Policy Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Requirements for US Federal Aid Loans Eligibility

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Requirements for US Federal Aid Loans Eligibility


To specify the conditions and requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) that students in receipt of US Federal Aid must meet in order to receive continued US Federal Aid.


All students currently in receipt of US Federal Aid Loans (Title IV) and those who have had such aid suspended


U.S. Federal Aid - Education loans issued as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program (DLP) including:

*   Stafford subsidized,

*   Stafford unsubsidized, and

*   PLUS loans.

Definition of other terms used in this policy are as per the Policy Glossary

Financial Aid Administrator - Staff member/s suitably trained and familiar with the legislative requirements in the administration of the Title IV program at JCU. JCU’s Financial Aid Administrator is located in the Future Students Directorate.

Title IV - A part of the US Higher Education Act of 1965 that provides financial assistance programs to help eligible US post-secondary students.



James Cook University is registered as a provider to certify and administer U.S. Federal Aid loan applications for new and continuing international students.

Under the provider agreement, the University is required by U.S. Federal law (34CFR 668.16) to define and enforce standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Students applying for or receiving U.S. Federal Aid must progress satisfactorily towards completion of their chosen academic program. The University cannot waive the SAP requirements for any student when assessing eligibility to receive Federal Aid.

As a ‘registered foreign school’, the University is audited each year to ensure that all the recipients of all Federal Aid loans certified by JCU are meeting the SAP conditions and requirements set out in this policy. This policy outlines how the University will monitor and administer the SAP requirements, as required by the U.S. Department of Education.

A separate policy (‘US Federal Aid Loans - Return to Title IV’) exists in relation to the administration of US Federal Aid Loans which are received by the University on behalf of US citizens or eligible US non-citizens and which must be returned when such students withdraw from study.

1. Enrolment Conditions

Students will retain eligibility for U.S. Federal Aid provided that:

  • any modifications to their enrolment are recorded prior to the census date for each study period;

  • students maintain an enrolment of at least ‘half-time’. This is defined as a minimum of 6 credit points per teaching period for coursework students, and a minimum 0.5 study load for research students;

  • students must not enrol in any subject delivered by ‘external mode’ or ‘limited attendance mode’. This includes subjects offered by online delivery; and

  • students do not enrol in an offshore program.

2. Monitoring of Academic Progress

Federal Aid recipients will have their progress monitored by the Financial Aid Administrator this title or your actual role at the end of each teaching period to determine eligibility for continued awards of aid. This monitoring and evaluation process will consider a student’s progress under the following categories:

  • Academic Standing

  • Maximum Timeframe

Conditions for meeting the requirements under these two categories are defined below.

3. Academic Standing

Federal Aid recipients must meet the Academic Standing requirements by maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress in their course, as outlined in clause 3.1 (coursework students) and clause 3.2 (research students) below. Students must also comply with clause 3.3.

3.1 Maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress - Coursework Students

James Cook University’s process for monitoring and managing the academic progress of coursework students is detailed in the Academic Progression Policy. This policy defines the minimum academic standards required for coursework students to maintain satisfactory academic progress in a course.

Students’ progress is monitored at the end of every teaching period or trimester, as applicable. Students who do not make satisfactory academic progress are notified and provided with advice regarding remedial action which they should take to improve their academic performance. Students who still fail to maintain satisfactory academic progress may be subject to conditions placed on their enrolment or suspension from the course.

3.2 Maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress - Research Students

The progress of research students is monitored via the ‘Annual Progress Report’ which is completed for each student, in November of each year, by the Supervisor and College Dean, in conjunction with the student. Where some problems are identified in the report, the student's progress will be formally monitored by the College Dean for a prescribed period. Where more substantial problems result in an unsatisfactory progress report, the Dean, Graduate Research will interview the student and Supervisor to determine an appropriate course of action.

The Annual Progress Report is provided to the Financial Aid Administrator for each student upon request, to allow monitoring for US Federal Aid purposes.

3.3 Incomplete Subjects, Supplementary Assessments and Non-credit subjects

Students are required to achieve a final grade on any deferred or supplementary assessment within 6 months of completing a subject.

Non-credit subjects will not be counted when assessing costs and full-time status.

3.4 Subjects Undertaken by Cross-Institutional Study

Where a student has successfully completed subjects via Cross-Institutional study, then such subjects may be granted as advanced standing towards the student’s degree at JCU. The grades for these subjects are not generally included in the Grade Point Average calculations upon which satisfactory academic progress is based.

Where a student who has failed to maintain satisfactory academic progress has been granted advanced standing which has not been included in the Grade Point Average calculations, then this will be considered by the Financial Aid Administrator when making a decision regarding the placing of a student on Federal Aid probation or the suspension of Federal Aid.

