Your  Account:

SAP Graduate Policy

The Satisfactory Academic Progress standards measures a student’s progress toward degree completion using both qualitative (GPA) and quantitative (units completed compared to units attempted) methods. To be eligible for financial aid, students must exceed or meet these standards. The standards apply to all college coursework taken, regardless of whether financial aid was received or not, including coursework transferred from another institution. Academic progress is reviewed at the end of each semester when grades are available. Students who fail to meet the Standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress will have their financial aid eligibility suspended.

The SAP requirements fall into three areas: 

  • Making progress toward your degree by completing a minimum number of units based on your total years of enrollment.
  • Maintaining a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) 2.0 for Undergraduate and 3.0 for Graduate.
  • Completing your degree within a maximum specified number of years of enrollment.


Federal regulations require California State University San Marcos to establish standards for evaluating Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). These standards measure qualitative and quantitative requirements and maximum timeframe for a student’s progress toward degree completion. To be eligible for financial aid, students must meet these standards. Failure to maintain these standards will result in suspension of your financial aid eligibility. This policy was developed using CSUSM academic policies and federal regulation. 

In addition to meeting academic standards outlined in CSUSM Policy for Graduate Probation, Disqualification, and Reinstatement, financial aid recipients are required to meet the satisfactory academic progress standards outlined in this policy. Satisfactory academic progress for financial aid recipients enrolled in degree programs, as described below, is evaluated at the end of each semester.  Failure to maintain SAP, as described in this Policy, may result in cancellation of financial aid awards, and the student may have to repay funds already received.

Minimum Standards for Graduate Students

  1. CSUSM's institutional requirements for minimum SAP requirements for graduate financial aid recipients are defined as follows:
    1. Minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA).
      The student must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
    2. Minimum completion rate.
      The student must maintain a minimum cumulative completion rate of half of credits attempted (50%) as measured by comparing the total completed credits to the total attempted credits.
    3. Maximum Timeframe
      The student must complete his or her educational program within a time frame no longer than 200 percent of the published length of the educational program, as measured by credits attempted and including transfer credits (for example, the student must complete his or her program after attempting a maximum of 72 credits for a 36 credit program).

      Note: Students who have graduated from one program at CSUSM and then enroll in a second eligible program should contact the Financial Aid Office to determine their SAP status under their new program of study.

  2. Federal regulations require that CSUSM track the academic progress of financial aid recipients from the first date of enrollment at CSUSM, whether or not financial aid was received.
  3. Students who do not earn their degree within the maximum timeframe to completion, outlined above, are ineligible for financial aid. No financial aid will be disbursed for the student during subsequent semesters/periods of enrollment unless the student has made an appeal and the appeal (described in section VI of this Policy) is granted.
  4. Students who are academically disqualified are ineligible for financial aid. 

Treatment of W, I, AU, F, WU, CR, NC and RD; No Grade Reported; Repeated Course Work and Transfer Credits

  1. Course withdrawals (W) after the drop/add period are not included in the GPA calculation, but are considered a noncompletion of attempted coursework and are used in the completion rate calculation.
  2. Incomplete (I) grades are not included in the GPA calculation and are considered a noncompletion of attempted coursework until the grade is replaced with a permanent grade and academic progress can be re-evaluated.
  3. Audit (AU) grades are not considered attempted coursework and are not included in completion rate determinations.
  4. Failure (F) and Failure for Nonattendance (WU) grades will be treated as attempted credits that were not earned, and will be included both in the calculation of the GPA and minimum completion rate.
  5. Credit (CR) and no credit (NC) grades the credits will not be included in the GPA calculation.  Credit (CR) will be considered completed attempted coursework and no credit (NC) will be considered a non-completion of attempted coursework.
  6. Report Delayed (RD) is used where a delay in the reporting of a grade is due to circumstances beyond the control of the student. The symbol may be assigned by the registrar only and, if assigned, shall be replaced by a substantive grading symbol as soon as possible. An RD shall not be used in calculating grade point average or progress points, and will be considered a non-completion of attempted coursework until a grade is assigned and academic progress can be re-evaluated.
  7. Each repeated course attempt will be included in the completion rate and maximum time-frame determinations.
  8. Transfer credits will be counted as attempted and completed credits for the calculation of completion rate and maximum time frame, and will affect the student's GPA calculation as well.

