Policy - Satisfactory Academic Progress

Section 1: Statement of Policy


Maintaining satisfactory academic progress is one of many requirements mandated under federal statutory and regulatory requirements for federal student aid programs, as well as state financial assistance programs, and for many forms of institutional financial assistance offered by GW (to include need-based grants, merit, athletic and other scholarships). In order to remain eligible for federal student financial assistance and scholarships at GW, students must maintain both a qualitative and quantitative standard for satisfactory academic progress. These standards measure a student’s progress in three different aspects:

  • Semester and cumulative grade point average
  • Credit hour completion rate, and
  • The maximum time frame allowable for completion of an academic program as a recipient of Federal student financial assistance.

This satisfactory academic progress policy is specific to maintaining eligibility for federal student financial assistance programs, and does not replace academic and departmental policies pertaining to academic standing and/or degree progression. Federal regulations require a specified level of academic achievement and the completion of a set number of credits within a given time frame. Students must meet the minimum standards as itemized in this policy statement after each semester in which the student is enrolled. The Office of Student Financial Assistance will review satisfactory academic progress at the end of each semester and will accordingly advise recipients of student financial assistance.

The GW Law School and the GW School of Medicine maintain their own respective student financial assistance offices, and will set their respective satisfactory academic progress policy compliant with federal regulatory requirements. This policy does not pertain to graduate scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships.

Section 2: Quantitative Standards


Students are expected to complete their academic program within reasonable time frames based on the average length of the academic program and not exceeding maximum time frames as set forth in federal regulation. Eligibility for undergraduate federal student financial assistance programs cannot exceed 150% of the published length of undergraduate programs.

Maximum time frame is measured in two ways:

  • Semesters enrolled: Fall, spring, and summer sessions.
  • Credit hours attempted: All courses attempted, with the exception of audited courses, and including courses wherein a student withdraws, receives an incomplete grade, an unsatisfactory faculty rating or a failing grade, will be included in and counted towards the maximum time frame whether or not student financial assistance was received.

Credit hours included in the maximum time frame are comprised of all credits applied to a student’s degree program, as follows:

  • All transfer credits applied to the student’s academic program.
  • All credits attempted, regardless of passing or failing grades, and including incomplete grades, an unsatisfactory faculty rating, no grade, or a withdrawal from a course.
  • Courses taken for credit or no credit.
  • All courses taken, regardless of a student’s change of academic program, and regardless of whether a student had multiple majors and/or academic concentrations.
  • Remedial courses.
  • All repeated coursework.

Audited courses are not counted towards maximum time frame.

Average and maximum time frames are as follows:

UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS

ACADEMIC

PROGRAMS

AVERAGE NUMBER OF

SEMESTERS AVERAGE NUMBER OF CREDITS

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF SEMESTERS

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF CREDITS

Undergraduate Degree

Programs

8 semesters

120 credits

12 semesters

180 credits

Undergraduate

Certificate Programs

4 semesters

48 credits

6 semesters

72 credits

 

GRADUATE PROGRAMS

ACADEMIC

PROGRAMS

AVERAGE NUMBER OF

SEMESTERS

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF SEMESTERS

Master’s Degree

Programs

4 semesters

Credit hours established by academic program

12 semesters

Credit hours established by academic program

Graduate Certificate

Programs

4 semesters

Credit hours established by academic program

9 semesters

Credit hours established by academic program

Doctoral Programs

18 semesters

Credit hours established by academic

program

24 semesters

Credit hours established by academic

program

As noted in section 1, this satisfactory academic policy is specific to maintaining eligibility for federal student financial assistance programs (and is also applied to eligibility for GW undergraduate student financial assistance programs administered by the GW Office of Student Financial Assistance). This policy does not replace an academic program and degree progression for the academic program in which the student is enrolled.

Credit Hour Completion Rate
The credit hour completion rate refers to the pace at which students must progress through their GW academic
program to ensure that the student completes their academic program within the maximum time frame per federal regulation.

At the end of each term, the Office of Student Financial Assistance will evaluate a student’s academic progress in accordance with the following regulatory formula:

Pace = total hours completed ÷ total hours attempted

This means that courses for which the student withdraws after the drop/add period has ended will be considered as attempted credit hours.  For all students, attempted hours is defined as all courses in which they are enrolled after the drop/add period has ended for the term and for which academic credit will be earned. This means that courses from which students withdraw after the drop/add period has ended will be considered attempted hours. All attempted hours will be counted regardless of whether financial aid was received.

The following course designations are included in attempted hours:

  •  Withdrawals
  •  Incompletes
  •  No grades
  • Courses taken as credit/no credit
  • Repeated coursework
  • Failing grades
  • Failing grades in pass/fail courses
  • Remedial or ESL coursework
  • Transfer credits, including credits from domestic and international study abroad programs
  • Test credits

Undergraduate Students

All undergraduate students will be expected to complete 75 percent of credit hours attempted, during all terms of

enrollment, including the summer session.

