Satisfactory Academic Progress

In accordance with regulations that govern federal and state financial aid programs, the University of California, Merced is required to establish, publish, and consistently apply reasonable standards for measuring a student's academic progress. Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for students must include a:

  1. Qualitative component (e.g., GPA); and
  2. Quantitative component referred to as the student’s Pace (e.g., percent of units completed); and
  3. Maximum unit/time-frame (e.g., 150% of the published length of the program).

Each component must be cumulative in nature, and must be evaluated by the University at least once per year (at the end of spring term) to certify the student's SAP. Please be aware that these SAP standards are separate and distinct from UC Merced’s policy regarding academic progress set by the Office of the Registrar.  For example, while a student may meet the minimum GPA requirement for academic progress with the Office of the Registrar, they may not meet the financial aid SAP standards below.  Additionally, students who are academically dismissed and then reinstated by the Office of the Registrar, will not have their aid automatically reinstated.  The student will need to submit an appeal to the Financial Aid Office to request a reinstatement of their aid eligibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements?
What else should I know about the Qualitative Measure requirement?
What else should I know about the Quantitative Measure requirement?
What else should I know about the Maximum Unit/Time-Frame requirement?
How do I know if I meet the SAP standards?
How do I submit a Financial Aid SAP appeal?
What happens if my appeal is approved?
What happens if my appeal is denied?
How do my transfer units affect my eligibility?
What if I change my major?
What happens if I repeat a course?
Do remedial courses count in determining Financial Aid SAP?
What happens if I withdraw from classes?


What are the requirements?

Beginning July 1, 2017, the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards listed below apply to all aid applicants at UC Merced, whether or not they received aid for prior coursework. A student's eligibility for all federal, state, and institutional financial aid programs is affected by this policy.

 

Program

UCM Overall GPA

PACE

Maximum Unit Limit

Maximum Time Limit

Undergraduate

2.00

70%

180+ units

12 semesters or 6 years of FTE enrollment

Masters

3.00

70%

150% of the length of the program

6 semesters or 3 years of FTE enrollment

Doctorate

3.00

70%

150% of the length of the program

15 semesters or 7.5 years of FTE enrollment

Note: Students pursuing a double major or second baccalaureate degree will be held to the same standards as all other students.


What else should I know about the Qualitative Measure (i.e., GPA) requirement?

An undergraduate student must maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative University of California grade point average (i.e., average of all terms combined).  Students who fail to meet this requirement will no longer be eligible for financial aid until they either:

  • Make up their SAP deficiency without financial aid (including federal loans, but excluding private alternative loans), or
  • Graduate and begin a new program, or
  • Submit an appeal that is approved. 

What else should I know about the Quantitative Measure (i.e., Pace) requirement?

All undergraduates must complete at least 70 percent of the units attempted each year to keep pace toward graduation.

Student's Pace = UCM Completed Units + Accepted Transfer Units
                           UCM Attempted Units + Accepted Transfer Unit

  • The number of attempted units counted in the formula reflect the units attempted as they appear on the student’s transcript.
  • Units granted for AP and IB coursework are excluded; college level units earned by the student while still enrolled in high school are included.
  • All transfer credits UC Merced accepts toward a student’s program are included in the pace calculation, both as attempted units as well as completed units.
  • Units for the following grades will not be counted as completed units toward meeting the pace requirement for undergraduate students: F (failure), I (incomplete), NP (not pass), U (unsatisfactory), W (withdraw), NR (no grade reported).
  • These pace calculations include all completed and attempted units from the academic year’s summer term.
  • If a student repeats a previously passed course, only the first repeat will apply toward the completed unit count; subsequent repeats will not. This does not apply to courses that are repeatable for credit (i.e. independent study courses).
  • Required remedial courses will count toward the graduate pace requirement.

What else should I know about the Maximum Unit/Time-Frame requirement?

All undergraduate financial aid applicants exceeding the following year limits will be ineligible for financial aid consideration. Students will not be granted additional years of eligibility solely by reason of changing their field of study (major) or pursuing more than one major or a minor. Students are allowed up to six years of financial aid eligibility, depending on their class standing when they are admitted. The initial class level is assigned by the Office of Admissions, based on transfer credits accepted, including Advanced Placement units.

  • Terms in which the student withdraws are counted toward a student’s maximum year limit.
  • Terms in which the student did not receive aid are counted toward the maximum year limit.
  • Maximum Time-frame measure also includes all of the bulleted items under the Pace Requirement section.

GRADE LEVEL AT ENTRANCE:

YEARS OF ELIGIBILITY USED:

Units Accepted for Transfer at Entrance

Academic Year Standing

0-29 transfer units

1

30-59 transfer units

2

60-89 transfer units

3

90-119 transfer units

4

120+ transfer units

4+

 

ACADEMIC YEAR STANDING

YEARS NEEDED TO COMPLETE DEGREE

YEARS OF REMAINING AID ELIGIBILITY (150%)

1

4

6 years

2

3

4.5 years

3

2

3 years

4+

1

1.5 years

 

  • Every term in which the student is enrolled with official part-time status is counted as a quarter-year of eligibility used.
  • Summer terms attended are counted when determining if a student has reached the maximum year limit. If a student attempts more than 9 units in summer, he/she will have used one half-year of eligibility. If a student attempts 9 or fewer units in summer, he/she will have used one quarter-year of eligibility.
  • Accepted transfer units taken between (non-concurrent) enrollment at UC Merced will be added to the total number of transfer units the student has and will be used to determine remaining years of eligibility.
  • Units taken while concurrently enrolled at UC Merced do not count as a separate year of eligibility.
  • Students acquiring a second bachelor’s degree will have up to two years of eligibility.
  • Title IV financial aid eligibility (no institutional aid will be awarded), not to exceed eight years (six years of Title IV eligibility for the first bachelor’s and an additional two for the second bachelor’s).

