Financial Aid & Scholarships

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal Policy


Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy 

Santa Monica College (SMC) follows the Federal Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) guidelines articulated in Volume 1 of the Federal Student Aid Handbook in establishing a SAP Policy for all Federal Aid and Cal Grant recipients.  
At the core of SMC’s SAP Policy is the qualitative and quantitative measurement of aid recipient’s academic progress.   The qualitative and quantitative progress requirements are noted below. Qualitative Requirements:  SMC requires students to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0—which is the college’s requirement for degrees, transfer, and certificates.  

  • Quantitative Requirements: SMC measure students’ pace as they work toward their academic objective and requires student to maintain a completion rate of at least 67%. All attempted course-work is included in the completion rate calculation, including remedial classes, ESL classes, and initial and repeated classes. 

In addition, SMC established a maximum time frame for students to complete their educational objective—which is 150% of the program’s length.   
Students in a 60 unit AA or transfer program have a maximum time frame of 90 units attempted. The maximum time frame for a student in a certificate program varies—according to the number of units in the program.  For all federal aid eligible certificate programs (which are identified in SMC’s Federal Eligibility and Certification Approval Report (ECAR), the same logic applies for the maximum time frame.   

Certificate program maximum time frame examples: 

16 unit program x 150% = 24 units maximum time frame 
30 unit program x 150% = 45 units maximum time frame
45 unit program x 150% = 60 units maximum time frame

Bachelor of Science Program maximum time frame:

120 unit program x 150% = 180 units maximum time frame

Note:  transfer units are included in the maximum time frame calculation.   In addition, students with an AA degree are considered to be over the maximum time frame.  
Evaluation Periods 

Progress is monitored on a semester by semester basis for all federal aid and Cal Grant recipients.   An automated analysis of the student’s progress is made by SMC‘s Information Technology Department after the major Fall, Spring, and Summer terms.  Winter coursework are reviewed at the same time that Spring courses are evaluated. 

Satisfactory Academic Progress Status Designations (and Codes) 
  • Maintaining academic progress (SAP Code M)
    Students with an “M” SAP code are meeting the 2.0 GPA and 67% pace /completion rate requirements and have not exceeded the maximum time frame for their program.  
  • Maintaining academic progress:  Recent High School Graduate (SAP Code N)
    Students with an “N” SAP code are recent high school graduates and have no academic progress history.  
  • Financial Aid Warning (SAP Code P)
    Students who have failed to meet the minimum GPA (2.0) and/or pace (67% completion rate) requirement after a semester— in which they were either a new student or maintaining academic progress—are placed on Financial Aid Warning status.  They are informed that they need to meet the GPA and completion rate requirements by the end of the term that they are placed on “warning” status.  
  • Financial Aid Suspension:  Lack of Progress (SAP Code S):
    If a student on Financial Aid Warning status does not meet both the GPA and pace requirement after a Financial Aid Warning semester, they are placed on Financial Aid Suspension.  
  • Financial Aid Probation:  Lack of Progress (SAP CODE A):   
    Suspended students, after being approved through the Financial Aid appeal process, are placed on Financial Aid Probation.  In this Financial Aid Probation term, students regain financial aid eligibility, but are expected to raise GPA and/or completion rate to minimum standards by the end of the term.   If the student does not meet both the GPA and completion rate standards by the end of the term, she/he will again be placed on Financial Aid Suspension. 
  • Financial Aid Suspension:  Over the Maximum Time Frame (SAP Code O):
    Once a student exceeds the maximum time frame for their program, they are placed on “Over the Maximum Time Frame” Financial Aid Suspension.  In addition, if a student is granted an AA degree, she/he is considered to be over the maximum time frame. 
  • Financial Aid Probation: Over the Maximum Time Frame (SAP CODE 1)
    Students who have been suspended because they exceeded the maximum time frame can go through the appeal process.  If they are approved by the appeal process, they are given Over the Maximum Time Frame Probation status.  (SAP Code 1)   In this Probation term, the student will be expected to pass all required courses that they were taking. 

Financial Aid Appeals 

Suspended students may appeal for financial aid reinstatement by completing an appeal form—in which they address extenuating circumstances that affected their academic progress problems or reasons why they exceeded the maximum time frame of their program without completing their program.   Students are also expected to explain steps they are taking to resolve these circumstances.   

Appeal Documentation and Academic Plans

Students going through an appeal should provide any supporting documentation of their circumstances of their health, personal, or family issues.  They also need to provide an academic plan approved by an SMC counselor. 

Regaining Eligibility 
Students on “Lack of Progress” Suspension, who are denied in the appeal process or do not submit an appeal, can regain eligibility by meeting GPA and pace standards.    

SAP Policy on Remedial Course-Work 
The first 30 units from remedial English and Math classes will not be counted when assessing the remaining number of attempted units for maximum time frame calculation purposes.   After a student attempts 30 remedial units, the attempted units will count in maximum time frame calculations.  The academic progress in these remedial classes will be counted when calculating the student’s overall GPA and overall pace. 

SAP Policy on ESL Course-Work 
ESL courses will not be counted when determining the remaining maximum time frame for a student, unless the ESL course is degree applicable.    The academic progress in these ESL classes will be counted when calculating the student’s overall GPA and overall pace. 

SAP Policy on Transfer Course-Work 
Courses take at other institutions will be counted when calculating a student’s maximum time frame and pace, provided the courses apply toward degree or certificate requirements.  Course at proprietary and trade schools will generally not be accepted for credit toward district degree or certificate requirements. Upper division courses from four-year colleges and universities will be counted when calculating maximum time frame and pace.  All students with AA and Bachelor degrees will be considered to have exceeded the maximum time for SMC AA, transfer, and certificate programs.  Students with a Baccalaureate degree will be considered to have exceeded the maximum time frame for SMC’s BS program.  Foreign courses will be counted if they have been professionally evaluated and accepted by the District.  Students, though, with a foreign bachelor’s degree will be considered to have exceeded the maximum time frame. 

SAP Policy on Incomplete Grades 
“I” (incomplete) grades will be considered as “attempted,” but will not be considered to have been “completed.”  If a student’s “I” grade changes during a term, it is the student’s responsibility to inform the Financial Aid Office of the change.  If the grade will affect the student’s financial aid eligibility, the Financial Aid Office will then do an SAP recalculation during the term.  Otherwise, the change of grade will not be factored into the overall pace until the next incremental assessment. 

SAP Policy on Retroactively Assessing SAP for Grade Changes 
The Financial Aid Office, when informed of a grade change in an earlier term by the Admissions Office, will recalculate the students SAP status. 

Additional “SAP” Calculation information 

  • The “Pace Rate” Calculation is as follows:  Units completed/units attempted
  • Grades of F, NC, NP, W, IP, and I are counted as attempted units, but they are not counted as completed units.
  • Classes with grades of A, B, C, D, and “pass” will be counted as attempted and completed units.
  • Repeated classes will be counted toward the attempted and completed assessment.
  • Per District policy, if a student repeats a previously taken class and the letter grade is better than the initial grade, the new grade will be used in the student’s GPA assessment.