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Satisfactory Academic Progress

Federal regulations require that students meet certain academic standards in order to be eligible for federal financial aid. To ensure financial aid recipients are making Satisfactory Academic Progress, academic transcripts are reviewed at the end of each semester to determine eligibility for the next semester. All terms of attendance are reviewed, including periods in which the student did not receive financial aid.

Summer terms are treated on the same merits as fall and spring semesters for the purpose of Satisfactory Academic Progress.

In order to remain in good standing for financial aid, students must meet the following standards:

  • Qualitative Progress – Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least a 2.0. Withdrawals and audited classes are not used to determine a student’s GPA.


  • Quantitative Progress – Maximum Time Frame – Federal regulations require a student to complete the course work for their program within 150 % of the published length of the educational program. This includes credit hours for transfer courses, withdrawals or repeat courses. For example, if a degree requires 66 credit hours, the student can attempt 66 credits multiplied by 150 % (or 99 credit hours) before they are ineligible for financial aid.


  • Pace of Progression – Students must complete 67 % of the semester hours (registered credit hours) attempted at Mesalands Community College. Any course with a grade of Withdrawal (W), Incomplete (I), Audit (AU), or Fail (F), is not considered completed course work.


If a student withdraws from a course(s) or takes an incomplete in a course, the credit hours will count as hours attempted, rather than hours completed. This may affect a student’s quantitative progress, both in maximum time frame and pace of progression. When an incomplete grade changes, the student may request that their satisfactory academic progress be re-evaluated at that time. If the student does not submit a request, their academic progress will be automatically re-evaluated after the student completes the following semester.

Pre-Collegiate Courses

Required pre-collegiate courses for credit do affect a student’s enrollment status, GPA, and completion rates. Non-credit courses are not reflected on a student’s transcript and are not calculated into the enrollment status, GPA or completion rate. Students are allowed up to a maximum of 30 credit hours for pre-collegiate courses.

Repeated Courses

Students are allowed to repeat courses to meet prerequisite or degree requirements while receiving financial aid. The new grade will replace the old grade for the purposes of calculating the student’s cumulative GPA, regardless of any improvement in the grade. The credit hours for the original course and repeated course will be counted in the earned and attempted hours for completion rate calculation.

Transfer Students

Students who transfer into a degree program at Mesalands Community College will have the transfer hours calculated with the attempted and earned hours for the purposes of Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Degree Plans

A student who changes his or her degree program or pursues a second degree at Mesalands must request a transcript evaluation to determine how many hours will be needed to earn the new degree before they will be considered for financial aid. Once the number of remaining hours needed is determined, the student will be allotted 150% of that total to obtain the degree while being eligible for federal financial aid.

Financial Aid Warning

If a student fails to meet the requirements of satisfactory academic progress, he or she will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for one semester and will be able to receive financial aid the next semester. If a student fails to meet during the second semester, he or she will be denied financial aid. A student may be released from Financial Aid Warning or become eligible again by reestablishing satisfactory academic progress.

Petitions for Reinstatement of Financial Aid

Once a student has been denied financial aid for adverse academic progress, the student may submit a Petition for Reinstatement of Financial Aid, if there were unusual, mitigating or extreme circumstances beyond the student’s control.

Examples may include, but are not limited to:

  • prolonged and/or severe illness;
  • under a physician’s care for the student or a dependent;
  • accidents requiring hospitalization;
  • death of an immediate family member.

Documentation is required to support the circumstance(s). The petition will be presented to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee for a decision. Applications must be received ten (10) days prior to the start of semester for consideration.

If an appeal is denied or a student does not have unusual or mitigating circumstances, the student remains ineligible to receive financial aid. He or she may reestablish eligibility for federal and state financial aid programs by successfully meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements based on their cumulative hours and GPA. The student will not be able to receive financial aid beyond 150% of the degree program until they have reestablished other requirements of satisfactory academic progress.

If the student’s petition is approved by the committee, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Probation for one semester.  If the student cannot re-establish Satisfactory Academic Progress after the probationary semester, he or she will be placed on an Academic Plan until he or she has met the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.  The student must then follow all terms of the Academic Plan in order to continue to receive financial aid.  If the student does not meet the Academic plan requirements, the student will be denied all future financial aid at Mesalands Community College.