4. Maximum Timeframe

Undergraduate students are entitled to receive aid for a maximum of 150% of the allocated course time frame. The maximum timeframe for eligibility is as follows:

  • 3 year degree – eligibility for aid is 4.5 years,

  • 4 year degree – eligibility for aid is 6 years, or

  • 5 year degree – eligibility for aid is 7.5 years.

5. Warning and Probations

5.1 Federal Aid Warning Procedure

Students who do not meet the Academic Standing requirements will be placed on Federal Aid warning initially for six months, and will be notified of this in writing. Students who have been placed on Federal Aid warning may continue to receive Federal Aid and if they subsequently meet the Academic Standing requirements in the following teaching period they will have the Federal Aid warning status removed.

Students who have been placed on Federal Aid probation warning and who fail to attain the minimum Academic Standing requirements required in the following teaching period will have their aid suspended and will not be able to receive any further Federal Aid.

Students who have had their aid suspended will be eligible to re-apply for aid if they meet the Academic Standing requirements in a subsequent teaching period. Students who are re-instated will automatically be placed on Federal Aid warning.

5.2 Notification of Suspension of Aid

If it is determined by the Financial Aid Administrator that a student is not eligible for continued awards of aid, the student will be notified in writing by email and to the registered term correspondence address on the University’s student system.

Students may appeal their suspension of aid, as detailed below.

5.3 Appeals  

a) A student who wishes to appeal a decision of the Financial Aid Administrator made under the provisions of this policy may lodge an appeal in writing with the Director, Future Students, setting out the grounds for the appeal. Any relevant supporting documentation must be attached.

b) The appeal must be lodged within 10 working days from the date of notification of the decision of the Financial Aid Administrator. Where in the opinion of the Director, Future Students, there are circumstances beyond the control of the student, the Director, Future Students may extend the time for lodging an appeal.

c) An appellant shall have the right to be heard in person by the Director, Future Students, prior to any decision being made. Students who wish to do this must indicate as such in the initial appeal application.

d)The appeal may be based only on the following grounds:

  • death of a family member (parent, spouse, sibling, dependent child etc.);
  • the extended illness of the student – extended illness as defined as a documented chronic or recurring medical or emotional illness that causes the student to be absent from class at least 15 days or more;
  • the extended illness of an immediate family member that places hardship on the student. Immediate family member includes parent, spouse, sibling, dependant;
  • other mitigating circumstances, as determined by the Director, Future Students.

e) Disbursements of funds will not be made while an appeal is being processed.

f) The appeal shall be considered by the Director, Future Students.

g) The process to review the appeal must commence within 10 working days of lodgement of the appeal with the Director, Future Students.

h) An appellant who elects to be heard in person by the Director, Future Students may be assisted by another member of the University community, not acting in a legal capacity, but the support person shall take no part in the proceedings, except at the express invitation of the Director, Future Students.

i) The Director, Future Students, shall have the power to uphold or dismiss the appeal or to make a new decision.

j) An appellant will be notified of the outcome of their appeal, and the reasons for the decision, as soon as possible by the Director, Future Students.

5.4 Federal Aid Probation Procedure

Where a student has successfully appealed the decision of the Financial Aid Administrator with regards to Satisfactory Academic Progress, they will be placed on Financial Aid probation for one teaching period.

As part of Financial Aid Probation, an academic intervention plan may be implemented which assists the student to successfully complete their degree.  At the end of the probation period a student must have attained the minimum academic standing requirements to maintain eligibility for Federal Aid. A student who has not met the requirements will have their Federal Aid suspended.

6. Continuation of study

While US Federal Aid eligibility requirements may allow students to be eligible for Federal Aid, other factors such as the University’s academic progression requirements and student visa restrictions may impact on the student’s ability to continue with their program of study.

7. Return of Federal Aid upon Suspension of Aid

In order to meet the US Department of Education’s requirements, and maintain the University’s registration in the US Federal Aid program, the University must meet certain conditions relating to the return of Federal Aid funds to the US Department of Education when students fail to meet the enrolment conditions for continued funding. Further details may be found in the policy: US Federal Aid Loans – Return to Title IV

Related documents and legislation

US Federal Aid Loans – Return to Title IV Policy


Approval Details

Policy Sponsor

Vice Chancellor

Approval Authority


Date for next Major Review (in accordance with the Policy Handbook)


Revision History

[Approval date - the date the approval authority approved the establishment, minor or major amendment or disestablishment]

[Implementation Date - the date the policy was published in the Policy Library and is the date the policy takes effect]


Approval date

Implementation date



18-1 30/04/2018

Changes made to reflect headline restructure 30/04/2018.

Quality, Standards and Policy



Minor amendments to align with Council approved Academic and Student Delegations RegisterAssociate Director, Enrolment and Client Services




Minor amendments required as part of re-certification of JCU to be an accredited administrator of US Federal Aid. Approved by Deputy Vice Chancellor, Global Strategy and Engagement

Director, Future Students




Approved by Council





Approved executively by the Vice Chancellor





Approved by Council



US Federal Aid Loans