Courses of Study 2021-2022 
    
    Oct 24, 2021  
Courses of Study 2021-2022

Federal Satisfactory Academic Progress


Federal regulations (CFR 668.34) require that Cornell University review the academic progress of students who apply for and/or receive financial assistance. SAP is comprised of three areas as required by federal regulations. A student must complete their degree within a specified maximum timeframe, demonstrate they are progressing through their program at a pace that will ensure graduation within the maximum timeframe, and achieve a GPA that is consistent with meeting graduation requirements.  The purpose of measuring and enforcing these standards is to ensure financial aid recipients make progress toward graduation. This policy on SAP applies to all degree seeking students who apply for and/or receive federal financial aid and/or Cornell University undergraduate scholarships and grants, whether a previous aid recipient or not.

All financial aid recipients are required to meet SAP standards toward completion of degree requirements in order to be eligible for Title IV aid, and when applicable, institutional financial aid programs. The Title IV Federal Student Aid Programs impacted by SAP are: Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Federal Work Study, Federal Direct Loan, and Federal PLUS Loan.

Please note that these standards do not replace or supersede individual colleges’ or schools’ regulations and procedures affecting academic standing, which are stated in the Courses of Study or individual handbooks. Failure to meet the published requirements of the Graduate School or a graduate field may also result in students being deemed ineligible for funding in the form of fellowships, assistantships, or grants. Students will be notified directly by the Graduate School or their graduate field if they are not in good academic standing.

Students can access the SAP Policy for their specific degree program(s) by visiting finaid.cornell.edu.

Evaluation Period

For programs lasting one year or less, evaluations will be completed at the end of each semester and will determine Title IV eligibility for the following semester.

For programs longer than one year in length, annual financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) evaluations will be completed at the end of each spring term.  Annual financial aid SAP evaluations will be completed at the end of each academic year and cannot take place until final grades have been posted. This review will determine aid eligibility for the upcoming summer, fall, winter, and/or spring terms. Every student who applies for financial aid must be making SAP, regardless of whether they are a first-time applicant or have received financial aid in the past. Any financial assistance offered for the year ahead is subject to cancellation if the minimum standards of SAP were not met in the year prior.

Incoming students will be considered for financial aid for one term or academic year prior to the evaluation of SAP, depending on the length of the academic year. At the end of the first term or academic year of attendance at Cornell University, students will be evaluated for SAP.  Students will then be reviewed regularly until graduation.

When a student returns from a period of non-attendance from Cornell, all prior academic activity will be included in future SAP evaluations.

Students will be notified of their failure to meet the SAP standards by email notification from the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment.

Maximum Time Frame for Degree Completion

Federal regulations specify that a student must complete his/her degree within 150 percent of the published length of the program. For most degree programs, the maximum timeframe at Cornell is measured in credits. For example, if a degree program requires 120 credits to graduate, the maximum timeframe for degree completion is 180 attempted credits (120 x 150% = 180). The number of credits required for degree completion, and therefore the maximum timeframe for degree completion, may vary by college and academic program.  Students who enroll in course work beyond the 150% of the program length, will be considered ineligible for federal student aid.

Credits included in the maximum timeframe are all attempted credits, even when not a financial aid recipient, and regardless of whether attending full-time or part-time. Attempted credits include:

  • Earned credits – Passed (A through D-), Satisfactory (S, SX), Multi-Term Course (R)
  • Repeated courses – both attempts
  • Withdrawal (W)
  • Failures – Failed (F), Unsatisfactory (U, UX)
  • Incomplete
  • All accepted transfer credits (including AP, consortium agreements, and Study Abroad courses) toward the degree program
  • No Grade Recorded (NGR)

Doctoral Students:

Except for those enrolled in the Employee Degree Program, a student in a Ph.D. program is to complete all degree requirements in no more than 14 registered semesters from the first registration in that particular degree program.  Summer is not considered a registered semester for SAP purposes.  For M.A/Ph.D. or M.S./Ph.D. students, time to degree commences with the start of the Ph.D. program.

By approval of the dean, up to four additional semesters of registration may be permitted when there are extenuating circumstances.  Students and their advisors are expected to develop a detailed plan for completion when petitioning for an extension of the maximum time for degree completion. A minimum of six semesters of registration is required to earn a Ph.D.

Research Master’s Degree Students:

No more than eight semesters are to intervene between first registration in a master’s degree program and completion of all requirements. Summer is not considered a registered semester for SAP purposes.  Students enrolled in the Employee Degree Program are exempt from this requirement. Part-time matriculants are to complete degree requirements no later than twelve semesters from the date of first registration in a program.

