Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress for Undergraduate Students

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Federal regulations (General Provision CFR 668.34) require that students at Case Western Reserve University maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress to retain eligibility for federal and institutional aid consideration. CWRU reviews the academic progress of all students who apply for and/or receive financial assistance at the end of each term of enrollment, including summer session. Satisfactory academic progress comprises three components. A student must:

  1. Complete the degree within a specified period (Maximum Time Frame)
  2. Earn a minimum number of credit hours each term of attempted enrollment (Completion Rate—Quantitative Requirement)
  3. Achieve a grade point average that is consistent with graduation requirements (GPA—Qualitative Requirement)

These standards apply to all financial aid applicants, whether a previous aid recipient or not. 

Satisfactory academic progress is required of undergraduate students who apply for and/or receive federal financial aid and/or university need-based assistance. The retention requirements for university scholarships are different and are available in the General Bulletin.

Financial Aid Programs

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Federal Work-Study
  • Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans
  • Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students

 Institutional Financial Aid Programs

  • CWRU Grant
  • University Loan

Evaluation Criteria

  • Courses with grades of “F” (failure), “I” (incomplete), “NP” (no pass), “W” (withdrawal) and “WD” (withdrawal from all classes) are counted as courses attempted but not earned and count toward the maximum time frame.
  • Transfer credit hours (accepted for the student’s academic program or degree) are counted as credit hours attempted when measuring the maximum time frame to complete the degree but do not impact the cumulative grade point average.
  • Any term in which a student has enrolled and earned zero credit hours will be included in the evaluation of hours attempted and hours earned for completion rate.
  • All instances of repeated coursework will be factored into the calculation of the completion rate.
  • Courses graded on a Pass/No pass basis will be included in the calculation of completion rate and grade point average.
  • Financial assistance is not offered for audited courses, and those hours will not be considered in the Satisfactory Academic Progress review.
  • All standards are reset when the student switches academic levels, such as seeking a graduate or professional degree upon completion of the bachelor’s degree.

The University Financial Aid Office will not automatically adjust a student’s Satisfactory Academic Progress status when grades are changed, but the office will review upon request from the student. The grades must be available in the Student Information System before the review will be conducted. The student is responsible for notifying the University Office of Financial Aid of any grade change (for example a prior incomplete that has been assigned a traditional letter grade) and requesting a review of the Satisfactory Academic Progress evaluation. This review is not an appeal and may not result in eligibility for additional student assistance.  

Maximum Time Frame

A student must complete the degree program within 150 percent of the published length of the program. This means the student’s attempted hours at Case Western Reserve University and accepted transfer credit hours cannot exceed 150 percent of the credit hours required for completion of the degree sought at CWRU.

The maximum time frame is measured in semesters, and a student can earn a degree in eight semesters. Therefore, the maximum time frame for full-time students cannot exceed 12 semesters. There are no appeals to the maximum time frame requirement, and it is not extended for dual-degree or combined degree candidates but is based on the program length associated with the student’s primary academic program. University Grant assistance is always limited to 10 semesters.

Credits counted in the maximum time frame include all attempted credits, including those taken during terms when the student is not receiving financial assistance. Attempted credits include earned credits, all attempts of repeated courses, all withdrawals, all failures, all incompletes and all accepted transfer credits, including consortium agreement, Study Abroad and cross-registration courses counted toward the degree.

Students working on a second bachelor’s degree are only eligible for federal loans to the extent eligible.

Completion Rate 

Satisfactory academic progress requires a full-time undergraduate student to successfully complete the minimum credit hours listed below. 

Students enrolled on a less-than-full-time basis during a regular semester or any enrollment during a summer session must successfully complete at least 67 percent of the credit hours attempted with a term grade point average of 2.00 or higher to demonstrate steady progress toward degree completion. Accepted transfer hours are calculated as hours successfully attempted and completed.  

