Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Federal law requires all students who receive financial aid to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward their degree. The intent of this policy is to ensure that students who are receiving federal financial aid for their education are making measurable progress toward completion of a degree in a reasonable period of time. This policy affects federal, state and NMU institutional financial aid eligibility.  Students at Northern Michigan University must meet the following three standards:

  1. Credit Hour Pace:

    Students must earn at least 67 percent of the credit hours which they attempt for each program level (undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or graduate degree).  This calculation includes all accepted transfer credit hours as well as credit hours attempted at NMU.   Students who fail to meet this requirement will be put on financial aid warning status for their next academic semester of attendance. Students on warning status will be notified of eligibility requirements.  Eligibility for financial aid will be terminated if the deficiency is not corrected by the end of the warning period.  This standard is measured upon the conclusion of each semester. 

  2. Grade Point Average (GPA):

    To meet graduation requirements, undergraduate programs require a minimum grade point average of 2.0, while a graduate degree requires a minimum grade point average of 3.0.

    To be eligible for financial aid, students must meet the Academic Proficiency Standards as outlined in the Undergraduate Bulletin or meet the Academic and Retention Standards listed in the Graduate Bulletin.  This standard will be measured upon the conclusion of each semester by the Academic & Career Advisement Center (ACAC) and the Graduate Office.

    Transfer credits will not be included in the cumulative GPA.

  3. Maximum Credit Hours:

    Undergraduate students are limited to receiving aid for up to 150% of the credit hours required for completion of their program of study.

    - Students changing majors will be limited to financial aid for up to 150% of the number of credits required for their new program, including all previous credit hours attempted, regardless of the major declared at the time.

    - An exception is made for students transferring from a bachelor’s degree program to an associate, certificate, or diploma program.  These students will be eligible to receive aid for up to 150% of the credit hours required in their degree audit under their new program starting with the semester that the student changed programs (including any prior credit hours that apply towards the new program). This provision may only be exercised once.

    Graduate students may receive aid for up to 60 credit hours attempted in the pursuit of their first master’s degree.  After completion of the first master’s degree, a student is eligible for financial aid for an additional 60 credits towards a second graduate degree.

    Transfer students will be evaluated by adding their accepted transfer hours to attempted hours at NMU, allowing students to receive aid for the balance of the maximum length of their program.

    The Maximum Credit Hour standard will be evaluated early each semester.  Students will be notified when their financial aid eligibility is to be terminated.  For further definition of attempted credit hours, see the Attempted Hours section below.

    In addition, when a student does not have a realistic chance to meet their graduation requirements by the calculated maximum hours their financial aid eligibility will be terminated. 

Attempted Hours

Attempted hours include credit hours successfully completed as well as credit hours for which students receive non-passing grades (F or U), credit hours from which students withdraw (W) and credit hours that are not yet finished (I, X, MG). Classes that a student passes and repeats count as earned only once, but all credit hours, including the repeated class, are considered as attempted. Remedial classes count in both attempted and earned hours calculations even though the credits may not apply toward the completion of their degree requirement.  Transfer credit hours that are accepted toward a student’s educational program count as both attempted and earned credit hours.


Students who regain financial aid eligibility by meeting the appropriate standards (meeting or exceeding 67% completion standard and attaining academic good standing) should notify the Financial Aid Office. In these cases, the student will not be required to file an appeal to the Financial Aid Office to have their eligibility reinstated.  Also, if the Financial Aid Office identifies that a student is again meeting the standards then no appeal will be necessary.

If special circumstances such as illness, injury, the death of a family member or other extenuating circumstances prevent the student from meeting these requirements, the termination of eligibility can be appealed to the SAP Appeal Committee.

As part of the appeal process, students will be required to explain why they have failed to meet SAP, and what has changed in the student’s situation that would allow the student to demonstrate SAP at the next evaluation.  Supporting documentation of circumstances must be included with appeals. Appeal approvals are not applied retroactively after a semester has concluded.

Appeal approvals may include financial aid probation or require an academic plan to place the student on track for successful program completion.  Financial aid probation appeal approvals will allow students one more semester of financial aid eligibility, while academic plans would be required if the student is conditionally approved for subsequent academic periods.

Appeals approved by Admissions and Academic Policies Committee (AAPC) or the Graduate Program Committee (GPC) for students suspended or dismissed under the Grade Point Average standard will be accepted as approved for financial aid eligibility. If an undergraduate student does not successfully appeal the length of their suspension and returns to NMU after the conclusion of their one year suspension period, they must successfully appeal through the Financial Aid Office to again receive financial aid.

Understanding NMU's Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

VIDEO: Appeal Process for Special Circumstances

VIDEO: The 150% Rule: Maximum Time Requirement to Degree

VIDEO: Overview of SAP