By approval of the dean, up to two additional semesters of registration may be permitted when there are extenuating circumstances.  Students and their advisors are expected to develop a detailed plan for completion when petitioning for an extension of the maximum time for degree completion. A minimum of two semesters of registration is required to earn a research master’s degree.

Required Completion Rate

Federal regulations require that a student must progress through their program at a pace that will ensure graduation within the maximum timeframe.  Progress is measured for students cumulatively and is calculated using stardard rounding rules.  In order to graduate within the maximum timeframe, a student must earn at least 67 percent of their attempted credits. Earned credit hours include:

  • Grades of A through D- or S/SX (with credit), Multi-Term Course (R)
  • Transferred credits and accepted AP credits (provided they meet degree requirements)
  • Credits earned from a Consortium Agreement or Study Abroad Program

Required Grade Point Averages

Federal regulations require that a student meet minimum cumulative GPA standards to retain eligibility for aid.  Earned letter grades of A, B, C, D, and F (including repeated courses) are counted toward the GPA.  INC (incomplete), W (withdrawal), S/SX/U/UX (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory), R (multi-term course not yet completed and graded), (V) Audited courses, and GPA from transfer credits are not counted toward the GPA.

  • Minimum Undergraduate Cumulative GPA is 2.0
  • Minimum Doctoral Cumulative GPA is 2.25
  • Minimum Research Master’s Cumulative GPA is 2.25
  • Minimum Professional Master’s Cumulative GPA is 2.5
  • Minimum Master’s of Architecture Cumulative GPA is 2.0
  • Minimum MPS in Management Cumulative GPA is 2.7

To meet SAP standards, a Graduate student enrolled in credit-based courses, with the exception of Research Courses where there is no grade associated (NG), must maintain the cumulative GPA specified, unless a higher GPA is required by your program.

Treatment of Multiple Degrees and Special Academic Situations

Double Majors: A student completing more than one major at the same time will not be given an increased maximum timeframe. The student may need to submit an SAP appeal that will be reviewed by the College and Office of Financial Aid.  Students pursuing double majors must also meet the same GPA and pace of completion criteria as any other student. If it is determined that an undergraduate student has earned enough credits to complete a degree, they will no longer qualify for Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG, or Cornell Grant and endowed funding.

Major Changes (including internal transfers): All attempted coursework is included in the SAP calculation, regardless of a student changing majors. Coursework is only excluded if a student changes academic careers (Undergraduate to Graduate or Graduate to Law for example).

Second Bachelor’s Degree: Similar to double majors and major changes, students pursuing a second Bachelor’s degree will not be given an increased maximum timeframe and will need to meet the same pace of progression and GPA standards as any other undergraduate student.

Audited Coursework: Excluded from SAP evaluations and not eligible for Federal Aid.

Academic Amnesty: Title IV regulations do not allow for academic amnesty or expulsion of grades. All courses applicable to a student’s major (whenever taken), are included when evaluating a student’s satisfactory academic progress.

Remedial Coursework: Title IV regulations require that remedial coursework be included in the qualitative assessment of satisfactory academic progress.  Remedial coursework does not occur at the graduate or professional level at Cornell and as a result, has no impact on SAP.

English as a Second Language (ESL): ESL courses that are required as part of the student’s degree program will be considered in the SAP evaluation.

Additional Graduate School Student Requirements:

PE Coursework: Excluded from SAP evaluations and not eligible for Federal Aid.

Doctoral Student Milestones:

The special committee, under the leadership of the committee chair, has primary responsibility for developing the student’s independence in scholarship. Special committees and students are urged to meet at least twice a year.

To remain in good standing, students must complete the following milestones:

  • Complete the responsible conduct of research (RCR) training prior to the end of the second semester.
  • Form a special committee prior to the end of the third semester.
  • Complete the examination for admission to candidacy (“A exam”) prior to the start of the seventh semester.
  • Complete the dissertation defense prior to the end of the fourteenth semester.
  • In the second year and beyond, complete the Student Progress Review (SPR) form annually and receive a rating of “satisfactory” or “excellent.”

Research Master’s Degree Student Milestones:

To remain in good standing, students must complete the following milestones:

  • Complete the responsible conduct of research (RCR) training prior to the end of the second semester.
  • Form a special committee prior to the end of the second semester.
  • Complete the thesis defense prior to the end of the eighth semester.
  • In the second year and beyond, complete the Student Progress Review (SPR) form annually and receive a rating of “satisfactory” or “excellent.”

Professional Master’s Degree Students Milestones:

To remain in good standing, students must meet the published requirements of their degree program.

