Santa Clara University

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Once you have received your financial aid, you must continue to progress in your studies in order to maintain those awards. To remain eligible for Title IV programs, students must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in accordance with U.S. Department of Education regulations.

Students are evaluated for satisfactory academic progress each quarter. In addition, students must meet the University's academic standards as they pursue their academic programs in order to remain eligible for financial aid. If you do not make satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, you could lose your federal, state and University financial aid.

Bear in mind that some financial aid programs carry their own requirements, such as full-time enrollment. Thus, even if you maintain satisfactory academic progress according to federal guidelines, you may not remain eligible for state- or campus-based programs as they are determined by a different set of standards. Consult with the Financial Aid Office.

NOTE: Students who do not meet these standards are subject to Academic Warning, Probation and/or Disqualification, which may lead to ineligible for aid.

Qualitative Standard

Students must meet a qualitative standard of academic progress measured through cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA). Students must have an overall 2.0 GPA; the required GPA is based upon the total number of attempted quarter units (not earned quarter units):


Total Attempted Hours GPA Needed
1 to 36 attempted quarter units 1.6
37 to 72 attempted quarter units 1.9
73 or more attempted quarter units 2.0


NOTE: Some Santa Clara University aid programs require a higher cumulative grade point average than the federal minimum requirement.

Quantitative Standard

The quantitative standard relates to the number of quarter units, which must be completed over a specific period and is based on the number of quarter units successfully completed within any given number of regular session quarters.

Maximum Attempted Units Allowed

Students must complete the requirements for their academic programs within one-hundred fifty percent of the minimum units required to complete their academic programs. Units attempted also include all units transferred into Santa Clara University from prior institutions that can be used to satisfy students' academic program requirements. 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 feel their circumstances warrant an exception to this standard.

Unit Requirements Completion Requirements

Undergraduate Students are required to complete 27, 54, 81 and 108 cumulative quarter units by the end of their third, sixth, ninth and twelfth quarters of enrollment, whether at Santa Clara University or elsewhere, in order to maintain satisfactory academic progress.

Unit Requirements

All financial aid recipients must register for and maintain a full course load of twelve units or more per quarter, if the aid was awarded on this basis. Students who drop below twelve units will see their financial aid adjusted. The following is the definition of full-time and part-time status:

  • full-time: 12 or more units
  • three-quarter time: 9 to 11 units
  • half-time: 6 to 8 units
  • less than half-time: fewer than 6 units

Course Incompletes, Withdrawals and Failures

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

Students who wish to withdraw from Santa Clara University during a quarter must complete a withdrawal form and an exit interview in the Drahmann Advising and Learning Resource Center. If the formal requirements for withdrawal are met, the student's registration will be canceled without academic penalty. A withdrawal notation (W) will be assigned for each course from which the student withdraws after the fifth week of the quarter. Students who leave Santa Clara University during a quarter without formally withdrawing are subject to failing grades in all courses in which they were registered and are ineligible for any refund of fees.

IMPORTANT: Any student leaving Santa Clara University at the conclusion of any quarter also should complete the standard withdrawal process.

Repetition of Courses

Students may only repeat a course in which they have received a grade of less than C minus (C-). In such cases, the grades of both the original and the repeated course are included in the calculation of the student's grade point average, but units are awarded toward graduation only once for each course passed. Certain courses, such as special topics courses and performance courses, are repeatable, and students will receive a grade and units for each successful completion.


All students enrolled at Santa Clara University are evaluated for satisfactory academic progress at the end of each quarter, after the Office of the Registrar has released official grades.

Definitions of Satisfactory Academic Progress

Financial Aid Eligible
Students are eligible for financial aid as long as they are enrolled in classes and they fall into one following categories:

  • students with no satisfactory academic progress issue at all
  • students who have appealed successfully and have successfully completed their warning/probation period of enrollment
  • students who have successfully completed their warning/probation period of enrollment and are following their academic plan
  • students who have met satisfactory academic progress after being ineligible

Financial Aid Warning
The failure to make satisfactory academic progress, but student is still financial aid eligible for one period of enrollment and must make satisfactory academic progress by the end of that period of enrollment. Financial aid eligibility will be placed on probation, if this does not occur. Warning status is not appealable.

Financial Aid Probation
The failure to make satisfactory academic progress after a warning period, but student is eligible to appeal. If the appeal is approved, the student can continue financial eligibility for another period of enrollment under a suspended probationary status. Students may also choose not to appeal and attempt to regain financial aid eligibility by meeting satisfactory academic progress while paying out-of-pocket (without any financial aid).

Financial Aid Suspended
The failure to make satisfactory academic progress, but the student appealed their probationary status and was financial aid eligible for the period designated in the granted appeal.

Financial Aid Ineligible
The failure to make satisfactory academic progress (this status also applies to appeals that are not approved). The student is not eligible for financial aid until cumulative satisfactory academic progress standards are met. The student may not appeal.

Appeal Process

There may be extenuating circumstances encountered by a student that may affect his/her 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 the student wishes to appeal the suspension from financial aid eligibility, a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office. If the student is able to meet the satisfactory academic progress policy within one enrollment term, the financial aid administrator and the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Reinstatement Agreement needs to state the minimum grade point average and the number of credit hours that a student must obtain in order to be compliant at the next assessment period. A review will be done at the end of the quarter to insure that the student is meeting the terms of the contract. If the student is not meeting those terms, further eligibility for aid is canceled immediately.

NOTE: Before filing an appeal for reinstatement of financial aid, it is important that the student meet with an academic advisor and/or visits the Drahmann Advising and Learning Resource Center in order to explore ways of eliminating deficiencies and to establish a realistic plan towards graduation.

If the Appeal is Denied

Students whose appeal was not approved will receive information regarding other alternatives available to them. Some options include:

  • continue enrollment at Santa Clara University without any financial assistance
  • continue enrollment at Santa Clara University with the assistance of private loan; the Financial Aid Office can assist the student with additional information about these loans
  • withdraw from Santa Clara University to make up a portion or all of the deficient units at another institution

IMPORTANT: The student will have to file an additional appeal to have aid reinstated once s/he has completed the required units and demonstrated the ability to continue at Santa Clara University without incurring additional deficiencies.

Loss of Eligibility

A student who has 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 his/her own expenses. 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 re-admitted are not automatically eligible to participate in federal, state or institutional aid program and will be placed on financial aid warning. 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.

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