All students who are in receipt of US Federal Aid whilst studying at St Mary’s University are required to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) on their course of study and to abide by the University’s Academic Regulations.
SAP includes two standards: qualitative and quantitative. Students must meet both standards to continue receiving Federal Aid. The details of these requirements are set out below. These regulations should be read in conjunction with the Academic Regulations, the relevant programme guide and the relevant module guides. The Academic Regulations can be accessed on the student homepage. Programme and module guides are available in Moodle.
Overview of SAP Requirements and Procedures
The US Department of Education requires St Mary’s University to check students’ academic progress at specified intervals. At St Mary’s, SAP is evaluated at the end of each payment period. Students are emailed the SAP form which must be completed by their academic department and returned to the Federal Aid Office.
Students must maintain SAP throughout their studies to remain eligible for federal loans. All continuing students must meet SAP at the end of each academic year to be eligible in the following year.
Students are expected to be in full-time attendance at the University. This means:
- A student registered on an undergraduate or postgraduate taught programme must attend at least 70% of class sessions (including lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops, etc).
- A student registered on a postgraduate research programme does not spend at least 70% of the expected time on research activities, as judged by their research supervisors.
All changes to mode of study, course of study and pace of study must be listed alongside confirmation that students are progressing towards fulfilling the requirements of their degree. SAP is also expected to include departmental confirmation that a student has been in adequate attendance, whether for classes, seminars or supervisory meetings, and has submitted all work for assessment within the specified deadlines.
Qualitative requirements (grades) that must be achieved
Minimum pass mark
- Undergraduate: 40%
- Postgraduate (taught): 50%
- Postgradaute (research): Pass
At the end of each payment period, the Examinations Board will determine whether students are making successful progress toward obtaining a degree by ensuring that they have passed all components according to the Academic Regulations. Students must achieve the pass mark in each module to remain enrolled in the program and to continue receiving
Federal Aid. In order to meet the University’s requirement for graduation, students must
achieve the requirements as described in the Academic Regulations. If a student’s programme is more than two years long, they must be achieving an average of at least the minimum pass mark overall in order to continue receiving Federal Aid. This will be measured cumulatively.
Approved credits transferred from another institution will be excluded from all qualitative calculations. Unresolved incomplete marks will count as a failing mark for the purposes of qualitative calculations. If a student submits the missing work and the incomplete mark is resolved, the new mark will be used in qualitative calculations instead.
Students may repeat modules in line with the University’s Academic Regulations. The marks from both attempts will be included in the qualitative calculations.
Please also see the quantitative requirements for transfer credits and repeated modules in Section 4 of this policy.
Quantitative requirements (timeframe and pace of study)
Students may not receive Federal Aid once they have taken more than 150% of the normal duration of the programme as measured in credits to complete their studies. Periods of interruption will not count towards the maximum timeframe of 150% as no credits are earned during these times. A student must be enrolled at least half time throughout their course of study to maintain eligibility for Federal Aid.
Please the parameters allowed below:
- Published course length in credits: 360
- Published course length in years: 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time
- Maximum credits that may be attempted: 540 (150% of 360)
- Maximum duration of funding allowed: 4.5 years
- Published course length in credits: 180
- Published course length in years: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
- Maximum credits that may be attempted: 1.5 years
- Maximum duration of funding allowed: 270 (150% of 180)
- Published course length in credits: 540
- Published course length in years: 4 years full-time or 8 years part-time
- Maximum credits that may be attempted: 810 (150% of 540)
- Maximum duration of funding allowed: 6 years
To meet the SAP maximum completion timeframes and remain eligible for Federal Aid, students must maintain a minimum cumulative completion rate of two-thirds (67%) of credits attempted for progression to the following year of study. For example, undergraduate students on a 3-year course would typically attempt 120 credits over one academic year and must complete a minimum of 80 out of 120 credits per year to meet SAP standards.
Postgraduate taught students on a 1-year course would typically attempt 180 credits over one academic year and must complete a minimum of 120 credits per year to meet SAP standards.
Research students are required to take research methods modules and any other taught courses indicated by their supervisor. They are also required to attend supervisory meetings. Full time PhD students will normally complete in three to four years.