 

Failing to Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students failing to meet SAP standards will lose their financial aid eligibility. They will be notified in writing of their status by the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment and a list of these students will be provided to the individual colleges.

Students terminated from receiving financial aid can reestablish eligibility by successfully earning the cumulative credits and GPA required for SAP. Neither paying for one’s classes nor sitting out a semester is sufficient to reestablish the financial aid eligibility of a student who has failed to meet SAP. If a special or unusual circumstance contributed to a student’s lack of satisfactory academic progress, the student may appeal the denial of financial aid.

Appeal Process

The letter of denial from the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment will describe the appeal process and a link to the appeal form will be provided.  This form provides the opportunity to appeal for reinstatement of your student aid eligibility. This form should only be completed if you have encountered extenuating circumstances that prohibited you from meeting financial aid satisfactory academic progress.

Valid reasons for an SAP appeal include death of a relative, an injury or illness or other extenuating circumstances. Circumstances related to an outbreak of COVID-19, including, but not limited to, the illness of a student or family member, compliance with a quarantine period, or the general disruption resulting from such an outbreak will also be considered under extenuating circumstances. Lack of awareness of withdrawal policies or requirements for financial aid satisfactory academic progress are not acceptable reasons to appeal.

The appeal must explain why the student failed to make SAP and what has changed in the situation that will allow the student to make SAP at the next evaluation. The Office of Financial Aid may request additional documentation at any point while evaluating an appeal. Documentation examples include, but are not limited to a letter from a doctor, medical care provider, or objective third party (e.g. a minister, social worker, counselor, facilitator, or other professional) that supports the student’s situation.

Take the following steps to complete your SAP Appeal:

  1. Student Section. Answer all questions listed in Section 2. Please attach a separate sheet if necessary. Initial the items under Student Certification and sign the form.
  2. Supporting Documentation. Attach date-specific documentation from a third party familiar with your extenuating circumstances. A third-party can include a therapist, healthcare provider, community intervention agency, social worker, law enforcement officer, clergy member or other adult non-relative. If your third-party chooses to submit a letter on your behalf, the statement should be signed or on letterhead. Do not submit supportive documentation from a friend, peer, relative, academic adviser, campus retention coordinator, or aid representative.
  3. College Section: Meet with your College Registrar or Advisor to review your academic progress and discuss the remaining credits, GPA requirements or other conditions needed to ensure progress toward Satisfactory Academic Progress and degree completion. If you will require more than one semester to meet cumulative SAP standards, you should work with your college to develop an academic plan specifically for you.  
  4. Return the completed appeal form and any required documentation and academic plan to the Office of Financial Aid via Secure Online Document Submission

 

After your appeal has been reviewed by the Office of Financial Aid, you will receive email notification of the outcome in approximately two weeks. If your appeal is approved, you will be reconsidered for student aid sources for which you applied and will have one semester of financial aid probation. At the end of your semester on financial aid probation you must be meeting the financial aid SAP standards or, if applicable to your situation, meeting the requirements of an academic plan. If your appeal is denied, you can restore eligibility by enrolling for one or more semesters at your own expense until you achieve the minimum financial aid SAP standards.

All students on financial aid probation for a semester will have their SAP reevaluated before the following semester. To remain eligible for financial aid during a subsequent semester, the student must be meeting cumulative SAP standards or standards specified in their academic plan. The Office of Financial Aid will monitor whether a student met the requirements of their academic plan and will work in conjunction with the academic unit for clarification as necessary. Students who fail to make SAP by the end of the semester on probation will have their future financial aid eligibility terminated and will be notified in writing by the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment. As stated previously, students terminated from receiving financial aid can reestablish eligibility by successfully earning the cumulative credits and GPA required for SAP.

If the appeal is denied by the Office of Financial Aid, the student will be notified by email of the decision. This notification will also make the student aware of their opportunity to respond and provide more information and documentation regarding their extenuating circumstances, if applicable. While there is no official appeal deadline, all information should be submitted during the term the student is seeking aid, and not after.

Federal regulations prevent a student from submitting the same appeal two semesters in a row. However, there is no limit to the number of appeals a student can submit if they can document there are new circumstances preventing the student from meeting SAP standards. Similarly, there is no limit to the number of semesters a student can be on financial aid probation as long as an approved appeal or academic plan is in place and the student continues to make progress toward their degree.

Appeals must be submitted promptly to provide adequate time for review and processing. If an appeal is received after a payment period has ended, you will not be eligible for any Title IV aid in the payment period that has ended, even if the appeal is later approved.

 

Policy for Professional Students

SAP standards for professional students are determined and monitored by the professional schools: