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Satisfactory Academic Progress

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (FASAP) Standards

Effective beginning Fall 2011
Updated April 2023

Federal regulations require the Financial Aid Office to establish and apply reasonable standards of satisfactory progress for the purpose of the receipt of financial assistance under the programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The law requires institutions to develop policies regarding satisfactory academic progress (SAP). USC Palmetto College campus students who wish to be considered for financial aid must maintain satisfactory progress in their selected course of study as set forth in this policy. Students are evaluated based on three criteria: grade point average (GPA), credit hour completion rate (CHCR), and maximum time frame limitation (MAXHRS). 

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Students must maintain a minimum cumulative USC GPA of 2.0 to be making satisfactory academic progress for financial aid.

Credit Hour Completion Rate (CHCR)

Students must complete with a passing grade 67 percent of all credit hours attempted to remain eligible for Financial Aid. Grades of A, B, C, D, and S count as attempted and earned credit hours. If a student is enrolled in an audit course (AUD), they will not receive financial aid for that class. Grades of F, I, NR, U, W, and WF count as attempted but not earned credit hours and will negatively impact the percentage of completion. For an example, see the table below. 

Hour Attempted Required % Completion Must Earn
30 67% 20
24 67% 16
19 67% 13
15 67% 10

Maximum Time Frame Limitations (MAXHRS)

The maximum time limit for a student to receive financial aid is 150 percent of the published program length. The published program lengths for Associate degree programs at the USC Palmetto College campuses are 60 credit hours and bachelor’s degree programs are 120 credit hours. If a student meets or exceeds 90 attempted hours for an Associate degree or 180 attempted hours for a bachelor’s degree, they will be placed on unsatisfactory progress due to the maximum time frame. All grades count as attempted hours.   Please note that effective July 1, 2011, federal regulation stipulates that any student who cannot complete their remaining courses within the 150 percent time frame will be ineligible at the time the calculation is made.

For students who are seeking an Associate degree, their academic record will be assessed once the student has attempted 75 credit hours to ensure that they can complete the degree within the maximum time frame limit. This assessment will occur during the fall and spring semesters. At any point during the academic year, if the sum of the two items listed below exceeds 90 credits, the student will be deemed ineligible to receive federal, state, and private educational loan funds.

  • The number of credits attempted (includes all credits: earned, failed, transfer hours accepted, incompletes, and withdrawals)
  • The number of credits in which the student is currently enrolled
  • The number of remaining credits needed to complete the degree

For students who are seeking a bachelor’s degree, their academic record will be assessed once the student has attempted 165 credit hours to ensure that they can complete the degree within the maximum time frame limit. This assessment will occur during the fall and spring semesters. At any point during the academic year, if the sum of the two items listed below exceeds 180 credits, the student will be deemed ineligible to receive federal, state, and private educational loan funds.

  • The number of credits attempted (includes all credits: earned, failed, transfer hours accepted, incompletes, and withdrawals) 
  • The number of credits in which the student is currently enrolled
  • The number of remaining credits needed to complete the degree

If the student exceeds the maximum time frame or it is determined that the student cannot complete the degree within the maximum time frame, the student’s financial aid will be cancelled immediately, and student will need to complete the FASAP appeal process. 

Evaluation of Financial Aid Eligibility

  • Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) are reviewed annually after grades are posted in spring semester.  If a student attends summer school, they will also be reviewed at the end of the summer session(s).  Students whose records are not reviewed at the end of spring or summer, will be reviewed when they submit the FAFSA for the current or upcoming year
  • SAP standards are calculated using the cumulative GPA and cumulative completion rate. Students must maintain an overall GPA of 2.0 or higher and a completion rate of 67 percent or more.
  • Students will be placed on financial aid suspension if they have not met the standards of satisfactory academic progress. Students will be ineligible for aid during the suspension. Students will need to raise their GPA and/or completion rate to meet the minimum SAP requirements to regain financial aid eligibility or appeal their financial aid suspension, if applicable. (see Appeal Process)
  • The evaluation period will be based on attendance in all prior semester(s) and will include all classes attempted whether federal aid was received or not. The initial evaluation will be based on all previous institutions attended once the transcripts are received, evaluated, and posted to the student’s record. The student’s cumulative GPA and completion ratio must meet the minimum standards or the student will be placed on suspension.
  • Credits evaluated will include credits attempted at USC, transfer credits accepted by USC, and courses funded through consortium agreement.
  • Students who have attempted more than 150 percent of the credits required for their program of study are not considered to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress and therefore, are ineligible for financial aid funds.
  • Students seeking second degrees and students with double majors are monitored like any other students under this policy. If or when the student exceeds the maximum time frame allowed for their respective programs, students may appeal if they have mitigating circumstances. All transfer hours accepted by USC will be included when determining maximum timeframe eligibility.
  • Students on a Financial Aid Eligibility Progress Plan (FAEPP) will be evaluated according to the terms of the appeal and/or plan.
  • Students who do not meet the Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress will be notified in writing.
  • Students may follow the appeal process or as outlined in the appeals section. Students will not have eligibility for any further federal aid until they have met Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress or have been granted an appeal approval.  

FASAP Additional Policies

SAP Academic Year -The academic year for financial aid satisfactory academic progress is comprised of the fall, spring and summer sessions. 

Consistent Applications - Federal regulation requires all students, including those students not currently receiving any financial aid, to be evaluated and notified of eligibility status based on financial aid SAP standards.

Academic Forgiveness - Financial Aid regulations do not have a provision for academic forgiveness; therefore, all credits and grades removed for academic forgiveness must be used to calculate financial aid SAP standards.

Transfer Hours and GPA - Transfer course completion rate, minimum GPA, and maximum time frame requirements will be evaluated for satisfactory academic progress based on the transfer credits and grades accepted by USC at the time of acceptance.

Withdrawals -

    • Students who officially withdraw from the University are required to continue to meet the course completion rate, minimum GPA, and maximum time frame.
    • Students who unofficially withdraw from the University, or if the only grade received is an F, then the student must appeal to have financial aid reinstated.
    • Please be aware the University has a policy regarding the repayment of financial aid due to withdrawing.


Incomplete Grades - Hours for which an incomplete grade is received will count toward attempted but not earned hours in the calculation of the course completion rate.  The final grade for the incomplete hours will be calculated into the GPA when the course is graded. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office when the course is graded.

Repeated Coursework -All hours attempted (original and repeated) will count toward the completion rate and maximum time frame.  Only grades counted by the Records Office will count in the cumulative GPA for financial aid purposes.

Developmental/Remedial Coursework - Federal regulation limits the number of developmental credits covered by financial aid funds to 30 hours.  Developmental/remedial coursework will count towards the credit hour completion rate. 

Pass/Fail Coursework - Students who take pass/fail courses will receive a grade of S or U. A pass/fail grade of S will be included in hours attempted and earned. A pass/fail grade of U will be included in hours attempted but not hours earned. Pass/fail grades will not be included in the calculation of the GPA. 

Double/Change Major(s)  - The Satisfactory Academic Progress policy does not allow the university to increase the Maximum Time Frame of attempted hours due to double majors or a change in major.  Student will have to appeal if exceed maximum time frame.

Second Degrees - A student may receive financial aid to earn a second degree so long as he or she completes the second degree within the 150 percent maximum time frame (210 total attempted credit hours combined for all undergraduate degrees).The student must also include an advisor-signed Graduation Plan for review.

Academic Plan - If a student has a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal approved and it is NOT possible for them to maintain the required Course Completion Rate and GPA to maintain an SAP after one semester of enrollment, they will be placed on a SAP Academic Plan.  If the student fails to meet the conditions of the academic plan the student is ineligible to receive aid.

Financial Aid Programs Covered by these Standards

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Work-Study
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • Federal Direct Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized) 
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loans
  • Private Educational Loans
  • South Carolina Teacher Loan Program
  • South Carolina State Need-based Grant
  • South Carolina LIFE Scholarship
  • South Carolina Palmetto Fellows Scholarship
  • South Carolina Lottery Tuition Assistance Program
  • Other federal or state programs as required

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (FASAP) Statuses 

1. FASAP Good Standing - The student is meeting all the FASAP criteria.

2. FASAP Academic Plan - The student’s appeal for FASAP reviewed and approved.  Approvals are granted for one semester at a time.  At the end of each semester, the Financial Aid Office will review the student’s record to determine the following: 

  • Is the student is meeting all FASAP standard; or, 
  • Is the student successfully completing the requirements of their academic plan. 

If the student is not meeting one of the above conditions, the student status will return to suspension status.

3. FASAP Graduation Plan – Student's appeal for FASAP reviewed and approved and time frame provided for graduation.  At the end of each semester the student is reviewed to determine if progressing based on the plan.

4. FASAP Suspension - Students who fail to meet any of the FASAP criteria, singularly or in any combination, will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension (FASUSP) from the time of the status calculation until the next calculation period (end of spring term).  Any student, who is on FASUSP, will have their financial aid suspended until a time when they have successfully met all FASAP criteria and have been placed back into Good Standing at the next calculation period (end of spring term).

If you have mitigating circumstances that have caused you to be placed into this category, such as major illness, death in family or other tragic event AND you can provide corresponding evidence you may submit an appeal.

Notification of Status and Right to Appeal

Students will be notified in writing of changes to their FASAP status and any appeal decisions. 

If a student is not in Good Standing, then the student must bring their academic progress back into compliance or have an appeal approved to have their aid reinstated.  Paying out of pocket for classes or sitting out a semester is not grounds for reinstatement of aid.   

A student whose appeal has been approved will be placed into a Financial Aid Eligibility Progress Plan (Academic or Graduation) status for the following semester of enrollment. The appeal approval notification may list restrictions or requirements that the student must follow.  Failure to follow restrictions or requirements may result in immediate forfeiture of financial aid. 

FASAP Appeal Process

A student who loses their financial aid eligibility due to extenuating circumstance may appeal. Extenuating circumstances that may be considered include personal illness or accident, serious illness or death within the student’s immediate family, or other circumstances beyond the student’s reasonable control. 

