Academic Level and Academic Status

"Academic Level and Academic Status" submitted by SchoolGrantsfor Editorial Team and last updated on Monday 9th January 2012

Academic records are reviewed at the end of each spring semester to determine academic progress and future student aid eligibility. Students who have met the minimum credit requirement each semester (for full-time enrollment, no fewer than 12 for undergraduate and no fewer than 9 for graduate students; for part-time enrollment, successful completion of all credits attempted) and who have not exceeded the appropriate number of semesters to complete their degree programs (as stated above), are considered to have maintained Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and are eligible for continued student aid assistance for enrollment.

The Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Direct Stafford Loan, Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Program for students, Federal Academic Competitiveness Grant, National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART), some alternative loans and University aid programs are impacted.

This standard does not apply to tuition remission for dependents of Penn State employees, athletic grants, some University scholarships, some outside scholarships, student wage-payroll earnings, and state grants (i.e., Pennsylvania State Grant). State agencies awarding state grants establish their own academic standards.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

School policy that requires students to maintain a certain GPA and to complete a certain number of credits each term in order to qualify for financial aid. As established by your college, the progress and GPA you must maintain toward obtaining a degree or certificate to continue receiving financial aid. Check with your school for its SAP policy.

Unsatisfactory Progress

Notification letters will be sent to students who are on probation or not making satisfactory progress upon receipt of the student aid application (FAFSA). Deficient credits can be made up with enrollment of fewer than 6 credits or non-degree enrollment (without aid). Otherwise, for those in unsatisfactory academic progress status, student aid will not be available until satisfactory progress has been regained.

Regaining academic progress requires the successful completion of a minimum of 12 credits (9 credits for graduate students) at a 2.00 GPA or higher without failing, dropping, canceling, or withdrawing credits or withdrawing from semester(s).

Provisional Status

Undergraduate provisional students are considered to be degree-seeking for purposes of assessing academic progress. Provisional students are eligible for all benefits available to degree-seeking students and accountable for all standards applying to degree-seeking enrollment.

Provisional graduate students are not eligible for student aid consideration.

Academic Level Standard

Student Aid Programs are Impacted by the Standard. For the purposes of financial aid packaging, SFA complies with University policy for determining your Academic Level. Your Stafford Loan eligibility will vary based on the information from your Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) and your academic level.

Credit Hours Completed Academic Level
0 - 29 Freshman
30 - 59 Sophomore
60 - 89 Junior
90 - Bachelor's Degree Senior
Beyond Bachelor's Degree Graduate

Federal and state financial aid is awarded based on the following enrollment statuses:

Undergraduate Students Graduate Students
12 or more credit hours = full time 8 or more credit hours = full time
9 - 11 credit hours = three quarter time 6 - 7 credit hours = three quarter time
6 - 8 credit hours = half time 4 - 5 credit hours = half time
1 - 5 credit hours = less than half time 1 - 3 credit hours = less than half time


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