Satisfactory Academic Progress

In accordance with Federal regulations, these guidelines apply to all students requesting Title IV federal financial aid regardless of whether the student has previously received Title IV aid. These regulations require that recipients of federal financial aid maintain a satisfactory rate of progress toward completion of a degree (pace), must be in good standing based on a cumulative GPA and meet maximum time frame requirements.

Castleton financial aid office will evaluate Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for all students annually at the close of the spring semester. All semesters of enrollment, including transfer credits and summer, must be considered in the determination of SAP, even periods in which the student did not receive federal student aid funds. 

There are three measurement components in the evaluation to meeting SAP standards. Qualitative measurement (cumulative GPA), Quantitative measurement (credit completion pace) and Maximum timeframe (attempted credits do not exceed 150% of program length).

1. GPA requirement

The requirements change as students advance through their studies. The minimum cumulative GPA required for good standing depends on the cumulative total of “credits earned” or “GPA credits”, whichever is higher.

Undergraduate students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA, as documented by the Registrar’s Office.

  • Fewer than 30 credits requires a 1.75 cumulative GPA or higher
  • 30 credits and above  requires a 2.00 cumulative GPA or higher
  • At the end of the student’s second academic year, defined as being at the institution for 4 semesters, regardless of enrollment status, the student must have a GPA of at least 2.0.

Graduate students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

2. PACE requirement

Students must successfully complete 67% of their attempted credit hours within the VSC as recorded and documented by the Registrar’s Office. Dropped courses will not be included. Courses withdrawn from after the end of the add/drop period will be counted toward attempted courses. Successful completion of credit hours means earning grades of A, B, C, D or P. Unsuccessful completion of credit hours means receiving grades of F, NP or W. Remedial courses, those that start with 00, are not used in the SAP calculation. Transfer credits that are accepted toward a student’s degree program must count as both attempted and completed.

Examples: How to calculate if you are meeting the minimum required pace of completion requirement for SAP.

Ex 1:  If you attempt/enroll in a total of 30 credits during the fall and spring semesters, you must successfully complete at least 20 credits. (30 x 67% = 20).

Ex 2:  If you attempt/enroll in 12 credits for one semester (fall or spring), you must successfully complete at least 8 credits. (12 x 67% = 8).

3. Maximum Time Frame

The maximum time frame for undergraduate students to complete their academic program may not exceed 150% of the published length of the program, measured in credit hours, to be reviewed each semester beginning at 100% of program required number of credits. All semesters of attendance in addition to accepted transfer credits will also be counted in this evaluation. Students who are eligible to graduate, but haven’t, are no longer eligible for Federal financial aid.

The maximum time frame for graduate students to complete their degree within 5 academic years from the date of enrollment and/or 150% of the published length of the program. Students who have reached the maximum time frame will not be eligible for federal financial aid. A student also becomes ineligible when it becomes mathematically impossible for him to complete his program within the 150% of the length of the program.


 Time Frame Allowed

AA or AS = 60 credits

 90 credits (including transfer credits)

BA or BS = 120 credits

 180 credits (including AA or AS credits)

The following may affect your Satisfactory Academic Progress evaluation.

Change in degree program

All credits earned at Castleton plus transfer credits will normally be counted when the student changes degree programs. Each case will be evaluated on its own merit. Students may not extend their period of enrollment by changing their major after accumulating 90 credits.

Grades and Credits

Courses with grades of “W” (withdrawn), “I” (incomplete), and “F” (failed) are counted as courses attempted but not earned AND count toward the maximum time frame. The Financial Aid Office will not automatically adjust a student’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) status when grades are changed or finally reported, but rather only upon request from the student. For any grade change (especially regarding a prior grade of “I” (incomplete) that has now been assigned a traditional letter grade, a student is responsible for notifying the Financial Aid Office of such a change and request a review of their SAP evaluation.

Repeat Courses

All attempted credits for repeat courses are counted in the calculations for Satisfactory Academic Progress. The total attempted credits increase with each repeat but earned credits can only be counted once for each successfully completed course. Therefore, repeating courses may negatively affect the ability to meet the SAP standard and complete 67% of attempted credits.

