ETSU Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Effective July 1, 2011

Federal regulations require that all students who receive federal financial aid (including lottery scholarships) make Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (also referred to as SAP throughout this policy and the ETSU Office of Financial Aid website) toward achieving a degree.  For financial aid purposes, progress is measured by the student’s cumulative grade point average, percentage of credit hours earned in relation to those attempted, and the length of the academic program. In order to assure that students make progress toward earning a degree both in terms of number of hours completed and cumulative GPA, East Tennessee State University employs the following financial aid satisfactory progress policy:

PROGRESS STANDARDS:  Students must earn a satisfactory grade in at least 67% of the total credit hours attempted fall and spring.

SEMESTER PROGRESS: Students must, as a minimum, receive a satisfactory grade (*) in the courses they attempt each semester. *For purposes of financial aid, satisfactory grades are A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, S, SP or P. Unsatisfactory grades are F, W, WF, U, or I. Audits do not count as attempted hours and are not eligible for financial aid. NOTE:  Unsatisfactory grades will not be counted as earned credit hours but will count as attempted credit hours.  SAP is required to receive the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (see "Don't Lose Hope").
  • Financial Aid Warning:  Warning status will be assigned to a student who fails to meet progress standards at the conclusion of the fall semester. A student assigned a Financial Aid Warning will be notified by email at their ETSU GoldMail address.  The student may continue to receive financial aid for one subsequent semester under this status; progress standards must be met to continue eligibility and be in good standing.
  • Financial Aid Probation:  A student who was assigned Financial Aid Warning status who does not meet progress standards at the end of the subsequent semester will be placed on financial aid suspension.  If the student chooses to appeal the suspension and the appeal is approved, the student is placed on Financial Aid Probation status.  A student on Financial Aid Probation may receive financial aid for one subsequent semester.  A student on Financial Aid Probation may be placed on an Academic Plan that will require the student to meet certain terms and conditions as determined by the ETSU Financial Aid Appeals Committee.  At the conclusion of the SAP Financial Aid Probation semester, the student must meet the progress standards or fulfill the requirements specified in the Academic Plan.
  • Financial Aid Suspension:  A student may be placed on Financial Aid Suspension for one or more of these reasons:
    • A student on Financial Aid Probation fails to meet progress standards and/or who does not fulfill the requirements in his or her academic plan is placed on Financial Aid Suspension.   
    • At the end of spring, if the student does not earn a satisfactory grade in at least 67% of the total credit hours attempted fall and spring, he or she will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension.
    • A student who does not earn any credit hours in any semester.
      Any student on Financial Aid Suspension is ineligible for further financial aid and can only receive financial aid again if eligibility is regained by successfully appealing or making up the deficient hours.
EVALUATION PROCESS:  Students who do not make SAP are notified by e-mail at their ETSU GoldMail address of their status (Financial Aid Warning, Financial Aid Probation, or Financial Aid Suspension).
  • Students who receive all “I”, “F”, “W”, “WF”, or “U” grades in courses attempted in ANY semester (fall, spring, summer) will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension.
  • Repeat courses will be counted in earned credit hours. (Note: ALL courses attempted, except audited courses, count in total credit hours attempted.)
  • Transfer credit hours will be counted in both attempted and earned credit hours.
  • All on-campus, off-campus, distance education, telecommunications, television, and web-based courses are considered in total attempted hours.
  • Academic Fresh Start (See Admissions) students will have to resolve any unresolved prior financial aid holds.  The maximum appeal limit includes previous unsatisfactory academic progress holds.  Maximum attempted credit hour eligibility requirement of 150% (as explained below) still applies.
  • Second-degree students may only receive financial aid to earn the total required credit hours for the second degree.  A second-degree student is defined as a student with a previous degree at the same classification, either undergraduate or graduate. For example, a student pursues a bachelor’s degree in a new field after earning a previous bachelor’s degree.
  • Some students classified as "Undergraduate Special" (SP-Non-degree) because they are visiting students or not seeking a degree may be eligible for federal financial aid, depending on individual circumstances.  Check with a Financial Aid Counselor for more information.
  • Students who are taking courses required for elementary or secondary teacher certification or recertification in the state where the student plans to teach may only receive financial aid for the required courses for the certification; this is not appealable. 
  • Students classified as “ Graduate Non-Degree” (UDEG) are eligible for federal financial aid for a maximum of one calendar year if they are enrolled in classes that are necessary as pre-requisite courses for enrollment into a graduate program (the loan limit is that of a fifth-year undergraduate).
  • Students who are taking courses for an approved Graduate Certificate Program who have attempted 150% of the required credit hours for their program will be ineligible for financial aid.
  • Students may receive aid for no more than 30 attempted hours of Learning Support coursework. English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are included in the 30 credit hours.
  • SAP does not allow the University to increase the maximum eligibility standard of attempted hours to accommodate double majors, double minors, or dual degrees.  Students are allowed to attempt a maximum of 150% of the credit hours required for a single degree.

