will allow 150% of the additional hours needed to complete an additional bachelor's degree to the existing "overall" credit hours previously attempted for the first bachelor's degree. This new value will establish the new Maximum Timeframe that the student can receive financial aid.

VIII.    TEACHER LICENSURE

Students who have completed an undergraduate degree and are enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, for the sole purpose of attaining teacher licensure, may be eligible to receive Federal Stafford Loans at the undergraduate limit. Students must be enrolled at least half-time in required teacher certification coursework. Students must submit a completed Request for Federal Financial Aid for Additional Coursework Form and a signed copy of their Program of Study to the Financial Aid Office.

A Financial Aid Counselor will allow 150% of the additional hours needed to complete the teacher licensure to the existing "overall" credit hours previously attempted for the first bachelor's degree. This new value will establish the new Maximum Timeframe that the student can receive financial aid.

IX.     FREQUENCY OF REVIEW

Qualitative Standard (GPA):

The Records Office reviews students' GPAs at the end of each semester (fall, spring, summer). Students who are academically suspended have the opportunity to appeal to the undergraduate or graduate Academic Appeals Committee. The decision of the Academic Appeals Committee is final.

Pace Standard (Percentage of Credit Hours Passed):

The Financial Aid Office reviews students' completion rates at the end of each semester (fall, spring, summer). Students who are suspended from financial aid for not meeting the Pace standard have the opportunity to appeal to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee. (Refer to Section XII of this policy regarding the appeal process.)

Maximum Timeframe Standard:

The Financial Aid Office reviews students' maximum timeframe limitation at the end of each semester (fall, spring, summer). Students who are suspended from financial aid for exceeding the Maximum Time Frame standard have the opportunity to appeal to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee. (Refer to Section XII of this policy regarding the appeal process.)

X.      NOTIFICATION TO STUDENTS

A. Pace Standard:

Warning:   Undergraduate and graduate students placed in a Warning status resulting from insufficient Pace will be sent an e-mail from the Financial Aid Office notifying them of their status and the requirements necessary to return to Good Standing. During a Warning status, students will be required to achieve a cumulative "overall combined" Pace of 67% by the end of the Warning semester or will have their financial aid eligibility suspended effective with the next semester of enrollment.

Suspension:   Undergraduate and graduate students suspended from financial aid will be sent an e-mail from the Financial Aid Office listing the number of credit hours they must pass to regain eligibility for financial aid. The e-mail will include guidance regarding the appeal process. (Refer to Section XII of this policy regarding the appeal process.)

Probation:   Undergraduate and graduate students for whom an appeal has been approved will be notified by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee regarding the resulting status of Probation. Students who maintain eligibility for financial aid by meeting the requirements of their academic plan but whose cumulative "overall combined" Pace is less than 67% at the end of the subsequent semester(s) will be sent an e-mail by the Financial Aid Office notifying them of their continued probationary status.

B.   Maximum Timeframe Standard:

Undergraduate students who have 30 or fewer college level credit hours of remaining financial aid eligibility will be sent an e-mail from the Financial Aid Office reminding them of the credit hour limitation.

Graduate students who have 12 or less credit hours of remaining financial aid eligibility will be sent an e-mail from the Financial Aid Office reminding them of the credit hour limitation.

Undergraduate and graduate students who have reached Maximum Timeframe will be sent an e-mail from the Financial Aid Office notifying them of their status.

XI.     REINSTATEMENT OF ELIGIBILITY

A student who has lost eligibility for financial aid due to suspension or a denied appeal will be reinstated once the student has subsequently completed coursework (MTSU and/or transfer) resulting in an "overall combined" pass rate of 67% (assuming the student is otherwise eligible and also meets the Qualitative and Maximum Timeframe requirements).

XII.     FINANCIAL AID APPEALS

Depending on the timing of when the appeal is submitted, the appeal may not be reviewed prior to when registration fees are due for the upcoming semester. Students may need to be prepared to pay registration fees. If the appeal is approved after the semester begins, the student will be considered for financial aid, if otherwise eligible. If the student pays registration fees out-of-pocket, there is no guarantee that the appeal will be approved.

A.  Qualitative Standard (GPA):   Students may appeal to the undergraduate or graduate Academic Appeals Committee. The decision of the Academic Appeals Committee is final.

B. Pace Standard (Percentage of Credit Hours Passed):Students may reestablish eligibility to receive Federal Title IV aid by following the appeals process which is outlined on the Financial Aid website. Students may file for an appeal on the basis of extenuating circumstances which were not anticipated and which have been resolved to the extent that they should not create an ongoing barrier to meeting all SAP requirements.  Such circumstances might include the death of a relative, an injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstances.  Students will be required to submit appropriate documentation of the circumstance(s) which caused the student to fail to meet SAP standards and information regarding what may have changed in the student's situation that will allow the student to demonstrate SAP at the next evaluation, as noted in the appeals process on the Financial Aid website.

C.   Maximum Timeframe Standard: Federal law allows students to receive Federal Title IV assistance up to 150% of length of program (Refer to Section IV of this policy). With the exception of military credit, students will be allowed one opportunity to appeal this limitation to a designated Financial Aid administrator for a final decision.

Refer to the Financial Aid website regarding options to appeal maximum timeframe related to (1) undergraduate transfer coursework, (2) military credit, (3) undergraduate change of major / concentration / double major, and (4) graduate change of major, concentration, and dual programs.

Prior to July 1, 2011, undergraduate students were allowed a one-time extension of 24 attempted college level credit hours if they changed their major during the their junior or senior year. These students are allowed to appeal under the new policy.

XIII.    EXCEPTIONS

The University may suspend a student's financial assistance through the above mentioned programs resulting from unusual circumstances that are not accounted for in this policy. Students will be notified of this decision.

Revisions: June 14, 1994; July 16, 1999; July 1, 2011; February 15, 2012; March 14, 2014.

Cross-references: Higher Education Act of 1965 (34 CFR 668.34).