Federal regulations require Macalester College to monitor the academic progress of students receiving Federal Student Aid. This policy applies to eligibility for Federal Student Aid, financial aid from the State of Minnesota, and other non-Macalester entities that may require recipients to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP). This policy does not apply to financial aid from Macalester. Please see the section on Satisfactory Academic Progress for Institutional financial aid for the policy that governs eligibility for institutional financial aid.

Macalester will evaluate progress at the end of each semester. Students must make quantitative (time it takes to earn a degree) as well as qualitative (measured by grade point average) progress toward degree completion as defined by the following:

Quantitative

All courses, regardless of whether they are successfully completed, count in calculating a student’s academic progress, including any courses for which the student did not receive financial aid. This includes courses for which the student receives a W (withdrawal) or is officially enrolled in after the last day to drop courses (Incomplete). If a student repeats a course, both the original course and the repeated course will count as attempted credits for the purpose of determining Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Transfer credits (credits earned at another institution and counted in determining progress toward graduation requirements at Macalester) are not included in the calculation of GPA for the purposes of determining Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Students must complete at least 67% of credits attempted, not attempting more than 192 credits to graduate. For full-time students (12-16 hours), pace will be measured as follows:

At the conclusion of full-time semester number Minimum number of credits earned
1 11
2 22
3 33
4 43
5 54
6 65
7 75
8 86
9 97
10 108
11 118
12 128

Satisfactory Academic Progress policy requires that the number of courses for which you may receive Federal Student Aid may not exceed 150% of the number of courses required for graduation with an undergraduate degree. For most undergraduate programs, the maximum is 52.5 courses (35 courses x 150%).

Qualitative

Students must have at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average to be eligible for Federal Student Aid. The Financial Aid Office will review cumulative GPA at the end of each semester. The Academic Standing Committee reviews a student’s academic progress separately from the Financial Aid Office, as outlined in the College Catalog: http://catalog.macalester.edu/content.php?catoid=16&navoid=1301. At the end of their second year, students must have a cumulative GPA of at least a “C” equivalent in order to continue receiving Federal Student Aid.

What Happens If a Student Falls Below the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Requirements?

Students are notified via email when evaluation of SAP results in a Financial Aid Warning, Probation, or Suspension. This notice includes the student’s current status and the conditions and process necessary to appeal to regain eligibility for Federal Student Aid.

Financial Aid Warning
Students are placed in Financial Aid Warning status for a single semester if they fail to meet minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The student is below the cumulative GPA requirement.
  • The student is below the course completion requirement.
  • Students who are re-admitted to Macalester and who are placed in strict academic probation, academic probation, or warning status by the Academic Standing Committee will be placed in Financial Aid Warning status.

During the Financial Aid Warning period:

  • Students remain eligible for Federal Student Aid.
  • Students are expected to meet the minimum cumulative GPA standards and meet the course completion requirement.
  • Failure to meet SAP standards after your Financial Aid Warning period will result in Financial Aid Suspension.

If, at the end of the semester, the student is still not meeting SAP requirements, they are placed in Financial Aid Suspension and become ineligible for Federal Student Aid. The student must submit a successful appeal in order to regain Federal Student Aid eligibility.

Financial Aid Suspension
Federal Student Aid is suspended when a student fails to meet the minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The student was placed in Financial Aid Warning status and failed to meet SAP requirements by the end of that semester.
  • The student has been readmitted under Strict Academic Probation, Academic Probation, or Warning status by the Academic Standing Committee and failed to meet SAP requirements by the end of that semester.
  • The student has exceeded the Federal maximum time frame limits for his/her degree.

Appealing Financial Aid Suspension
Students who are placed on Financial Aid Suspension may appeal in order to regain Federal Student Aid eligibility. To appeal, the student must submit a written request to the Financial Aid Office. The appeal should explain extenuating circumstances that affected the student’s academic performance (medical, personal/family problems, etc.). It should not be based on inability to pay or lack of knowledge of the SAP Policy. An appeal should also explain what has changed that will allow Satisfactory Academic Progress at the next evaluation. If it is mathematically impossible to achieve SAP in the next evaluation, the appeal should include an academic plan which outlines how the student will restore cumulative GPA to at least 2.0 and graduate in the allotted time frame.

Financial Aid Probation
If the appeal is approved, the student may continue to receive Federal Student Aid but will be placed in Financial Aid Probation status for a single semester.  The student must register for and complete twelve or more credit hours with at least a 2.00 term grade point average during the next full-time semester of enrollment with no incomplete grades. Students who fulfill these requirements will continue to be eligible for Federal Student Aid eligibility for as long as they maintain SAP.

If, in their Financial Aid Probation semester, the student fails to earn twelve credits with no incompletes and/or to maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA, they lose their Federal Student Aid eligibility until they achieve SAP as defined above.

Notification of Appeal Results
Students are notified via email of the results of all appeals. Approved appeals will include the conditions under which the appeal is approved and requirements necessary to retain eligibility for financial aid in the future. Denied appeals will include the reason for denial and the process to appeal the denial.

If an appeal has been denied, the student may continue to apply for institutional financial aid, but institutional financial aid will not be increased to replace lost Federal Student Aid or other aid lost based on failure to maintain SAP.

Satisfactory Academic Progress for Institutional Financial Aid

Any degree-seeking student is eligible to apply for institutional financial aid. Eligibility for institutional financial aid is limited to eight full-time semesters. A semester in which the student enrolls for eight credits or fewer and receives financial aid counts as one-half of one semester. A semester in which the student enrolls for nine to eleven credits and receives financial aid counts as three-quarters of one semester.

Institutional financial aid eligibility will be prorated for students who are admitted as transfer students. For example, a student who transfers to Macalester as a first-semester sophomore is eligible to apply for six semesters of institutional financial aid. Only credits accepted by Macalester for credit toward a Macalester degree are used to determine the student’s class standing at the time of transfer.

Eight semesters is considered the normal time for completing an undergraduate degree at Macalester. If a student changes majors, they are still expected to complete their program within the maximum timeframe. Students who desire institutional financial aid for a semester beyond their eighth must request an exception to this policy in writing. Such requests should be sent to the Financial Aid Office as early as possible and no later than the end of the eighth semester of enrollment. Exceptions to the eight semester limit will be made rarely, and only in situations where circumstances beyond the student’s control prevented degree completion in eight semesters.

If an exception cannot be made for additional semesters of institutional financial aid, students who enroll for a ninth or tenth semester may continue to be eligible for Federal student loans and/or alternative education loans.