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Satisfactory Academic Progress - Graduate

What is SAP?

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) are the standards students must meet to ensure that they are successfully completing coursework and can continue to receive Title IV and SCU financial aid. To remain eligible for Title IV programs and institutional aid, students must be making satisfactory academic progress in accordance with the U.S. Department of Education regulations.

Who does SAP apply to?

All graduate students who are applying for financial aid must adhere to the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy across all programs and enrollment levels. This policy holds students accountable for meeting academic progress requirements, regardless of whether or not they have previously received financial aid. If a student fails to meet these requirements, they will not be eligible for financial assistance. 

How often are students evaluated?

Graduate students are evaluated at the end of Spring term and Summer term after the Registrar has released official grades.


SAP is comprised of three components GPA, PACE and MAX. After the review of all standards at the end of each term, there are two possible outcomes.

  1. PASS: Student Passes SAP, they meet all standards and are in good standing. There is no communication between FAO and a student with this outcome.
  2. FAIL: Fail status is assigned if a student fails to meet the standards for the last SAP review of enrollment. Students with this status are not eligible for Title IV and SCU financial aid. The student will receive notification via Workday account notifying them that they have failed to meet SAP standards. It is important to note that students can appeal their SAP status.

Standards Evaluated

Qualitative Standard (GPA). Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. On a 4.0 scale.

NOTE: Some Santa Clara University graduate programs require a higher cumulative grade point average than the federal minimum (academic purposes not aid eligibility). Students must check with the graduate program office. 

Quantitative Standard (PACE). Students must maintain a cumulative 67% completion rate for all units attempted toward their academic programs. Pace is determined by dividing the cumulative number of units you have earned by the cumulative number of units you have attempted.

Maximum Attempted Units Allowed (MAX). Students must complete the requirements for their academic programs within 150% of the minimum units required to complete their academic programs (varies by program). Students who have reached their maximum attempted units allowed are ineligible for additional financial aid. Students may appeal for financial aid probation status if they believe their circumstances warrant an exception to this standard.

Pass/No Pass

Courses with Pass grades will count toward your total hours for the cumulative completion rate for federal financial aid. However, Pass grades will not count in the GPA calculation. Courses that earn NP grades will count as attempted but not completed, and could impact your eligibility for federal aid. P/NP options may not be available in all graduate programs. Graduate students should refer to their program office for additional guidance.

Courses Incompletes, Withdrawal, Failures, and/or Repetitions

Incompletes (I), Withdrawals (W), Failures (F), and/or repeated courses will adversely affect a student's completion rate. Students must complete the minimum number of units to fulfill federal, state, and University requirements. Completion rates are calculated cumulatively and will include all quarters/semesters that the student was enrolled, whether or not the student received financial aid.


(I) grades are not included in the GPA calculation and are considered a non-completion of attempted coursework (for PACE) until the grade is replaced with a permanent grade and academic progress can be re-evaluated.


Students who wish to withdraw from Santa Clara University must contact their graduate school advisor. Depending on the date of withdrawal, a student may automatically be assigned a withdrawal grade (W) and may not be eligible for a tuition refund. The program advisor will advise students on what to expect and /or what to be prepared for. Students who abandon their classes will receive a failing grade, impacting their qualitative and quantitative SAP requirements. Students who withdraw from their program are still responsible for any financial commitment made to both the university and loan provider(s).

IMPORTANT: Any student leaving Santa Clara University at the conclusion of any quarter should also contact their graduate program.

Repetition of Courses

Graduate students should contact their program office to discuss their options for repeating courses.

In most cases if repeated courses are allowed, the repeated course is used in the calculation of the student's grade point average (this may not be the case for all programs please check with your program office).

Units are awarded toward graduation only once for each course passed.

Appeal Process

There could be extenuating circumstances encountered by students that may affect their ability to be academically successful during an enrollment period. These circumstances include personal injury or illness that occurs during an enrollment period; death of an immediate family member or legal guardian during an enrollment period; or other documented circumstances that were unexpected in nature and beyond control of the student. In these cases, cumulative grade point average or completion rate may decline resulting in the student not meeting the minimum qualitative and quantitative standards previously described. If a student wishes to appeal financial aid suspension, a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal Form must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office. If the appeal is approved, the student will be placed on financial aid probation (separate from academic probation) and will be notified of the appeal results in writing. 

Loss of Eligibility 

Students who have lost eligibility to participate in federal, state, and University aid programs for reasons of academic progress, can regain that eligibility only by enrolling at Santa Clara University at their own expense. The mere passage of time will not restore eligibility to a student who has lost eligibility for failure to make satisfactory academic progress. Students who have been dismissed from Santa Clara University for academic reasons, but who are subsequently readmitted are not automatically eligible to participate in federal, state, or institutional aid programs and will be placed on financial aid warning/or suspension. Re-admission decisions are separate from funding decisions.

Regaining Eligibility 

Students who failed to meet satisfactory academic progress and who choose to enroll without financial aid may request a review of their academic record after any term in which they are enrolled without the receipt of financial aid. If the standards are met at the time of review, eligibility may be regained for subsequent terms of enrollment in the academic year.