Financial Aid Office

Standards of Academic Progress

The U.S. Department of Education’s regulations are an effort to ensure program integrity at colleges and universities. These regulations were adopted so that students will make progress toward their degrees. Only those eligible students will be able to receive aid. The criteria used to evaluate progress toward completion of a degree has not changed, you still must:

  • Successfully complete at least 67% of the credits you attempt (enroll) each semester,
  • Maintain the required Grade Point Average, and
  • Complete your degree within the maximum credit hour timeframe allowed.

Policy Summary

In order to receive financial aid, you must make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) as defined by the U.S. Department of Education.  All Cleveland State students who have completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and wish to be considered for federal, state, and institutional financial aid must meet the criteria stated in the policy regardless of whether or not they previously received aid. These requirements apply to all credits attempted during a period of enrollment whether or not financial aid was received and will count toward the Maximum Timeframe measurement for degree completion. Evaluation of SAP is made at the conclusion of all semesters including those that comprise summer by the Financial Aid Office once grades are available in the university system. This review looks at grades received, courses attempted, GPA and pace towards graduation at that point in time.

Programs governed by these regulations are:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Work Study (FWS)
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
  • Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
  • Federal TEACH Grant
  • Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG)
  • All Cleveland State University Grants


The Federal SAP definition has three components:

1. A Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA):

Undergraduate Students:  must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 2.0, and earn a term GPA of not less than 1.0

Graduate Students: must: maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average both in their term and cumulative grade point average

Law Students: must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.00 upon the completion of their first spring semester and any semester thereafter including summer.

2. Minimum Credit Hour Completion Percentage:

All students must complete at least 67% of their courses each semester. To calculate, you take the total credit hours you successfully complete and divide it by the number of credit hours you were enrolled. Incompletes, withdrawals and failing grades do not count as successful completion. Example, you enroll 16 credits hours, at the end of the semester you successfully complete 8 credits. 8/16 =50% this does not meet the minimum 67%. If this is your first time, you will be placed on SAP warning, if this is your second time not meeting all the SAP standards you are no longer eligible to receive financial aid.

Measuring the Pace of Completion

To avoid exceeding the maximum time frame required to complete a program of study using financial aid, you are expected to maintain a "pace of completion." At the end of each semester, you must have successfully passed a minimum percentage of credit hours from all hours attempted at CSU. You must maintain a cumulative pace of completion that is at least 67 percent of attempted hours at the end of each semester.

Grades of W, X, F and I will be counted as hours attempted but will not be counted as hours successfully passed. Repeated course enrollment will be counted in the completion rate and against the overall maximum time limit required to complete the program of study. Repeated course enrollment will be calculated in the cumulative GPA according to the CSU academic grading policy.

Students who have an incomplete grade (I) recorded on their academic record at the time of SAP measurement is counted as attempted credits and not as a successfully completed class.  Student who fail SAP may present as part of their appeal documentation from the academic department, Professor or Registrar that the “I” grade has been or will be successfully completed with a passing grade.  A student’s subsequent SAP measurement will reflect the change of the incomplete grade to a passing or failing grade will determine whether the student meets the SAP policy measurement for the next term of enrollment.

Students who have grades of W on their academic record who show that it counts as zero in the earned hour calculation, but will count against the percent completed calculation.  Students are encouraged to speak to an academic advisor or a 411 All-in-One Specialist before they withdraw from classes. 

Students may receive financial aid for Developmental classes as defined in the university catalog.  Developmental courses are taken as no credit because they do not count toward graduation credits, but they do count in determining the percentage of credit hours attempted for SAP.

If you do not complete the minimum percentage of credit hours required to maintain a 67 percent pace of completion, you will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for one semester only. If you do not reach a 67 percent cumulative pace of completion by the end of the warning period, you will fail SAP and be placed on Financial Aid Suspension. You must pay enrollment costs without the benefit of financial aid awards until you meet the minimum required pace of completion again.

3. Quantitative Progress: Maximum Time to Complete a Degree/Program (MTF)

When undergraduate student’s attempted hours reach 150% of the number of credit hours required to complete their degree program (192 hours), federal financial aid eligibility will be suspended unless the time frame is extended.  This is accomplished by appealing with an explanation and a Maximum Timeframe academic plan, filled out with the academic advisor.  All hours attempted toward the completion of a program of study will be counted in the maximum number of allowable hours regardless of whether financial aid was received. Transfer hours, earned credits through a consortium/contractual agreement are included in the total.  Students who change majors or add second majors so that they can continue to receive aid, do not qualify for additional semesters of eligibility.

