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Academic Requirements

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended by Congress, requires that institutions of higher education establish and monitor the academic progress of students who receive federal financial aid. Our institution has established the following minimum standard and practices for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), allowing students to continue receiving financial aid.

At the end of each semester, the Office of Financial Assistance reviews each student’s progress based on the completion of a Qualitative Standard and a Quantitative Standard which is defined below:
  • The Qualitative Standard for SAP requires after the first academic year of attendance at St. Mary’s, a graduate student must have a cumulative C (2.0 or better) average or its equivalent or have academic standing at that point in the program that is consistent with the university’s requirement for graduation.
  • The Quantitative Standard for SAP, also referred as the Pace of Progression, considers the number of credit hours a student successfully completes, in comparison to the number of credit hours attempted. A full-time graduate students at St. Mary’s is expected to complete 67 percent of all hours attempted with a minimum 9 hours completed each semester (see chart below). Remember, repeat courses or those a student receives a grade of incomplete (I) will not count against a student’s GPA, but will be factored into his/her completion rate.
Required Hour Law Students Cumulative GPA
Year 1 (18 hours) 2.0
Year 2 (36 hours) 2.0
Year 3 (54 hours) 2.0
Year 4 (72 hours) 2.0
Year 5 (90 hours) 2.0
  • In addition to the Qualitative and Quantitative Standards, to be eligible for financial aid, a student must not exceed 150% of the required program hours to graduate from any one degree program. A student who exceeds the maximum hours is ineligible for financial aid. For example, a student enrolled in a program requiring 36 hours to graduate may not attempt more than 54 hours and still receive financial aid.
The university awards federal funds annually to eligible students and at the completion of each semester, the Office of Financial Assistance reviews each student’s academic progress according to the following policy. A student meeting ALL the above standards, receives a SAP status of Good Standing Graduate and will continue financial aid eligibility.

If a student fails to meet one or more of the above standards, he/she is placed on one of three financial aid SAP statues, as described below and receives a notification from the Office of Financial Assistance.

  • SAP Warning: A student not meeting SAP will be designated under a SAP Warning status for one semester, which means a student is being warned that he/she is not meeting the SAP eligibility and has one semester to meet the eligibility requirement before being placed on Probation Graduate. During this semester, a student will continue to receive financial aid. Warning status does not need to be appealed because a student is still eligible to receive financial assistance.
  • Probation Graduate: A student placed on financial aid Suspension, has the option of appealing the suspension through the SAP appeal process. If after the review process, an appeal is granted, a student will be placed on Probation Graduate for the next semester, and a student must bring his/her SAP eligibility to Good Standing Graduate status during the semester or be placed on Suspension Graduate. While on Probation Graduate, a student may continue to receive financial assistance as long as a student is otherwise eligible.
  • Suspension Graduate: A student with a previous SAP status of SAP Warning or Probation Graduate and fails to meet SAP eligibility during the next semester, will be assigned SAP status of Suspension Graduate and will not be eligible for financial assistance during the next semester he/she attends the university. A student under the Suspension Graduate may appeal this decision through the appeal process.

A student placed under the SAP statuses of suspension for not maintaining the required cumulative GPA, pace of progression, or having not met the program completion time period and reaches the maximum number of hours or time frame to complete his/her degree must complete courses at his/her own expense.

If you withdrew or have been out for a semester or more, please reapply for admission to the University.

Repeated Courses

The Department of Education has recently published new regulations which limiting the number of times a student may repeat a course and receive financial aid for that course. These regulations are part of a series called Program Integrity Rules and are effective July 1, 2011.

  • A student may receive financial aid when repeating a course that was previously failed (received a 0.0 or No Pass), regardless of the number of times the course was attempted and failed.
  • A student may receive financial aid to repeat a previously passed course one additional time.
  • Once a student has completed any course twice with a passing grade, no longer eligible to receive financial aid for that course.
  • If a student retakes a course that is not financial aid eligible, a recalculation of aid is done to exclude the credits for the repeated course.
  • This rule applies whether or not the student received financial aid for earlier enrollments in the course.
  • Students will receive notification if receiving financial aid and attempt to repeat coursework beyond the limits.

Note: Federal regulations specify that students may not receive financial aid for repeating courses previously passed if the student is required to retake those courses as part of a structured program.

For example, a student who fails a course in a semester and is required by the college or department to repeat all courses taken in that semester before moving on in the program; would not be eligible to receive financial aid for the passed courses, only for the failed one(s). This may mean that the student would not be eligible for financial aid for the semester, depending upon the number of previously passed courses being repeated.