Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy


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Standard #1: Grade Point Average (GPA)

Always maintain a 2.0 or higher GPA each semester and cumulatively to avoid financial aid warning and disqualification. A 2.0 GPA is required for graduation and transfer to four-year colleges and universities. If transferring is your goal, always exceed the minimum GPA requirements so your academic profile is competitive and attractive to potential transfer institutions.

Standard #2: Pace of Progression & Maximum Timeframe

You must complete at least 67% of the units you attempt each semester and overall to maintain your eligibility (this is defined as your “Pace of Progression”).

Warning: Maximum Timeframe for Aid

You are not eligible to receive Federal financial aid at Cypress College when you accumulate more than 90 units attempted in your entire academic career (all institutions; this is referred to as “Maximum Timeframe.)” Since the AA degree requires 60 units, the financial aid office permits you to take remedial courses or change your major once prior to reaching 90 units attempted.

The units you accumulate and your academic success matters. All students are expected to complete their bachelor’s degree within 12 full-time semesters. At Cypress, you are expected to complete your associate degree within 6 full-time semesters or 90 units attempted to avoid disqualification. See below for additional information.

General Requirements

Students receiving Federal financial aid must be enrolled in an eligible program. An eligible program is defined as:

  • Certificate with unit requirement above 16 units, OR
  • An associate degree (AA or AS), OR
  • A two-year academic transfer program that is acceptable for full credit toward a baccalaureate degree.

The following two standards must be met for Cypress College students to establish and maintain eligibility for federal financial aid programs.

Standard 1: Grade Point Average Requirement

Students must maintain a 2.0 minimum grade point average (GPA) in all coursework attempted.

If the student’s cumulative GPA falls below 2.0, the student will be placed on financial aid warning for one semester. If the student does not achieve a 2.0 or higher GPA during their warning semester, they will be disqualified from further financial assistance and will be given the option to submit a financial aid petition to request reinstatement prior to reaching the maximum timeframe at Cypress College (i.e. 90 units attempted if you are pursuing an A.A.; varies if for certificates). Students who transfer to Cypress College with below a 2.0 GPA from all previous institution(s) attended may be placed on financial aid warning or disqualification based on a review of their entire postsecondary record. The expectation is that all students will meet the minimum standards required by Federal law.

Standard 2: Pace of Progression and Maximum Timeframe for Financial Aid Eligibility

A. Pace of Progression Requirement

Students must complete at least 67% of the units attempted each semester and overall to maintain eligibility (this is referred to as “Pace of Progression” below). The “Pace of Progression” is based on all classes that appear on permanent records from all previous institutions attended. Additionally, students are not eligible to receive Federal financial aid at Cypress College when more than 90 units are attempted during the entire academic career (this is referred to as “Maximum Timeframe” below).

How to calculate your Pace of Progression: Do you meet Pace of Progression standards?

Total # of units completed (All institutions attended)/(DIVIDED BY)/Total # of units attempted (All institutions attended)

Q: Why do students in 12 units need to maintain a 75% pace of progression each semester?

A: Students in 12 units must complete 9 units because if they only complete 8 units, their “pace of progression” would be .66 or 66%. The standard is always .67 or 67% higher at Cypress College each semester and overall if you wish to stay eligible for financial aid.

Must be greater than 0.67 or 67% each semester AND cumulative to meet the pace of progression requirement. *No rounding.

Some certificate programs may be completed in less time than that required for the A.A. and transfer.

Required Units You Must Complete Each Semester

Attempted units for the semester*:12345678910111213141516
Units you must complete:1233445667889101011
IMPORTANT: You must complete at least 67% of units attempted with 2.0 or higher each semester and overall. See below to learn how Financial Aid calculates your cumulative pace of progression. *Your units attempted are the units that are officially recorded after the last day to drop each semester. These units appear on your transcripts as attempted.