CUMULATIVE PROGRESS: Students must, in addition to the above, meet the retention standards of ETSU as outlined in the current ETSU Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs.

MAXIMUM ELIGIBILITY:  Students who have attempted 150% of the required credit hours for their degree are ineligible for financial aid.  This applies to all transfer hours attempted as well as hours earned at ETSU.  Maximum eligibility is reviewed each semester.  Students who have attempted enough hours to graduate and have not graduated will be sent an email at their GoldMail address with a reminder of the maximum eligibility standards.  Students should be aware that academic transcripts received/evaluated late may cause reduction or cancellation of their financial aid

REPEATED COURSES:  Beginning July 1, 2011 students may only receive federal financial aid funding for one repeat of a previously passed course. There is an exception for courses which require repeats (see examples below). Students taking a required repeat of a course should work with the Office of Financial Aid to ensure those credits are counted appropriately for financial aid eligibility. Please note that the student may need to provide documentation from his/her academic advisor confirming the requirement to repeat.

Examples of repeated coursework that may, or may not, count for financial aid eligibility:

  1. Allowable:  Repeated coursework may be included if the student received an unsatisfactory or failing grade. There is no limit on the number of allowable repeats if the student does not receive a passing grade, as long as SAP standards are met.
  2. Allowable: Repeated coursework may be included if a student needs to meet an academic standard for a particular previously passed course, such as a minimum grade.  Example: Student received a D in a course which requires a minimum grade of C for his/her major.     
  3. Allowable: Student is enrolled in 15 credit hours which includes 3 credits repeating a previously passed course. The student’s financial aid eligibility is not  impacted by the repeat because the student is enrolled in a minimum of credits which are not repeats.
  4. Not Allowable: Student receives a D in a course which does not have a minimum grade requirement for the major and decides to repeat the course to improve his/her GPA. The student may repeat this passed course one time, but if the student wants to repeat it a second time, the second repeat would not count for financial aid eligibility. In this example, the student is enrolled in 12 credits, including the three credit second repeat, so only nine credits will count for financial aid eligibility.
  5. Graduate students enrolled in Thesis or Independent Studies courses who are subsequently required to enroll in courses that have the same course name should contact their financial aid counselor.
All repeated courses affect financial aid satisfactory academic progress calculations. A repeated course along with the original attempt must be counted as attempted credit hours.


    Students who lose eligibility for financial aid can appeal that status to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee in the Office of Financial Aid. The appeal must be prepared in writing on the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form, and must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documents. Reasons that may be acceptable for an appeal are:
    • Serious illness or accident on the part of the student;
    • Death, accident, or serious illness in the immediate family;
    • Class cancelled by ETSU; and
    • Other documented extenuating circumstances
    In the event that the student does not qualify for an appeal, he or she may be eligible to have financial aid reinstated by taking the following actions:
    • Earn at ETSU the number of deficient credit hours in which aid was received (see SAP Calculations Chart for credit hour requirements );
    • Pay for these hours without federal or state financial aid;
    • Maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA for the term for those credit hours needed to make up the deficiency; and
    • Notify the Office of Financial Aid when the deficient hours have been earned.

The Financial Aid Appeals Committee may grant or deny any SAP appeal.  The maximum number of appeals any student may normally have granted during the total of all their enrollment periodsat ETSU is two (2). Under extreme circumstances, a third appeal may be granted, provided that the student has documented proof of the circumstances. In the case of a student who files a third appeal, the reasons for the students' two previous appeals will be considered when making a decision. The student’s progress within their academic program will be a determining factor on the rare occasion when a third appeal is allowed.

Note:  For Pre-Summer and Winter Session appeals, you may not have financial aid eligibility in the semester you are regaining your eligibility.  For instance, if you regain your eligibility in Pre-Summer, you will not have aid eligibility for any other summer sessions.  If you regain your eligibility in Winter Session, you will not have aid eligibility for spring semester.


Semester Priority Date
Fall Semester June 1
Spring Semester November 1
Summer Semester May 30

SAP APPEAL REVIEW AND DECISION PROCESS: All appeals must be submitted in writing in paper or electronic form to the ETSU Office of Financial Aid by the priority deadline shown in the chart above. Provide written, detailed information and documentation as requested on the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy Violation Appeal Form. SAP Appeals will be reviewed by the ETSU Financial Aid Appeals Committee. Students may contact a counselor with any questions or concerns.

If an appeal is denied by the ETSU Financial Aid Appeals Committee and the student wishes to further appeal, the student may appeal that denial to the Assistant Director, then to the Director of Financial Aid, if necessary.  Note:  Appeals to the Assistant Director or Director that do not contain further explanation and new documentation of the extenuating circumstances will not be approved.  The final decision lies with the Director of the Office of Financial Aid and cannot be appealed further.