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.

Students will be reviewed at the end of the spring semester. All semesters of enrollment, including summer, must be considered in the determination of SAP, even periods in which the student did not receive federal student aid funds. 

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.

Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements:

  1. GPA requirement.

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

  1. Fewer than 30 credits requires a 1.75 cumulative GPA or higher
  2. 30 credits and above  requires a 2.00 cumulative GPA or higher
  3. 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.

1. Pace: 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 Courses withdrawn from after the end of the add/drop period will be counted toward attempted courses.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.

a.  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).

b.  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).

2. 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. Students who are eligible to graduate, but haven’t, are no longer eligible for Federal financial aid. Graduate students are expected to complete their degree within 5 academic years from the date of enrollment. 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.

Classification  Time Frame Allowed
AA or AS = 64 credits  96 credits (including transfer credits)
BA or BS = 122 credits  183 credits (including AA or AS credits)

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.

Courses graded solely on a Pass/Fail basis that are accepted toward the academic program are included when measuring 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-VSC 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.

VSC 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.

Special Circumstances

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


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.

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 situations, letters will be sent to the mailing address on record.

Financial Aid SUSPENSION: If the student does not meet SAP after the end of the spring semester, the student is no longer eligible for federal financial aid and will be placed in 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.

Students academically dismissed and subsequently reinstated will be placed in Financial Aid “SUSPENSION” status.

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. To appeal, students will have to complete the form and submit it along with all supporting documentation to the Director of Financial Aid. As part of the appeal, 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. Along with the appeal form, the student must also submit an academic plan for the subsequent 3 semesters. 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. 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 will be limited to two SAP appeals.

The student will be sent an email and/or letter advising them of the outcome of the appeal.

Outcomes of Appeals

The conditions of your approval or denial will be emailed to you at your Castleton email address and will contain more specific information. Here are the typical outcomes:

Probation with Academic Plan:  Each term you must receive a passing grade in all of your courses (without dropping any courses after the add/drop period) and earn a term GPA of 2.0 or better through the end of the academic year or until you are meeting all requirements of Castleton’s SAP standards.

The student may re-establish eligibility to be considered for federal aid for a subsequent semester by meeting SAP standards or by meeting the academic plan, showing improvement in GPA and/or PACE as determined by the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Committee. Students successfully following an academic plan who are not yet meeting SAP will remain on Probation.

Denial:  Your appeal may be denied based on insufficient detail, documentation, or evidence of academic or personal difficulties being addressed and/or resolved. If an appeal for federal financial aid is denied the decision is final for that semester. The student may re-establish eligibility to be considered for federal aid for a subsequent semester by taking action that brings him or her into compliance with the GPA and PACE components of Castleton’s SAP standards.

If your eligibility for aid is suspended following an approved appeal, then you are ineligible for financial aid until your aggregate pace and cumulative GPA improves to the point you are making satisfactory academic progress. If you have extraordinary circumstances, see a financial aid counselor.

NOTE: Financial Aid “SUSPENSION” does not prevent students from attending the university. In some cases, students may be able to continue at their own expense so they can improve their performance and regain Federal aid eligibility. 

Reinstatement of Federal Aid Eligibility

A student whose financial aid eligibility has been terminated for failure to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress and who is subsequently found to be meeting the SAP standards and who meets all other eligibility requirements shall be eligible for federal aid.