Attempted Semester Units Include (whether or not paid for by financial aid):

  • Earned (successful) Grades: A, B, C, D, and CR
  • Incomplete Grades: I, IP
  • Non-passing Grades: EW*, F, NC, W*

*Important note: Cypress College has a COVID-19 SAP exemption for W and EW grades earned during the spring 2020 semester through end of fall 2021. W and EW grades earned during the exemption period are excluded from the 67% completion Rate and Maximum Timeframe calculations. W and EW grades earned before or after the exemption period will still count against you when SAP is calculated.

Students who are disqualified due to SAP, whether as a result of GPA below 2.0, completion rate below 67%, and/or reaching the maximum timeframe, are encouraged to submit a SAP appeal. COVID-19 extenuating circumstances can be considered via a SAP appeal if they happened during spring 2022 and after.

B. Maximum Timeframe

Students who have attempted 90 units or more (all postsecondary institutions attended, regardless of timeframe) will be disqualified from aid. Federal law requires that students requesting financial aid be able to complete their primary educational goal within 150% of their program length or six semesters full-time. We calculate the maximum time frame for A.A. degrees and Certificates as follows:

  • 60 units required for an A.A. degree x 150% = 90 units allowed
  • Certificate programs vary (# units required for program) x 150% = Maximum units allowed

All coursework as recorded on your transcripts from all institutions attended are used to calculate your maximum time frame. A student who has exceeded the maximum time frame and/or cannot mathematically complete their program within this time frame will be placed on Financial Aid Disqualification status and will be provided instructions on how to petition. Students who have previously received BA/BS, MA/MS, or professional degrees (for student loans only) will also be disqualified and provided the option to submit a petition.

C. Why Does Your Academic Success Matter for Financial Aid Purposes?

As of July 1, 2013, Federal law limits the total maximum time frame for undergraduates pursuing a BA/BS degree to receive Federal Student Aid to 12 full-time semesters regardless of past and current semesters of attendance and academic progress.

At Cypress College, students are expected to complete their primary educational goal within the equivalent of 6 full-time semesters to avoid Financial Aid Disqualification. Cypress College financial aid strictly enforces our satisfactory academic progress policy to comply with Federal law and create the conditions for our graduates to have the ability to receive financial aid when they transfer and enter higher cost colleges and universities. Please note the conditions below as they address many of the areas that impact student success for financial aid applicants and recipients at Cypress College:

  1. Change of Major/Educational Objective: Students may be permitted to change their educational objective once at Cypress College before the 90-units attempted maximum is reached. However, no change of major is permitted after the student has exceeded the 90-units attempted maximum.
  2. Repeated Classes: Students taking repeated classes will not be paid for those units unless the repeated class is part of an approved curriculum required for their program. Any repeated classes will count toward the maximum time frame.
  3. Remedial/Basic Skills Coursework: A maximum of 30 units of remedial/basic skills coursework (including ESL) taken from Cypress College may excluded from the 90 unit maximum time frame upon submission of a financial aid petition. Only remedial/basic skills or ESL courses that were completed successfully with a “C” or better are eligible to be discounted. Examples of courses that qualify at Cypress College include Math 10, 15, 20 and any English course below English 100.
  4. Credit/No Credit (CR/NC), Pass/No Pass (P/NP), and In-Progress (IP) grades: Attempted units for courses with these grades count toward the maximum time frame. The grades do not affect the cumulative GPA, but will be included in the “Pace of Progression” calculation.
  5. Enrollment in Physical Education (PE) classes only will not be funded by financial aid. Avoid taking PE152 (2-units) unless recommended by an academic counselor.
  6. Academic Renewal is not recognized for financial aid purposes. Financial aid always counts your units attempted and completed regardless of whether or not you have been granted academic renewal. Even when a more favorable grade is subsequently received, both attempts would be counted as part of your maximum time frame for financial aid purposes.
  7. Declare a Major: Students must declare a specific major area of study that has a unit requirement over 16 units. Please refer to the College Catalog and your academic counselor for information about the various majors and programs of study at Cypress College.