 Semesters at CWRU   Semester Hours   Cumulative GPA 
1 9 2.00
2 21 2.00
3 33 2.00
4 45 2.00
5 57 2.00
6 69 2.00
7 81 2.00
8 93 2.00
9 105 2.00
10 117 2.00
11 129 2.00
12 141 2.00

Grade Point Average

Students academically separated from the university are automatically not meeting the university’s Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. Otherwise, a student’s grade point average must be at least 2.00 after each term of attempted enrollment consistent with the Academic Standing Regulations of the Office of Undergraduate Studies. Transfer credits are not included in the calculation of the grade point average.  

Failure to Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students who fail to meet one or more requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress will be notified by email of their status by the Office of University Financial Aid and will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for the next semester of enrollment. During the semester of Financial Aid Warning, a student will receive all federal and institutional funding for which he/she has applied and is otherwise eligible.  Consecutive semesters of Financial Aid Warning are not permitted. Students who withdraw completely during a term will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for the next period of enrollment if previously meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. If the student was on Financial Aid Warning or Financial Aid Probation, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension. The student may submit an appeal following the instructions below if there are mitigating circumstances. 

Students who do not successfully complete the required number of credit hours based upon semesters of attempted enrollment and/or do not attain the required grade point average by the end of the term of Financial Aid Warning will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension and terminated from receiving financial assistance from the federal sources previously listed. Institutional aid will be offered in the same amount(s) offered as during the semester of Financial Aid Warning for the semester of Financial Aid Suspension if within the same academic year. If the next term will be within a new academic year, the amount of institutional aid will be calculated on the application information for that academic year. Additional institutional funds to replace lost federal assistance will not be available.

If it becomes mathematically impossible for the student to complete graduation requirements within the 12-semester funding limit, the Office of University Financial Aid reserves the right to terminate the student’s financial aid eligibility.  

Appeal Process

A student may appeal a denial of aid to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Committee of the Office of University Financial Aid and request a semester of Financial Aid Probation. An appeal must be in writing and be based upon extraordinary circumstances, such as personal injury or illness, death of a relative or other reason that caused undue hardship and impacted the student’s academic performance to a significant degree. 

The student must show an understanding of the specific Satisfactory Academic Progress components that were not met and must indicate what changes have occurred that will enable the student to be academically successful in the next term. A student may submit a letter of support from an academic advisor. Note that submission of an appeal does not guarantee reinstatement of eligibility for financial assistance. An appeal may be denied. The committee will send a response to the appeal by email within 10 days of receipt. 

If the appeal is denied, the decision is final for that semester. The student may re-establish eligibility for financial assistance for a subsequent semester by successfully completing coursework at CWRU that restores compliance with the quantitative and qualitative standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress. Coursework taken at other institutions may not be used to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress standards following a failure to meet the requirements.

If the appeal is approved, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Probation for the semester. The student will receive all federal and institutional funding for which he/she has applied and is otherwise eligible. By the end of that semester, the student must have successfully completed the required number of credit hours and attained the required cumulative grade point average to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards based upon total terms of attempted enrollment at CWRU. Students who do not meet all standards will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension.   

A student may not submit an appeal for consecutive terms; however, a student may submit an appeal with documentation of new circumstances that prevented the student from making satisfactory academic progress. A student will be permitted a maximum of two appeals throughout enrollment at Case Western Reserve University.

Creating an Academic Plan

Students with a significant credit hour deficit, very low grade point average, or returning from Academic Separation can submit a written request for a multi-semester Academic Plan. The request must provide details on the issues that caused their academic problems previously and what steps they have taken to ensure academic success going forward. To request an academic plan, this request must be submitted to the Office of University Financial Aid. If approved, the student must meet with a Financial Aid counselor for a written plan. The student must then meet with an academic adviser in the Office of Student Advancement to develop an academic plan that will permit the student to retain financial assistance for more than one semester.

An academic plan provides a specific listing of the credit hours the student will take in subsequent semesters in order to:

  1. Fulfill all degree requirements within the 150 percent time frame
  2. Successfully complete all courses attempted
  3. Become compliant with all Satisfactory Academic Progress standards.

Students who meet the requirements of the academic plan during the Satisfactory Academic Progress review conducted at the conclusion of each term will retain eligibility for federal and institutional financial assistance for the next term of enrollment. An academic plan may extend for a maximum of four semesters.