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Financial Aid Standards of Academic Progress

We evaluate all parts of the Standards of Academic Progress at the end of each term of enrollment.

Students who receive financial aid must be enrolled in an eligible program and must have a declared major in a degree or eligible certificate program.

Students are required to maintain the SAP outlined here. These standards of measurements shall be used to determine eligibility for all federal Title IV aid, as well as state and institutional aid, and for other sources of financial assistance unless the requirements of a particular grant or funding source require additional terms. Some aid programs require higher standards, such as a higher grade point average (GPA) or a specific enrollment status.

You are expected to be continually aware of your progress toward completion. If you fail to meet the SAP, you will be notified by email at the email address on your student record. Failure to receive notification will not change your SAP status.

Qualitative Progress Measure: Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)

To continue receiving financial aid, you are expected to successfully complete your classes with passing grades. You must have at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA (based on all terms of enrollment) and at least a 2.00 term GPA during each period of enrollment. All courses that you have taken, including transfer credits accepted towards your certificate or degree at TSTC, college-level courses, and developmental courses will be evaluated.

Quantitative Progress Measures

We may use standard rounding rules when calculating percentages under the quantitative measurement. For example, 66.5% could be rounded up to 67%. Rounding can also apply to the qualitative measure.

Quantitative Progress Measure #1: The Pace of Progression or Completion Rate each Semester

When you enroll in classes and receive financial aid to pay for those classes, you are expected to successfully complete those classes. Effective July 1, 2011, you must complete at least 67% of the credit hours in which you enrolled during each term. You must also achieve a minimum cumulative completion rate of 67% of all courses attempted during your enrollment.

Only passing grades count as successful completions. Incomplete, in progress, failing grades, and drop/withdrawals are not considered completed courses; they are considered attempted courses, and will be calculated in the 67% completion requirement. Pass/fail courses will not be counted in the quantitative calculations. All other courses, including remedial courses, are included in the calculation.

Quantitative Progress Measure #2: Maximum Time to Complete a Degree/ Program

To ensure that you complete your program in a reasonable amount of time, a limit set by the Department of Education’s 34 CFR 668.34 has been placed on the number of hours that you can attempt. The limit is 150% of the minimum number of hours required to complete your program. For example, if your degree program requires 60 credit hours for completion, you must complete your degree or certificate program within a maximum of 90 attempted credit hours.

  • Once you reach the 150% limit, or the Financial Aid Office determines that you cannot complete your program within the 150% limit, you will no longer be able to receive financial aid. Several variables are considered when calculating the 150% limit and satisfactory progression rules. These variables include, but are not limited to:
  • All attempted credit hours are counted even if you were not receiving aid to pay for them. Attempted hours are the hours in which you are enrolled, as of the census date, in every term.
  • Any transfer hours that are accepted from other colleges and applied toward the completion of your program are counted in the maximum time frame. If you have previously attended any college, you must submit official transcripts from all previous colleges prior to any financial aid being released.
  • If you repeat a course, both attempts will be counted in the maximum credit hours and progression calculation, even if you did not receive aid for both attempts. Financial aid will only pay for two attempts in a college-level course. Separate rules apply for developmental courses.
  • Pass/fail courses will not be counted in the quantitative calculations.
  • If you withdraw from a course(s) after the census date for that course, it is still counted as an attempted course and is included in the SAP calculation.
  • All periods of enrollment and attempted credits will be evaluated, as they apply to the current program of study, whether or not financial aid was awarded during prior enrollment periods.

When you receive financial aid to help pay for a program of study, you are expected to complete that program within the specified time frame for that program. You should not enroll in classes that are not required for your chosen program of study. Classes not required for your degree plan are not eligible for financial aid. Additionally, audit courses, continuing education courses, previously passed courses, and courses for which you enroll after the census date are also not eligible for financial aid.

COVID-19 Procedures

Effective May 11, 2020, TSTC exercises the exceptions under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) for courses the student does not complete, including pass/fail courses the student does not complete. Per the CARES Act, “[I]n determining whether a student is maintaining satisfactory academic progress…an institution of higher education may, as a result of a qualifying emergency, exclude from the quantitative component of the calculation any attempted credits that were not completed by such student without requiring an appeal by such student.”

