In order to receive federal student aid, students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress toward the completion of their degree. Federal student aid includes Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), TEACH Grant, Work-Study, Perkins Loan, Direct Stafford Loan (Subsidized and Unsubsidized), and PLUS Loan. Other federal, state, and private agencies may require students to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress for their aid programs as well.
The academic record of all students will be monitored to ensure compliance with the requirements specified below. Therefore, even the academic record of those who have not received federal student aid in the past may impact future eligibility.
Satisfactory Academic Progress is measured once a year – at the end of the spring semester, or the last semester attended in that academic year. All terms of enrollment are included in the evaluation – summer term, fall semester, and spring semester.
Failure to meet any of the three following standards will result in the suspension of eligibility for federal student aid.
1. Minimum cumulative grade point average
- Undergraduate Students:
Federal regulations require a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher for undergraduate students. The cumulative GPA is calculated on all NSU and transfer undergraduate credits (excluding remedial and audited coursework).
- Graduate Students:
Graduate students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on all NSU and transfer graduate credits.
2. Completion percentage
All students (both undergraduate and graduate) must successfully complete 67% of cumulative attempted credit hours. Attempted credit hours include all hours that would appear on a student’s academic transcript at the end of any given term, including withdrawals, incompletes, repeated courses, remedial coursework, and transfer hours. Audited coursework is not included. Hours that may have been part of a successful academic amnesty appeal will still be included.
Successfully completed hours for both graduate and undergraduate students include grades of A, B, C, D, RS, and S. A grade of EX for undergraduate students is also considered successful completion. All other grades would not be considered successful completion (such as F (failure), W (withdrawal), U (unsatisfactory), RU (remedial unsatisfactory), or I (incomplete)).
3. Maximum attempted credit hours
There is a limit on the number of credit hours a student can attempt and still remain eligible for federal student aid. All credits attempted (except audited coursework) are included. This limit is based on 150% of the credit hours needed to complete the degree that the student is pursuing.
||Type of Degree Attempted
Maximum Credit Hours
||Associate Degree (60-hour program)
||Associate Degree (64-hour program)
||Bachelor’s Degree (120-hour program)
||Bachelor’s Degree (128-hour program)
||Bachelor’s Degree (150-hour program)
||Master’s Degree (32-hour program)
||Master’s Degree (36-hour program)
||Master’s Degree (48-hour program)
Additional information that may impact satisfactory academic progress
Grade Changes: If the grade change occurs after the annual Satisfactory Academic Progress review has been done, the grade change will be reflected in the next review unless the student notifies the NSU Financial Aid Office of the grade change and it changes the student’s status from suspended to good standing. Since incomplete grades are counted as unsatisfactory attempts, the potential impact would be an increase in grade point average and/or increase in percentage completion.
Repeated Courses: Students will be allowed a total of three (3) takes for undergraduate courses (course number 001-499) for which credit is only counted toward graduation once. The student must petition the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs for permission to take an undergraduate course more than three times. When a student repeats a course, only the latter grade, even if it is a lower grade, is used in the computation of the grade point average. If the last grade is a failing grade earlier credit will be lost as well. All grades remain on the transcript. All attempts will count toward percentage completion and maximum credit hours for financial aid satisfactory academic progress.
Remedial Courses: All credits, whether remedial or non-remedial are assigned a credit value. Remedial coursework is included when determining enrollment status for financial aid purposes, but are not included toward graduation requirements or grade level progression. Grades of RS or RU are assigned to remedial coursework. All remedial coursework is included in the financial aid satisfactory academic progress calculation for percentage completion and maximum credit hours.
Withdrawn Courses: Courses that a student drops after the term census date will appear on the transcript with a grade of “W”, whether the student was passing or failing the class at the time of withdrawal. These credits are not used when calculating the grade point average, but do count as credits attempted but not satisfactorily completed and impact the percentage completion and maximum credit hours.
Appeal of Financial Aid Suspension
Note that an academic suspension appeal is a separate process. Students who have also been academically suspended must be academically reinstated prior to submitting a financial aid appeal. Being reinstated academically does not guarantee financial aid reinstatement.
Students are notified in writing when placed on financial aid suspension. Students may submit a written appeal to explain extenuating circumstances as to why they were unable to maintain satisfactory academic progress. Appeals must be submitted no later than the end of the first week of the term for which it applies. An appeal form is available at the NSU Financial Aid Office or on the NSU website at http://www.northern.edu/financialaid/Documents/academicappeal.pdf
Instructions for Submitting an Appeal
- Explain clearly and in detail the circumstances that prevented you from making satisfactory progress. Your appeal must be based on extenuating circumstances that were beyond your control. Lack of awareness of withdrawal policies, requirements for satisfactory academic progress, or unpreparedness for college coursework will not be accepted as reasons for the purpose of an appeal.
- Specifically outline your plan to improve your academic progress and explain what has changed that will allow you to meet the requirements in the future. BE SPECIFIC, such as seeking tutoring, working less hours, taking fewer credits, personal/health problems have been resolved and how, etc. A specific plan of action is required and you must adhere to that plan.
- Include any 3rd party documentation to verify and/or add strength to your appeal (a letter from your advisor, faculty, doctor, clergy, counselor, social worker, employer, medical bills, etc).
- If you are appealing due to exceeding the 150% maximum attempted credit hour limit, you must include a program evaluation from WebAdvisor, the Registrar’s Office, or the Graduate Office. Specifically address what courses you have remaining and when you plan to complete your degree. Only remaining courses required for degree completion will be allowed.
All requests are reviewed by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Students are informed via letter of the results of the appeal, whether granted or denied.
Conditions for Successful Appeals
Each student’s situation is unique depending on the reason for suspension. Based upon the circumstances of an approved appeal, the Appeals Committee reserves the right to stipulate conditions which the student must meet in order to be considered for financial aid on a probationary basis for subsequent semesters. For example, if due to a deficient gpa, the student may be required to repeat the failed courses within a certain time frame. If the percentage completion is deficient, the student may be required to pass all courses with no withdrawals or failures. If there is a learning disability, they may be required to meet with the Office of Disability Services. If the appeal was personal in nature such as illness or a death in the family, they may be referred to the Counseling Center.
All specific requirements will be detailed in the Terms of Probation that will be included with the letter informing the student of the results. The student must sign and return a copy of the Terms of Probation, agreeing to these stipulations, before financial aid eligibility will be reinstated.
A copy of the terms of probation is provided to the advisor. In all cases, the student is referred to their academic advisor for advice on course selection.
Notification of Unsuccessful Appeals
If the financial aid appeal is denied, a letter is sent informing the student that in order to regain eligibility, they must either take classes without federal financial aid and bring themselves up to the required standards, or appeal for a future term when the circumstances have changed.
Reinstatement of Financial Aid Eligibility
Students who have lost their federal aid eligibility, but have subsequently met all three standards as stated above, will have their aid eligibility reinstated. Reinstatement will be considered effective with the next term of attendance. Students should contact the Financial Aid Office once they have completed coursework that would bring them back into good standing.