Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

In order to receive federal financial aid, students must meet certain academic requirements called Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). SAP requirements apply to all students (including non-aid recipients) and are monitored after grades are posted at the end of each semester (including summer). Students who do not meet SAP are notified via their NDSU email and are given the reason for not meeting SAP as well as appeal options.

The following policy changes went into effect starting with the 2022 Summer Semester SAP evaluation:

  1. Only cumulative GPA and cumulative completion of attempted credits will be evaluated every semester.
  2. Students who receive all failing, incomplete or blank grades will not be immediately placed on Financial Aid Disqualification. Instead, if the cumulative GPA or the cumulative completion of attempted credits is not met, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Warning.
  3. The SAP status will not change based solely on the student not earning a grade of "C" or better in Math 98. Students will be evaluated on all classes, including Math 98, and will only have a change in their SAP status if the cumulative GPA or the cumulative completion of attempted credits is not met.
  4. Academic success during the student’s most recent semester of attendance is no longer a valid reason to appeal. Students may only appeal based on extenuating circumstances that occurred during the semester(s) leading up to the disqualification. These include a physical or mental illness, injury, death of an immediate family member, etc.

SAP requirements are measured in the following areas:

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Undergraduate and Professional students must earn and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0* or higher. Graduate students must earn and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. For purposes of determining financial aid eligibility, cumulative GPA calculations include transfer credits. This GPA may differ from the cumulative GPA that is shown on your academic transcript. Grades of P (Pass) or S (Satisfactory) are not factored into the GPA; however, F (Fail) grades are, even when choosing a Pass/Fail grading option.  See the section titled “Treatment of Non-Standard Credits”. *GPA is not rounded up. For example, 1.997 does NOT meet the 2.0 GPA requirement. 

IMPORTANT! The grade point average requirements listed in the financial aid and One Stop sections of the website refer to the standards for financial aid eligibility only. The various colleges within NDSU (e.g., College of Health Professions) may have separate requirements for certain course grades and may require a minimum GPA be earned every semester, not just cumulatively. Each student is responsible for knowing the criteria that determines good academic standing within their specific college and degree program. Information is usually posted on the college’s website, in their policy manual, or can be found by contacting the department or the student’s academic advisor. 

Successful Completion of Attempted Credits

All students must successfully complete a minimum of two-thirds (67%**) of the credits they attempt cumulatively. This percentage is determined by dividing the total number of successfully completed credits by the total number of credits the student was registered for on the NDSU Census Date, which can be found under Registration and Records Dates and Deadlines with the description “Attempted credits calculated for financial aid SAP.” Classes dropped or withdrawn from after the NDSU Census Date are considered attempted credits. **Successful completion is rounded up to the nearest tenth. For example, 66.666% DOES meet the 67% requirement.

The cumulative credits calculation includes all credits attempted even if they do not pertain to the student’s current degree.

Successfully completed credit hours include grades of A, B, C, D, P or S. Credit hours that are NOT considered successfully completed include unreported/blank grades, F (Fail), W (Withdrawal), U (Unsatisfactory) and I (Incomplete). Both successfully and unsuccessfully completed credits are included as attempted.

  • Grade Changes — If a blank, incomplete, or letter grade is changed, the SAP status will be recalculated, if the student makes the request through One Stop. If the grade change results in the student's status changing from "disqualified" to "warning" or "meets", steps will be taken to determine whether financial aid can be awarded. If the grade change results in the student's status changing to "disqualified" and will result in loss of financial aid eligibility and the cancelation of any financial aid that was disbursed for the semester. If this occurs, the student will be notified through NDSU email and will have 2 weeks to appeal.
  • Military Activation or Deployment — Students who are required to withdraw from NDSU after the Census Date for military reasons may be placed on Financial Aid Warning or Disqualification. The student should contact NDSU One Stop to resolve any negative SAP status that has resulted from their deployment.

Maximum Attempted Credits/Time Frame

Students have a maximum credit limit or time frame in which they must complete their degree. 

Undergraduate students are required to complete their degree within 150% of the number of published credits needed to graduate. Those who exceed 140% of the published credits required will be placed on Financial Aid INFO status. INFO status allows the student to submit an appeal requesting a higher attempted credit limit if they will not graduate prior to reaching the 150% maximum. If no appeal is received, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Disqualification upon reaching 150% of the published credits needed and will have the opportunity to submit an appeal.

Example: For a program that requires 120 credits to graduate, the student would be placed on INFO status at 168 attempted credits (120 x 140%). If he/she does not successfully appeal while on INFO status, the status will change to Financial Aid Disqualification upon reaching 180 attempted credits (120 x 150% = 180). If the student plans to graduate prior to reaching 180 attempted credits, no action is needed while on INFO status.

  • Major Changes — Students who have changed their major or are pursuing a second degree are more likely to reach the maximum time frame. Through the appeal process, the maximum number of credits or time frame may be adjusted. If a student changes majors, the credits earned under all majors will be included in the calculation of attempted and earned credits as well as maximum time frame.

Masters, Professional and Doctoral students will have their maximum time frame calculated based on attempting 150% or 1.5x the number of semesters needed to complete their degree. The maximum time frame varies from 19 to 30 semesters depending on the academic program.

Failure to meet SAP requirements:

Students who do not meet the cumulative SAP requirements for GPA or successful completion of attempted credits will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for their next semester of enrollment. Financial aid may be received while on Warning. Students who meet the cumulative SAP requirements at the end of their next semester of enrollment will automatically be removed from Warning. Students who do not meet all cumulative SAP requirements at the end of their semester of Warning will be placed on Financial Aid Disqualification. Students exceeding Maximum Attempted Credits/Time Frame limits may have an INFO status on their account.

