Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy - Financial Aid - Christopher Newport University

Financial Aid

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy at Christopher Newport University applies to financial aid recipients only. The policy is based on federal guidelines that require each college and university to ensure that student aid recipients are progressing through their academic programs at an acceptable pace while maintaining an acceptable cumulative grade point average. This policy is separate and apart from other academic policies at the University.

A student who fails to make SAP will be notified of their financial aid suspension status as soon as possible, upon the completion of the spring semester. Students will be sent an email notification directing them to log-in to their CNU Live Account to review their SAP status, cumulative GPA, completion rate and max time frame calculation.

Students on appeal who fail to meet the conditions of their appeal or meet the minimum standard SAP requirements, will be sent an email informing them that they are on financial aid suspension at the completion of the appeal semester.

If extenuating circumstances exist which contributed to the student’s failure to meet one of the SAP Standards listed below, a written appeal may be submitted. Examples of extenuating circumstances which might be grounds for an appeal include, but are not limited to, a divorce in the family, unexpected death or major hospitalization of an immediate family member, or extended hospitalization or medical condition of the student.

Issues with instructors/courses, job conflicts, misuse of time management, transportation problems or child care conflicts do not constitute as unusual mitigating circumstances and will not be considered.

The appeal must address, and document where appropriate, these extenuating circumstances, describing:

  • Why the student failed to achieve SAP
  • What has changed that will allow the student to achieve SAP during the next academic term

Download the SAP Appeal Form and submit to the Office of Financial Aid (along with required supporting documentation). Appeals that do not address the stipulations above will be denied.

Questions regarding the SAP Policy requirements and/or process should be directed to the Office of Financial Aid via email at and/or by calling (757) 594-7170. Members of the financial aid staff are available to assist Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

To re-establish satisfactory progress after being suspended from aid eligibility, a student must improve his or her academic standing to meet the required standards.

SAP Standards

The SAP Policy includes three standards that must be met in order for a student to receive aid from the financial aid programs listed below. SAP is calculated at the end of every academic year. Students who fail to meet one or more of the standards below will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension.

Undergraduate students are expected to maintain a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of:

  • 1.61 or higher with up to 48 credits attempted
  • 2.0 or higher with 49 or more credits attempted

Graduate students are expected to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0.

Hours attempted include both Christopher Newport-attempted credit hours and transfer credit hours combined for purposes of reviewing the GPA guidelines outlined above.

Undergraduate and graduate students are expected to successfully complete at least 67 percent of all credits attempted. Grades of A, B, C or any derivative of these letters are satisfactory for financial aid purposes. While a D grade may qualify as satisfactory for Pace of Progression Standards, it may impact the Grade Point Average Standard (listed above). Both the Grade Point Average and Pace of Progression Standards must be met to maintain SAP.

This percentage can be negatively affected by incomplete, withdrawals and repetition of credits.*

Transfer credits accepted toward a Christopher Newport degree will count as both attempted and earned credits in calculating this completion rate.

The completion rate is calculated by dividing the cumulative number of credit hours the student has successfully completed by the cumulative number of credit hours the student has attempted. This calculation is performed after final grades are posted by the Office of the Registrar at the end of the spring semester.

*Repeated courses: All repeated course work affects the SAP Pace of Progression and Maximum Time Frame Standards. A repeated course and the original attempt must be counted as attempted credit hours and will count toward the student’s maximum time frame. However, only the higher grade of a repeated course will be used in calculating the CGPA.

While a four-year timeframe for degree completion should be the goal, undergraduate students are required to have completed a bachelor’s degree from Christopher Newport within six years or once they have attempted 180 credits (includes transfer credits and represents 150 percent of bachelor’s degree 120 credit-hour requirement).

Graduate students are required to have completed a master’s degree from Christopher Newport within three years or once they have attempted 150 percent of the credits (includes transfer credits) required for their academic program.**

**Maximum time frame: A student may receive financial aid for attempted credits that do not exceed 150 percent of the published credit hours of the student’s academic program at the University (i.e., if a bachelor’s degree requires 120 credits for completion, the student must complete the program with no more than 180 attempted credit hours). This 150 percent rule applies consistently to students who have transferred, changed majors, repeated courses or who seek a dual major. While it also applies to students who come to Christopher Newport to seek a second degree, in such cases, the student’s transfer credits applied to the degree and required course credits at CNU will guide the determination of maximum time frame.

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal SEOG
  • Federal Direct Loan (subsidized and unsubsidized)
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loan
  • Federal TEACH Grant
  • Federal Work Study
  • Alternative/Private Loan Programs
  • Virginia Guaranteed Access Program (VGAP)
  • Virginia Commonwealth Grant
  • Virginia Two-Year College Transfer Grant
  • Institutional Grants and Scholarships

Pell Grant recipients are limited to 12 semesters of scheduled awards. Awards received will be tracked by the U.S. Department of Education and students are required to meet the financial aid SAP standards to receive other awards regardless of whether they have received the maximum number of scheduled Pell Grant awards.

First-time borrowers taking out federal Direct subsidized loans on or after July 1, 2013 are subject to the 150 percent Direct Subsidized Loan Limit, which limits the amount of time a student is eligible to borrow subsidized loans to 150 percent of their published program length.

SAP Review Process

After each academic year, after spring grades are posted, the Office of Financial Aid reviews the academic records of financial aid recipients before awarding aid to returning students for the upcoming academic year.

Students on SAP Appeal are subject to a review at the end of each term and must continue to meet the conditions of the appeal in order to maintain eligibility until the standard SAP requirements have been achieved.

If a student enrolls in a course as an audited course at the beginning of the semester, the course will be excluded from attempted calculations. If, however, a student changes to audit status during the semester, the course will be considered attempted but not successfully completed.

An incomplete course (a class for which a grade of “I” is received) will be considered attempted but unsuccessfully completed. Students should contact the Office of Financial Aid once the “I” has been replaced with a grade so that SAP calculations can be revised.

Courses for which a student receives an “F” are considered to be attempted but unsuccessfully completed. This includes courses in which a student is awarded an F after his or her sixth or subsequent withdrawal. For more information, see the Academic Continuance at the University section of the Christopher Newport catalog.

Courses from which a student is medically or administrative withdrawn are considered to be attempted courses. However, students who are suspended from financial aid due to such situations are encouraged to appeal the decision due to the extenuating circumstances that require such a withdrawal.

Courses attempted when a student was not receiving financial aid, whether because the student did not apply, did not qualify for financial aid, or was suspended from financial aid, are always considered attempted courses.

Courses a student enrolls in and elects a Pass/Fail option, rather than receiving a letter grade, are considered attempted courses.

Courses a student attempts multiple times are considered attempted courses each time a student enrolls in the course. In accordance with university policy, only the most recent grade is counted, and, therefore, prior credit is rescinded. As such, a course attempted, passed successfully, and attempted again will be considered attempted twice, with one successful completion. Note: certain music courses, theater labs or other courses are required to be taken multiple times and are not subject to this rule.

Federal financial aid will only pay for one repeat of a previously passed course, regardless of a student’s SAP status.

Transfer credits (including transfer, CLEP, IB/AP, Dual Enrollment, Consortium and study abroad) are calculated in the 150 percent maximum timeframe calculation.

Withdrawals are considered courses attempted and not completed. This includes single withdrawals (i.e., grades of “W”) and unofficial withdrawals (i.e., grades of “UI”).

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