Financial Aid Warning Status

Graduate students who fail to maintain the minimum completion rate of 50 percent and/or fail to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 will be placed in Financial Aid Warning for the next semester of enrollment. Students are eligible for financial aid during the warning semester. 

Financial Aid Suspension

    1. Students unable to meet the SAP standards during their Warning semester are ineligible to continue receiving financial aid. Students who do not earn their degree within the maximum timeframe to completion are ineligible for additional financial aid. No aid will be disbursed during subsequent semesters of enrollment unless the student has made an appeal and the appeal is granted (See section VI.B. of this Policy which describes appeal procedures). There are no exceptions to this requirement.

Reinstatement of Aid After Financial Aid Suspension:

  1. Reinstatement of financial aid after a student who has not met the SAP standards and is on Financial Aid Suspension is achieved in one of the following ways:
    1. The student attends CSUSM, pays for tuition and fees without the help of student financial aid, and does well enough in the coursework to satisfy all the SAP standards. The student regains aid eligibility.
    2. The student submits a written letter of appeal and the Financial Aid Appeals Committee grants the appeal. The student is placed on Financial Aid Probation for the next semester of enrollment. Financial aid probation means that the student who failed to make SAP and who has appealed and has had eligibility for aid reinstated. At the end of that probationary semester, their SAP status will be re-evaluated. The student must meet all SAP requirements at the end of that semester or he/she will return to Financial Aid Suspension and must reestablish eligibility as described in paragraph A.1. of Section VI of this policy.
    3. Students who request exceptions to the CSUSM Withdrawal and Refund policies and are granted an exception will not have their SAP reevaluated until the end of the semester, regardless of when the exception was granted.    
    4. Students who are beyond the maximum timeframe to completion cannot regain financial aid eligibility except on a semester–by–semester basis through the appeal process.
  2. Appeal Process
    1. The student must submit a written appeal of Financial Aid Suspension before the deadline (see below) to the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. The appeal must include documentation of the circumstance that lead to the student not meeting SAP standards as well as a description of how he/she will be able to meet SAP at the end of the next enrollment period. Circumstances which may be considered include death of a relative, unexpected injury or illness of the student or other circumstances, as supported with documentation. For an appeal to be considered it must contain:
      • The SAP appeal form
      • A one page typed and signed appeal statement
      • All required documentation that supports the extenuating circumstances (death certificate, divorce decree, police report, medical documentation)
    2. The Financial Aid Appeals Committee will review the appeal and notify the student in writing of its decision after the Appeals Committee meets and makes its determination. Appeals will not be granted unless the student's proposed enrollment in the upcoming semester would be adequate to reestablish their progress under this Policy.
    3. Appeals are approved for one semester – if the student does not meet SAP at the end of the probationary semester they will be placed on financial aid suspension and no additional appeals for the same reason could be considered. 
    4. Academic Plan – the Financial Aid Appeals committee can place the student on an academic plan which would extend the probationary semester.  This requires coordination with an academic advisor and the student’s record will be reevaluated at the end of each semester to determine if the student has met the requirements of the academic plan.  Failure to meet the academic plan will result in the student being placed on financial aid suspension. 
    5. Deadlines to file an appeal are as follows:

Fall – September 15

Spring – February 15

Summer – June 15

Effective Date

This Policy is effective March 1, 2016, and will be first calculated for students on probation under the prior Policy at the conclusion of the Spring 2016 semester.

Note: Students who fail to enroll after an appeal has been granted will be suspended again and may be required to submit a new appeal before they will be eligible to receive financial aid.