Satisfactory Academic Progress

Federal regulations (CFR 668.34) require institutions of higher education to establish, publish, and regularly apply standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for Federal Student Aid (Title IV) eligibility. The purpose of measuring and enforcing SAP standards is to ensure that students who are being supported by Federal Student Aid funds are progressing towards academic program completion in accordance with the institutions’ academic standards with respect to qualitative performance (e.g., GPA) and at a required pace, within a maximum timeframe.  

At each school, the academic affairs/advising office will coordinate with the financial aid office to implement SAP assessments and adjust students’ Federal Student Aid eligibility based on the outcome of these assessments. The University Financial Aid Office will work with each school to implement controls of Federal Student Aid disbursements in compliance with federal regulations. 

An annual review of the regulatory requirements and each school’s SAP policy, as well as of the required academic program data and supporting systems, will be conducted to ensure compliance.

Standards and Requirements

While federal regulations prescribe the framework and minimum standards for SAP, each institution must define and implement its own SAP requirements at the level of each program or school.

Columbia University complies with federal SAP regulations and requires that each of its schools define and implement compliant SAP standards for their academic programs. To be eligible for Federal Student Aid (Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG, Federal Work-Study, Federal Direct/PLUS loan), an otherwise eligible student must meet or exceed the SAP standards set by his or her school or program at the time SAP is assessed.

Each school of Columbia University assesses each student’s academic progress regularly (at the end of each term or end of each academic year) to evaluate their compliance with its SAP policy and to ensure that only students meeting SAP requirements continue to receive Federal Student Aid. Students who are not meeting their program’s SAP standards will be notified by the school as to any implications with respect to Federal Student Aid eligibility, any options available (e.g., appeal), and the required procedures.