Graduate Students

All graduate students will be expected to complete 67 percent of credit hours attempted, during all terms of

enrollment, including the summer session.

Section 3: Qualitative Standards


Cumulative Grade Point Average and Satisfactory Academic Progress for Student Financial Assistance

GW’s schools and colleges have established academic progress standards of at least a 2.0 grade point average for undergraduate programs. Most graduate programs require a 3.0 grade point average, with some graduate programs having higher grade point average requirements. The TEACH Grant program (a Federal student aid program) requires at least a 3.25 grade point average for satisfactory academic progress. Therefore, undergraduate students must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average, and graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average for continued student financial assistance eligibility.

The Registrar notes information on the grade point average in the University Bulletin:

The Grade-Point Average-Scholarship is computed in terms of the grade-point average, obtained by dividing the number of quality points by the number of credit hours for which the student has registered, both based on his or her record in this University. The grade-point average is computed as follows: A, 4.0; A-, 3.7; B+, 3.3; B, 3.0; B-, 2.7; C+, 2.3; C, 2.0; C-, 1.7; D+, 1.3; D, 1.0; D-, .7; F, 0, for each credit hour for which the student has registered as a degree-seeking student. Although credit value for a course in which a grade of F is earned appears on the transcript for the purpose of calculating the grade-point average, no academic credit is awarded. In the case of a student who is allowed to repeat a course, the first grade received remains on the student's record and is included in the grade-point average. Courses marked AU, CR, I, IPG, P, NP, R, W, or Z are not considered in determining the average, except that courses marked I will be considered when a final grade is recorded. With the exception of Consortium courses, grades in courses taken at other institutions are not considered in computing the grade-point average.

Some forms of GW undergraduate student financial assistance have specific requirements:

  • Fixed tuition and guaranteed financial assistance for undergraduate students who qualify is limited to ten consecutive semesters and require full-time enrollment.
  • The Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship requires a 2.7 grade point average per semester.
  • The Presidential Scholars in the Arts Scholarship requires a 2.0 grade point average, 12 credits per semester, and specific departmental requirements. For more information, see here: http://www.gwu.edu/apply/undergraduateadmissions/learningatgw/presidentialscholarsinthearts.

Section 4: Evaluation of Satisfactory Academic Progress


At the end of each semester, including the summer sessions, the Office of Student Financial Assistance will evaluate satisfactory academic progress for all students receiving student financial assistance under our purview and in accordance with this policy. Students who do not meet satisfactory academic progress will be notified of their status by email to their GW email address.

Complete Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards for Continued Student Financial Assistance Eligibility, Financial Aid Warning, Probation, and Ineligibility

  • Undergraduate: Students must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average (per semester, and cumulative after the second academic year), pass at least 75% of credit hours attempted each semester, and complete their academic program within 150% of the published length of their academic program.
  • Graduate:  Students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average per semester and cumulative, and pass at least 67% of all credit hours attempted each semester.

Students who fail to meet satisfactory academic progress requirements will be given a financial aid warning and will have one semester to meet requirements as set forth in this policy statement. Failure to meet satisfactory academic progress requirements following a financial aid warning will result in the student being ineligible for all student financial assistance (federal student financial assistance grants, loans, and work-study as well as GW-based grants and scholarships). Students who become ineligible and have extenuating circumstances which contributed to poor academic performance may appeal to be placed on financial aid probation for one additional semester of eligibility. After a period of financial aid probation, students must either meet satisfactory academic progress requirements or fund their educational expenses without the use of either federal student aid or GW student financial assistance.

Section 5: Appeals


A student may appeal the denial of student financial assistance by writing to the OSFA Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeals Committee. Appeals are considered in cases where there has been a death of a relative, injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstances. Our committee may consult with deans, professors, or physicians (as appropriate) to determine if an appeal for financial aid probation should be approved.

The appeal must include:

  • A completed SAP appeal form that has been reviewed by an academic advisor. 
  • A letter of explanation as to why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress along with supporting documentation that substantiates the circumstances. Documentation should be from unrelated adults such as professors, academic advisors, clergy, doctors, or mental health professionals.
  • A description of how the student plans to rectify the situation in order to meet the requirements at the end of the Financial Aid Probation (one semester).

Section 6: Reinstatement of Aid Eligibility


Students who fail to maintain satisfactory academic progress, or who are placed on Financial Aid Probation, must meet all satisfactory academic progress requirements after that one probationary semester in order to reestablish eligibility for future semesters. Reinstatement of GW undergraduate student financial assistance is based on availability of funds. Financial aid/scholarships, once lost, cannot be reinstated retroactively for previous semesters. Graduate students, upon reinstatement, would be eligible to apply for federal student loans.