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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.

If you are enrolled in an Associate degree program, and are not on financial aid probation, SAP will be reviewed at the end of each academic year. If you are enrolled in a certificate program, SAP is reviewed at the end of each semester. If you are on probation, it will be reviewed at the end of each probationary semester.  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

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

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 66.66% 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.

  1. In addition, the following apply: Up to 30 remedial credits are exempt from this requirement. 
  2. Transfer credits that have been applied to your record will be considered in calculating the maximum time frame requirements for the program.
  3. 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 Transfer (LTTR) is a 60-credit program. You cannot attempt more than 90 credits (60 credits X 150% = 90 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.

Important Factors to consider for SAP

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.

Financial Aid SAP Suspension and Appeal

  • SAP is evaluated annually, at the end of each Spring semester. (With the exception of certificate programs and students on probation in which cases SAP is run at the end of each term of enrollment).
  • If a student has reached 110% of their program length, they will be sent an alert notifying them that they are approaching the maximum length of time for financial aid eligibility. The student is still eligible to receive financial aid at this point in time.
  • Failure to meet SAP standards will result in unsatisfactory academic progress; the student will be notified.
  • If a student has extenuating circumstances, they have a right to appeal (in writing) explaining why they did not make satisfactory progress. Examples of extenuating circumstances include medical, personal, or family problems, change of major, or military service. Please attach appropriate documentation of support.
  • Any appeal received after the deadline will be considered for the next term for which the student enrolls.
  • If a student's appeal is approved, they may be placed on probation for the next semester with the following condition; that the student must make satisfactory academic progress or meet the conditions of probation. Failure to meet this condition will result in unsatisfactory academic progress.
  • At the discretion of Student Financial Services, the student may be placed on probation with an academic plan. If a student is placed on an academic plan, additional requirements will be outlined for students on a case-by-case basis.
  • An appeal must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office within two weeks from the notification of suspension for financial aid. During non-peak times of year, students will 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 deadlines and cutoffs.
  • 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 an appeal is denied, the student must take classes at their own expense. The student must demonstrate they can successfully complete classes as guided by Student Financial Services. Course work taken at other colleges will not be considered for reinstatement purposes.

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 one 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.

Incompletes: If your SAP status was unsatisfactory in part due to an Incomplete Grade, please contact Student Financial Services immediately upon receiving your grade change. We will recalculate your SAP based on the grade change.