Satisfactory Academic Progress
Federal financial aid funds are awarded with the understanding that students, after the second year of enrollment, will maintain a minimum of a 2.0 college GPA. Federal aid is also limited to one-and-a-half times the length of the program, and students are measured annually to ensure they are on pace to complete their degree within the timeframe limitations.
Policy and Annual Eligibility Review
At the end of each spring term (or end of each term for students in programs a year or less in length or when approved on appeal), the academic records of all students who are receiving or applying for federal financial aid will be reviewed. Students who fail to make progress will be sent an email notifying them that they are no longer eligible to receive federal financial aid funds. The email will also indicate options for restoring eligibility.
While some students do not meet the GPA requirement, students more often place their aid eligibility in jeopardy by withdrawing from, receiving incomplete (I) grades in, or otherwise not satisfactorily completing their coursework.
Progress is not a measurement of going full-time or part-time. It is not a race to the degree. Register only for a course load you can handle. Concern for meeting the progress standard is most often due to registering for courses yet not successfully completing them.
Review your academic record with your academic advisor to see if you are currently meeting primary measures in the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy.
Individual Aid Program Limitations
In addition to the academic progress policy, there are limits to some aid programs you should review so as to maintain eligibility as long as you can.
Students who reach the limits described below, even if approved for federal aid eligibility in an academic progress appeal, will not be eligible to have their Pell Grant, subsidized loan, or aggregate loan eligibility extended. So a student could be approved via an academic progress appeal yet remain ineligible for aid programs. Cumulative Pell usage and student borrowing information is available through the National Student Loan Data System.
Federal Pell Grant
Congress has changed statutory language to limit Federal Pell Grant recipients to only 6 full-time equivalent years of eligibility as of 2012-13. That measure can also be viewed as 12 full-time semesters. This lifetime maximum allocation is absolute and cannot be appealed.
Your usage of Pell Grant is noted on your Student Aid Report received after you complete or change your FAFSA. Students are specifically alerted in their Student Aid Report when they are close to or exceed the 6-year limit.
NOTE: Co-op students are eligible to receive Pell Grants when on co-op. With many co-op students going year round, you could easily reach the 12 semester/6-year limit on Pell awards prior to completing your degree.
Federal Direct Loan
Congress, in an attempt to curb student debt, created both an annual and a lifetime (or aggregate) limit on Federal Direct Loan eligibility.
Be sure to plan out your loan borrowing so you understand your annual eligibility (especially if you want to attend summer classes) and also to avoid reaching your aggregate limit prior to your graduation. Of particular concern are students who attend part-time but take out their full, annual loan eligibility. They can more easily borrow their lifetime limit in loans prior to completing their degree.
UC Tuition Remission
Finally, UC employees as well as their spouses, domestic partners, and dependents receiving UC tuition remission are subject the federal academic progress policy related to their eligibility for receiving that benefit. Because of slight differences in the programs, a student may be deemed eligible for federal aid but not remission and vice versa.