SPS Undergraduate Programs 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.
SPS students must demonstrate satisfactory academic progress in three fundamental ways:
- Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA
- Complete two-thirds (66.6%) of all units attempted
- Complete program within a specified period of time
- Maintain satisfactory academic standing within your school
1. Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA
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 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale) for degree-seeking students and a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) for Professional Health Certificate and Preparatory Coursework students.
If you drop below the minimum cumulative GPA for your program, you will be placed in financial aid warning. While in financial aid warning, you will continue to receive your financial aid for one academic term, but you will need to bring your GPA above the minimum cumulative requirement by the end the warning term.
2. Complete two-thirds (66.6%) of all units attempted
In order to meet the minimum standard of academic progress, students must complete at least two-thirds (66.6%) of all cumulative units attempted since the start of their SPS program. If a student receives transfer credit for work completed at other academic institutions, each transfer unit counts as one unit attempted and one unit completed and is included as part of this cumulative unit completion rate.
Courses dropped after the second Saturday of each term will be counted towards credits attempted. Grades of F, NP (No Pass) ,Y (incomplete), W (withdrawal), or X (unofficial withdrawal) do not satisfy the requirements for the two-thirds (66.6%) completion rate. Please note that this requirement is more stringent than the school's Drop policy, which may be found on the SPS Advising and Policies webpage.
3. Complete your program within a specified period of time
Students must complete their programs within the following timeframe:
- All degree-seeking students: 23 full-time terms
- Premedicine Professional Health Students: 6 full-time terms
- Prephysical Therapy Professional Health students: 6 full-time terms
- Prenursing Professional Health Students: 5 full-time terms
- Prephysician Assistant Professional Health Students: 9 full-time terms
- Preclinical Psychology Professional Health Students: 5 full-time terms
- Prespeech pathology students: 4 consecutive terms
- Premed completion students: 4 consecutive terms
All periods of enrollment, including Summer Session, are counted toward the maximum number of terms. All coursework for which a student is enrolled as of 11:59 on the second Saturday of the term counts toward the enrollment calculation, regardless of whether a student received financial aid for that coursework or not. Periods of academic leave or non-enrollment will not count against the maximum terms of enrollment. Students who are enrolled in two units (2.00) for a term as of the Drop/add date will use two-thirds of one term of eligibility. Students enrolled in one course as of the Drop/add date will use one-third of one term of eligibility. Students enrolled in three or more courses as of the Drop/add date per term will use one full term of eligibility.
Repeated coursework is counted in the same manner as all other coursework for the purposes of Satisfactory Academic Progress.
Grades of Pass (P) are not awarded a grade point and so will not contribute to the overall GPA calculation but do count as attempted and completed coursework. Grades of No Pass (NP) will be included in the GPA calculation at a 0.00 rate and count as an attempted course. A student who receives all Ps during their first term of enrollment and meets all other SAP requirements will be considered to be successfully maintaining satisfactory academic progress.
Students who earn credits through a consortium/contractual agreement, students who change majors, or students working on a second major do not qualify for additional terms of eligibility.
Students who have completed all required coursework for his or her degree or certificate but has not yet received the degree or certificate cannot receive further federal or state financial aid for that program. The Office of Financial Aid receives a report from the SPS Registrar of all students who have fulfilled all degree or certificate requirements.
Students must be on track to complete their degree within their maximum time-frame in order to maintain their financial aid eligibility.
4. Maintain Satisfactory Academic Standing within your school
Students must maintain a satisfactory academic status within the School of Professional Studies. Any student who is placed on probation for academic reasons by the School of Professional Studies will be placed on warning for financial aid purposes if not already in a financial aid warning, suspension, probation or financial aid academic plan status. Students who are suspended or dismissed from the School of Professional Studies will not be eligible for federal or state financial aid for any coursework taken in a suspended or dismissed status.
Transfer Credits and Completion Rate
If a student receives transfer credit for work completed at other academic institutions, each transfer credit counts as one credit attempted and one credit earned. The maximum terms for completion will be reduced by one term for every three transfer credits, rounded up the nearest whole quarter. For example, a student who brings in five transfer credits, which is equal to one and two-thirds full-time terms in SPS, will be eligible for financial aid for 21.33 quarters of full-time enrollment. The maximum timeframe is determined by the Office of Financial Aid and is documented in the student file when a student first applies for financial aid. All previous quarters of enrollment will count against terms of eligibility, even if no financial aid was received.
Students who have questions about determining their personal maximum timeframe may contact the Office of Financial Aid.
Evaluation of Satisfactory Academic Progress
Evaluation of satisfactory academic progress is made at the end each 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 progress will be evaluated up to four times per academic year.
If a student fails to meet the requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress for any academic term, he/she is placed on SAP warning for one academic term. During this warning period, the student will still be eligible for federal and state financial aid but he/she must meet the following criteria:
Complete at least two-thirds (66.6%) of all cumulative units attempted since the start of their program at SPS with a grade of C- or higher. Transfer credit for work completed at other academic institutions counts as one credit attempted and one credit earned and is included as part of this cumulative unit completion rate.
Courses dropped after the second Saturday of each term 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.
Maintain or earn the minimum cumulative GPA required for the program in which the student is enrolled.
Be on track to complete their degree within their maximum allowed time-frame.
The student will be notified via his/her NU email account that he/she has been placed on SAP Warning.
If a student does not enroll in the following term after a SAP warning is issued, the warning period will move to the next term of enrollment.
Students who do not meet the terms of their SAP warning period will be subject to a SAP Suspension, during which the student will not be eligible for federal or state financial aid. In order to reinstate federal and state financial aid eligibility after a SAP suspension, students must meet the following criteria for reinstatement:
Complete at least two-thirds (66.6%) of all cumulative units attempted since the start of their program at SPS 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 as of 11:59 PM on the second Saturday of the term according the SPS Calendar will count toward your SAP calculation.
Maintain or achieve the minimum cumulative GPA for your program.
- 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.
If a student has not met the minimum GPA requirements, they may appeal only if they have maintained a cumulative GPA of 1.75 to 1.99 for degree-seeking students and a 2.75 to 2.99 for Professional Health students. If the cumulative GPA for a degree-seeking student is 1.74 or below or 2.74 or below for a Professional Health student, the student is not eligible to appeal their SAP status. However, the student would regain the ability to appeal once their GPA is within .25 grade points of the minimum GPA requirement and students may automatically regain financial aid eligibility (without an appeal) when the GPA is raised to the minimum requirement and all other SAP requirements as outlined in this policy are met.
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 from third-party sources who can attest to the actions the student has taken to resolve the problems that affected their prior academic performance is also required. Third-party sources can include but are not limited to academic advisers, professors, professional health care workers, etc.
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 Northwestern 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 meets the all SAP requirements, his/her aid will be awarded for subsequent quarters of the academic year. The student will be required to meet SAP for all subsequent quarters. If the student 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 quarterly 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, you are applying for financial aid for the first time, and your coursework does not meet the minimum academic progress requirements, you will need to complete a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) appeal for first-time aid filers. Your appeal should include the following:
- Describe a specific reason, event, or circumstance that prevented you from meeting the academic progress requirements.
- Provide a specific plan/corrective action to improve your academic progress.
- Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your plan of action and obtain a signature from your advisor to document that you have discussed your plan/corrective action together.
The University reserves the right to make adjustments to these policies.