Maintaining Financial Aid

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal regulations require that all financial aid recipients progress at a reasonable rate (make satisfactory academic progress) toward achieving a certificate or degree. Progress is measured by: (1) the student’s cumulative grade point average, (2) pace of progression (the number of credits earned in relation to those attempted), and (3) the maximum time frame allowed to complete the academic program. These requirements apply to all semesters regardless of whether or not the student received financial aid. Progress is reviewed at the end of each semester.

The following policy is effective June 2017. All student receiving financial aid at Delta State University beginning June 1, 2017 are subject to these guidelines. This policy was updated April 2020. The policy will be amended whenever applicable federal or state laws or regulations are changed. The Financial Advisory Committee is to be appraised of these changes. Other amendments to the policy, not required by changes in laws or regulations, will be considered through the revision procedures of the Financial Advisory Committee.

1. SAP Standards

Students who receive financial aid at Delta State University must conform to the standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress set by the University and outlined here. These standards encourage students to successfully complete their program of study in a timely manner. It is important to remember that this SAP policy is administered by the Office of Financial Aid and is separate from the Scholastic Standards administered by the Office of the Vice- President for Academic Affairs.

These guidelines apply to ALL Title IV aid: Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Work Study, Federal Stafford Loans, and Federal PLUS Loans. A student’s SAP status is calculated after each semester of enrollment, no matter if the student receives federal aid that semester.

Undergraduate Students

The minimum academic standards an undergraduate student must meet in order to receive financial assistance are illustrated in this chart:

Minimum Qualitative Academic Standards

Overall Hours Attempted

Delta State Grade Point Average

0 – 29


30 – 59




Minimum Quantitative Standards

Hours Attempted

Ratio of Hours Passed

0 – 29


30 – 59


60 – 89




Graduate Students

The minimum academic standards a graduate student must meet in order to receive financial assistance are illustrated in this chart:

Minimum Qualitative Academic Standards

Overall Hours Attempted

Delta State Grade Point Average

0 – 6






Minimum Quantitative Standards

Hours Attempted

Ratio of Hours Passed

0 – 6






Suspension, Probation, Appeals and More

2. MAXIMUM TIME FRAME. Maximum time frame for a degree program is 150% of the published number of credits required for that degree program. A student is ineligible for federal and state financial aid when it is determined at an official evaluation that it is mathematically impossible to complete the program within 150% of the length of the program. See the chart below for attempted credit limits.

Degree Attempted Credit Limit  
Bachelor’s Degree (in all majors except listed below) 180
BMEd 195
BS (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science) 186
BS (FCS – Dietetics) 203

The attempted credit limit above applies beginning with the 2017-2018 catalog. For students who are on the 2016- 2017 catalog or prior, the following attempted credit policy applies:

Degree Attempted Credit Limit
Bachelor’s Degree (in all majors except listed below) 186
BMEd 195
BS (FCS – Dietetics) 204
BSIS 191

Financial Aid Warning: Students who do not meet the standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) at the end of a semester will automatically be placed on financial aid warning for the following semester. Notification of status will be communicated to the student. Financial Aid may still be received during the warning period. At the end of the warning period the student must have achieved SAP as outlined above or financial aid will be suspended. Students will be removed from financial aid warning if they have achieved satisfactory academic progress.

Financial Aid Suspension: Financial aid suspension will result in the loss of all federal aid, including grants, loans and work-study. A student’s financial aid may be suspended if their enrollment record indicates to the financial aid staff/director a recurring pattern. This may include, but is not limited to: course drops, withdrawal from school, and degree progress.

Repeated Courses: Courses in which the student received a grade of “F” may be repeated and may be eligible for financial aid. Other courses in which the student received a passing grade may be repeated once and may be eligible for financial aid. When a course with a passing grade has been repeated, subsequent repeats of the course will not be included in the total number of credits for the semester when determining financial aid eligibility. Credits attempted in repeated courses will be included in the cumulative credits attempted.

Withdrawn Courses: Withdrawn courses count towards the cumulative credits attempted. However, if a student drops a course during the first 10 days in a semester, it does not count towards the cumulative credits attempted. Please view the Academic Calendar to determine the date by which grades of W or F go into effect and the refund policy of tuition and fees each semester. Students may retake courses from which they have withdrawn. When retaken, these courses will be included in the total number of credits for the semester when determining financial aid eligibility. Students who receive financial assistance and then withdraw from school will be placed on financial aid suspension. Students on suspension are not eligible to receive financial aid. Grades of W and F are not considered successful completions.

Incomplete Courses: A grade of Incomplete (I) is a temporary grade that is assigned in extenuating circumstances. The assigned grade of I counts as hours attempted but not passed. If an incomplete grade is finalized after the SAP evaluation, the final grade will not be factored into the student’s SAP calculations until the next SAP evaluation.

Grade Changes: A student’s SAP status is re-evaluated at the time the Office of Financial Aid is notified by the Registrar’s Office of a grade change.

Audit Courses: Audit courses receive no credit and do not influence grade point average. They are not counted in credits attempted and are ineligible for financial aid.

