Satisfactory Academic Progress

Federal law and regulations require that all students receiving financial assistance maintain satisfactory academic progress. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the successful completion of degree requirements according to established increments that lead to awarding the degree within published time limits. The following policy delineates the standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, which applies to all matriculated students in the University Program (UP), College Program (CCLCM), Physician Assistant Program (PA), and the Master of Science in Anesthesia Program (MSA), whether or not they are recipients of financial aid.

Financial Aid Programs

Federal Programs: 

  • Unsubsidized Direct Loans (All programs)
  • Graduate PLUS Loans (All programs)

Institutional Programs:

  • UP University Need-based aid; scholarship and loan
  • UP University Merit scholarship
  • CCLCM Scholarship
  • CCLCM Need-based aid (grant)
  • CCLCM Merit Scholarship (living expense stipend)

Qualitative Measures of SAP

Each student at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is required to successfully complete all the School of Medicine's required courses, clerkships, examinations, and scholarly projects in order to graduate with the degree from their designated program. Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine UP and CCLCM programs do not measure academic progress by means of a cumulative grade point average, but rather with grades Meets Expectations or Unsatisfactory. For all programs, coursework receiving a grade that is not remediable is counted as courses attempted but not earned and counted 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. 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/Fail basis will be included in the calculation of completion rate. Financial assistance is not offered for audited courses and those hours will be considered in the Satisfactory Academic Progress review.

Maximum Time Frame

The normal time frame for completion of required coursework for UP is four academic years, five academic years for CCLCM, two academic years and a summer semester for PA, and two academic years for MSA. Due to academic or personal difficulties, or scholarly enrichment activities, a student may require additional time to complete their degree. In such situations, an academic plan may be established for the student that departs from the norm and that may require the repetition of all or a part of a year of study (i.e., subsequent to incomplete or unsatisfactory coursework, an approved extension, or an approved leave of absence). A student must complete his/her degree within 150% of the published length of the program. The maximum time frame is measured in semesters. There are no appeals to the maximum time frame requirement. For dual degree or combined degree candidates, the maximum time frame is based on the published program length associated with the combined programs or degrees. 

A student is eligible for institutional financial aid for a maximum of four years of enrollment for UP and five years for CCLCM, excluding time spent on approved leave of absence.

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.

The programs' maximum time frame at the School of Medicine are listed here:

  • UP - six academic years (twelve semesters, no summer semesters)
  • UP/Dual Degree - seven academic years and one semester (fifteen semesters, no summer semesters)
  • CCLCM - seven academic years and one semester (fifteen semesters, no summer semesters)
  • PA - three academic years and two semesters (eleven semesters)
  • MSA - three academic years (nine semesters)

SAP and Leaves of Absence

A student may be granted a personal or medical leave of absence for a variety of reasons. The period of leave for which the student has been approved may be excluded from the maximum time frame in which an individual student will be expected to complete the program. However, under no circumstances will a student be allowed to take more than six years for UP and seven and a half years from the time of matriculation to complete the requirements, including leaves of absence. The time frame for completion under these circumstances for PA and MSA is four years from the time of matriculation.

Review and Notification of Lack of Satisfactory Academic Progress

During the semester review of a student's SAP, the progression to the next academic year is determined based upon a review of all grades, including withdrawals, incompletes and unsatisfactory grades. Any student who has coursework receiving a grade that is not remediable in any courses/clerkships cannot progress to the next year. 

The School of Medicine SAP Committee will notify each semester, in writing via CWRU email, all students who have not met the standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress outlined above (Qualitative Measures and/or Maximum Time Frame). The notification will indicate the nature of the deficiency, any methods that may be available for correcting the deficiency, and any consequences that have resulted or may result, such as: a student who fails to meet one or more of the standards for SAP (qualitative and/or time frame) is ineligible for financial aid beginning with the term immediately following the term in which the SAP requirements were not met, pending the results of the appeal process outlined below.


Eligibility for continued financial aid will only be re-established if the student subsequently meets Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements, or if the student successfully appeals the decision to the School of Medicine SAP Committee. The appeal must state the reasons for failing to meet SAP requirements, including, if applicable, special circumstances that contributed to the student's failure to make satisfactory academic progress (e.g., the death of a relative, injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstances), and the changes in circumstances that will allow the student to demonstrate Satisfactory Academic Progress at the next evaluation.

A student may also be required to submit a course plan and/or letter from the Committee on Students (UP), Admissions and Student Affairs Dean (CCLCM), Director of the PA Program, or Director of the MSA Program. All relevant materials will be presented the to the School of Medicine SAP Committee within 15 business days of written notification that the SAP standards have not been met. If the School of Medicine SAP Committee determines that the student's appeal should be approved, the student's aid will be reinstated.

Financial Aid Probation

When an appeal has been approved, a student is placed on financial aid probation and is eligible for financial aid for a designated period of time. An academic plan should be created with either the Committee on Students (UP), Admissions and Student Affairs Dean (CCLCM), Director of the PA Program, or Director of the MSA Program, so that the student is able to meet the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine's SAP standards by a specific point of time. Ordinarily, this time frame will be for an academic year. The student is eligible for financial aid during the time frame stated in the academic plan. At the end of the time frame stated in the academic plan, the student must have met the SAP standards. A student who does not comply with each SAP standard by the end of the financial aid probationary period is suspended from financial aid eligibility. A student shall be reinstated for financial aid eligibility when he/she has satisfactorily completed sufficient coursework to meet the standards of progress within the maximum time frames delineated above.

Note: A student who has lost eligibility for financial aid due to deficiencies in satisfactory academic progress cannot automatically regain eligibility by paying tuition for a semester or by sitting out a term. Eligibility may be regained only be eliminating all SAP deficiencies at the student's expense until all requirements of this policy are met.


Students who are withdrawn from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine are not making satisfactory academic progress and are not eligible to receive financial aid.


The School of Medicine SAP Committee shall have the responsibility of monitoring and enforcing Satisfactory Academic Progress. The Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Registrar will notify the School of Medicine SAP Committee of any students who are not making satisfactory academic progress. The School of Medicine Office of Financial Aid will inform any student whose financial aid has been impacted.