Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)


For Cuyamaca College, SAP standards are evaluated by measuring the maximum time frame and pace of progression a student takes to complete their degree objective (Quantitative Standard) and a student’s GPA (Qualitative Standard).  These standards are evaluated at the time of application for federal financial aid funds for new applicants and at the end of each enrollment period (fall, spring and/or summer) for continuing applicants.  SAP standards apply to all students regardless of previous financial aid history.  


Financial aid eligibility requires students to declare a major in an eligible program, whether that is for an Associate Degree (AA/AS), Certificate of Achievement (CA), or a Transfer Program.  Students are expected to:


  • Meet with an academic counselor to create an educational plan which outlines the courses they have completed and are required to complete to achieve their educational goal at Cuyamaca College.  
  • Use their educational plan, class schedule, college catalog and other college publications to help them complete their declared program of study.  
  • Enroll ONLY in courses required for their program to ensure meeting SAP requirements.

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP) is defined by the Department of Education as the normal length of time for a student to complete an educational objective that cannot exceed 150% of the length of the program. Length of program can vary based on program requirements.  To receive financial aid, your educational objective must be an Associate’s Degree, Certificate, or Transfer to a four-year university.


When you apply for financial aid, we must review your entire academic record and determine whether you have made satisfactory academic progress. The following information outlines our Satisfactory Academic Progress policy.


Satisfactory Academic Progress – General

  1. Qualitative Measure - Grade Point Average (GPA), Students must maintain a semester and an overall GPA of 2.0 or higher. Students enrolled in an Associates degree or Transfer program must also have an overall 2.0 GPA after two years.
  2. Quantitative Measure - Pace of Progression, Students must meet SAP standards listed below to make certain their overall completion rate is at least 79% of the units attempted per semester to ensure an acceptable Pace of Progression.  Pace of Progression is calculated by dividing the number of units completed by the number of overall units attempted to calculate the student’s completion rate. (Example: a student has 65 units completed and 80 overall units attempted.  By dividing 65 units completed by 80 units attempted the result is an 81% completion rate).
  • Full-time students (12 or more units) must complete at least 9 units each semester
  • Three-quarter-time students (9-11.5 units) must complete at least 7 units each semester
  • Half-time students (6-8.5 units) must complete at least 5 units each semester
  • Less than half-time students (0.5-5.5 units) must complete .5 units





3. Maximum Timeframe - Unit Limit
Since most Cuyamaca College Associate Degree programs and General Education (GE) Transfer programs are approximately 60 units, students will be expected to complete their educational objective by the time they have  completed 71 units or attempted 90 units, whichever occurs first (60 units times 150% equals 90 units attempted maximum). This includes changes in majors and all units completed at all other schools, and applies to students working towards completing an Associate’s Degree or Transferring.  Students working towards completing a Certificate program will be expected to complete their educational objective by the time they have completed 36 units and/or attempted 45 units, whichever comes first.


Students who have completed 71 units or attempted 90 units (for Associates Degree/Transfer objective) or completed 36 units or  attempted 45 units (for Certificate objective) will be required to submit an appeal for Maximum Timeframe to determine further eligibility for financial aid at Cuyamaca College.  In evaluating the appeal, the Financial Aid office will determine if the student will be able to complete their program of study (major and educational objective) within 150% of the program length in order to be eligible for further financial aid (except the fee waiver and scholarships).   Generally, this unit maximum is enough to provide financial aid for one educational objective rather than multiple objectives.  

Once a student has completed their educational objective or is determined (through the appeal process) to not be able to complete their program of study within 150% of the program length, they will not be eligible to receive any more financial aid at Cuyamaca College (except for the fee waiver and scholarships).


English as a Second Language (ESL)
Students may be funded to a maximum of 35 units of ESL.  The maximum number of units to be funded will be determined by the student's Combined English Language Skills Assessment (CELSA) placement score and/or Ed Plan.  ESL courses that are degree applicable or transferable are excluded from the ESL unit limit and count as regular units.  ESL courses taken in a descending order (for example, if you have already passed ESL 103 and take ESL 100 the next semester) or below the placement score (for example, if your CELSA score recommends entry at ESL 100 and you enroll in ESL 96) will count as regular units and may not be deducted.  Exceptions may be made if documented by Cuyamaca personnel and approved by the Financial Aid department.


For more information on the CELSA test, go to Assessment Services  Webpage or contact the Assessment Center at (619) 660-4426.  To register for the CELSA go to WebAdvisor and under the “STUDENTS” menu look for the “Orientation/Assess/Advising” section.