As a result, pass/no pass courses will be omitted from Spring 2020 SAP calculations and those courses taken during the Spring 2020 term will not count towards subsequent SAP calculations. Courses that are dropped or not completed due to COVID-19 related circumstances during the Spring 2020 term will not be counted as either attempted or completed courses for purposes of determining quantitative progress, which includes both maximum time frame and pace calculations; and those courses taken during the Spring 2020 term will not count towards subsequent SAP calculations. Since TSTC temporarily ceased operations during the Spring 2020 term for COVID-19 related reasons, the college exercises the exception to consider all dropped and incomplete courses to be for COVID-19 related circumstances.

Waivers and Exemptions

Effective Fall 2014, a new law was adopted by the Texas Legislature (SB 1210, passed in 2013). The law requires that students must meet the Financial Aid Standards of Academic Progress for certain waivers and exemptions.

Change of Major and Transfer Credits

Students receiving financial aid must declare a major in an eligible certificate or degree program. You should only register for courses approved for your designated degree plan/catalog year.

Change of Major requests will be considered. Change of Major request forms must be submitted to your Enrollment Coach. The Enrollment/Resource personnel will change your major to ensure that your new program is tracked for SAP.

Transfer credits that are applicable to your degree plan will be counted in both the attempted and completed credits.

Additional Certificates and Degrees

You must meet the SAP requirements. Changing programs will not change your current status. Your timeframe and continued eligibility will be re-evaluated at the time of the review.

Additional SAP Rules: Remedial or Developmental Coursework

You may be able to take up to 27 hours of remedial or developmental course work and receive financial aid to pay for those costs. These courses will be included in the qualitative and quantitative measurements for SAP. All courses, including failures, incompletes, in progress, or drop/withdrawal are counted toward the maximum 27 credit hour limit.

Once you have attempted 27 credit hours of remedial or developmental classes, you will not be able to receive additional financial aid to pay for those courses. Enrollment in these courses is indicated by testing or as recommended by an advisor.

Financial aid will not pay for:

  • Courses taken by audit.
  • Courses taken outside of your degree plan requirements.
  • Courses attempted more than two times (except remedial/developmental courses).
  • Credits exceeding the 27 maximum credits for developmental courses.
  • Courses previously passed, unless that course grade failed the minimum grade requirement for the program of study. In this case, we must have documentation that specifies the minimum course grade required.
  • Starting July 1, 2011, only two attempts will be approved, if a course was previously passed. A third attempt will not be paid by financial aid.
  • Credit hours earned by placement tests.
  • Continuing education courses.
  • Courses for which you register after the official census date of the class or for which you begin attendance after the official census date of the class.
  • Timeframe and/or credit hours in excess of the 150% maximum program limit.
  • Courses taken without having a declared eligible program (enrolled as undeclared, undecided, or non-degree seeking).

Failure to Meet the Financial Aid Standards of Academic Progress

Warning

The first time that you fail to meet the qualitative (minimum 2.0 semester or cumulative GPA) or quantitative requirements (minimum 67% of courses completed for the term or cumulatively), you will be placed on financial aid warning. The only exception is for exceeding maximum hours, which results in immediate suspension. If you are on warning status, you may receive financial aid without completing an appeal.

Failing to meet any one of the SAP measurements during the warning period will place you on suspension.

Suspension

There are several conditions that may place you on Financial Aid Suspension.

  • Reaching the maximum time frame for the program of study.
  • Failing to meet any of the SAP measurements during a warning period. You will lose eligibility for all financial aid until all SAP measurements have been met. It may take several terms of enrollment to regain eligibility.
  • If you are on Financial Aid Probation and fail to meet the Academic or Success Plan measurements, you will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension.

You are responsible for paying all expenses during any enrollment period(s) while on suspension. You can be placed on suspension after a warning or probation status.

Other types of Financial Aid Suspension: Maximum Time Frame

A student who has reached the maximum time frame for their program of study will be placed on a Maximum Time Frame status, a type of financial aid suspension. The maximum time frame is calculated by multiplying the number of hours required for the program by 1.5.

If we determine that you cannot complete your program within the 150% limit, you will immediately be placed on Maximum Time Frame.

Once the 150% limit has been met, you cannot regain satisfactory progress or financial aid eligibility for that program of study.

Maximum Time Frame Suspension

A student who has reached the maximum time frame for their program of study and has also failed to comply with another SAP measurement, such as having a term or cumulative GPA below 2.0 or a term or cumulative completion rate below 67% will be placed on maximum time frame suspension.

