Policies and Procedures

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Academic Eligibility Guidelines for Financial Assistance Recipients

Updated Policy as of May 2012

The U.S. Department of Education requires the college to establish standards and monitor the academic progress of students receiving Title IV federal financial assistance. Persons receiving any form of Federal, state of Maryland or College financial assistance must meet all 3 of the following standards:

1. Maximum time frame: Persons receiving financial assistance must not exceed the maximum time frame for completion of a program of study, which is 150 percent of the length of the student's program. Credits transferred in from other institutions and credits that are not required for the student's current program of study are also included in the eligibility calculations. Maximum number of credits, by program type:

  • Associate Degree Completion: Within 90 attempted credits (may vary by program of study)
  • Certificate of Completion: Within 45 attempted credits (may vary by program of study)

Students must complete associate degree requirements within a maximum time frame of eight semesters as a full-time student; 11 semesters as a three-quarter-time student; or 16 semesters as a half-time student (four, five, and eight semesters, respectively, for certificate programs). NOTE: Students changing academic programs while receiving financial assistance, should be aware that under the financial assistance policy, all attempted and completed credits will be included in the eligibility calculations, not just the credits from your current program of study.

2. Completion Percentage:  Students must successfully complete 67 percent of all attempted credits included on their CSM transcript.  Credits transferred in from other institutions, repeated courses, and credits that are not required for the student's current program of study are also included in the eligibility calculations.

3. Cumulative G.P.A.:  Based on the number of credits attempted, students must meet the required minimum cumulative grade average (GPA), according to the chart below. Successful completion means a grade of A, B, C, D, or P. Audited classes do not count toward your enrollment status for financial assistance purposes. All attempted credits are factored into the CSM Financial Aid GPA. Please note, for academic standing towards graduation, only the last attempted course grade is factored into the student's GPA, all attempted credits and grades are factored into the Financial Aid GPA.

0 to 5 credits N/A67%
 6 to 18 credits1.5067%
 19 to 31 credits1.7567%
 32 to 44 credits1.8567%
45 or more credits 2.0067%

The student must have at least a 2.00 cumulative grade point average (GPA) at the end of his/her 44th attempted credit and after each subsequent credit attempted. 

The student's academic record will be evaluated once each academic year he/she is enrolled in an Associates Program and after each semester if enrolled in a Certificate Program. The student's cumulative record will be used to determine satisfactory progress, not just the most recently completed semester. Semesters during which the student did not receive financial assistance will also be considered in determining satisfactory progress. If the student does not meet the minimum standards outlined above, his/her eligibility for financial assistance will be terminated.

Financial assistance termination means the loss of scholarship, grant, loan or work-study eligibility until conditions for reinstatement of eligibility are met.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Example:

Susan, a freshman at the college, attended full-time (12 credits per semester) during the past academic year.  Her courses appear on her transcript as follows:

FALL 2015
CourseCreditsGradeCourseCredits Grade
MTH 09003*PMTH 10003WD
ENG 10103BENG 10203D
PSY 10103FCOM 10103C
CHE 10003WDPSY 10103AU

*equivalent credit

Susan's Cumulative GPA at the end of Spring 2016 is 1.50.

Thus far in her studies at the college, Susan has attempted 24 credits (12 in the Fall plus 12 in the Spring).  Of those 24 attempted, Susan has successfully completed (received a grade of A, B, C, D, or P) 12 credits.  To calculate her completion percentage, Susan does the following division calculation:

           12 credits completed  =   50 percent Completion percentage
           24 credits attempted

Susan has not met the minimum GPA requirement of 1.75 based on 24 credits attempted and she has not met the minimum completion percentage requirement of 67 percent, and would therefore be considered to be making unsatisfactory academic progress.  Susan would be ineligible to receive further financial assistance until she increased her completion percentage to 67 percent or higher and raised her cumulative GPA to the minimum standards based on the total number of attempted credits.

Appeal and Reinstatement

A student whose academic progress has been deemed unsatisfactory may appeal that determination for not meeting the 67% or minimum GPA requirements only. Documentation of mitigating circumstances claimed by the student may be required. In order to obtain the necessary appeal forms you will need to consult with a Financial Assistance Department Advisor.  Alternatively, you can download a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form here

Students that have appeals that are approved may be required to meet with a CSM Academic Advisor to complete an Academic Success Plan before financial aid eligibility is restored.

Students placed on financial assistance suspension may request reinstatement of financial assistance eligibility in writing (such as email) if they have regained both the required 67 percent credits attempted vs. credits earned ratio and/or have regained the required minimum cumulative GPA. This correspondence is sent to the Financial Assistance Department.


Effect of Transfer Credits, Course Withdrawals, Audits, Incompletes, Repetitions, Academic Clemency, or Non-Credit Developmental Courses on Satisfactory Progress

Transfer Credits:

Any credits that have been transferred in from other institutions will be included in financial aid eligibility calculations. This means that transfer credits will be included in maximum time frame and successful completion percentage calculations. Since transfer credit grades are not included in a CSM transcript, transfer credits will not be included in the G.P.A. calculations.

Withdrawals ("WD" grade):

Withdrawal from a course will be considered unsatisfactory completion of that course, unless, on appeal, there are judged to be mitigating circumstances.

Audited Classes ("AU" grade):

Financial assistance will not pay for Audited ClassesAudited classes are counted toward a student's total number of attempted credits and do count toward the student's completion rate.

Incompletes ("I" grade):

An incomplete grade will be considered unsatisfactory completion of that course. If the student satisfactorily completes all outstanding work to make up the incomplete grade and later receives a satisfactory grade, the student's financial assistance status will be re-evaluated accordingly.

Course Repetition:

Since repeating a course causes the recalculation of the grade average and credits earned on a student's transcript, it may also necessitate the re-evaluation of a student's satisfactory progress. However, repeated courses should not lengthen a student's program of study beyond the maximum timeframe for completion of that program.

Academic Clemency ("AC" grade):

When the college calculates satisfactory academic progress, it includes all grades/classes and does nothing special for academic clemency (AC).  Example:

Official CSM transcript has 18 credits, 6 are AC.  The official CSM GPA is determined based on 12 credits, the SAP is calculated on all 18 credits attempted, which includes the 6 credits that are marked AC.

Non-credit Developmental Courses:

Developmental courses will be considered in the same way as any other courses (using their credit equivalencies) in calculating satisfactory progress. Students may not receive financial assistance for more than 30 equivalent credits of developmental courses.