Satisfactory Academic Progress & Federal Student Aid

Satisfactory Academic Progress for Federal Student Aid

Whether or not a student has or will ever apply for and receive Federal Student Aid (which currently includes Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loan, Federal Direct GRAD PLUS and Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans) for attendance at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (hereafter referred to South Dakota Mines), the U.S. Department of Education requires the University to establish and implement a policy to measure if a student is making Satisfactory Academic Progress toward the completion of a degree.  Other federal, state, and private agencies may require students to maintain satisfactory academic progress for their aid programs as well.

An evaluation for Federal Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for all students will be completed at the end of the spring semester, or the last semester attended in that academic year, to ensure compliance with the requirements specified below. Therefore, even the academic record of those who have not received Federal Student Aid in the past may impact future eligibility. Failure to meet the following standards will result in financial aid suspension of eligibility for Federal Student Aid.

1. Minimum cumulative grade point average (Qualitative measure)
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS: Federal Regulations require a Cumulative GPA (CGPA) of 2.0 or higher for undergraduate students. The CGPA is calculated based on all South Dakota Mines and transfer undergraduate credit hours, excluding remedial and audited credit hours.
GRADUATE STUDENTS: Generally speaking, graduate students must maintain at least a 3.00 cumulative GPA to remain eligible for Federal Student Aid.

2. Pace of progression for cumulative credits attempted and completed (Quantitative Measures)
In order to maintain satisfactory progress toward the completion of their degree, all students must successfully complete at least 67% (66.67% rounded to 67%) of cumulative attempted credit hours. Attempted credit hours include all hours that would appear on a student’s academic transcript at the end of any given term, including withdrawals, incompletes, all instances of a repeated course(s), remedial coursework, transfer hours and hours attempted even when not receiving Federal Student Aid. Audited coursework is not included. Hours that may have been part of a successful academic amnesty appeal will still be included. Successfully completed hours for both graduate and undergraduate students include grades of A, B, C, D and S. A grade of EX for undergraduate students is also considered successful completion. All other grades would not be considered successful completion. Unless a student is on Financial Aid Probation, at which time their academic record is subject to evaluation at the end of each term of probation standing, evaluation of this quantitative standard will be measured at the end of the spring term.  In addition, graduate students may receive a "grade" of NP (Normal Progress) which will not be changed to their final grade until program completion. As calculated by our system, an NP grade is not considered successful completion.  However, the transcripts for these graduate students are evaluated manually and their system calculated SAP status will be upgraded to Satisfactory as appropriate.

One other note on repeated credit hours; the final repeat of a class (according to the college catalog) is used to determine if a student has met graduation requirements. Any passing grades previously obtained for a repeated course are not used to determine if a student has met graduation requirements. However, when determining the pace of progression percentage for Satisfactory Academic Progress purposes, the cumulative passing grades, even passing grades previously obtained for a repeated course, are used in the percentage calculation numerator, and the cumulative number of attempts is used in the denominator.  Students who have questions on this issue are advised to talk with the Director or Associate Director of Financial Aid.

3. Maximum credits to complete a degree program (Maximum attempted credit hours)

The U.S. Department of Education has established a limit on the number of credit hours a student can attempt and remain eligible for Federal Student Aid (see chart below). This limit is based on 150% of the credit hours needed to complete the degree for which the student is pursuing (see footnote 1). The maximum attempted credit hours at South Dakota Mines are as follows:

Degree Program Max. Credit Hours Attempted
Associate 90 based on 60 hour degree program 1
Bachelors 180 based on 120 hour degree program (non-engineering) 1
Bachelors 195 based on 130 hour degree program (engineering) 1
Masters 45 based on 30 hour degree program (48 for 32 hour non-thesis) 1
PhD 108 or 120 based on 72 or 80 hour degree program 1, 2

1 Unless you have prior academic work from an institution in which not all credits will transfer (such as from one or more of the four technical institutes in South Dakota), all prior attempted academic work (whether or not related to your current degree pursuits at South Dakota Mines) must become part of your academic record at South Dakota Mines and will be figured into the 150% limit.  Students who already have one or more degrees and are pursuing another degree at South Dakota Mines must be able to complete the degree within the stated limits (again, whether or not prior attempted academic work is related to your current degree pursuits at South Dakota Mines) or if that is not possible will receive Federal Student Aid only until such time as they reach the stated limit.  Students who go over the stated limits after the end of the fall semester will be allowed to receive Federal Student Aid for the spring semester as well.  Limited opportunities to appeal the 150% maximum attempted credit hour requirement on a case-by-case basis do exist; students are advised to speak with the Financial Aid Director/Associate Director regarding an appeal.

2 The number of credit hours needed to complete a PhD at South Dakota Mines may or may not be reduced due to credit hours from an MS degree used to meet PhD requirements.  As a result, progress through a PhD program for a recipient of Federal Student Aid will be monitored more closely.


