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University of the Cumberlands students talking in a hallway about how to apply for financial aid.

Graduate SAP Policy

SAP Appeal Instructions    SAP Appeal Tutorial    SAP Appeal Outlines

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Federal regulations require that all students who receive federal or state financial aid make progress toward a degree.  Therefore, colleges establish policies that ensure students’ progress successfully towards degree completion both qualitatively (GPA) and quantitatively (hours attempted versus hours earned and time frame). At Cumberlands, we have established the following Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy for all types of financial aid (federal, state, and institutional) that will be reviewed each semester, including the summer term.


Graduate students must have at least 6 credit hours each semester to be considered full-time. Any student with less than 3  hours is considered less-than ½ time and is ineligible for financial aid. Enrollment status is determined at 5:00 p.m. on the last day to register for a class. This is called our “Census Date”. Most types of financial aid are dependent on enrollment status. For example, a student must enroll at least ½ time to be eligible for Federal Unsubsidized Student Loans. Enrollment status will not change after the Census Date for that term. Transfer credit counts as both attempted and earned hours.


The maximum time frame in which a student must complete their degree cannot exceed 150% of the published length of the student’s degree program. Graduate programs at Cumberlands require different hours to complete each degree. For example, if the student’s program requires 30 hours to complete the degree, then the maximum number of attempted hours is 45 hours (30 x 150%) for financial aid eligibility. Any student who attempts hours beyond this mark is ineligible for financial aid. All semesters and credit hours attempted are used toward the maximum time frame allowance regardless of whether the student received financial aid. All repeated courses, failed courses, withdrawals, courses taken from a change in major, and transferred hours will count as credit hours attempted toward the maximum time frame.

In order to complete the necessary number of credit hours within the allowable time frame, all students must earn credits in  67% of all hours they attempt cumulatively. Grades of W, I, F, and transfer hours are counted as attempted hours; however, grades of W, I, and F will NOT count as earned hours.


Students must also earn a certain cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) to maintain SAP. All graduate students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale. Additionally, all students who have completed at least 15 credit hours must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.


After each semester, a review will be made of all enrolled students to determine if they meet this policy. If the student fails to meet SAP after one semester, they will be automatically placed on “Financial Aid Warning”. The student will be eligible to receive aid for one semester. At the end of the warning semester, the student will be evaluated again. If they regain SAP, there is no further action, and they remain eligible for financial aid. For those students who fail to regain SAP, they will be placed in “SAP Suspension” and be ineligible to receive financial aid. 


Students placed on Financial Aid Suspension that wish to regain eligibility for Federal, State and institutional aid have the option to appeal. We understand that there are situations that could contribute to a student not meeting SAP.  For example, the death of a relative, an injury or illness of the student, or special circumstances are information that will tell us why you failed to make SAP. In the appeal, you must also tell us what has changed and demonstrate you can make SAP in the next evaluation. Students will be placed in “Financial Aid Probation” for one semester if the appeal is approved. At the end of the next semester, the student must be making SAP or successfully following an SAP Appeals Committee plan or become ineligible to receive financial aid.