Clemson's Policy for Satisfactory Academic Progress

The Clemson University Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy evaluates both the quality (grade-point average) and quantity (credit hours completed) of the student’s academic work. Students are evaluated at the end of each term (fall, spring and summer).

  • Minimum Cumulative Grade-Point Average (MCGPA)

    The student must earn a minimum cumulative grade-point average (MCGPA) that meets the requirements for continuing enrollment and graduation as defined in the University Announcements.

    MCGPA per Credit Hour Level
    Total Attempted Credit Hours MCGPA
    Up to 29 1.75
    30-59 1.85
    60-89 1.95
    90 and above 2.00
    Graduate/Ph.D. candidate 3.00

    Examples of MCGPA:
    Student A is an undergraduate student at Clemson and has attempted 42 credit hours with a 1.82 cumulative GPA. Student A is not meeting the GPA requirements for SAP.
    Student B is an undergraduate student at Clemson and has attempted 70 credit hours with a 1.96 cumulative GPA; this student is meeting the GPA requirements for SAP.
    Student C is a graduate student at Clemson and has attempted 15 credit hours with a 2.89 cumulative GPA. Student C is not meeting the GPA requirements for SAP.

  • Maximum Timeframe

    Students must complete their degree in 150% of the timeframe published in the University Announcements and at a completion rate of 67%. The maximum timeframe at Clemson University for an undergraduate degree (or degrees) is measured by the average number of credit hours required to complete a degree, 126, multiplied by 150%. Therefore, the maximum number of credit hours an undergraduate student can attempt to maintain satisfactory academic progress is 189. Advance standing hours (e.g., transfer, AP, IB) count in the maximum timeframe.

    Example of an exceeded maximum timeframe for undergraduate student:
    Student D is an undergraduate student at Clemson and has attempted 199 credit hours. Student D is not meeting the maximum timeframe requirement for SAP.

    The maximum timeframe for a graduate degree (or degrees) is based on the published length of degree programs in the graduate University Announcements. However, based on program variations, faculty input may be required to determine the maximum timeframe. Maximum timeframe graduate students and their advisors must sign a “graduate maximum timeframe” form certifying that they are progressing satisfactorily in their degree and reporting the student’s anticipated date of graduation.

    Example of an exceeded maximum timeframe for a graduate student:
    Student E is a graduate student at Clemson and has attempted 112 credit hours. Student E is not meeting the maximum timeframe requirement for SAP.

  • Pace of Completion

    In addition, undergraduate and graduate students must complete 67% of the credit hours in which they are enrolled after the last day to drop without a “W.” Credit hours earned divided by credit hours attempted is the student’s pace of completion, which must equal or exceed 67%. Advance standing hours (e.g., dual enrollment, AP, IB) and transfer hours that are accepted for credit are counted in both the hours attempted and hours earned. Incompletes and withdrawals are not earned credit hours and will decrease a student’s pace of completion. Repeated credits are counted as earned credit hours only once and will also decrease a student’s pace of completion.

    Example of pace of completion:
    Student F is an undergraduate student at Clemson, has attempted 120 credit hours, and has earned 74 credit hours. Student F’s pacing is 74/120 x100 = 61.7%. Student F is not meeting the pacing requirement for SAP.

  • Warning Semester

    During satisfactory academic progress evaluation, students who are not maintaining satisfactory academic progress for the first time will be placed on Financial Aid Warning. Students under Financial Aid Warning can receive student financial aid without submitting an appeal for one term. At the end of the term, the student must meet the criteria for satisfactory academic progress. If not, the student is placed on Unsatisfactory Academic Progress.

  • Appeals Process

    Students with unsatisfactory academic progress are ineligible for student financial aid unless they submit an appeal, and the appeal is granted. To be considered, an appeal must explain why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress and what has changed that will allow the student to meet satisfactory academic progress standards at the next evaluation. Appeals can be filed based on academic improvement, death of a family member/close friend, injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstances. However, appeals are not automatically approved for any of these reasons. Appeals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and the circumstances documented, the student’s academic record and the student’s plan for improvement are all considered.