D. Financial Aid Status and Appeal

Students who do not meet the SAP Standards listed above will be subject to disqualification from receiving further federal financial aid. Please note that California College Promise Grant (CCPG) has different academic progress standards as federal financial aid programs. Visit the Financial Aid State Aid Program page for details.

Good Status: Cypress College reviews your academic progress (units attempted, units completed, and GPA) each semester. All students are notified of their financial aid status in myGateway within two weeks of the time that grades post for the semester. At Cypress College, students in “good” financial aid standing have met the 2.0 GPA and 67% “Pace of Progression” requirements described above and do not have 90 units attempted in their academic career (all institutions attended, regardless of when your academic career began past and present).

Warning Status: Students who fail to meet the SAP standards for progress (see Standards 1 and 2 above) will be placed on one semester (maximum) of Financial Aid Warning. Students placed on Financial Aid Warning receive one semester of financial aid, with the requirement that they improve their academic performance to meet the minimum SAP standards. Additionally, students on Financial Aid Warning receive specific guidance and reminders from the Financial Aid Office via myGateway or email reminding them of the importance of academic success to retaining their financial aid eligibility. Students on Financial Aid Warning status may also be at-risk of being placed on Academic Probation and/or Dismissal from Cypress College. Students should always check myGateway prior to the start of each semester so they can be advised of their status and expectations for progress to maintain their eligibility for financial aid and continued enrollment.

Disqualification Status:

Grade Point Average and/or “Pace of Progression”: After one semester of Financial Aid Warning, students who fail to meet the SAP standards for progress during their Warning semester (see Standards on page 1 and 2) will be placed on Financial Aid Disqualification. Students placed on Financial Aid Disqualification do not receive their federal financial aid (Pell Grants, Loans, SEOG Grants, Federal Work Study) for the semester they are disqualified for. However, students on Financial Aid Disqualification may continue to receive California College Promise Grant (CCPG) – as long as they are meeting the CCPG standards.

Appeal Process Prior to Reaching the Maximum Timeframe: A student placed on Financial Aid Disqualification has the right to submit a financial aid petition prior to reaching the maximum timeframe by the deadlines advertised by the Financial Aid Office. Within two weeks from the time that final grades post for the current semester, all students are notified via myGateway of their financial aid status. Additionally, students on Financial Aid Disqualification are provided information on how to submit a petition. Changing Federal Laws shortening timeframe allowed for aid requires that the Cypress College Financial Aid Office enforce rigorous standards of progress and limits for petitions. Your academic success is expected.

E. Financial Aid Strategies for Satisfactory Academic Progress

  1. You should meet with an academic counselor and develop an educational plan and adhere to it. Reach Online Counseling. The Counseling Center is located on the second Floor of the Student Center.
  2. Do not take excessive non-degree applicable units (i.e. excessive PE courses, non-major courses). The excessive accumulation of units may negatively impact your eligibility when you transfer to higher cost colleges and universities.
  3. Utilize campus resources (Writing Center, Math Learning Center, Learning Resource Center) to help you succeed in English, Math and other remedial courses. Attempting more than 30 units of remedial or non-degree applicable units can have a negative long-term impact on your overall financial aid eligibility if your goal is to receive a bachelor’s degree.
  4. If you are “waiting” for admission to one of Cypress College’s competitive programs (i.e. Health Sciences programs), do not register for classes for financial aid purposes only. The units you attempt count against your long term 90-unit maximum (120-unit maximum at most 4-year institutions). You may actually jeopardize your eligibility once you are admitted to your program if you take excessive pre-requisite courses or non-major related courses.
  5. Be advised! The Cypress College Financial Aid office strongly encourages all students to visit the financial aid websites of their target transfer institutions to review their policies on satisfactory academic progress for financial aid purposes. Many CSU and UC institutions do not allow petitions for maximum time frame and excessive units. Therefore, academic success at Cypress College is essential for maintaining your eligibility at higher cost transfer institutions you may plan on attending.