How do I know if I meet the SAP standards?

If a student fails to maintain satisfactory academic progress, he/she will be notified that they are no longer eligible for financial aid beginning with the term immediately following the term the SAP requirements were not met.  Because SAP is monitored annually at the end of the spring term, the first term of ineligibility will typically be the following summer or fall term.

Eligibility for continued financial aid will only be re-established if the student subsequently meets the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements; or the student successfully appeals and his or her aid is reinstated.


How do I submit a Financial Aid SAP Appeal?

Appeals are only accepted one time per year, at the end of spring semester (typically in mid-May).  The Financial Aid SAP Appeal deadline is June 30th.  The appeal form is available online and instructions are sent to all students who do not meet the Financial Aid SAP standards.

All appeals must state the reason(s) for failing to meet the Financial Aid SAP requirements. Students must demonstrate some type of extenuating circumstances during the term(s) in question that hindered academic performance, such as prolonged hospitalization, death or extreme sickness in the family, etc. Supporting documentation of these extenuating circumstances must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship once the appeal has been submitted electronically.

Students must submit, as part of the appeal, information regarding what has changed that would prevent a recurrence and would now allow them to reestablish the satisfactory academic requirements by the conclusion of the outlined time frame.

As part of the appeal, students must propose how they will make up their deficiencies:

  • If deficient in units, what they will do to ensure they pass the minimum number of units the following academic year to meet the minimum unit or pace requirements by the conclusion of the plan;
  • If deficient in GPA, the minimum GPA required for each future term to eventually meet the minimum cumulative GPA requirement by the conclusion of the plan;
  • If maximum number of terms of eligibility has been reached, the number of additional future terms required to complete degree requirements.

In all circumstances, students must report which future terms of enrollment will be required to complete any and all academic deficiencies.

Academic advisers will review and suggest academic plans for each appeal submitted. By suggesting a plan, an adviser ensures that, if followed, the plan will permit the student to meet the Financial Aid SAP requirements at the end of the plan’s duration.

Students cannot apply retroactively for aid eligibility for a term that has ended. Deadline dates for each term are published annually on the financial aid website. Appeals will only be considered once per academic year for all students notified that they must complete the appeal process.  If students notified, do not meet the appeal deadline, they can submit a request in writing to the Office Financial Aid and Scholarships for consideration of a late appeal.  Once received by the aid office, the appeal is reviewed for completeness.

Applications will be considered incomplete until satisfactory documentation is received. An email is sent to the student with instructions to submit the documentation to the OFAS. Once accepted, appeals will be evaluated by the Financial Aid Appeal Committee.


What happens if my appeal is approved?

If the appeal is approved, students will be sent an email notifying them to log into their Financial Aid SAP Appeal to view and accept the terms and conditions of their appeal.  Note: if the terms and conditions are not accepted a student’s financial aid will not disburse.

A student who has financial aid eligibility reinstated as the result of an appeal is placed on Financial Aid SAP probation and becomes subject to the terms of an academic plan.  All work performed to regain eligibility under this Financial Aid SAP policy must be completed at UC Merced.

The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships (OFAS) will evaluate whether the student is adhering to the plan on a term-by-term basis. If the student has made up all deficiencies, he or she will no longer be considered on probation and instead will be considered an eligible student meeting the Financial Aid SAP requirements.


What happens if my appeal is denied?

If the appeal is denied, the student will be informed via email letter that the decision is final and no subsequent review of the appeal will be permitted. Note: the only exception is if, while on an Academic Plan, the student has a circumstance beyond their control that has prevented them from meeting the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal requirements. In this case, the student would need to submit a re-appeal in writing with documentation to the Financial Aid Office.

Students whose appeals have been denied may have their eligibility reinstated if they:

  • Make up their SAP deficiency without financial aid (including federal loans, but excluding private alternative loans), or
  • Graduate and begin a new program.

How do my transfer units effect my eligibility?
The government requires that all units accepted for transfer MUST be considered in determining Pace within the 150% maximum time frame, whether or not the student received prior financial aid and/or completed the coursework.  Accepted transfer units taken between (non-concurrent) enrollment at UC Merced will be added to the total number of transfer units the student has and will be used to determine remaining years of eligibility.


What if I change my major?
When considering a change in major, it is the responsibility of the student to be aware of the financial aid Maximum Time and Unit Limits.


What happens if I repeat a course?
Federal student aid regulation limits the number of times a student may repeat a course and receive financial aid for that course.

If a student repeats a previously passed course, only the first repeat will apply toward the completed unit count; subsequent repeats will not. This does not apply to courses that are repeatable for credit (i.e. independent study courses).


Do remedial courses count in determining Financial Aid SAP?
Yes. All units will be used in calculating the Pace and maximum unit/time limit.


What happens if I withdraw from classes?
When determining Satisfactory Academic Progress, a student's attempted units is determined by the institution as of Census Day. Therefore, a student's Pace will be negatively impacted if the student withdraws from classes after Census Day (i.e., they will have attempted units for the term, but no earned units).

Note: financial aid may be cancelled for students who exhibit a multi- term trend of receiving aid and then withdrawing prior to Census Day.

For more information on withdrawal calculations, please refer to our Withdrawal policy.