Schools may be clear on the changes to the satisfactory academic progress (SAP) regulations, however what may be less apparent is how to make them work for their student populations.
Institutions may find themselves scratching their heads when dealing with students who left their institution years ago for SAP issues and are now returning. The questions: Under what status should these students return? If the school reviews SAP each payment period and the student was not making SAP when last enrolled, can the student be placed on financial aid warning for one payment period?
Based upon guidance received from the Department of Education (ED), assuming students return under the same status they left, if an institution reviews SAP after each payment period, these students could return under financial aid warning for their first payment period.
Below are some scenarios for clarification, in which each school is semester-based. Under the prior rules, the school allowed a student not making SAP to have one semester of probation to make SAP. Under the new rules, the school’s SAP policy uses the regulatory financial aid warning and financial aid probation statuses.
In the first scenario, the student began his or her last term of attendance in good standing and then failed to meet SAP standards. In the second scenario, the student began his last term of attendance having previously failed to meet SAP standards, and then failed to meet SAP standards again.
It is important to remember that schools that evaluate SAP after each payment period or term are not required to utilize a financial aid warning period for their students. It is an additional flexibility that these schools are given in the regulations. If a school chooses not to use the financial aid warning status, ED’s guidance still applies.
Similarly, for institutions that evaluate SAP only annually, the guidance from ED also applies. It assumes, of course, that your students return in the same status they left.
Below is an example of a school that only evaluates SAP annually. It does not have the option of utilizing the financial aid warning status. Under the prior rules, the school required a successful appeal that allowed a student not making SAP to have one academic year of probation to meet SAP standards before losing eligibility. Under the new rules, the school’s SAP policy uses the regulatory financial aid probation status, which requires a student to successfully appeal and be evaluated at the end of the next payment period:
Publication Date: 10/4/2011