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Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

Once you’ve filled out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and received your grant, loan, or work-study funds to help you pay for college, make sure you stay eligible throughout the academic year—and in subsequent years.  The U.S Department of Education requires students to utilize their financial aid in the most effective way. You must make Satisfactory Academic Progress as defined by the Financial Aid Office. In other words, you have to make good enough grades, and complete enough classes (credits, hours, etc.), to keep moving toward successfully completing your degree or certificate within the maximum timeframe.

All students who have completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and wish to be considered for financial aid must meet the criteria stated in the policy regardless of whether or not they previously received financial aid.

NEW Fall 2019: SAP will be reviewed at the end of each semester for ALL students if you are enrolled in an Associate degree and/or a certificate program. If you are on probation, SAP will be reviewed at the end of each probationary semester as well.  All students who enroll in the summer session(s) will have SAP reviewed again prior to the Fall semester to ensure that progress requirements are still being met.


The three standards used for measuring Satisfactory Academic Progress are:

  • Qualitative: Cumulative Grade Point Average
  • Quantitative: Rate of Completion (Passing Percentage)
  • Quantitative: Maximum Attempted Credits (Maximum Timeframe)

Students must maintain the following minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) for financial aid purposes:

  1. Cumulative grade point average:
    Students must maintain the following minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) for financial aid purposes:
    Attempted Credits
    Minimum GPA
    All credits, including ESL and development credits, are used to determine the cumulative GPA. Your GPA is calculated using all graded credits (A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, and F) appearing on the transcript. Grades received for repeat coursework that are excluded from your MassBay College GPA will also be excluded from your SAP GPA. (Note: Your cumulative College GPA on your MassBay transcript may differ from the cumulative GPA used to determine SAP).
  2. Rate of completion (Passing Percentage):
    You must successfully pass at least 67% of all credits attempted.
    1. Transfer credits, ESL, and remedial coursework are included in the passing percentage calculation.
    2. Only grades of A, B, C, and D are considered successful completion in the percentage calculation.
    3. Grades of W, F or I (incomplete) would adversely affect a student's rate of completion.
    4. Example: The total number of credits attempted is 48 credits. You must successfully complete at least 32 credits (48 credits X 66.66% = 32 credits)
  3. Maximum Attempted Credits (Length of time):

    You must complete your program in less than 150% of the published length of the educational program. If you do not complete your program within this period, you are no longer eligible to receive financial aid.

    • In addition, the following apply: Up to 30 remedial credits are exempt from this requirement.
    • Transfer credits that have been applied to your record will be considered in calculating the maximum time frame requirements for the program.
    • If changing academic programs, all credits attempted toward your previous program are counted when calculating the length of time it takes to complete your new program requirements. As a result, you may be required to submit a program evaluation for your new program.

    Example: Liberal Arts is a 62-credit program. You cannot attempt more than 93 credits (62 credits X 150% = 93 credits) In order to maintain an acceptable pace of completion, students should be completing at least 66.66% of their attempted credits in order to complete their program of study prior to the 150% point.

Repeated Coursework: When repeating or retaking a course, students may receive financial aid for a course that they previously failed until they pass the course. In addition, students may receive financial aid for repeating a course (limit 1 repetition per class) that they received a passing grade for (this is a D or higher grade). Keep in mind repeated course work would affect a student’s completion rate and maximum timeframe.

Developmental Coursework: If a student is admitted into an aid eligible program and takes remedial coursework within that program, he can be considered a regular student for financial aid purposes, even if he is taking all remedial courses before taking any regular courses. A student can receive financial aid for a maximum of 30 attempted developmental credits. Developmental coursework is factored in to the SAP requirements for cumulative GPA and completion rate. In addition, total attempted developmental coursework that exceeds 30 credits is included in the calculation for maximum timeframe.


Meets: You have met all three of the Satisfactory Academic Progress criteria.

Warning: (Effective Fall 2019 and forward for first-time entering students.)
If you do not meet the GPA or Completion Rate standards, you will be placed on Warning for one semester. You are still eligible for financial aid, but if you do not meet the standards during your Warning semester, you will be placed on Suspension. If you meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards during your Warning semester, you will return to Meets status. Students will be given only one Warning status in their lifetime as MassBay. Students who have any Attempted coursework prior to Fall 2019 are NOT eligible for a Warning semester.

Suspension: If you do not meet all of the Satisfactory Academic progress criteria following a Warning or Probation semester, you will be placed on Suspension. You will also be suspended if you do not meet the Maximum Time Frame Criteria. While on Suspension, you are not eligible for any form of financial aid, including student loans. If you are academically dismissed from the College, you will be placed on Suspension.

Probation: If you appeal a Suspension and it is approved, you will be placed on Probation for at least one semester during which time you will be considered for financial aid. Your progress will be reviewed at the end of each Probationary semester. If you meet the standards, you will return to Meets status. If you meet the terms of your academic plan but fail to meet the overall Satisfactory Academic Progress policy criteria, you may remain on Probation as stated in your academic plan. If the standards are not met, you will be placed on Suspension.


Upon being notified of the suspension, you have the right to appeal your suspension if you have not previously received a financial aid semester of probation, were close to meeting the minimum requirements, and had documentable extenuating circumstances that interfered with your academic performance and compromised your ability to meet the required standards. Students who would like to appeal must complete the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form which is available in the Forms section of the Financial Aid portion of the MassBay website, You may also request an appeal form from the Financial Aid Office.

The SAP Appeal form includes:

  1. You must explain the circumstances that resulted in your unsatisfactory academic performance (For example: death of a relative, injury, student illness, previously undiagnosed learning disability).
  2. You must also provide a thoughtful and realistic plan for your future success which will result in you meeting satisfactory academic progress in the future.
  3. Provide appropriate supporting documentation, see appeal form for examples.
  4. An academic progress plan completed by you and your academic advisor.


  • An appeal must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office by the deadlines published on the appeal form.
  • During non-peak times throughout the academic year, students should receive a response to their appeal within three weeks.  During peak (busy) times of year (i.e. start of the term, end of the term) please contact the aid office for appeal response timeframes.
  • Any appeal received after the deadline will be considered for the next term for which the student enrolls.
  • Appeal decisions are not retroactive.
  • While a student is waiting for a decision on their Appeal, a student is responsible to pay his/her own expenses, such as tuition, fees, books, supplies, etc., without the expectation of financial aid reimbursement.
  • If the SAP appeal is denied and you do not pay your bill, and do not withdraw or take a leave of absence before the first day of classes, you will incur charges for which you will be fully responsible.
Financial Aid Probation

If your appeal is approved, you will be placed on financial aid probation. Your probation will be contingent upon completion of both the academic progress plan and an acknowledgement that you understand the terms and conditions of your probation. During period(s) of probation, you are still eligible to receive financial aid. An approved probation term(s) provides a student an additional opportunity to demonstrate to the College, as well as to themselves, their ability to meet SAP standards and their commitment to the academic program in which they have enrolled.

  • Students granted probationary status will have their Academic Program Plan reviewed at the end of each probationary semester:
  • Students that meet the terms of their probation but still are not meeting SAP will have their financial aid probation continued to the next term.
  • Students that meet the terms of their probation and currently meeting SAP will be removed from probation status and will continue to receive financial aid.
  • Students not meeting the terms of their probation and Academic Progress Plan will be placed on financial aid suspension and will be ineligible to receive financial aid. Please be aware, second appeals are unlikely to be approved.

A student may be able to raise his/her cumulative GPA and/or satisfy credit deficiencies by taking additional coursework at MassBay Community College while not receiving financial aid, or by transferring in credits from other institutions.