4. Transfer Students
Regardless of which term within an academic year a transfer student starts enrollment at South Dakota Mines, their past academic record may adversely affect their initial eligibility for Federal Student Aid.  Students whose academic record from their prior college or university is such that they do not meet our Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements, will be counseled regarding the option to appeal and will be provided information on other options available to fund their education at South Dakota Mines until such time as they meet our requirements.  They may also be advised to delay their enrollment at South Dakota Mines until such time as they improve (if possible) their academic record at another college or university.


5. Appealing a Financial Aid Suspension
Students who have been determined to be ineligible for Federal Student Aid may complete a Financial Aid Suspension Appeal Form to explain circumstances that were beyond their control (for example the student's serious illness or injury that occurred during the time in which eligibility was lost or the death of an immediate family member which resulted in the student being gone from school for an extended period of time, i.e. two or more weeks) that adversely affected their ability to be academically successful at South Dakota Mines. Students are advised to carefully read the procedures for submitting an appeal listed on the appeal form and submit the requested documentation with their appeal. The academic plan, which must contain what you plan to do differently to be academically successful and the campus resources you are going to take advantage of to make that happen, along with the courses you need to enroll in for the next 12 months that are reasonable and attainable given your past academic performance in order to complete or work toward completing your degree at South Dakota Mines, is required to be reviewed and signed off on by your advisor. If your advisor is not available, you must make the effort to contact your department and arrange to meet with someone else. The academic plan is expected to be developed as a joint effort between the student and the advisor. Failure to abide by the academic plan that is submitted to the Appeal Committee will be grounds for denial of Federal Student Aid for subsequent semesters. Each appeal will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis; therefore, each appeal is evaluated on its own merits or lack thereof. As a result, no appeal is guaranteed to be approved.

To ensure a timely review, appeals for the fall 2020 semester must be received in the Financial Aid Office no later than Friday, July 31, 2020.  Appeals for the spring 2021 semester must be submitted by Friday, December 4, 2020.  The committee generally does not meet to begin reviewing appeals until after each semester's respective due dates.  If your appeal was submitted by the stated deadlines, you will be notified regarding the result of your appeal by e-mail, phone or letter by Friday, August 14, 2020 for the fall 2020 semester and by Tuesday, December 29, 2020 for the spring 2021 semester.

Appeals received after the due dates will be reviewed as soon as possible; however, if your appeal is approved we cannot assure you that your financial aid would be available for either the fall or spring fee payment deadline. As a result, students MUST make other arrangements to pay their account (such as paying their account in full or signing up for the payment plan) via SDePay in Self-Service Banner prior to the start of the semester pending the outcome of their appeal.  In either case, you are encouraged to submit your appeal as soon as possible.

The Appeal Form and all supporting documentation can be dropped off at our office or sent to us by any means listed at the bottom of the Appeal Form (mail, fax, or e-mail).  Based upon the circumstances of an approved appeal, the Appeal Committee reserves the right to place conditions which the student must meet to be considered for financial aid on a probationary basis for subsequent terms. Unless the appeal approval covers what is to be the student's last semester of attendance, the approval letter will indicate the conditions the student must meet to remain eligible for aid for any subsequent semester.  If the student's appeal is approved and they continue to meet probation requirements for subsequent terms, but does not fully reinstate their eligibility, the expected graduation date the student reports on the appeal form will be considered their final semester of eligibility for Federal Student Aid. If the student chooses not to appeal or their appeal is denied, the student must fully meet the SAP requirements before they will be considered for Federal Student Aid again.

6.  Students on Financial Aid Probation while on Cooperative Education Assignment (coop):

Students who are on coop at any time that they are on Financial Aid Probation are expected to have their final coop grade posted before eligibility for Federal Student Aid will be determined for their next semester of attendance.  For example, students on a spring/summer coop are expected to have their final grades posted at least a week, preferably two, prior to the start of the fall semester.  Also, students on a summer/fall coop are expected to have their final grades posted at least one week, preferably two, prior to the start of the spring semester.  Students unable to meet these deadlines must make other arrangements for paying their account until their aid eligibility can be determined.  This may include, but is not limited to, signing up for the payment plan at least a month prior to the start of the appropriate semester or applying for a private alternative loan.


7.  Reinstatement of Financial Aid Eligibility:
Students who have lost their Federal Aid eligibility, but have subsequently met the qualitative and/or quantitative standards as stated above, will have their aid eligibility reinstated. However, regardless of when a student meets the standards, Federal Student Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress is evaluated at the end of the spring term only; reinstatement will be considered effective with the next academic year.

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Always Here to Help

Financial aid is new territory for many students and their parents, and can some times be complex.

Please feel free to contact the South Dakota Mines Financial Aid Office if you have questions or need assistance on financial aid matters.