Satisfactory Academic Progress (Federal)

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the process used to determine if a student is making acceptable progress toward a degree or certificate. At the end of each payment period (semester), a review of a student’s progress is conducted. A student’s failure to meet any of the three Satisfactory Academic Progress standards (for all terms enrolled, not just those terms that aid was received) may result in loss of federal aid eligibility.

An electronic notification detailing the SAP status will be sent to the student’s Buffalo State email address; if unavailable, a hard copy notification will be mailed to the permanent address on file.

All three of the following Satisfactory Academic Progress standards must be met:

  1. Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) - Qualitative Component
    1. A student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 (Buffalo State's GPA only)
  2. Minimum Pace rate for Attempted Credit Hours - Quantitative Component
    1. A student must complete at least two-thirds (66.67%) of all cumulative attempted credit hours.
    2. New freshmen are required to successfully complete at least half (50%) of the credits they attempt during their first two semesters. Starting with their third semester, they are then required to successfully complete two-thirds of their credits.
    3. The following grade designations are considered to be attempted credit hours but are not considered to be successfully completed: I, N, X, W, U, E, EV, and F grades.
    4. All courses removed through the academic clemency process will be counted as attempted credit hours. On a case-by-case basis, academic clemency may be subject to appeal.
    5. Noncredit remedial courses are no longer counted in the Pace calculation. Transfer credit hours posted to the official transcript record will be counted as attempted credit hours.
    6. Transfer credit hours posted to the official transcript record will be counted as attempted credit hours
  3. Maximum Time Frame/Degree Completion within 150 percent of the average Length of the Program - Quantitative Component
    1. Students must complete their first baccalaureate degree within 150 percent of the normal time required to complete a bachelor’s degree. For example, credit hours cannot exceed 180 attempted credit hours for a program with a published length of 120 credit hours.
    2. Federal financial aid eligibility will be terminated when a student has attempted 180 credit hours (for a degree published with a 120 credit hours requirement); there is no waiver of the maximum time frame standard for any reason.
    3. Federal financial eligibility will be terminated when the Financial Aid Office determines it is not mathematically possible for a student to complete his/her degree program within the maximum time frame.
    4. A student pursuing a double major or degree must earn his or her first bachelor’s degree within the 150 percent maximum time frame standard.
    5. A student that completed all coursework required for a major or degree is ineligible for a Pell grant even if an Application for Undergraduate Degree form is not on file.

Students must be accepted into a major before completing 60 credit hours to continue to be eligible for federal aid.

Readmission to the college after an absence does not automatically mean reinstatement of federal aid eligibility.

Repeated Courses

Courses that are repeated to improve a grade are counted as attempted each time they are taken but are only counted as completed once.

Financial Aid Warning

A student who fails to maintain cumulative GPA or meet Pace requirements is placed on Financial Aid Warning as long as it is mathematically possible to recover in one payment period. There is no action required by the student; federal aid eligibility continues for one payment period/semester.

Appeal Process

If the student is still not making satisfactory academic progress after the Financial Aid Warning semester, he or she is ineligible for federal financial aid until the required standard(s) is achieved. Only transcript updates (e.g. grade change; retro-drop; etc.) made within one calendar year from the date the student became ineligible for federal aid will be considered during the appeal process.

A student has a right to appeal the loss of federal financial aid eligibility if mitigating circumstances (events totally beyond the student’s control) existed. All SAP appeals should be submitted through the Academic Standards Office website. To schedule an appointment, or for questions regarding the documentation that must be submitted, students should contact the Academic Standards Office via email at

Financial Aid Probation

A student who fails to maintain the cumulative GPA and/or meet the Pace rate standard is placed on Financial Aid Probation only if the student has successfully appealed. The student will continue to receive federal financial aid for one payment period/semester. The student must meet SAP at the end of the probationary period or comply with the requirements of an Academic Plan (contractual agreement that ensures the student is able to meet overall SAP requirements by a specified point in time).

If the student is still not making Satisfactory Academic Progress or fails to meet the Academic Plan requirements after the probationary period, he or she will become ineligible for federal financial aid until all three SAP standards are successfully met.