Students appealing their Satisfactory Academic Progress status are required to submit an appeal packet for review. The appeal packet MUST contain the following items and information: 

  1. An appeal statement that must: 
    1. Be typed, no handwritten appeals accepted. 
    2. State what caused the student to fail the SAP policy, and  
    3. State what corrective action/steps the student has taken to maintain SAP by the next evaluation period. 
  2. Provide supporting documentation. Examples of documentation could include:
    1. Newspaper obituaries or death certificates to substantiate deaths. 
    2. Physician’s written statement to substantiate illness or accident. 
    3. Written statement from clergy, family member, or other third party who knows the student’s situation. 
    4. Written statement from academic advisor or professor.  
  3. Academic Plan – you must sit down with an academic advisor and develop an academic plan that includes all courses required for your major, those courses that have been successfully completed and all remaining coursework.
    1. The Academic plan must be signed by the student and advisor.
    2. Future SAP determinations will be based upon the Academic Plan so any change in this plan must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office prior to the determination date (end of the spring semester). 
    3. Transfer hours will be considered in determining successful completion of SAP.


4. Graduation Plan- if the student is exceeding the maximum time frame, then he or she must submit a graduation plan with their appeal packet. This graduation plan should consist of the classes and number of hours left to graduate as well as the signature of the student’s advisor. 

The Committee will not review cases arising from poor academic and social choices made by student or “the need” to have financial aid to continue as a student. Your appeal will be deemed incomplete if it does not address all the items listed above.  Incomplete appeals will not be forwarded to committee for review but returned to the student. 

SAP Appeal Review Process

The outcome of an appeal may include a denial or an approval with an Academic Plan or Graduation Plan to assure students meets the Standards of Satisfactory Academic Process. Appeals are reviewed by the Financial Aid SAP Committee. The FASAP Committee’s decision is final. The student may not submit any subsequent requests for funding consideration.  To regain eligibility for financial aid, the student would need to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards.   

Students will be notified in writing of the results of the appeal, and of any restrictions or conditions pertaining to their appeal. 

Why My SAP Appeal and any subsequent information MUST be in writing?

Our FASAP policy is governed by federal regulation and audited each year by the Department of Education through our state auditor. Those federal regulations state that we are required to base appeal decisions equally and consistently to all students who fail to meet FASAP standards. Since our posted policy states that you must submit your appeal in writing for your appeal to be considered, we cannot deter from that position. Any issue related to a student’s FASAP appeal must be in a written format. Unfortunately, since we are required to have your appeal in writing, any information you may wish to provide that is NOT in written format (such as provided verbally) cannot be admissible for a defense of our approval or denial. 

Appeal Deadline

The deadline to submit a FASAP appeal in the Student Financial Aid Office for the term financial aid reinstatement is requested are as follows:

Term desire financial aid Priority Deadline Deadline to submit appeal
Fall     August 1 September 30
Spring  December 1 January 30
Summer April 1 May 30

An Expanded Pass/Fail grading option is provided to students enrolled for the Spring 2020 semester. With this option, undergraduate students enrolled in full term Spring 2020 courses or Spring 2 2020 courses that issue standard letter grades (A through F), will be eligible to replace the final grades received with an S+/S/U. Earned grades of A, B+, B, C+, and C will be replaced with S+, earned grades of D+ and D will be replaced with S, and an earned grade of F will be replaced with U. The Pass/Fail grades will be included in the hours attempted and hours earned upon SAP evaluation. The Pass/Fail grades will not be included in the GPA.

Understanding Fee Payment

  • If your appeal is submitted by the priority deadline and you had financial aid deferring the payment of your tuition and fees at the time your suspension was posted, your tuition and fees will continue to be deferred until a decision is made on your appeal.
  • If you did not have financial aid at the time your suspension was posted, then you will either need to pay your tuition and fees or enroll in the tuition payment plan or your classes will be dropped for non-payment. 
  • If you register for classes, you must attend them to be considered eligible for financial aid. 
  • If your appeal is denied, then you are responsible for any unpaid tuition and fees You MUST contact the Business Office. 
  • Due to the large volume of appeals submitted, it may take several weeks for all appeals to be reviewed. Once a decision on your appeal has been made, you will receive a written notification.

Financial Aid Contact Information

University of South Carolina Lancaster
Starr Hall, Room 127                                                                                                                    PO Box 889 Lancaster SC 29721
476 Hubbard Dr. Lancaster SC 29720
Phone: 803-313-7068    Fax: 803-313-7168
School Code: 003453

University of South Carolina Salkehatchie
P O Box 617 Allendale SC 29810
465 James Brandt Blvd, Allendale SC 29810
Phone: 803-584-3446    Fax: 803-584-3884                                                                                                        School Code: 003454

University of South Carolina Sumter
200 Miller Road Sumter SC 29150
Phone: 803-775-6341 Fax: 803-938-3716
School Code:  003426

University of South Carolina Union
P. O. Drawer 729 Union, SC 29379
315 Main Street. Union, SC 29379
Phone:  (864) 429-8728  Fax:  864-424-8092
School Code:  004927

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