    If a student’s appeal is granted and it is reasonable for the student to meeting SAP standards in one semester, the student is placed on Financial Aid Probation and can receive federal financial aid for one term. At the end of the term, the student must meet the criteria for satisfactory academic progress. If not, the student is once again placed on Unsatisfactory Academic Progress and is ineligible for aid. The student can appeal again, but the latter appeal must be based on a reason different from the first appeal.

    If it is not mathematically possible for a student who is appealing to reach satisfactory academic progress by the end of the next term, the student can be placed on an Academic Plan for up to three semesters or until the student’s expected graduation. For undergraduate students, academic plans generally require at least a 2.5 semester GPA and no Fs, Ws, and Is within the semester, but can be customized. For graduate students, academic plans generally require at least a 3.0 semester GPA with no Fs, Ws, or Is. The Academic Plan will be used to evaluate the student’s satisfactory academic progress until it expires after three semesters or at the student’s approved graduation date.

  • Academic Forgiveness/Renewal and SAP

    Per federal regulation regarding amnesty policies, Clemson cannot consider GPA changes due to academic forgiveness or academic renewal when reviewing for satisfactory academic progress. If the student uses academic forgiveness or academic renewal, they will need to appeal for satisfactory academic progress even if academic forgiveness/renewal allows them to obtain the minimum required GPA.

    Also, academic forgiveness and academic renewal are not considered when evaluating a student’s maximum timeframe and pace of completion. The student’s enrollment history prior to Academic forgiveness or renewal must still be counted in credit hours attempted.

  • Priority Deadlines for SAP

    In order to ensure that an appeal will be processed before the bill due date of the appropriate semester, please turn in that appeal and all documentation by:

    July 15 (Fall)
    December 1 (Spring)
    April 15 (Summer)

    Keep in mind that these are not absolute deadlines – appeals will continue to be accepted after these deadlines. However, if the student turns in their appeal after these deadlines, there is no guarantee that their appeal will be processed before the bill due date.

    Also, if the student does not turn in the appropriate documentation along with their appeal, this could cause a delay and their appeal may not be processed before the due date. Please turn in all appropriate documentation upfront.

    There is no guarantee that any appeal will be granted; therefore, it is recommended that each student who appeals have a “back-up plan” in case the student’s appeal is denied. This could include private lenders that do not require SAP (these lenders generally require a credit-worthy cosigner). Our office does not recommend signing up for a payment plan unless the student has a concrete idea of what they will do if their appeal is denied.

  • SAP Calculators
  • Definitions

    Academic Plan – A customized plan to measure a student’s academic progress when they cannot reach the standard criteria by the end of the next term. An Academic Plan is granted by appeal on a case-by-case basis.

    Credit Hours Attempted – The number of credit hours in which a student is enrolled after the last day to drop without a “W” including “W” (withdrawal), “P/F” (pass/fail), repeat credits, plus advanced standing credits such as transfer, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate.

    Credit Hours Earned – The number of credit hours for which a student successfully earns credit by transfer, examination or completion. Repeat courses receive credit one time only.

    Financial Aid Probation – The status of a student who has successfully appealed and is not maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress after one term on Financial Aid Warning. The student is eligible to receive aid for one term.

    Financial Aid Warning – The status of a student who is not maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress for the first time. The student is eligible to continue to receive aid for one term.

    Maximum Timeframe – The number of credit hours a student can attempt to complete their degree, not to exceed 150% of the published time measured in credit hours. Clemson University uses the average number of credit hours required to complete an undergraduate degree: 126 x 150% = 189.

    Minimum Cumulative Grade-Point Average (MCGPA) – The grade-point average required for continuing enrollment or graduation.

    Pace of Completion – The percentage of credit hours a student earned of the credit hours in which they were enrolled after the last day to drop without a “W.”

    Satisfactory Academic Progress – The status of a student whose GPA meets or exceeds the MCGPA required for continuing enrollment and graduation, and who has attempted less than 150% of the credit hours required for graduation, and who has earned 67% or more of their attempted hours.

    Unsatisfactory Academic Progress – The status of a student who is not maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress (MCGPA, maximum timeframe and/or pace of completion), who is not eligible for the status of Financial Aid Warning, and who has not successfully appealed to gain the status of Financial Aid Probation.


Please review the frequently asked questions about Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) here.