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Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Learn About SAP

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) indicates the successful completion of coursework towards a degree or certificate.

  • According to federal regulations, students who fail to make satisfactory academic progress towards their degree or certificate will lose their eligibility to receive Federal Student Aid (FSA).
  • This regulation applies to all students applying for financial aid, including those that have not previously received financial aid.
  • During the evaluation where a student has failed to meet SAP, they may qualify for a “warning” semester during which they may retain their eligibility to receive FSA.
  • Students who lose their aid eligibility may appeal the loss provided there are extenuating circumstances that inhibited their academic progress (i.e. student illness or injury, death of a relative.)
  • Students who submit an appeal must provide:
    • A statement that explains the extenuating circumstance under which the student failed to meet SAP and what has changed that will allow the student to either meet SAP or the requirements of the academic plan.
    • Documentation that confirms the extenuating circumstances and date(s) during which it occurred.
  • If an appeal is approved, the student’s FSA eligibility is reinstated for one probationary semester.
  • If extenuating circumstances do not exist, students may take classes to demonstrate improvement for a future appeal, but they cannot receive FSA to pay for those classes.
  • To otherwise restore eligibility for FSA, students must achieve the GPA and credit hour completion targets as defined in the policy.

SAP is evaluated based on grades posted at the end of each semester and prior to the beginning of the upcoming semester (defined as a 16-week period of academic study).

  • The criteria used to measure Satisfactory Academic Progress:
    • Cumulative grade point average (qualitative)
    • Credit hour completion/Program Pace (quantitative)
  • The requirements of each criterion must be met and are described in detail below


  • Cumulative GPA is the qualitative measure of SAP, meaning that it looks at the quality of the grades that each student earns in their courses.
  • Cumulative GPA is calculated after 6 undergraduate credits or 6 graduate credits are completed at APUS.
  • Evaluation thereafter occurs in the segments listed in the table below. Only credits completed at APUS with a final grade of A through F are included in the CGPA calculation.
  • If a failed course is retaken, the later grade will replace the failed grade and factor into the CGPA.
  • To meet SAP requirements, students must maintain a CGPA that meets or exceeds our minimum as shown in the chart below.
  • Students who fail to meet CGPA requirements also fail to meet SAP requirements and will be denied Federal Student Aid.

SAP Criteria on Cumulative GPA (CGPA) and Credits Completed

  Total Credits Completed
(including transferred credits*)
Minimum CGPA Required
for Financial Aid
Undergraduate Students 6-12 1.50
  13+ 2.00
Masters and Graduate Certificate Students** 6-8 2.50
  9+ 3.00
RN to MSN 6-8 2.50
  9+ 3.00
Doctoral Students 6+ 3.00

*Credits transferred in from another college or university via an official Transfer Credit Evaluation are factored into the calculation of how many credits a student has completed in determining the minimum Cumulative GPA threshold from the chart.

Credit hour completion is the quantitative measure of SAP, meaning that students must complete a certain percentage of courses to maintain eligibility for Federal Student Aid. Each academic program within our university system has a defined number of credit hours required for completion. To maintain SAP, students must achieve a minimum percentage of credits earned versus credits attempted

  • A student must complete their program within 150% of the published credits.
  • Any course in which the student remains beyond Week One (add/drop) will count towards attempted courses regardless of the grade received.
  • Undergraduate courses with a final undergraduate grade of A through D- will be counted towards credits attempted and completed.
  • Graduate courses with a final grade of A through C will be counted towards credits attempted and completed.
  • Doctoral courses with a final grade of Satisfactory (S) will be counted towards credits attempted and completed.
  • Doctoral courses with a final grade of Unsatisfactory (U) are not counted as credits completed but will be considered credits attempted. 
  • Final grades that fall below the minimums (D- for undergraduates and C for graduates) are not counted as credits completed but will be considered credits attempted.
  • Courses with grades of incomplete (“I”) will not be considered attempted until a final grade is earned by the student or the Registrar or instructor converts the “I” grade to an “F”
  • Courses from which a student has withdrawn will be counted towards credits attempted.
  • Courses dropped will not be counted towards credits attempted.
  •  Course retakes: All attempted courses are factored into the credit hour completion percentage.
  •  Remedial courses do not count towards attempted credits.
  •  Repeated courses will count as attempted courses.
  • For students who change programs, credits that apply to the new program will be counted in credit hour completion and program pace.

Note: All students are required to log into each of their courses during Week One and submit an academic activity. Students who do not submit this assignment during the first week of class will be administratively dropped from any courses for which this assignment has not been completed.

SAP Criteria Based on Credits Attempted versus Credits Completed

  Credits Attempted Credits Completed %
Undergraduate Students 6-12 50%
  13-24 60%
  25-36 65%
  37+ 67%
Masters and Graduate Certificate Students 6-9 50%
  10-18 60%
  19+ 67%
RN to MSN 6-9 50%
  10-18 60%
  19+ 67%
Doctoral Students 6-9 67%
  10+ 75%

*Credits transferred from another college or university are included in determining the credits completed percentage for the quantitative measure - completed hours divided by attempted hours. Likewise, the total of APUS and transfer credits that a student has from another college or university will factored into determining where they fall on the chart above.

Example 1: A student registers for 12 credits as an undergraduate student at APUS. The student also has 12 transfer credits from College A. At the end of the semester, here are the grades for the student:

Courses Attempted Grades
Course 1 (3 credits) W
Course 2 (3 credits) F
Course 3 (3 credits) B
Course 4 (3 credits) C
  • This student has attempted 12 credits at APUS, but has only successfully completed 6 of those credits (Course 3 and Course 4).
  • The credits completed at APUS would be added to the credits transferred (6 credits plus 12 credits), and the credits attempted at APUS would be added to the credits transferred (12 credits plus 12 credits).
  • The credits completed percentage would be 75% (18 completed hours divided by 24 attempted hours).
  • The next step is to look at the chart above and determine what percentage is needed to make SAP.
  • You then find where 24 credits attempted falls on the chart above, and you will see that the student needs to have completed 60% of their courses to make SAP.
  • In this example, the student is making SAP and will be eligible for their Federal Student Aid.