Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal regulations require the Financial Aid Office to monitor your academic progress toward the completion of your degree. Your entire academic history at LSSU (including transfer or consortium agreement credits, and periods during which no federal aid was received) is reviewed to ensure timely progression towards graduation. This monitoring process is called Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Academic progress is evaluated each semester of enrollment (including summer/winter).

Financial aid programs affected by this policy include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Federal Work Study
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant
  • Federal Direct Loans
  • Federal PLUS Loans
  • Michigan Scholarships & Grants
  • Institutional Scholarships & Grants
  • Loan & Work Programs
  • LSSU Rebates and Tuition Waivers

The three standard measures for retaining aid eligibility are:

  • GPA Requirement – Minimum 2.0 LSSU cumulative GPA after EACH semester.
  • Completion Rate – Earn 67% of all credits attempted at LSSU
  • Time Limit – Complete degree within 150% time frame.

Students must meet all three requirements. Students are reviewed at the end of (Fall, Spring, Summer). Students who fail to meet satisfactory academic progress after a semester will receive one subsequent semester of aid while in a Financial Aid Warning status. As long as all eligibility requirements are met, student can still receive Federal, State, and Institutional aid while in warning status. At the end of the warning semester, a student that has still not met the standards will move to a Financial Aid Suspended status and lose all eligibility for Federal, State, and Institutional aid.

GPA Requirement

  • Maintain a 2.00 cumulative LSSU grade point average
  • Students who fail this requirement will be placed on financial aid warning for one semester. Failure to meet this requirement after the warning semester will result in suspended status, which the student will lose all federal, state, and institutional eligibility.

Completion Rate

  • Earn 67% of credits attempted at LSSU throughout your academic career.
  • Attempted credits are courses you are enrolled in after the end of the add/drop period, which is after the first 6 days of the start of the semester.
  • Example: 48 (earned credits) / 56 (attempted credits) = 85% completion rate
  • Students who fail to meet this requirement will be placed on financial aid warning for one semester. Failure to meet this requirement after the warning period will result in suspended status, which the student will lose all federal, state, and institutional eligibility. 

Time Limit

  • Complete the highest degree being sought within 150% of the published length of the program. For example, students working on a baccalaureate program of 124 credits may receive aid for 186 attempted credits, including transfer credits.
Degree Average Credits Needed Maximum Time Frame
Paramedic Certificate 40 Within 60 attempted credits
LPN Certificate 47 Within 70 attempted credits
Pre-Nursing BSN 56 Within 84 attempted credits
Associate 62 Within 93 attempted credits
Bachelor 124 Within 186 attempted credits
Teaching Certificate 136 Within 204 attempted credits
Master’s (none currently offered) 36 Within 54 attempted credits

Determining SAP Status

SAP status is determined by the criteria failed as well as the number of consecutive semesters with unsatisfactory progress. A student can be in WarningSuspension or Probation status.

Financial Aid Warning Semester

If a student does not meet the Financial Aid SAP at the end of any semester (fall, spring, summer), the student will be given one warning semester. Students may receive aid during the warning semester. Students not meeting these Satisfactory Academic Progress standards will receive communication and direction via email to review SAP on their Anchor Access account.  It is highly recommended that students plan ahead and work with an advisor to correct deficiencies during a warning semester.

Financial Aid Suspension

If a student fails to meet the standard for the second consecutive semester enrolled, the financial aid will be suspended. No aid will be granted once a student’s eligibility is suspended, including but not limited to federal, state and institutional aid. Students not meeting these Satisfactory Academic Progress standards will receive communication and direction via email to review SAP on their Anchor Access account.

Financial Aid Probation

Students may appeal their denial of aid, under certain circumstances (see below). If the student files a successful appeal, the status will be changed to Financial Aid Probation.  The student is monitored at the end of each semester. If the student does not reach SAP good standing or meet the requirements of the approved appeal, the status will revert to Financial Aid Suspension.

A student has a single SAP status each semester. For example, a student whose SAP status is Financial Aid Warning for failure to meet the GPA requirement at the beginning of a semester could end the semester meeting the GPA requirement but may have failed the 67% Completion Rate requirement during that semester. The student will begin the next semester in Financial Aid Suspension status since the student has failed SAP for two semesters, albeit for different reasons.

Students who move into Warning, Suspension or Probation status are notified in their student portal and emailed to the university address.

Treatment of Grades for SAP

Incomplete Courses and Course Withdrawals

Incomplete grades (I grade) and dropped courses (W or N grades) after the refund period will not be counted as courses completed, but will count as an attempted course toward your completion rate (67%).

Remedial Courses

Each semester the total number of credits attempted and earned will be evaluated, including remedial coursework. All prior LSSU credits will be used to determine if the student has earned at least 67% of their total attempted credits.