Financial Aid Warning means:

  1. The student may receive financial aid if otherwise eligible during the semester in which a Financial Aid Warning status is on Campus Connection.  The student must meet all cumulative SAP requirements at the end of the warning semester. If he/she does not, the student will lose eligibility for financial aid and will be placed on Financial Aid Disqualification and lose eligibility for future financial aid.
  2. A Financial Aid Warning is an informational only status and will not interfere with adding or dropping courses. It will not appear on the student's academic transcript or any other permanent record.
  3. While on Financial Aid Warning, students are encouraged to seek assistance from various campus resources that may assist them in meeting their personal and educational goals, such as ACE Tutoring or the NDSU Counseling Center.

Financial Aid Disqualification means:

  1. The student has lost eligibility for federal student aid until he/she:

    1. Meets all cumulative SAP requirements or
    2. Successfully appeals based on documented extenuating circumstances.
      Note: Disqualified students who had an extenuating circumstance that negatively impacted academic performance may appeal the disqualification. This may result in reinstatement of their financial aid eligibility (see section entitled Appeal Process for more information).

    Note: Financial aid eligibility cannot be re-established through a period of non-enrollment.

  2. If the student did not have an extenuating circumstance, does not wish to appeal, or submits an appeal that is denied, he/she may still attend NDSU (unless suspended academically by Registration and Records) and can self-pay or apply for a private student loan. Private loan information can be found at the following link:

Financial Aid INFO means:

  1. The student is nearing the maximum number of credits or time frame allowed for the current degree they are pursuing.
  2. A "Financial Aid INFO" indicator is added to Campus Connection. The indicator is informational only and will not interfere with adding or dropping courses.
  3. If the student is not beginning his/her final semester when the indicator is added, it is recommended that they complete the maximum attempted credits/time frame appeal form.

Types of aid affected:

SAP regulations cover the following programs: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Nursing Loan, Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loan, Federal SEOG, Federal Work-Study, Federal Direct PLUS Loan, ND State Grant, North Dakota Academic Scholarships, North Dakota Career and Technical Education Scholarships, TEACH Grant, Cultural Diversity Tuition Waiver, and some private loans including the Bank of North Dakota DEAL Loan. Other scholarships and tuition waivers may be governed by SAP regulations. It is the responsibility of the student to check with the donor or department to inquire about the impact of financial aid disqualification on any scholarships or waivers not listed above.

Appeal Process:

Students who have been placed on Financial Aid Disqualification may appeal their status if they had an extenuating circumstance that negatively impacted their academic performance. Examples of situations that are acceptable include documented medical problems, impaired emotional health, death of a family member, or extreme financial hardship. Specific documentation must be submitted to support the appeal. Submission of an appeal does not guarantee the approval or reinstatement of financial aid eligibility.

A link to the Financial Aid Disqualification appeal form will be included in the electronic notification of disqualification. The Financial Aid Appeal Form must be submitted by the deadline date, along with supporting documentation to be considered. The student will be notified of the appeal decision via their NDSU email. If the student finds the decision unsatisfactory, he/she may appeal in writing to the SAP Appeals Committee within 10 business days.

Successful appeals may result in the student being granted a probationary semester or placed on a Plan of Study Contract. During the probationary semester students not meeting cumulative requirements must meet all SAP requirements or those specifically outlined in their Plan of Study Contract to continue receiving aid in subsequent semesters.


Deadlines to submit an appeal are applicable each semester and are provided on the SAP Appeal Forms page.

Reinstatement of Aid Eligibility:

  1. Student successfully appeals based on documented extenuating circumstances.
  2. Student successfully completes a semester without federal financial aid and meets all cumulative requirements. The student would automatically be removed from Disqualification, Probation or Plan of Study contract when the SAP evaluation process is run after semester grades are posted.


  • A period of non-enrollment will NOT result in regaining your financial aid eligibility.
  • Although the University has instituted an Academic Forgiveness Policy for former students who meet certain eligibility criteria, the SAP policy cannot exclude or forgive prior academic work when determining financial aid eligibility. Students who are granted academic forgiveness may appeal to request reinstatement of financial aid only if extenuating circumstances occurred during the semester(s) in which the Office of Registration and Records approved academic forgiveness.

Treatment of Non-Standard Credits:

The chart below indicates how non-standard credits are used in calculating each of the SAP requirements. The first column lists the type of non-standard credit/course and the second column states whether the credits are used when determining the GPA requirements. The third column states whether the credits are used when determining the 67% completion and the fourth column indicates whether the credits are used in the total attempted for the maximum time frame.

Type of Credit Included in
GPA Calc?
Included in
67% Completion
Included in
Maximum Credits/
Timeframe Calc?
Audit NO NO NO
Pass/Fail NO (P), YES (F) YES YES
Transfer YES YES YES
Consortium/Collaborative YES YES YES
Repeated Courses* YES
(most recent grade)
(each attempt)
(each attempt)
Math 98 and ESL** NO YES YES
Extended Term Distance Ed YES YES YES
Study Abroad YES YES YES

*There is no limit to the number of times a student can repeat a course but there are limits with regard to the number of times financial aid can be used for repeated course. Repeated courses are included as attempted credits each time the course is taken when calculating minimum completion and maximum time frame. The most recent grade earned in a repeated course will be counted in the GPA calculation. For more information, please refer to the Repeated Coursework Decision Tree.

Amendments to the Policy: This policy will be amended whenever applicable federal regulations are changed or when institutional changes in policy are deemed necessary by the SAP Policy Committee.