Graduate degrees must be completed by the length of time standards established and monitored by Graduate Studies.

Credit hours transferred to Cleveland State University are counted when calculating the 150 percent of maximum credits to earn a degree. To receive aid for an educational program within the maximum hours allowed, transfer students must select an eligible program of study and must submit official transcripts of all previous college course work.

When SAP is calculated, if you have attempted 150 percent of the allowable number of credit hours, or if it would be mathematically impossible for you to complete a program of study within the 150 percent maximum, you will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension.

New transfer and returning students to CSU are encouraged to read carefully the Financial Aid Office Standards of Satisfactory Process Policy, Federal regulations require that you complete your academic program within 150% of the standard timeframe for your program.  At CSU, 128 credits is used as the standard, with 192 attempted credits as the maximum credits for a Bachelor’s degree. All credits are counted, even if you did not receive financial aid and even if the credits do not count towards graduation for your present academic program.

Once you reach the maximum number of attempted credits for your academic program, you are ineligible to receive financial aid.

Post-Bach program admits: All credits that you earned while at another school(s) and that are accepted as transfer credits at CSU along with all attempted /earned credits at CSU are part of the number of credits needed for your second degree program.  If you transfer in more than 191 credits, federal regulations will not allow CSU to offer you federal aid unless you meet with an academic advisor and complete a Max Time Frame Academic Plan.

Financial Aid Suspension, Appeal and Reinstatement Procedures

The Cleveland State University Financial Aid Office will review academic records at the end of each semester, including summer, and determine each student’s Satisfactory Academic Progress status. If you fail to meet the SAP minimum standards, you will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for one semester. If you fail to attain the minimum standards of progress by the end of the warning period, you will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension.

The Appeal Process:

The SAP Appeal and Academic Plan forms can be downloaded on the Financial Aid Forms page.

Students in violation of the GPA and/or Percentage Completion standards:

  • Complete the semester with earning a minimum GPA
  • Complete (with a passing grade) a minimum of 67% of all courses attempted during that semester
  • Register only for those courses identified by an academic advisor that are required for graduation

Students who fail to meet these standards will not be permitted to receive federal financial aid for future semesters until they are in compliance with all the SAP standards. Neither paying for classes out-of-pocket nor sitting out for an enrollment period is sufficient for students to re-establish eligibility for federal aid. Any semester you do not enroll does not count towards SAP; however, your suspension period will roll over to the next semester of enrollment. Taking courses at another college will not count towards SAP because SAP is calculated on courses taken at Cleveland State University only.  However, all credits transferred to CSU will be counted when evaluating maximum timeframe.

If extenuating circumstances contributed to the student not meeting the SAP policy, the student may submit an appeal to the Financial Aid Office. Examples of extenuating circumstance include, but are limited to: serious injury or illness of the student or immediate family member; an emergency situation; death of an immediate family member.  In the appeal, students must explain the circumstances that prevented them from meeting the SAP policy standard and provide an explanation of the change that occurred that will allow the student to meet the SAP policy standards in the next semester of enrollment.  Supporting documents must be provided.  Acceptable documentation may include an obituary notification or death certificate, physician statement or medical documentation, statement from an academic advisor, a faculty member or a counselor.

The maximum timeframe suspension can be appealed by seeing the academic advisor and filling out a Max Time Frame Academic Plan.  On that plan, it is determined the exact courses that are needed for you to complete your program of study. Once that form is filled out and signed by the advisor and student, no changes can be made to that plan.  Changes include adding additional classes, withdrawing from classes, failing classes, and changing classes from the listed classes.  If a change is made, the SAP will be denied.

Students who receive an approval decision can be approved for one semester. At the end of that semester, the student must either be in compliance with the SAP policies or meet these standards during the approved semester:

Students who are on Financial Aid Suspension and who do not appeal or their appeal is denied.
You cannot petition a denied appeal, the committee’s decision is final. Students will have to pay out of pocket for all of your school costs, including tuition and books, without the benefit of financial aid awards, until you meet the minimum SAP standards again. At that time your financial aid eligibility will be determined for future semesters of enrollment.

If you are placed on suspension, your progress will continue to be reviewed at the end of each semester of enrollment. Your eligibility will automatically be reinstated for the next term of enrollment upon successful completion of a term of enrollment in which you meet the required SAP standards. No appeal for reinstatement is required. The Financial Aid Office will notify you when you have met the requirements for reinstatement.