Repeat Course Policy for Financial Aid

Students may use financial aid to repeat coursework that has been previously failed. Students may also use financial aid one time when repeating coursework to improve an earned letter grade of D- or higher.

  • For example, a student taking a course for the first time who received an F grade could have financial aid to repeat the course. If the student received a D grade for the repeated course, the student could have financial aid one more time to repeat the course to raise the grade. Students advised to retake passed courses more than once to improve their GPA may do so at their own expense, provided the repeats are allowed by the department.

Types of Courses

TYPES OF COURSES (hours indicated represent the minimum requirements):

Clinical – courses that require observation, participation, client/pupil studies, etc. Specific programmatic accreditation requirements, or applicable state regulations may set higher standards, but shall not be lower than the base of 1 credit hour awarded for each three (3) hours of clinical experience per week for a total of 45 hours in a 15-week semester.

Individualized/Directed Study – courses that are based on consultation and guidance from an instructor with meeting times established as TBA. One credit hour shall be awarded for each three (3) hours of student work per week for a total of 45 hours in a 15-week semester.

Laboratory – courses where the instructor provides direct supervision of student creative or investigational work, whether individually or in small groups, in a controlled experiential learning environment requiring specialized equipment and/or facilities. Laboratory hours are determined by the amount of time the student would spend to conduct specific faculty directed activities, including the development of written laboratory reports. Travel to and from distant experiential learning locations is not part of laboratory time. One credit hour shall be awarded for each three (3) hours of student work per week for a total of 45 hours in a 15-week semester.

Lecture – courses focused primarily on one-way communication (irrespective of modality) from instructor to students, but may be combined with elements of in-class discussion or other individual or group learning activities. One credit hour shall be awarded for each one (1) hour of lecture combined with two (2) hours of out-of-class work per week for a total of 45 hours in a 15-week semester. The course syllabus should identify the out-of-class work required to meet the credit hour standard.

Lecture/Laboratory – courses which have both lecture and laboratory component have credit awarded as though each were considered separately. A course with a designation of SCIN100 Science (1,2) 2 cr would require for each of the 15 weeks, one (1) hour of lecture instruction per week, two (2) hours of student work outside of class per week for the lecture, two (2) hours per week of supervised laboratory instruction, and one (1) hour per week of student work outside of lab – for a total of 45 hours for lecture and 45 hours for lab – 90 hours total.

Recitation – an optional component of a course where the instructor provides guided study to reinforce and apply course content in problem solving and other activities similar to the assignments in the course. One credit hour shall be awarded for each one (1) hour of Recitation combined with two (2) hours of out-of-class work per week for a total of 45 hours in a 15-week semester. The course syllabus should identify the out-of-class work required to meet the credit hour standard.

Practicum/Internship – courses where the title or course description define the course as a practicum or internship, including cooperative education courses. Students receive credit for practical, degree-related experiences gained outside the classroom or laboratory. One credit hour shall be awarded for each three (3) hours of student work per week for a total of 45 hours in a 15-week semester. Additional departmental requirements may also be denoted in the course description.

For more information, go to

Transfer Credit

Transfer credits accepted by LSSU will count toward the maximum time limit requirement and earned credit. Transfer credits are not calculated as part of the completion rate. Transfer courses are not used in the calculation of cumulative LSSU GPA. Students must submit a written appeal that includes a signed degree audit with their anticipated graduation date before their attempted credits exceed the maximum allowed for the highest degree they are seeking at LSSU.  Although there are no automatic resets, appeals are typically granted to reset the time allowed to complete the LSSU degree.

Changes in Major or Degree

Students who change their academic program will still be subject to the time limit requirement to complete their highest degree. All previously attempted credits will be included toward the time limit requirement, the limit does not reset. Students may appeal to receive aid to complete new academic program.

Pursuit of Second Bachelor’s Degree

If a student has completed their first bachelor’s degree and has been admitted to a second BS/BA degree program, he or she may be eligible for financial aid consideration (for federal loans only) as a second undergraduate degree student.

Student is still subject to the time limit requirement on all previous attempted credits. Students may appeal to receive aid to pursue second degree.

Completion Requirement

Students may be ineligible for federal, state, and LSSU financial aid if they have met all the requirements for their first degree, even if the student has not yet applied for graduation (conferral of the degree.)

The US Department of Education has established regulations which allow students to receive aid while completing requirements for their degree.  Once a student has completed all coursework required to graduate with a satisfactory GPA, the student is no longer eligible for aid for that degree.  This is true whether or not the student has applied for graduation. Financial aid does not pay for coursework for a second major, a minor, or a specialization that is in addition to the requirements for the basic degree.

