Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education

Maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress

Federal and state regulations require you to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) as a recipient of financial aid. These requirements apply to part-time and full-time students for all terms of enrollment, including those terms for which no financial aid was granted.

You must demonstrate SAP in three fundamental ways:

  1. Maintain an academic status of good standing.
    This status indicates that you are not on probation (enrollment permitted), are not on suspension (enrollment not permitted) and have not failed an initial attempt to remediate an academic deficiency.
  2. Complete and pass two-thirds of all credits attempted per financial aid payment period.
    You must complete, with a grade of pass, at least two-thirds of the credits attempted per payment period. There are typically two payment periods per term. Grades of F, Y/incomplete, W/withdrawal or X/unofficial do not count toward completion. Because Feinberg School of Medicine is on a yearlong calendar, the last date on which you may drop a course and not have it included in the credits attempted per payment period calculation is set as follows:
    1. M1 Students: For financial aid purposes, the last date a course may be dropped and not counted toward the attempted units calculation are set as the Monday following the mid-point of the payment period. For payment period 1 (beginning Aug. 6, 2014), any courses dropped after Oct. 13, 2014, would be counted toward the credits attempted for that payment period. For payment period 2 (beginning Jan. 5, 2015), any courses dropped after March 16, 2015, will be counted toward the credits attempted for that payment period.
    2. M2 Students: For financial aid purposes, the last date a course may be dropped and not counted toward the attempted units calculation are set as the Monday following the mid-point of the payment period. For payment period 1 (beginning July 28, 2014), any courses dropped after Oct. 6, 2014, will be counted toward the credits attempted for that payment period. For payment period 2 (beginning Jan. 5, 2015), any courses dropped after Feb. 9, 2015, will be counted toward the credits attempted for that payment period.
    3. M3 and M4 students: Any course dropped following the Monday after the mid-point of the course start and end date will be counted toward the credits attempted for the payment period. Please see the SAP Course Drop calendar for specific course information.
  3. Complete program within a specified period of time.
    You must be on track to complete your degree within six years in order to maintain financial aid eligibility. If you are enrolled in a joint or dual program, the timeframe will be extended as needed. Contact Cynthia Gonzalez if you have questions about determining your personal maximum timeframe. Periods of academic leave (with no enrollment) or non-enrollment will not count against you, nor will periods of academic leave with enrollment (for example, a leave of absence that includes registration in an independent study) for purposes of research or fellowship. Remedial and repeated coursework do not result in an extension, nor does credit earned through a consortium/contractual agreement.

Evaluation

The Office of Financial Aid evaluates SAP at the end of each payment period, once grades are published in the university system. This review includes a manual review of grades received, courses attempted, pace toward graduation and GPA.

If grades have not been updated in the system prior to the disbursement date for the next payment period, funds may be held until SAP can be evaluated.

Warning

If you fail to meet the requirements for SAP for any payment period, you will be placed on warning for the next payment period and notified through your NU email accounts.

You will still be eligible for federal and state financial aid for the next payment period, but must meet the SAP criteria by the end of that payment period. If you do not meet the criteria by that time, you will be placed on suspension.

If you do not enroll in the next payment period after the warning is issued, the warning or suspension will extend to the next period in which you enroll.

Suspension

In order to reinstate federal financial aid eligibility after a SAP suspension, you must meet the following criteria for reinstatement:

  • Maintain an academic status of “good standing.”
  • Complete 100 percent of your courses with a grade of pass. If you receive a grade of F, X, Y, N, W and V, you will be disqualified from receiving financial aid in future payment periods.

If you enroll in any courses after the end of the second week of their scheduled start dates, they will be counted toward your credits attempted. Dropping any classes after that date will result in continued suspension of your financial aid.

Once you meet all of these requirements, it is your responsibility to contact the Office of Financial Aid [link] to request a SAP review for reinstatement of federal and state financial aid eligibility. Once the Office of Financial Aid determines that you are now in compliance, aid will be reinstated for the following academic term.

Appeals

If you fail to meet the SAP requirements due to extenuating circumstances such as a family member’s death, your illness or the illness of an immediate family member, you may submit a written appeal to the Office of Financial Aid. It must be received within 15 days of your receipt of the notice of suspension.

The written appeal should explain any relevant extraordinary circumstances, address your reasons for failing to meet the minimum academic requirements and offer some solution to the problems that affected your prior academic performance. We may also request supporting documentation, such as statements from academic advisers, professors or professional healthcare workers. The appeal will be reviewed by a committee chaired by the director of Financial Aid. All decisions made by the committee are final. You will be notified if your appeal is granted or denied via an email to your NU email account.

If an appeal is granted, you will be placed in one of two categories:

  • Probation: If you are placed on probation after an appeal, you will be eligible for aid during one additional payment period. During that period, you must meet all SAP requirements or your aid will be suspended without the ability to appeal.
  • Academic Plan: If it is mathematically impossible for you to resolve all deficiencies during one term and your reason for appeal is deemed appropriate per federal regulations, you may also be placed on an academic plan. An academic plan varies in length and is determined by the SAP committee. If you meet the criteria identified in the SAP appeal approval at each term review, your academic plan may be extended.

Special Considerations for First-Time Financial Aid Applicants

If you are a currently enrolled student but have not received federal financial aid for previous terms of enrollment in your current program, you are considered to be a First-Time Financial Aid Applicant. Your previous coursework must meet the minimum academic progress requirements. If it does not, you will need to complete a SAP appeal. In the appeal, describe a specific reason, event or circumstance that prevented you from meeting the academic progress requirements, and provide a specific plan/corrective action to improve your academic progress.