Office of Student Financial Aid

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Federal and State regulations governing student financial aid programs require the university to ensure that each student who is receiving financial aid maintains satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward his or her degree objective. These Federal regulations set standards of satisfactory academic progress for all students, and measure progress toward the degree for all periods of enrollment regardless of whether the student is receiving financial aid.To clarify, these are not changes to University policy, but rather to federal rules regarding financial aid eligibility. Along with all other CSU campuses, SF State must comply and does not have the authority to reverse legal mandates or to "grandfather" students in under the old SAP implementation protocols.

SF State Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy and Requirements

The standards developed for financial aid recipients at SF State University include three major requirements:

1. Pace (Pass Rate) Standard
Satisfactorily complete a minimum percentage of their cumulative units
2. Maximum Time Frame Standard
Complete a degree program within 150% of the units for the degree
3. GPA Standard
Meet the minimum cumulative GPA of:
2.0 for Undergraduate students
3.0 or above for Graduate students

Details of how each standard is measured are found below. It is important to understand that a student's entire academic history must be considered in these standards regardless of whether or not the student received financial aid for that course work. Be aware that eligibility to enroll for classes does not mean that Satisfactory Academic Progress standards for the receipt of financial aid have been met

1. Pace (Pass Rate) Standard

Standard 1 is a quantitative measure which calculates the pace or pass rate at which a student is progressing toward completes his or her graduation requirements at SF State.
To be eligible for financial aid a student must maintain a minimum pass rate.

  • Undergraduate students:

All undergraduate students need to pass = 67%

  • Graduate students and other degrees:

Certificate students, Second baccalaureate, Teaching credential, Master and Doctor candidates need to pass = 70%

In order for units to be recognized as successfully completed, the grade must be one of the following:
A, B, C, D, or CR.

Transfer units are not included in this calculation.

However, repeated units at SF State course work are included.

All types of attempted units are counted as such, regardless of the reason for the grade earned. Therefore, grades such as F, I, NC, U, W, AUD, RD, or SP count as units attempted with zero units earned.

How To Calculate the Pace (Pass Rate) Standard

The pace or pass rate is determined by dividing total cumulative units completed by total cumulative units attempted at SF State


For example:
Student A: enrolls in 15 units (15=cumulative units attempted). The student successfully earns passing grades or CR for 12 units.

Calculation: take 12 divided by 15 = 80% pass rate


Student B: A different student enrolls in 15 units (15=cumulative units attempted). but only completely earns 6 units.
Take 6 divided by 15 = 40% pass rate.

To determine your pace rate refer to your unofficial SF State transcript. Start with the cumulative units completed; divide by cumulative units attempted.

2. Maximum Time Frame Standard

Standard 2 is also a quantitative measure to determine if the student is actually completing the academic program within a reasonable overall time frame based on units attempted. Students must complete their program of study within 150% of the units for the degree. At SF State, an undergraduate degree requires 120 units, so the maximum time frame is 180 attempted units (120 times 150%= 180). Transfer units are counted in total, whether or not SF State has accepted those units toward the degree and whether or not financial aid was received for those units.

Maximum time frame:
150% units required to complete programs
  • Undergraduate students
  • 180 Attempted units
  • Master's degree candidates
  • Varies by major
  • Teaching credential candidates
  • 57 units
  • Second baccalaureate students
  • 75 units
  • Certificate students
  • Varies by program
  • Doctoral degree candidates
  • 75 units

    3. Grade Point Average (GPA Standard)

    Financial aid recipients must be in good academic standing with the University. The Office of Student Financial Aid will adhere to the University's academic standard requiring:
    2.0 minimum GPA for Undergraduate students
    3.0 or above for Graduate students.

    Students are ineligible to receive financial aid if they are disqualified by the University based on the quality of their performance and progress toward their degree objective. Please refer to the University Bulletin.



    Satisfactory Academic Progress is monitored annually, at the end of the Summer Term or before the student's first semester at SF State. Students who fully meet all three standards above are considered successfully making academic progress - SAP.
    Students who are not meeting one or more standards are notified via email of the results and the impact on their aid eligibility.

    All financial aid recipients should speak to a financial aid counselor to discuss the impact of any proposed changes in enrollment such as dropping, repeating, or withdrawing from a course. Any of these changes may affect his/her satisfactory academic progress and future eligibility for financial aid.


    Pace Standard Appeal - Below Successful Pass Rate

    Students whose pass rate is below the minimum percentage may submit an appeal one time only. No extensions or subsequent appeals will be granted for any reason. Please see explanation of *extenuating circumstances* below. The appeal must include:

    1. Personal statement

    • Should explain the extenuating circumstances that affected the student's ability to make progress toward completing graduation requirements at an acceptable rate and what has changed so that the student will meet SAP standards in the future.


    2. Graduation Plan

    • Explanation of remaining courses which should be completed with an academic advisor.
    • If approved the student must take the required courses for graduation or complete the degree without financial aid. There are no extensions or subsequent appeals.

    Maximum Unit Appeal

    Student who has exceeded the 150% attempted unit maximum time frame may submit an appeal one time only. No extensions or subsequent appeals will be granted for any reason. Please see explanation of *extenuating circumstances* below. The appeal must include:

    1. Personal statement

    • Should explain why it has taken more units to complete a specified degree program;


    2. Graduation Plan

    • If approved the student must take the required courses for graduation or complete the degree without financial aid. There are no extensions or subsequent appeals.

      *As defined by Federal Department of Education guidelines, examples of extenuating circumstances include:

      • Prolonged illness under a doctor's care or illness/accidents requiring hospitalization
      • Prolonged illness of a dependent
      • Death of an immediate family member
      • Interpersonal problems relating to family, financial, or scholastic issues
      • Financial Difficulties
      • Change in major (only for those not meeting Max Time Frame; does not apply to students not meeting the Pace Standard)

    • Please attach appropriate documentation to support your statement (e.g. for a medical issue, attach doctor's note).



      If you need to file an appeal. Follow instructions below.


      1. Print the forms and fill them out fully. Be sure to follow instructions on the form.
      2. Submit to our office by mail or in person at the Fnancial Aid counter at the One Stop Center in the Student Services Building (SSB).

      What to expect after you submit the appeal

      You will be notified by automatic email notification of the appeal decision in approximately 2 to 3 weeks from the date of submission. If your appeal is approved, you should know:

      1. You can only appeal once.
      2. You have a probationary period of one academic year (Fall, Spring, Summer) to increase your pass rate to the required percentage. By the end of the probationary period, you must be meeting the standard to retain your financial aid eligibility.
      3. If you are not meeting the Maximum Time Frame standard, you will have until the end of the current academic year to finish your program while retaining your financial aid eligibility. After the current academic year ends, you will no longer be eligible for financial aid at SF State.

      *You must have Acrobat Reader 6.0 to open the file; if not (Click here to download)



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      Undergraduate Students Appeal Form

      Forms are in PDF Format - Please fill out and submit to our office:

      GRADUATE (Post-Bac, Credential & Master Degree)

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      Graduate Students Appeal form

      Forms are in PDF Format - Please fill out and submit to our office:

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