Students who have completed four years of coursework but do not graduate must demonstrate that they are still working on their first bachelor’s degree by submitting a degree audit to the Financial Aid Office with an anticipated completion date.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal

A student who does not meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy is considered ineligible for financial aid. However, they may submit an appeal if they have a documented extenuating circumstance that prevented them from meeting the SAP policy.

To be eligible, an appeal must demonstrate some situation that was beyond the student’s control and/or unique in nature. Extenuating circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • Death of an immediate family member (spouse, mother, father, guardian, sister, brother, son or daughter)
  • Major medical issue (i.e. requires hospitalization) experienced by the student or an immediate family member of the student (as designated above)
  • Domestic violence
  • Involuntary call to active military duty
  • Return for a second degree or certificate, or change of study
  • Other extreme circumstances (case by case basis)

The following circumstances are NOT considered extenuating and beyond the student’s control:

  • Not knowing the deadline or procedure
  • Work conflicts
  • Poor academic performance, failure to attend class, poor time management
  • Incarceration resulting from a guilty verdict
  • Voluntary overtime
  • Not needing or wanting a class or having too heavy of a course load
  • Wish to improve your GPA

Submitting an Appeal

Appeals and supporting documentation must be submitted by the posted deadline. The appeal is available online and instructions are sent to all students who do not meet the SAP policy at the end of every semester. Incomplete appeals will not be considered. Students will be limited to a maximum of 2 appeals during their total time at Lake Superior State University.

Students must include the following in their appeal:

  • Explanation: Provide detailed statement that explains how the extenuating circumstances prevented you from meeting the SAP policy.
  • Plan for improvement: Provide a plan that explains the strategies you will use to help provide success in future semesters.
  • Academic success plan: A plan that has been agreed upon by the student and academic official and that has been approved by the college Dean or authorized designee.
  • Degree Audit: Must be signed by the academic advisor, chair or deal of the college Dean
  • Documentation: Submit date-specific documentation from a disinterested third party.

Documentation includes but is not limited to:

  • Letter from a physician or counselor on letterhead indicating the dates you were under their care
  • Third-party documentation of death such as an obituary, funeral notice, or death certificate
  • Accident reports, police records, court records, etc.
  • Documentation to support attempting more than the maximum number of units allowed for your program (Maximum Time Limit appeals only)

Do not submit original documents; they will not be returned. Make sure all copies are legible. Letters from relatives and friends are not accepted.  Failure to submit supporting documentation with the appeal may result in an automatic denial of the SAP appeal. You will not have an opportunity to meet with the committee, so it is important that your appeal includes all necessary information.

If an appeal is approved, the student will be placed on SAP Probation status. To continue eligibility, the student must:

  • Follow all conditions of their academic plan and/or approved appeal;
  • Not withdraw from any courses;
  • Earn a “C” (2.0) or better in all courses each semester/term;
  • Not receive an incomplete in any courses

Failure of the student to adhere to any of these requirements will result in termination of financial aid and probation status.

Students will be notified of the decision regarding their SAP appeal via their LSSU email account. Students should review their account on a regular basis.

Decisions of the SAP Appeals Committee are final and will not be overturned.

Students should be prepared to seek other funding options if the appeal is not approved

Financial Aid Committee

The committee meets throughout each semester to review SAP appeals. Students under Time Limit warning (150% rule limitation) are encouraged to appeal early. Students who have been suspended must submit their completed Financial Aid Appeal Packet prior to the announced due date to be considered for the next semester.  The semester appeal deadline is announced each semester.  Written appeals are reviewed by the committee and students are notified promptly of the outcome by the Financial Aid Office.

Students whose appeals are approved will have aid offers reinstated or finalized based upon federal regulations and availability of funds. If funds are exhausted, students may have a smaller award total than expected.

If a Multi-Term Appeal is approved, the student will not need to appeal every semester; however, the student will be expected to meet the terms of the appeal and continue to meet the academic standards agreed upon during the appeal process. If the student does not meet the terms of the agreement, the student will be denied future financial aid and will be required to file another appeal.

An appeal must be received by the posted deadline for the semester in which the student is seeking reinstatement of aid. Late appeals will not be accepted or reviewed.


When financial aid is suspended, both the cumulative GPA and completion rate must be met in subsequent semesters of at least six credits before reinstatement of aid is possible.

Students who successfully complete a minimum of six credits at LSSU while not receiving financial aid must contact the Financial Aid Office to request a review for reinstatement.

If completion of “I” grades or other record changes warrant a reinstatement, a copy of the transcript must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office with a written request for a review.

Retroactive changes

If errors in grades are corrected or withdrawals are granted retroactively and these changes affect SAP, the Financial Aid Office will allow consideration of aid restoration for a maximum of one semester prior to the current term.  However, aid will not be restored across aid years (a new aid year begins each fall semester).