Statement of Policies

Satisfactory Academic Progress


Under new federal regulations that became effective on July 1, 2011, Stanford is required to implement Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policies to ensure that students receiving federal student aid are making adequate progress toward completing their degree programs. Federal student aid includes Federal Work-Study, Perkins Loans, Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and TEACH Grants.

The information on this page applies to all graduate students in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; Graduate School of Education; School of Engineering; School of Humanities & Sciences; and School of Medicine (non-M.D. students), who are requesting federal student aid funds for Autumn Quarter 2011 or any subsequent quarter. Students at the Law School, Graduate School of Business, and School of Medicine (M.D. program) should contact the Financial Aid Office at their school for information about SAP policies for federal student aid.

Conditions for Making Satisfactory Academic Progress

In order to maintain full eligibility for federal student aid funds authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, graduate students at Stanford must meet the following three conditions as of the end of each academic year:

Minimum Cumulative Pace of Progression: 60%

Cumulative pace of progression is defined as total completed course units divided by total attempted course units.

Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA): 3.00

Maximum Years of Enrollment: 4.5 for Masters students, 10.5 for Ph.D. students

Masters students at Stanford cannot receive federal student aid funds beyond 4.5 years of enrollment. Ph.D. students cannot receive federal student aid funds beyond 10.5 years of enrollment. Note: A student whose next quarter of enrollment would increase the total years of enrollment beyond the program maximum is assigned an SAP Status of Ineligible, with no appeal possible.

Consequences of Failure to Make Satisfactory Academic Progress

The Financial Aid Office (FAO) measures SAP for graduate students annually, at the end of Spring Quarter.

SAP Status: Financial Aid Ineligible

If a graduate student fails to meet any or all of the three SAP conditions, they lose eligibility to receive any future federal student aid funds at Stanford. The FAO will notify the student of their status via electronic communication and will provide instructions for filing an appeal. Students may appeal the loss of eligibility. If the appeal is approved, the FAO will change the student's status to Financial Aid Probation and will notify the student via electronic communication

Appeal Process

Students wishing to appeal their loss of eligibility should request a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form from the Financial Aid Office. The appeal form must be signed by the student's faculty advisor and returned to the Financial Aid Office for evaluation. The student will be notified when a decision has been reached regarding the appeal.

SAP Status: Financial Aid Probation

A student in Financial Aid Probation status is eligible to receive federal student aid funds for the next academic year. If at the end of the academic year the student meets all three conditions for SAP, the student's Financial Aid Probation status is removed, and the student regains full eligibility for federal student aid funds for the next academic year of enrollment. If, however, the student does not meet all three conditions for SAP, the student returns to Financial Aid Ineligible status.

Special Circumstances

Drops and Withdrawals

If a student drops a course or reduces their number of enrolled units prior to the Final Study List deadline for the quarter, the dropped units are not included as attempted units in the SAP Status calculation. If a student withdraws from a course after the Final Study List deadline, they will receive a notation of "W" for the course, and the units for the course will be included as attempted units in the SAP Status calculation.


The units for a course in which the student has received a grade of Incomplete are included in the SAP Status calculation as attempted units but not as completed units. If an Incomplete grade is changed to a passing grade during the next quarter, the student may ask the Financial Aid Office to recalculate their SAP Status.

Other Funding Sources

The SAP requirements described on this page apply only to the Title IV federal student aid programs listed in the first paragraph. Other funding sources, including non-Title IV federal programs, may have their own separate requirements for academic progress. Information about these requirements is available from the awarding department or program office.

Repeated Courses

A student may repeat a course in order to earn a higher grade. When a student repeats a course for the first time ("first repeat"), the units for this course count as attempted units in the SAP Status calculation, and count as earned units if a passing grade is obtained. However, if a student repeats a course for a second time ("second repeat"), the units are not included as attempted or earned units in the SAP Status calculation.

Updated on April 3, 2015 3:46 PM