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Physical Therapy Program Policy

Federal and state regulations require recipients of financial aid to maintain satisfactory academic progress in their program of study. It is the University's expectation that students will make progress towards completion of the degree or professional development program in which they are enrolled. These requirements apply to part-time as well as to full-time students for all terms of enrollment within an academic year, including those terms for which no financial aid was granted.

Physical Therapy students must demonstrate satisfactory academic progress in three fundamental ways:

  1. Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher
  2. Complete two-thirds (66.6%) of all credits attempted
  3. Complete program within a specified period of time

1. Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher

The Satisfactory Academic Progress regulations require that you maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) in order to remain eligible for financial aid. This cumulative GPA is a 3.00 (on a 4.0 scale).

2. Complete two-thirds (66.6%) of all credits attempted

In order to meet the minimum standard of academic progress, PT students must complete at least two-thirds of all credits attempted since the start of their PT program.

Courses dropped after the end of the PT Drop/Add period will be counted towards credits attempted. Grades of D, F, Y (incomplete), W (withdrawal), or X (unofficial withdrawal) do not satisfy the requirements for the two-thirds (66.6%) completion rate.

3. Complete your program within a specified period of time

Students have a maximum timeframe of 150% of the length of their standard program to complete their degree requirements. For example, if a program is eight full-time terms, a student attending full-time may not exceed twelve terms to complete their degree.

All periods of enrollment are counted toward the maximum number of terms. Periods of academic leave or non-enrollment will not count against the maximum terms of enrollment.

Remedial and repeated coursework is counted in the same manner as all other coursework for the purposes of Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Students who earn credits through a consortium/contractual agreement do not qualify for additional terms of eligibility.

Students who have completed all required coursework for his or her degree but have not yet received the degree or cannot receive further federal or state financial aid for that program.

Students must be on track to complete their degree within their maximum time-frame in order to maintain their financial aid eligibility.

Students who have questions about determining their personal maximum timeframe may contact the Chicago Office of Financial Aid.

Evaluation of Satisfactory Academic Progress

Evaluation of satisfactory academic progress is made at the end each academic year (end of Spring term) by the Chicago Office of Financial Aid once grades are published in the university system. This review is completed through a manual review of grades received, courses attempted, pace toward graduation and GPA.

SAP Suspension

Students who do not meet the terms of Satisfactory Academic Progress will be subject to a SAP Suspension, during which the student will not be eligible to receive federal financial aid. In order to reinstate federal financial aid eligibility after a SAP suspension, students must meet the following criteria for reinstatement:

  • Complete two-thirds (66.6%) all cumulative units attempted since the start of your degree program with a grade of “C-“ or higher. Grades of D, F, X, Y, N, W, and V will not be considered sufficient for meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress.
    • Be advised that any courses you are enrolled in at the end of the PT Drop/Add period will count toward your SAP calculation.
  • Maintain or achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher.
  • Have not exceeded the maximum time-frame allowed to complete your degree.

Once a student meets all requirements for reinstatement of financial aid after a suspension, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the Chicago Office of Financial Aid to request a SAP review for reinstatement of federal and state financial aid eligibility. Once the Chicago Office of Financial Aid determines that a student is now in compliance with SAP requirements, aid will be reinstated for the following academic term.


If a student fails to meet the SAP requirements as stated above due to extenuating circumstances such as a family member’s death, illness (of the student or immediate family member), or other exceptional circumstances that were encountered during their time in their degree program, the student may submit a written appeal to the Chicago Office of Financial Aid. The appeal must be received by the Chicago Office of Financial Aid prior to the first day of the subsequent academic term.

The written appeal should be in a Word document format (i.e. not email) and explain any relevant extraordinary circumstances, address the reason(s) for failing to meet the minimum academic requirements, and offer some solution to the problems that affected prior academic performance. Supporting documentation, such as statements from academic advisers, professors, professional health care workers, etc., may also be requested.

The appeal will be reviewed by a committee chaired by the Director of Financial Aid. All decisions made by the committee are final. Students will be notified if their appeal is granted or denied via an email to their NU email account.

If an appeal is granted, the student will be placed in one of two categories:

1. SAP Probation

If a student is placed on SAP Probation after an appeal, he/she will be eligible for aid during one additional academic term. During the probationary period, the student must meet all SAP requirements. If the student again fails to meet SAP during their probationary period, their aid may be suspended unless the student can demonstrate via appeal that new extenuating circumstances not related to the original appeal have occurred. In order to reinstate federal financial aid eligibility after a SAP suspension when a subsequent appeal has been denied or has not been submitted, students must meet the criteria for reinstatement listed above without the use of federal financial aid.

2. SAP Academic Plan

Students may be placed on an academic plan upon submission of a successful appeal. If it is mathematically impossible for a student to resolve all deficiencies during one term of attendance and the student’s reason for appeal is appropriate according to federal regulations, the student may be placed on an academic plan with the end goal being to resolve all deficiencies. An academic plan varies in length and is determined by the SAP committee. It does not have to equate to the exact number of terms it would take a student to resolve all deficiencies. If the student is meeting the criteria identified in the SAP appeal approval at each term review, the student’s academic plan may be extended. If a student is not meeting the criteria identified in the SAP academic plan at each term review, the student may be asked to submit additional appeal documentation that reflects new extenuating circumstances or their aid may be suspended until they meet the terms of SAP without the use of federal aid.

Special Considerations for First-time Financial Aid Applicants

Current students who apply for financial aid are required to meet the satisfactory academic progress requirements. If you are a currently enrolled student but have not received federal financial aid for previous terms of enrollment in your current program, you are considered to be a First-Time Financial Aid Applicant. Your previous coursework must meet the minimum academic progress requirements. If it does not, you will need to complete a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) appeal for first-time aid filers. Your appeal should include the following:

  1. Describe a specific reason, event, or circumstance that prevented you from meeting the academic progress requirements.
  2. Provide a specific plan/corrective action to improve your academic progress.

The University reserves the right to make adjustments to these policies.