Pass/Fail Courses

Courses graded solely on a Pass/Fail basis that are accepted toward the academic program are included when measuring the PACE component of academic progress.

Leave of Absence

A student who takes a leave of absence after the add/drop period of the semester receives a grade of “W” for all courses withdrawn from which may cause the student to not meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress PACE requirement. This can be considered as part of the student appeal.

Transfer Students

Non-VSCS Transfer credits, accepted toward the student’s academic program or degree, count as both attempted and earned credits and are counted when measuring PACE but do not impact the grade point average.

VSCS earned credits count as both attempted and earned credits and count toward grade point average.

Graduation Eligibility

Once a student has met all graduation requirements for their program and are eligible to graduate, they are no longer eligible to receive Federal financial aid.

Second Bachelor's Degree

Undergraduate students seeking a second bachelor's degree are allowed 60 additional attempted credits to complete their degree requirements up to a maximum of 240 attempted credits (includes all UG credits), unless your degree program requires more than 60 credits.

Special Circumstances

Students with documented disabilities may be allotted additional time for completion of courses.

Amelioration/Academic Amnesty

Grades and credits excluded from the calculation of a student’s grade point average by amelioration must be included in the evaluation of a student’s Satisfactory Academic Progress for both PACE and GPA per Federal Regulation. Amelioration can be addressed in the appeal process if applicable.

Monitoring Periods and SAP Status

Students will have their academic progress evaluated at the end of each spring semester regardless of whether the student received financial aid.

Students not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress standards will receive communication via email to their Castleton email account and in some cases, letters may be sent to the mailing address on record.

Financial Aid SUSPENSION: A student not meeting SAP after the end of the spring semester, is no longer eligible for federal financial aid and will be placed on a financial aid “SUSPENSION” statusStudents on Financial Aid “SUSPENSION” for failing to make satisfactory progress are not eligible to receive further federal aid including grants, work-study, and federal student loans (sub, unsub and PLUS)

Students academically dismissed and subsequently reinstated will be placed in Financial Aid “SUSPENSION” status. The Satisfactory Academic Progress evaluation done by the Financial Aid office is in addition to the Academic Progress evaluation done by the Registrar’s Office and Academic Dean. Each evaluation may require it’s own action for reinstatement.

Students on Financial Aid “SUSPENSION” may submit a SAP APPEAL

Appeal for Probationary Semester Progress

A Castleton Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form will be sent to each student in a Financial Aid Suspension status. The form will explain how SAP has failed to be met and the steps the student needs to take to appeal the loss of federal financial aid.

A complete appeal has the following components:

  1. Appeal form submitted along with all supporting documentation to the Director of Financial Aid. An appeal must be based on significant mitigating circumstances that seriously impacted academic performance. Examples of mitigating circumstances are a serious illness, severe injury, the death of a family member, employment change, family catastrophe or personal tragedy. 
  2. Appeal letter. The student must include information regarding why they failed to make SAP, and what has changed in their situation that would allow the student to demonstrate Satisfactory Academic Progress at the next evaluation, which will be at the end of the following semester.
  3. Academic plan for the subsequent 3 semesters, including summer if applicable. The Academic Plan must be signed by an Academic Dean. Every appeal requires the submission of an academic plan.

The complete appeal should be submitted to the Director of Financial Aid by the preferred deadline as stated on the appeal form. Appeals received after the mid-semester point may not be accepted.

Appeals will be reviewed and an approval/denial decision made by the Director of Financial Aid and the Associate Director of Financial Aid. Comments from the Academic Dean will be taken into consideration.

Appeal approval will be based on the likelihood that the student will meet SAP at the next review. Please note that merely filing an appeal does NOT guarantee continued eligibility for Federal aid. Appeals based on circumstances that were under the control of the student are rarely approved. Students should make every effort to improve their SAP standing as they may be limited to two SAP appeals.