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Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is used to define successful completion of coursework to maintain eligibility for student financial aid. Federal regulations require Northeast State Community College's (NESCC) Office of Financial Aid to establish, publish, and apply standards to monitor your progress toward completion of your certificate or degree program. If you fail to meet these standards, you will be placed on financial aid Warning, Removal or Denial. 

Note: Financial Aid eligibility is not directly linked to the student's Academic Status. Additionally, the result of an Academic Appeal does not change the status of a student's Financial Aid eligibility status.

Required Federal Standards

Note: Students must meet each of these standards to remain eligible for Financial Aid.

Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA): The Office of Financial Aid is required to evaluate the student’s overall GPA at NESCC. NESCC students are required to maintain a minimum cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher.

Minimum Completion Percentage (Pace): Students must complete 67% of ALL courses (including transfer courses) attempted with a grade of: A, B, C, D or S.

For example, a student that has attempted a total of 60 credit hours must successfully pass 41 hours. The following grades are not considered passing: F, FA, AU, I, N, and W.

Maximum Time Frame: Recipients majoring in Associate Degree Programs and eligible Certificate Programs are limited to 150% of the required hours of their program of study, excluding learning support hours. The maximum cumulative attempted hours will be reviewed after each term. All attempted hours are included in the Maximum Time Frame calculation.

For example, if an associate degree program requires students to complete 60 credit hours of study, a student could receive financial aid for a total of 90 attempted credit hours.

  • Transfer Students: Transferred courses/hours officially accepted by Northeast State Community College are included in the Maximum Time Frame limitations as stated above.
  • Repeated courses: All credits from repeated courses will be counted toward the Maximum Time Frame. Students may repeat a previously passed course once but may repeat a failed or dropped class until it is passed or until the student is no longer making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Change of Majors: Changes in majors do not extend the maximum hours.
  • Prior Degree/Certificate Students: Students who enroll to obtain another credential (degree or certificate) are subject to the above limitations as credits from a prior enrollment at Northeast State (or other institution) will be included in the maximum hour limitation.

A Degree Works audit is required once you have exceeded the Maximum Time Frame. A degree audit can be requested by visiting your academic advisor or submitting a request to the Advising Resource Center. Turn in the degree audit at the same time as the SAP Appeal form. Once a student reaches Max Time Frame limitations, financial aid at NESCC will end.

Learning Support Hours: Students are allowed to receive financial aid for a maximum of 30 cumulative attempted hours of learning support (developmental) (see page two).


Warning – The first time a student does not comply with the GPA and/or Pace standards, the student will be placed on financial aid warning. The student may receive financial aid for one more semester. The student’s status will be evaluated after the “warning” term and must meet all required Financial Aid academic standards by the end of the following term to continue to be eligible to receive financial aid. Please note that transfer students will be placed on removal immediately upon transfer to NESCC if they are not meeting Pace or Maximum Timeframe standards.

Removal – Students who are in warning status will be removed from financial aid if they do not make SAP according to the standards stated above. Additionally, any student who exceeds the Maximum Time Frame will be placed on Financial Aid Removal. Students who are placed on financial aid removal after grades are posted and reviewed or who pre-register for a subsequent semester before grades are evaluated will owe tuition and fees since they did not maintain satisfactory academic progress. The aid posted for future terms will be cancelled as a result of being placed on financial aid removal. Students are placed on Financial Aid Removal or Financial Aid Denial if any of these conditions occur: 

  • Students in “warning” status fail to meet SAP in their next semester of enrollment
  • Students are placed on academic suspension
  • Students fail to meet the conditions of the Financial Aid Academic Plan
  • Students meet the Maximum Time Frame limitations

Students placed on Financial Aid Removal or Denial may continue to enroll at NESCC without financial aid if they are eligible to re-enroll according to institutional policies and have the resources to pay their own fees.

However, Financial Aid will not be disbursed to any student who is on Financial Aid Removal or Denial.


Students who lose eligibility for Financial Aid can appeal that decision to the Office of Financial Aid. Appeals will be considered for the following reasons:

  • Serious injury or illness of the student
  • Death, serious illness, or injury of immediate family member (mother, father, sibling, spouse, child)
  • Family trauma which occurred during the semester in question
  • Change in work schedule or responsibilities
  • Change in household or marital status
  • Other extenuating circumstances (must be documented)

Process for filing an appeal:

  • Complete the (SAP) Appeal (Forms are available on the NESCC Financial Aid website and in the Financial Aid Office).
  • Include a detailed statement indicating what occurred that resulted in unsatisfactory academic progress and what has changed that will now allow for the student to be successful. Make sure to sign and date your statement if you do not use the online form.
  • Provide documentation supporting the appeal.
  • A Degree Works audit is necessary if you have exceeded the Maximum Time Frame.

Submit the appeal and accompanying documents to the Financial Aid Office. An appeal must be complete. An appeal that is submitted after the census of a term will be considered for the next enrollment period. A SAP Committee will review your appeal and send a response. The response will be available via MyNortheast and either a letter will be sent to the address you have listed with the Office of Admissions & Records, or an email will be sent to your Northeast State email address.


Plan – Students will be placed on the Financial Aid Plan if their SAP appeal is approved. The student must sign the Financial Aid Plan within the appeal form before Financial Aid funds will be released. Students on the Financial Aid Plan must pass 100% of attempted hours with an A, B, or C. Failure to meet the Financial Aid Plan's requirements will result in the student being automatically placed on Financial Aid Denial for future semesters (See the Financial Aid Plan located online under Financial Aid forms).

Denial – A student will be placed on Financial Aid Denial if their SAP appeal is denied by the SAP Committee.

Appealing Financial Aid Denial Status: The SAP Committee's decision on the appeals are final. Unless there are new extenuating circumstances, a student will remain on Financial Aid Denial until all satisfactory academic progress standards have been met.


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Northeast State Community College, a Tennessee Board of Regents institution, is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution. For questions or concerns, please contact the Affirmative Action Officer.