Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

William D Ford Federal Direct Loan Program -Standards for Participation in the Title IV, HEA Programs (34C.F.R.668, Subpart B)

The University is required to establish a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy in accordance with U.S. Department of Education regulations. Student eligibility for U.S. Federal Loans is dependent on meeting SAP standards. Student records are reviewed at the start of each payment period to ensure they are making adequate progress toward completing their degree programmes.

SAP Definition

A student is making SAP when they are enrolled at least part-time; attending at least 50% of scheduled classes; progressing on all modules; and expected to pass exams and coursework submitted. Students must also be studying outside the USA and completing within 150% of the published length of their programme.

Qualitative and quantitative SAP standards are reviewed at the end of each payment period.

Confirming SAP

Students are responsible for submitting their completed SAP form and attendance record to International Student Support (ISS) at the end of each payment period/term (twice annually for undergraduates and three times annually for postgraduates).

SAP and attendance forms must be submitted to ISS 2 weeks before each disbursement date to ensure funds are requested from the U.S. Department of Education on time. It will be assumed that students are not making satisfactory progress if these forms are not submitted before the disbursement date. Students not making satisfactory progress will be put on Financial Aid Warning status for the next payment period. Students who fail to submit a SAP form on time for the next payment period may lose their federal loan eligibility. SAP and attendance forms can be requested by contacting the U.S. loans administrator at

Qualitative and Quantitative SAP Standards

Academic Progress

US Federal requirements state that borrowers must average ‘C’ grade or above – in programmes of more than two academic years, the student must have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least a C or its equivalent – or have academic standing consistent with the University’s requirements for graduation.  In the UK system, this equates to a minimum of at least 45%, which is slightly above the pass mark for undergraduate students. The pass mark for taught Masters students to progress to their Masters dissertations is 50%.

Pace of Progression

A students pace of progression will be measured prior to loan disbursement to ensure that each student completes within maximum time frame. The  maximum time frame is 150% of the published length of the programme, e.g: 4.5 years for a 3 year BA or 1.5 years for a 1 year MA. 

  • A students pace of progression can be affected by; incompletes, withdrawals and repetitions.
  • A postgraduate programme extension must be agreed by the academic school but must still be completed within 150% of the published length of the programme. 
  • Students will not be eligible for loans to support study outside these maximum periods.

Enrolment and Attendnace

Students must be enrolled at least part-time and attend at least 50% of scheduled classes. If a student leaves their programme of study, even temporarily, or fails to maintain SAP, they may have to repay part, or all, of their loan.

Responsibility lies with the student to inform both their University School and the US Federal Loans Administrator immediately there is any change to their circumstances (e.g. temporary or permanent withdrawal, leave of absence or extension). This is important in order to assess the impact on SAP and any impact re Return of Title IV Funds.

To support enrolment reporting to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), intermittent reports are drawn down from Queen’s Student Information System (QSIS) to identify any changes to enrolment or programme.   

Students not making SAP

At the time of determination that the SAP requirement has not been met, the student will be put on Financial Aid Warning status for the next payment period. The student will continue to be eligible to receive funding during that period.

Students who fail to make SAP after the warning period will lose their federal loan eligibility unless they successfully appeal with an academic plan and are then placed on Financial Aid Proba­tion. After an appeal has been approved, the student will continue to be eligible to receive funding during Financial Aid Proba­tion (one payment period).


Appeals can only be based on exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances are defined as unforeseen factors or factors outside the student’s control which may adversely affect performance. Please see the General Guidelines for School Exceptional Circumstances within The University's General Regulations for further detail.

All appeals must be received within ten days of receipt of the SAP failure notice and include supporting documentation (e.g. doctors’ certificate, academic plan). All appeals must explain why you failed to make SAP and what has changed that will allow you to make SAP at the next evaluation. Your appeal must also include an academic plan.

The result of the appeal will be confirmed within ten days of receipt of the appeal. Subsequent loan disbursements will be suspended while an appeal is being processed. Each student is only permitted to appeal once during an academic year.

Academic Plan

Students must develop a plan with their school supervisor/tutor/manager. The plan must ensure that the stu­dent is able to meet the SAP by a specific time, or take the student to successful programme completion.

SAP will be reviewed at the end of the payment period to determine if the student is meeting the requirements of the academic plan. Once SAP is re-established, the Probation status will be lifted and the student will once again be eligible to receive assistance under the Title IV programme. If SAP has not been achieved at the end of the Probation period, the student's loans will be terminated.

Students will be kept informed of all issues impacting on their eligibility status.

SAP Appeal Form

2017-18 Payment Periods

Payment Period 1. 25/09/2017 - 07/01/2018

Payment Period 2. 08/01/2018 - 01/06/2018

Payment Period 3. 02/06/2018 - 24/09/2018

Treatment of Withdrawal

Any American student with loans is strongly advised to contact the US Federal Loans Administrator for advice before considering withdrawal as some of the funds paid to the student may have to be immediately repaid to the US Department of Education – the Return of Title IV Funds section of the University’s US Federal Loans website provides details of the student/University liability. Failure to immediately repay this money is a Federal Offence.

  • Please see the University's Student Finance Framework for details on tuition fee liability for withdrawals. 
  • Refunds will not be applied for modules where a student has received a grade. This is set out within the University’s General Regulations and information on how to withdraw/apply for leave of absence is set out here.

Please Note: The University does not have the right to waive the SAP requirement for any student and it is separate from the academic requirements to remain on the course.