SAP and You – What you should know about SAP

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) – what is it, and why is it important? In policy terms, it is the federal regulation that requires the student receiving federal financial aid to successfully complete academic courses and the student’s program of study in accordance with standards set by the federal government and NOVA.  NOVA is required to establish and apply standards to monitor a student’s progress toward program completion. In layman’s terms, a student must be progressing toward program completion in a reasonable amount of time with an acceptable rate of success.  If students are receiving federal financial aid, they must earn their aid by successfully completing their classes.  SAP is one of the most significant regulations that affect a student’s eligibility to continue to receive aid and often to even attend college.

The Department of Education requires a school to have both a Qualitative and Quantitative measure of SAP.  Recently, the Department of Education and NOVA updated the policy with some very important changes.  Academic progress is measured by the student’s cumulative grade point average (Qualitative), and credits earned as a percentage of those attempted (Quantitative) throughout the academic program at NOVA, whether or not financial aid was awarded or received during those periods. In addition, students must complete their programs of study within 150% of the time (attempted credits) it normally takes to complete the program.   The College Financial Aid Office will evaluate satisfactory academic progress after the initial term of enrollment and after each subsequent term. A potential impact after the very first term is a change to the policy that must be understood by our first year students.   You and our students can read the new SAP policy in its entirety on line at:  or pick up a policy pamphlet at the campus Financial Aid/Student Services Office.

In an effort to assist our students, faculty and staff to better understand and apply these new changes, here are:

The Top Ten Things You Must Know about Satisfactory Academic Progress

The following top-ten list is a tool for students to use to ensure they are being prudent stewards of federal funds they receive to complete their educations.  As a NOVA student and a recipient of financial aid, a student must know and understand the SAP policy and how it could affect an academic career.

10.  SAP evaluations include all terms of enrollment, whether or not aid was awarded or received; standards apply for federal, state, institutional aid and foundation scholarships.

9.    Student’s SAP status will be reviewed prior to aid being awarded and after the majority of grades are posted each term, including after their first term of enrollment at NOVA.

8.    Students must satisfactorily complete at least 67% of cumulative credits attempted. Credits with a satisfactory grade are those for which a grade of A, B, C, D, S, or P is earned.


7.    A minimum cumulative GPA is required to remain eligible for aid.  Cumulative GPA calculations include all grades (in non-remedial courses) with grades of A, B, C, D, and F.  Transfer credits are not included. A minimum of 2.0 at program completion is required.

1-15   credits

16-30 credits 1.75
31+     credits 2.0



 6.    To remain eligible for aid, students must complete their program of study before attempting 150% of the number of credits required.  This excludes English Second Language (ESL) and developmental courses.

5.    Transfer students requesting financial aid must submit all applicable official transcripts to NOVA and request evaluations by the college.

4.    Federal Student Loan borrowers must meet SAP at the time of loan certification and again prior to loan disbursement.

3.   Should students fail to meet SAP for the first time (excluding students who have already attempted 150% of the credits required for their programs of study) they will be placed in a warning status for (1) term and will be expected to meet SAP requirements after that term.

2.    Should students fail to meet SAP after the end of the warning period or fail to meet SAP standards after failing SAP previously, they will be placed on suspension and ineligible to receive financial aid.

1.    Students who fail to meet SAP standards and lose eligibility for financial aid can appeal the financial aid suspension if extenuating circumstances exist. Students must clearly state what caused the suspension and must also clearly indicate what has changed that will now allow the student to succeed. Students must also develop a sound academic plan to be considered for an appeal.

Students appealing a suspension must:

  • Complete NVCC Form 125-323, Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal Form.
  • Meet with an academic advisor or counselor to complete page 2.
  • Attach all supporting documentation.

Satisfactory Academic Progress is an important policy in the administration and disbursement of financial aid.  It is our goal at the College Financial Aid Office (CFAO) to ensure our students have access to the quality education offered at NOVA and to be successful in their efforts to achieve their dreams of educational and professional success.  Thank you for taking the time to become familiar with the policy and how it can affect students and their academic choices at NOVA.

NOVA Financial Aid Information Blog