Satisfactory Academic Progress

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Policy

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used when determining a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid (which includes federal loans and federal Work-Study). At the end of each payment period or semester, a review of the student’s SAP is conducted. A student’s failure to meet SAP standards may result in the loss of federal financial aid eligibility.

Please be advised that SAP Standards are utilized solely to determine federal aid eligibility. All GRS students must abide by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ Academic Standards and Policies.

The GRS minimum standard for Satisfactory Academic Progress for students is:

  • Cumulative Grade Point Average: Maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Minimum Completion Rate: A student must complete at least 75% of all cumulative attempted credit hours in order to be eligible for federal financial aid. The cumulative attempted credit hours include all transfer credits accepted by the University and noted on the academic transcript.
  • Degree Completion Maximum Time Limits: Master’s degrees must be completed within three years and PhD degrees must be completed within seven years after the first registration for that degree (except for periods of authorized leave). In addition, a full-time or certified full-time PhD student who is in good academic standing and who becomes the primary caregiver of an infant or adopted child will receive a one-year extension of their approved time to degree.
  • Petitions for extensions of time to complete degree requirements must be submitted prior to the end of the above limits. Students exceeding these time limits without an approved petition for an extension of time will not be permitted to register.

Financial Aid Warning

A student who fails to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress will be automatically placed on Federal Financial Aid Warning for the next registered semester or payment period.

  • A student will receive an electronic notification to their Boston University email address regarding the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards that must be met by the end of the warning period in order to retain eligibility for future federal financial aid.

SAP Appeal Process

A student who does not meet the minimum requirements for SAP at the end of the Financial Aid Warning period will be ineligible for federal financial aid in the following semester. Electronic notification detailing the appeal process for mitigating circumstances will be sent to the student’s Boston University email address. A student has the right to appeal the loss of financial aid eligibility if mitigating circumstances (events totally beyond the student’s control) occurred during the preceding payment period/semester:

Some examples of appealable circumstances include: serious illness or injury of the student; serious illness, injury, or death of an immediate family member; or being victim of a violent crime or house fire.

The student must submit the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form, letter of appeal, supporting documentation, and an advisor-approved academic plan by the deadline of the last day to drop a course (without a W) for that semester. Appeals received after the deadline can be automatically denied.

  • A student may only submit an appeal for the period directly following their Warning period.
  • Appeals are only granted once per a student’s academic career.
  • A student must be registered for courses during the semester for which they are submitting the appeal. Appeals will not be considered for students who have dropped courses or withdrawn.
  • A student is responsible for all tuition and fee charges at the time the balance is due, even if they are planning to appeal or are waiting for a response from GRS.
  • The decision of the SAP Appeals Committee is final, and students will receive an electronic communication to their University email address regarding the outcome.
  • A student whose appeal has been approved will receive federal financial aid consideration for the current term. At the end of the term, the student’s academic progress will be reviewed again to determine financial aid eligibility for the following semester.
  • A student whose appeal has been denied is not eligible for financial aid until they meet(s) satisfactory academic progress standards. The student may continue to enroll in courses but is responsible for all University charges.

Please note: Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is distinct from Good Academic Standing (Masters, PhD) requirements and the GRS Academic Conduct Code. Please see the relevant Bulletin pages for additional information about those policies.