Remedial Courses: Remedial courses will be included in the total number of credits for the semester when determining financial aid eligibility. Students who have been granted full admission with academic deficiencies must participate in a Summer Developmental Program. Financial assistance is available for this program. If deficiencies are still evident after completion of the Summer Developmental Program, a student will not be eligible for re- admission and any financial assistance offered for an upcoming term will be cancelled.

Pass/Fail Courses: Pass/Fail courses are not calculated in the cumulative GPA but will be included in credits attempted.

Transfer Students: All credits attempted at DSU and all transfer credits accepted by the University must be counted toward the calculation of SAP (including credits earned during winter and summer sessions) regardless of whether the student received federal aid while attempting the credits.

Official transcripts from all previous colleges must be forwarded to Delta State’s Admissions/Registrar’s office and evaluated for transfer credits. All transfer credits that are accepted by the University, including those earned while in high school, after high school, or after being admitted to Delta State, are counted as both attempted and completed credits. All credit hours added to the Delta State transcript will affect a student’s cumulative pace of progression and maximum timeframe. Transfer students not meeting maximum time frame requirements will be assigned a status of financial aid suspension.

Students who have accumulated a high number of credits at other institutions may risk loss of financial aid by the 150% timeframe for their degree program earlier than anticipated.

Change of Majors or Degrees: If a student changes majors or degrees the credits earned under all majors or degrees will be included in the calculation of attempted and earned credits and affect pace of progression, maximum timeframe, and cumulative DSU GPA calculation.

Second Degree: Students who are pursuing a second undergraduate degree must submit a program of study required to complete their second undergraduate degree. This can be obtained from their advisor or Dean.

2. SAP Appeal

2.1 Appeal Process

Students who fail to meet satisfactory academic progress standards and lose financial aid eligibility can appeal this decision. Appeals must be made in writing and submitted to the Office of Financial Aid for consideration by the appeals committee. An appeal must be based on mitigating circumstances that affected academic performance. Mitigating circumstances are situations which are outside of the student’s control. Examples of mitigating circumstances include: death of a relative, student/parent injury or illness, natural disaster, or other unforeseen circumstances. Students may only appeal the same situation once and documentation must be submitted to validate the circumstance. Other acceptable reasons for an appeal include the following:

  • Medical difficulty
  • Family difficulty
  • Emotional difficulty
  • Learning disability
  • Change in/or addition to a degree program requiring more than the maximum allowable Credits Attempted,documented by a statement from DSU’s Registrar.
  • Other special, significant or unusual circumstances.

In the appeal, students must explain what steps they have taken or will take to achieve and maintain SAP. Students may only appeal the same situation once and documentation must be submitted to validate the circumstance.

Student Notification: Students who submit an appeal shall be notified within 30 days of the decision rendered by the appeals committee, pending all documentation required has been submitted for review. The notice will specify the student’s appeal status (approved or denied) and any stipulations which govern the decision.

2.2 Appeal Decisions

Appeal Denial: If an appeal is denied, the student may choose to enroll without benefit of financial aid. If the student successfully completes a semester without receiving financial aid and is not meeting cumulative SAP requirements, another appeal may be submitted. If a student successfully completes a semester without receiving financial aid and meets the cumulative SAP requirements, the student will regain financial aid eligibility.

Appeal Approval: If an appeal is approved a letter will be sent to the student detailing any specific requirements established to help the student achieve Satisfactory Academic Progress. It is the responsibility of the student to follow the stated requirements. Failure to do so can result in loss of financial aid eligibility for future semesters.

Academic Plan: Academic plans may be used for students who appeal their financial aid suspension and it is not mathematically possible for them to meet SAP standards within one semester. Academic plans are individualized based on the student’s advisor. If a student is granted an appeal based on an academic plan, they will be eligible on a semester-by-semester basis. Students are required to submit an academic plan and program of study signed by their advisor before financial aid can disburse funds for the semester. Students must follow their academic plan exactly in order to continue to receive federal aid. If an academic plan is not followed, their financial aid status will be placed back on financial aid suspension. Once a student is again meeting the minimum SAP standards, their Academic Plan will be removed. A student is considered to be on financial aid probation while fulfilling the requirements on an academic plan.

Sample Academic Plan: John is a full-time undergraduate student who has attempted 50 hours and has passed 26 hours at the end of the Fall 2018 semester. He has a competition rate of 52%. The following academic plan proposes that John will meet the SAP completion rate by Spring 2020:

John’s Proposed Academic Plan for Completion Rate
Semester Attempted Credit Hours Passed

Credit Hours

Cumulative Attempted Credit Hours Cumulative Passed Hours Completion Rate
Spring 2019 9 9 59 35 59%
Fall 2019 12 12 71 47 66%
Spring 2020 12 12 83 59 71%

Readmitted Students: If a student is placed on financial aid warning or suspension status and does not return the following semester, they will be given the same status if they return at a later date. When a student withdraws or is dismissed from Delta State and is later readmitted, the semester in which they withdrew or were dismissed is included when the student’s SAP status is evaluated.

