SAP guidelines for US Federal Loan eligibility

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) guidelines for United States Federal Loan eligibility

Introduction

All students receiving US Federal Aid (subsidized, unsubsidized and PLUS) at RMIT University must progress satisfactorily towards completion of an approved academic program in order to remain eligible to receive US Federal Aid.

Continued eligibility for receiving US Federal Aid for RMIT programs is based on a student’s academic standing and the timeframe in which they successfully complete a program of study.

RMIT University is required by US Federal law (34 CFR 668.16, 34 CFR 668.32 (f) and 34 CFR 668.34) to define and enforce standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). The guidelines have been established to encourage students to complete successfully academic programs for which financial aid is received and to be competitive in the US work place when they graduate.

Scope

These Guidelines only apply to students receiving US Federal Aid (subsidized, unsubsidized and PLUS) at RMIT University.

For a student to remain eligible for US Federal Aid loans, the student must make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in accordance with these Guidelines. Students receiving financial aid will be evaluated at the end of each semester. The SAP evaluation process will consider students’ progress under the following categories:

a. Correct enrolment (approved program and minimum load)

b. Academic Standing

c. Maximum Timeframe

In order to receive US Federal funds, students must meet minimum standards for all of the above mentioned components, whilst simultaneously adhering to the University’s Academic Progress Policy and to Australian Immigration requirements.

The International Services Compliance Team is responsible for determining continued financial aid eligibility in accordance with these SAP Guidelines.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

a) Correct enrolment (approved program and minimum load)

Students receiving US Federal Aid must maintain at least a part-time load (24 credit points) to remain eligible to receive US Federal loan funding.

However, in order to meet compliance with student visa legislation and the Education Services for Overseas Students legislative framework, international students studying onshore at RMIT on an Australian student visa must maintain a full-time study load (48 credit points) unless written permission from the school to reduce the load is obtained.

Some RMIT programs such as nursing programs, non-award programs, Graduate Certificate and some Graduate Diploma programs are not approved for US Federal Aid at RMIT. Students receiving US Federal Aid wanting to transfer programs should contact the RMIT US Loans Administrator to ascertain if their new program will be eligible.

A student who is enrolled in less than 24 credit points or not enrolled in an approved program will be placed on suspension from US loan eligibility immediately.

b) Academic Standing

A student receiving US Federal Financial Aid is required to maintain a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher for coursework programs. A student who has a cumulative GPA of less than 2.0 on the RMIT GPA grading scale at the end of a semester will be placed on financial aid probation for the subsequent semester.

Students enrolled in a research program must be given a satisfactory progress report by their supervisor to maintain financial aid eligibility.

Refer Appendix 1 for calculation of Grade Point Values and GPA.

Please note that the Academic Standing requirements for US Loan eligibility are stricter than the RMIT University Academic Progress Policy. Meeting the University Academic Progress Policy requirements will not necessarily mean that students have met the United States Academic Standing requirements.

c) Maximum Timeframe

US Federal law (34 CFR 668.8 (k)) requires undergraduate students in receipt of federal financial aid to complete the program of study within a maximum timeframe, calculated at 150% of the allocated program time frame. Students’ programs are evaluated and reviewed against these timelines each semester.

  1. 3-year program – eligibility for aid is 4.5 years
  2. 4-year program – eligibility for aid is 6 years
  3. 5-year program – eligibility for aid is 7.5 years

Students should be advised that whilst US Federal Aid eligibility may allow them to continue to apply for aid, RMIT program academic progress rules and student visa restrictions may impact on the student’s ability to actually continue in the program.

If at any time students are awarded credit or recognition of prior learning (RPL), the above timeframe formula will still apply, less the number of semesters that the awarded credit or RPL represents.

US Financial Aid Probation and Suspension

Students receiving US Federal Aid will be evaluated for Satisfactory Academic Progress at the end of each semester. This evaluation process will consider students’ progress under the categories outlined above, namely:

a. Correct enrolment (approved program and minimum load)

b. Academic Standing

c. Maximum Timeframe

Probation

Students in the following circumstances will be placed on probation in the subsequent semester:

  1. Students who have failed to achieve the required cumulative 2.0 GPA (60-69%).
  2. Students projected to be unable to complete their program within the maximum time-frame based on a full-time (48 credit point) load.