Reinstatement of Financial Aid Eligibility

If you are on financial aid suspension for reasons other than reaching the maximum time frame, you may have your aid reinstated in one of the following ways.

  • Continue to attend TSTC without financial aid until you are able to achieve both:
    • A cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher along with a 2.0 GPA for your last term of enrollment.
    • A 67% cumulative completion rate along with a 67% completion rate for your last term of enrollment.

Once you have met both of these standards, you will once again be eligible to receive aid as long as you continue to maintain academic progress. It may require multiple terms for students with an extremely low GPA or completion rate to regain financial aid eligibility.

The Appeal Process

Students who are placed on financial aid, maximum time frame, or maximum time frame suspension may file an appeal based on mitigating circumstances.

You are responsible for any payments and meeting payment deadlines during the appeal process. You should not miss payment deadlines while waiting for a response. Failure to pay for tuition and fees may result in de-registration. You are responsible for balances due if you withdraw before or after an appeal is denied.

Appeals will only be granted for conditions causing extenuating hardship to the student, such as the death of a family member, illness or injury of the student, or other mitigating circumstances. The appeal should include supporting documentation regarding your mitigating circumstances, such as medical statements or death certificates, or other supporting documentation.

Appeals for mitigating circumstances will be considered during a student’s enrollment at TSTC on a case by case basis. Submitting an appeal does not guarantee approval of the appeal. Sitting out a semester or more does not change the SAP calculation result. Appeals will be reviewed by enrollment coaches in the Student Resource Center and may be appealed to the assistant director of the Student Resource Center, whose decision is final.

Suspension appeal

A suspension appeal must include:

  • A completed Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form.
  • A written description of the mitigating circumstances.
  • Documentation to support any claims.
  • A description of the steps you have taken to remedy the situation.
  • A Success Plan showing a plan of action you intend to take for academic success.

Minimum time frame appeal

A maximum time frame appeal must include:

  • A completed Federal Time Frame Extension form.
  • A written description of the circumstances.
  • A degree plan showing the number of hours remaining until graduation.

Minimum time frame suspension appeal

A maximum time frame suspension appeal must include:

  • A completed Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form.
  • A written description of the mitigating circumstances.
  • A degree plan showing the number of hours remaining until graduation.
  • Documentation to support any claims.
  • A description of the steps you have taken to remedy the situation.
  • A Success Plan showing a plan of action you intend to take for academic success.

Appeal time limit

Once you are notified of not being eligible for financial aid (financial aid suspension), you have five working days to submit an appeal or up to the subsequent semester census date, whichever comes first.

COVID-19 as a mitigating circumstance

Effective May 11, 2020, circumstances related to an outbreak of COVID-19, including, but not limited to, the illness of a student or family member, compliance with a quarantine period, or the general disruption resulting from such an outbreak may form the basis of a student’s SAP appeal.

Documentation for these appeals may consist of the student’s statement except in cases requiring proof of illness of student or family member.

Appeal Decisions

Maximum Time Frame Appeal Approved

You will be placed on an academic plan and your progress reviewed at the end of each term. Failure to meet both GPA and completion rate standards will result in suspension from aid.

Maximum Suspension Appeal Approved

You will be placed on an academic plan and your progress reviewed at the end of each term. Failure to meet both GPA and completion rate standards will result in suspension from aid.

Probation

You will be placed on probation if we determine that you should be able to reach both the 2.0 term and cumulative GPA and 67% term and cumulative completion rate requirements at the end of the next term of enrollment. If you fail to meet any of these standards, you will be placed on suspension.

Academic Plan

You may be placed on an academic plan under which you will be able to achieve a 2.0 GPA by the end of your second year of enrollment so that you will be eligible for graduation. While in this status, you must make progress according to an academic plan which dictates that a student must achieve a term GPA of 2.0 or higher and a term completion rate of at least 67% in order to continue to retain aid eligibility.

The first term that you are under an academic plan will be a probationary term. If you comply with the terms of the academic plan, you are making academic progress and can continue to receive aid as long as you meet the conditions of the plan. Failure to achieve these conditions will result in suspension.

Appeal Denied

You will not be eligible to receive financial aid until you meet the SAP standards: both a cumulative 2.0 GPA and a cumulative completion rate of 67%. It may take several semesters in order for a student to regain aid eligibility.

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