Remedial Coursework
Students may be funded to a maximum of 30 units of remedial courses if documented by assessment scores and/or an academic counselor.  Remedial courses taken in descending order or below the placement score will count as regular units and may not be deducted.  Exceptions may be made if documented by Cuyamaca personnel and approved by the Financial Aid department.


Review Policy – General

1. The following will be considered as units completed and attempted:

  1. “A” through “D” grades
  2. “CR” or “P” passing with credit

2. The following will be considered units attempted, but not completed (deficient units):

  1. “F” grade   
  2. “W” (Withdrawal)
  3. “I” (Incomplete)
  4. “NC” or “NP” (No Credit or Not Passed)
  5. All repeated courses count toward the maximum unit timeframe and the minimum 2.0 GPA standard, including semesters for which Academic Renewal may have been applied by Admissions and Records.

Review Policy – Did Not Receive Aid the Previous Academic Year

If you did not receive financial aid during the previous academic year, we will review your entire academic record at Cuyamaca College, as well as coursework transferred in from other colleges.  Satisfactory academic progress will be assessed if you have attempted 12 or more units. This includes coursework transferred into Cuyamaca College.


The overall number of units completed will be compared to the overall number of units attempted. If you are deficient by 12 or more units or your overall GPA is less than 2.0, you will be required to appeal for lack of progress/low GPA. New applicants who are not meeting SAP standards are not eligible for Financial Aid Warning consideration.


Review Policy – Received Aid the Previous Academic Year

Your GPA and number of units completed will be checked at the end of each semester and evaluated based on the SAP general standards above.


Financial Aid Warning Status

  • Students not on Financial Aid Warning status or Financial Aid Academic Probation, who are paid at ½-time enrollment or higher (6 or more units), and do not make SAP for the semester will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for the next semester.
  • Students who are paid at less than ½-time status are not eligible to be placed on Warning status.
  • Student placed on Warning status are eligible for financial aid for the Warning  term and must make SAP for that term in order to maintain their financial aid eligibility.
  • Students will be notified in writing that they have been placed on Warning status and they will not be required to submit a Financial Aid appeal for the Warning term. A student placed on Financial Aid Warning who does not make SAP again for the Warning term will be disqualified the following term and will be subject to the Financial Aid Appeal process.

Financial Aid Disqualification Status

  • All students who do not make SAP (excluding students who meet the Financial Aid Warning standards detailed above) will be disqualified from receiving financial aid.
  • Students who choose not to go through the Financial Aid Appeal process or who do not make SAP while on Financial Aid Probation will be disqualified and will not regain eligibility for financial aid at Cuyamaca College until they meet the reinstatement conditions (see below).

Financial Aid Probation Status

  • Students who were disqualified for not meeting Financial Aid SAP standards have the option to submit an appeal through the Financial Aid Appeal process. Students who are approved through the Appeals process will be placed on Financial Aid Probation and are eligible for financial aid.
  • Students on Financial Aid Probation must make SAP according to SAP general standards above and may also need to meet the conditions set by the Appeals Committee to maintain financial aid eligibility.

Students who are subject to disqualification going into summer will be required to submit a petition for reinstatement for the subsequent fall or spring term. If a student receives financial aid in the summer session, they will be held to the SAP criteria previously outlined in the General SAP standards.


Financial Aid Appeal Process

Students may appeal for reinstatement or continuation of financial aid by submitting a Financial Aid Petition form to the Financial Aid Office. The Financial Aid Petition must indicate:


  1. The extenuating circumstances surrounding why you did not complete the minimum number of units, maintain a 2.0 GPA, or exceeded the maximum unit timeframe.
  2. The steps you will take to improve your academic status or positive progress to complete your educational objective.

  3. Documentation to support your extenuating circumstances.


Students will receive written notification of the appeal decision. If you must appeal because of lack of satisfactory academic progress as determined in the SAP general standards above, you are not eligible for retroactive awards if the appeal is approved.


Conditions for Reinstatement After Disqualification or Disapproved Appeal

Reinstatement is not an automatic process and is not guaranteed. Students may attempt to regain eligibility for financial aid after disqualification and/or denial of appeal for lack of progress by:

  • Enrolling in a minimum of six (6) units and completing a semester of SAP according to the previously outlined General SAP standards
  • Submitting a Financial Aid Petition form (check Financial Aid Reinstatement box in Section 1) and appropriate information/documentation as outlined on the petition form
  • Complying with any other specific conditions that were set in the appeal decision made by the Appeals Committee
  • Having your appeal approved





Related Resources

Financial Aid Workshops

Exit Counseling PDF

Annual Security Report

Apply & Enroll