Financial Aid

Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (SAP)

The U.S. Department of Education requires institutions of higher learning to establish standards of satisfactory academic progress for students receiving financial aid. The satisfactory progress policy must include both a qualitative measure (cumulative GPA) and a quantitative measure (maximum time frame). Students must declare a major and be working toward the completion of that major in order to receive financial aid.

Note: The SAP policy applies to all students regardless of whether he/she has previously received aid. SAP is checked at the end of each semester.

  • Students must maintain a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.0. The GPA is computed by the Office of Registration & Records on a scale of 4.0.
  • Successful completion of learning support classes requires a C* or better.
  • Students enrolled in a program of study of more than two academic years must have a GPA of at least a 2.0.
  • Students must successfully complete two-thirds (66.6%) of all hours attempted.
    Example: Cumulative hours attempted (hours at ATC as well as any hours transferred in as credit) = 25 25 x 66.6% = 16.65 (must round up to next whole number) In this example, you must successfully complete at least 17 hours to be making satisfactory progress. See unsuccessful grades below.

Successful grades include A, A*, B, B*, C, C*, and D. Unsuccessful grades include D*, F, F*, I, IP, W, W*, WF, WF*, WP, and WP* (see Grading System in catalog).

Students must also show a completion rate that will allow the student to complete a program of study in at least 150% of the time it should require (as determined by the college catalog). For example, a student in a program requiring a total of 98 semester credit hours will receive financial aid up to 147 semester credit hours for that program. Transfer credits accepted by ATC as earned hours will be counted in the maximum timeframe.

Failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress will result in the loss of financial aid including Pell and state grants and scholarships (HOPE/Zell). The SAP policy applies to all students, regardless of whether they have previously received aid.


Students that do not meet the above guidelines will initially be placed on Financial Aid Warning. A student assigned a Warning will be notified by email at their ATC student email account. The student may continue to receive financial aid for one subsequent semester under this status. SAP standards must be met to continue eligibility.


Students who do not meet SAP standards under the Warning status at the end of the subsequent semester will be placed on Financial Aid Exclusion. Students on Exclusion are not eligible to receive financial aid but may appeal this status. See the Appeals section below.


Students who were placed on Financial Aid Exclusion may choose to appeal the exclusion. If the appeal is approved, the student is placed on Financial Aid Probation status. A student on Financial Aid Probation may receive financial aid for one subsequent semester. A student on Financial Aid Probation will be placed on an Academic Plan that will require the student to meet certain terms and conditions as determined by the Financial Aid Appeal Committee. At the conclusion of the Financial Aid Probation semester, the student must be meeting SAP standards or be meeting the requirements specified in the Academic Plan.

Students Who Receive All Failing Grades

If a student receives all failing grades (any combination F's, WF's and WP's), we must assume, for Title IV purposes, that the student has unofficially withdrawn, unless the college can document that the student completed the term.

Using the last date of attendance (LDA) as reported by the instructor, the Financial Aid Office will apply the federally mandated calculation for the return of financial aid funds. Unearned Title IV funds (aid) will be returned to the Department of Education and it is possible that you will owe a repayment to the college.

Repeat Coursework

Beginning July 1, 2011 students may only receive federal financial aid for one repeat of a previously passed course. Students taking a required repeat of a course should contact the Financial Aid Office to ensure those credits are counted appropriately for financial aid. Please note that the student may need to provide documentation from the academic advisor confirming the requirement to repeat the course.


Students placed on Financial Aid Exclusion may appeal the denial of financial aid if extenuating circumstances are present. A Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form must be submitted explaining the extenuating circumstances, how these circumstances have changed, and their plan to maintain satisfactory academic progress if the appeal is approved. Supporting documentation is required. Appeals must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office prior to the midpoint of the semester for which students are appealing their exclusion status. Financial aid appeals are reviewed by a committee of faculty and staff.

Tips for Submitting the SAP Appeal Form

  1. Read the SAP Appeal form thoroughly. Incomplete appeal forms will not be accepted.
  2. Please explain in detail the extenuating circumstances in your personal statement (Step 3 of the SAP form) and be sure to include documentation to support your statement. For example, if Sally performed poorly in Fall 2013 due to excessive work hours, Sally should discuss this situation in her personal statement, and include a copy of her work schedule from that time. If Sally has now prioritized her academics and made adjustments to reduce her work hours, Sally can also include a copy of her new work schedule to demonstrate the adjustment.
    Examples of extenuating circumstances include, but are not limited to:
    • Death of a relative
    • Hospitalization of immediate family members
    • Personal injury or illness
    • Unexpected work issues beyond the student's control
  3. Once you have completed your appeal and the attached documents, please submit it to the Financial Aid Office.

Academic Plan

Students who file a successful appeal and require more than one term to regain good financial aid standing may have the option to enter into an academic plan. The academic plan consists of the following four major elements:

  1. A 100% pass rate for the term: Any withdrawals or failing grades will result in suspension of an academic plan. A grade of D in a class that requires a C will not be considered passing.
  2. A 2.5 term GPA for students who have a cumulative GPA higher than 1.5 and a 2.00 term GPA for students who have a cumulative GPA of less than 1.5.
  3. Advisement and follow up with the Academic Advisement Center, Academic Support Services, Student Support Services, and/or other on campus services that will ensure students are successful in both following the academic plan and successfully completing their program of study on time.
  4. The estimated time the student will have to be on the academic plan to be back in good standing.

Each agreement will set the minimum pass rate, GPA, the offices/services to be included in the student's plan, and the expected time for the student to be back in good standing. Failure to meet the terms of the plan will result in the student being placed on financial aid exclusion until he/she meets SAP standards. Students who fail to meet the terms of their academic plan due to uncontrollable, one-time, documentable circumstances (medical problems, death or illness in the family, etc.) will be able to appeal their financial exclusion status for the following term under the existing financial aid exclusion appeal process. Academic plans may include guidance and input from various Student Affairs and Academic Affairs offices. The plans will be maintained and administered each term by the financial aid office.

Process for Those Who Fail to Follow the Academic Plan

If a student fails to meet SAP standards despite prior SAP approvals or academic plans, and consequently loses financial aid eligibility, the student may submit a written appeal with supporting documentation for reinstatement of financial aid eligibility - only if mitigating circumstances exist.

Mitigating circumstances include:

  • Serious injury of the student and/or the student's immediate family
  • Serious extended illness of the student and/or the student's immediate family
  • Death of a student's relative