Over 21 Program: Students admitted to Delta State University in the Over 21 program are not eligible for federal financial aid until they have successfully completed twelve (12) semester hours with at least a 2.0 grade point average at Delta State. Additional information about this program can be obtained in the Admissions office.


Revised April 2020


Student’s should be aware that if they withdraw from the university after having received financial assistance, they might have to repay a portion of that assistance.  Also, students who receive Federal Stafford Loans should also know that the Office of Financial Aid is required to notify lenders of student withdrawals.

Dropping a Course:
Dropping classes can significantly affect your financial aid eligibility. It is important to contact the financial aid office BEFORE dropping or withdrawing from classes. Dropping classes may impact your financial aid in several ways:
• It may result in an adjustment to your award since some financial aid programs are available only to students who are full time (12 or more hours)
• It may result in the loss of future eligibility for some financial aid programs which require you to maintain full time enrollment
• It may result in a low completion rate (hours earned/hours attempted) since there will be no earned hours
• If you are on financial aid probation, it will result in the termination of your eligibility at the end of the term

The effective date of withdrawal for refund purposes and the return of Federal Financial Aid funds is the date on which the student begins the official withdrawal process. A notice of withdrawal, cancellation, and request for
refund by a student must be made in writing addressed to the University Registrar, with a copy filed with Student Business Services. Any refund due the student at the time of withdrawal will be processed by Student Business
Services within three weeks.

Unearned Title IV loan or grant funds must be returned to the Title IV programs upon a recipient’s withdrawal from school at any time during the first 60% of the semester. Refunds for these students are made according to the Higher Education Amendments, Section 484B, and are based on the number of calendar days for each semester. If a student withdraws after completing more than 60% of the semester, it is assumed that the student earned 100% of the Title IV aid for the period.

Modules: If you withdraw from current classes, but are registered in a later-starting class for the semester, we are required to calculate the amount of unearned aid to return to federal programs, unless, you indicate in writing or by completing our secure online form, that you will attend the future courses.
Effective July 1, 2021, a return of funds calculation is not required if you successfully complete (earn passing grades) in the following instances:
1. You met all requirements for graduation from your program before completing the days in the period that the you were scheduled to complete; OR
2. You completed one module that includes 49% or more of the number of days in the overall payment
period; OR
3. You completed a combination of modules that when combined contain 49% or more of the numbers of days in the payment period; OR
4. You completed coursework equal to or greater than the coursework required for the institution’s definition of a half-time student.

Unofficial Withdrawals:
For unofficial withdrawals, the last date of attendance becomes the mid-point of the semester, unless the university can document a later date of attendance. Students who receive all “F” grades, or a combination of F or W grades, in their classes for a given term are subject to the Return of Title IV Refund Calculation if theses grades were received as a result of the student not completing the term. If the grades were earned, meaning the student completed the entire term and simply earned “F” grades, the Return of Title IV Refund Calculation will not be required.

If you officially or unofficially withdraw from DSU, the federal aid you received will be returned in the following order:
1. Unsubsidized Loan
2. Subsidized Loan
3. Perkins Loan
4. PLUS Loan
5. Pell Grant
6. SEOG Grant
7. Other Sources of Funds

Money Management

In an effort to assist Delta State students and parents become better informed on all aspects of personal finance, our office has compiled a list of financial literacy and personal finance websites we feel to be beneficial.

The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) has developed the web site specifically to help college-age students on campuses across the country.  This turnkey program allows universities to provide college students with the resources necessary to cultivate positive money management habits that will last a lifetime.  Money management skills and access to personal financial planning resources are necessary for college students to build a healthy financial future. is the U.S. governement’s website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education. Whether you are planning to buy a home, balancing your checkbook, or investing in your 401k, the resources on can help you do it better. Throughout the site, you will find important information from 20 federal agencies government wide.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) maintains this financial literacy website for personal information, education, and communication pertaining to the various stages of an individual’s life to help the individual make the most appropriate financial diecisions.

Bank Rate publishes original and objective personal finance stories to help consumers make informed financial decisions.  Our staff of award winning reporters and editors provides expert advice on just about every major financial decision facing our readers: from purchasing their first home, to selecting a new car, to saving for retirement.  Bankrate’s unparalled combination of comprehensive rate information and original financial content is what makes us unique and such a valuable resource to our clients. is a centralized service for consumers to request free annual credit reports.  It was created by the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies–Equifax, Experian andTransUnion.
Annual provides consumers with the secure means to request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies.

Ths Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website is a one-stop national resource to learn about the crime of identity theft. It provides detailed information to help you deter, detect and defend against identity theft. On this site, consumers can learn how to avoid identity theft-and learn what to do if their identity is stolen.

Additional Finance Websites:

Useful Debt Management Websites

While obtaining a degree from Delta State is a wise decision to help students achieve their career goals, it is also extremely important for students to make wise decisions regarding the management of any student loan debt or other forms of debt both while in school and upon graduation. In an effort to assist students in their own debt management efforts, our office has provided the following list of management websites that we feel to be beneficial.

 Useful Personal Finance Calculators