All students placed on probation will be advised in writing. The Notice of Probation will detail the conditions of probation. RMIT University cannot waive the SAP requirements for any student.

Suspension

Students in the following circumstances will be placed on suspension in the subsequent semester:

  1. Students who were placed on probation in the previous semester and continued to fail to meet the cumulative GPA requirements in the subsequent semester.
  2. Students who are enrolled in less than 24 credit points.
  3. Students who are enrolled in a program which is not approved by the US Department of Education for Federal Financial Aid eligibility at RMIT.

All students placed on suspension will be ineligible to receive aid until such time as Satisfactory Academic Progress is achieved during an entire compulsory semester of study. A Notice of Suspension letter will be sent to students to notify of suspension and will include appeal information.

Re-establishing US Federal Aid eligibility

  • Students who have been placed on probation and achieve the required cumulative GPA by the end of the probation period will be placed back into good financial aid standing and will become eligible to re-apply for financial aid.
  • If students meet the required Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements during a period of probation in Semester One, students may still be assessed for financial aid in Semester Two for the entire period of enrolment (usually an academic year).
  • A student who has lost US financial aid eligibility due to suspension will be able to regain eligibility as soon as the student meets all of the components of the required SAP guidelines within a compulsory semester of study. Regaining eligibility is conditional upon the remaining timeframe of the program being able to accommodate the additional study period.

Appeal against Financial Aid suspension

Students who have their eligibility for US Federal Aid suspended may appeal the suspension if compassionate or compelling circumstances exist. These circumstances include but are not limited to:

  1. Death of a family member (parent, spouse, sibling, dependant child etc)
    (Required documentation: Death Certificate)
  2. The extended illness of the student – extended illness as defined as a documented chronic or recurring medical or emotional illness that causes the student to be absent from class at least 15 days or more (Required documentation: Medical Certificate (showing dates of illness))
  3. The extended illness of a family member that places hardship on the student. Immediate family member includes parent, spouse, sibling or dependant.
    (Required documentation: Medical Certificate (showing dates of illness))
  4. Other compassionate/compelling circumstances with evidence confirming undue hardship placed on the student.
    (Required documentation: evidence to support mitigating circumstances and hardship such as police report, support letter from psychologist etc)

All appeals must be received within ten working days of the issue date of the Notice of Suspension.

Students should submit an appeal to:

RMIT University
International Services
Attn: US Financial Aid Director

GPO Box 2476
Melbourne, Victoria 3001
Australia

Email: USLoans@rmit.edu.au

Students must indicate in writing the reason(s) for failure to meet the necessary Financial Aid SAP requirements and why US financial aid should not be suspended. All relevant documentation to support the appeal is required at time of appeal submission.

The appeal is reviewed by the Financial Aid Director, International Services and the outcome of the appeal is final.

Transition Arrangements

These Guidelines come into effect from the beginning of Semester One, 2011. Students will be assessed at the end of Semester One, 2011 and those who have not met the SAP requirements will be placed on probation or suspension for Semester Two, 2011.

APPENDIX 1: Calculating GPA for US Federal Financial Aid SAP purposes.

The assessment of students’ academic standing each semester is determined by calculating according to the following numerical values and formulae, based on the RMIT GPA 4.0 scale:

Grade Definition

Key Code

Mark Range

Grade Point Value

High Distinction

HD

80-100

4.0

Distinction

DI

70-79

3.0

Credit

CR

60-69

2.0

Pass

PA

50-59

1.0

Pass only

PX

50-100

Not included in the GPA calculation

Pass

PA

50-59

1.0

Supplementary Pass

SP

0.8

Pass by compensation

PC

0.8

Fail

NN

0-49

0.0

Did Not Sit

DNS

0.0

Withdrawn from Course

WDR

0.0

The following interim grades must be finalised before a SAP evaluation can be made and before additional Financial Aid can be disbursed to students: DEF (Deferred Assessment); ALT (Alternative Assessment Granted); EOT (Extension of Time); RNF (Result Not Finalised)

Example of how to calculate your GPA:

Course

Credit points

GPA Value

Grade Points (Credit points x GPA value)

XXX

12

4 (HD)

48

XXX

12

3 (DI)

36

XXX

24

1 (PA)

24

TOTAL

48

108

GPA = Grade Points ÷ Credit Points.

In the above example Grade Points (108) ÷ Credit Points (48) = 2.25

GPA in the above example is therefore 2.25