Approved credits transferred from another institution and credits with an unresolved incomplete mark attempted at St Mary’s count towards a student’s maximum timeframe for completion.
Students may repeat modules in line with the University’s Academic Regulations. The credits from both attempts will be included in the quantitative calculations. If a student withdraws from the University and subsequently re-enrols, the period of time during which they are not enroled with the University will be excluded from the qualitative calculations.
Please also see the qualitative requirements for transfer credits and repeated modules in Section 3 of this policy.
Federal Aid Warning
Should a student fail to meet either the qualitative or quantitative SAP requirements, they will be placed on ‘Federal Aid Warning’ by the Federal Aid Office. This will be communicated to the student in writing. The Federal Aid Warning will last for the next payment period and the student will continue to be eligible to receive Federal Aid funding for that period only. The student will then need to take action to bring themselves in line with SAP requirements.
Students who meet all SAP requirements, including maintaining at least half-time enrolment, at the end of the Financial Aid Warning Period will regain access to Federal Aid. If a student does not achieve SAP at the end of the Financial Aid Warning period, their loans will be terminated. Students cannot be placed on two Financial Aid Warning periods consecutively. A student’s access to Federal Aid cannot be reinstated if it mathematically impossible for them to meet the quantitative and/or qualitative requirements stated in this policy.
Appeal procedures and Federal Aid Probation
Where a student can demonstrate that failure to comply with SAP requirements is due to exceptional circumstances, such as severe illness or the death of a relative, they may submit an appeal to the Federal Aid Office. This appeal must:
- Be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org within 14 calendar days of notification of the Financial Aid Warning or termination of Federal Aid;
- Contain a full description of the circumstances that affected the student’s academic performance;
- Be accompanied by evidence demonstrating the circumstances documented in the appeal (eg hospital records in the case of severe illness);
- State how a change in circumstances will allow the student to achieve SAP in the future.
The appeal will be considered by one member of staff from the International Department and one member of staff from the Finance Office. The decision will be communicated to the student in writing within 14 calendar days of the appeal being received. The decision to suspend Federal Aid will stand while an appeal is in process.
If the appeal is successful, the student will be placed on probation and their academic progress will be monitored through the SAP process. During this time, the student can continue to receive Federal Aid funding for this one payment period only. If SAP is achieved by the end of the probation period, the student may continue to receive Federal Aid funding. If the student fails to achieve SAP, they will lose their eligibility for Federal Aid and their funding will be terminated.
Please note that the Federal Aid appeal and probation process is separate from the University’s Extenuating Circumstances process. Students who are experiencing exceptional circumstances that negatively impact their academic progress are advised to apply for Extenuating Circumstances in line with the University’s Academic Regulations.
Reinstatement of Title IV loans after financial aid suspension can be achieved by submitting an e-mail requesting that eligibility be re-established to email@example.com, normally after the student has completed additional coursework without Federal Aid funding to regain compliance with SAP requirements. The student must remain compliant with all SAP requirements to remain eligible. Students who have attempted credits that exceed 150% of their course cannot re-establish eligibility for Federal Aid.
Related and further information Withdrawing students
Students who withdraw after receiving funds will have their eligibility to retain part of their financial aid calculated based on the percentage of the semester attended. Students who attend more than 60% of the term may retain all of their aid. Please see Return to Title IV Funds Policy for further details.
Transcripts for students transferring into the University will be evaluated by the Course Lead and signed off by the Head of Admissions. Those modules which are applicable to the degree requirement will be accepted and will be used to measure the quantitative SAP requirement. Only those grades earned at St Mary’s University will be used to compute the qualitative requirement.
Students who decide to change their degree or programme will be evaluated similarly to Transfer Students with the exception that the grades previously earned at St Mary’s University will be used to measure the qualitative requirements. The evaluation process is detailed in the Academic Regulations.
Further information for transfer students may be found in the Overview of SAP Requirements and Procedures section above.
Other academic conditions
Separately from the SAP process, students may be terminated by the University at the end of the academic year if they have made no academic progress in accordance with the Academic Regulations and the requirements listed in the Student Handbook. They must have submitted their assignments and achieved the pass mark regardless of their eligibility for participation in the Title IV program.
Policy updated: March 2022