Section 600: Student Affairs

Effective: October 2007
Revised: October 2018 
Review Date: October 2020
Responsible Party: Senior Director of Student Success


Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress

Montana State University (MSU)-Northern is required by federal statute and regulation and Board of Regents policy to have a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy and a procedure for measuring student academic progress for financial aid eligibility purposes. To be eligible for federal and state aid programs and most scholarships and fee waivers, a student must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy standards regardless of whether the student has received financial aid previously. Violation of or deficiency in any one of these standards will result in loss of financial aid eligibility.


Warning Status:   Students who fail to meet a Satisfactory Academic Progress standard for the first time will be placed on warning status and will remain eligible to receive financial aid for one additional semester. Students must meet all standards at the end of the one semester warning period or will be placed on financial aid termination.
Probation Status:   Status assigned to a student who fails to make SAP and who has appealed and has had eligibility reinstated for one payment period.
Termination Status:   Status where the student is NOT eligible for any further aid.
Cumulative GPA:   Grade Point Average computed from all academic terms
Term:   Academic semester
Appeal:   A written request for an exception to the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy on a case-by -case basis.

There are three (3) standards of measurement:

  1. Length of Eligibility for Degree Completion
    For each program of study an institution must establish a maximum time frame in which a student is expected to complete his or her degree requirements. The maximum "length of eligibility" students are allowed is 150% of the average credits required for a degree or program as stated in the MSU-Northern Catalog. Examples are listed below:
    1 Year Certificate 30 credits 45 credits
    Associate of Science 65 credits 98 credits
    Bachelors 124 credits 186 credits
    2nd Bachelors   240 credits
    Masters 48 credits 72 credits

    The maximum "length of eligibility" includes pre-requisite classes and all attempted credits including all transfer credits, regardless of credit applicability to the students major/minor program.

    If extenuating circumstances prevent a student from completing his/her program of study in the allotted maximum "length of eligibility" he/she may request an extension by means of an appeal.
  2. Quantitative Measurement: Credit Hour Completion (Pace)

    All aid recipients must successfully complete 67% (rounded up) of all cumulative credits attempted. Successful completion of classes means passing grades must be earned. Grades of F, W, I, NP, X and R do not count towards successful course completion but do count toward the number of credits attempted but not counted as passed or earned. Any combination of F, W, I, NR, NP, X, R grades with zero credit earned in any semester will result in immediate Financial Aid TERMINATION.

  3. Qualitative Measurement: Cumulative Grade Point Average

    The quality of academic work is determined by using your Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA).
    Undergraduate Students: Must maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA.
    Graduate Students: Must maintain a Cumulative 3.0 GPA.


Repeat Courses

Repeated credits will be counted toward the number of credits attempted. Repeats of previously unearned credit are eligible for funding. Students may receive funding for a previously passed course one time only.

Remedial Courses

Remedial courses (credit bearing courses numbered below 100) are counted in the qualitative and quantitative standards and the maximum timeframe allowed for SAP purposes.

Transfer Students

Transfer credits do not count in the calculation of the cumulative GPA , but are included in the calculation of maximum "length of eligibility" for degree completion and calculation of the number of terms of enrollment and will be reviewed for SAP for initial satisfactory progress calculation upon entry at MSU-Northern.

Exceptions / Appeals

Exceptions to this policy may be granted on a case-by-case basis. The student must complete a Financial Aid Appeal Form within the first two weeks of the semester and present written evidence showing why an exception is in order. It is the student's responsibility to initiate all appeals. Reinstatement of assistance is also subject to availability of funds.

The Financial Aid Committee will make decisions regarding exceptions granted. The written documentation must include the following:

  • A letter from the student explaining why an appeal should be granted.
  • Documented illness of the students or student's immediate family member, if applicable.
  • Documented death of a student's immediate family member, if applicable.
  • Independent third party documentation of circumstances beyond the student's control.
  • A completed educational planning document signed by your advisor.
  • A working copy of your transcript.

Extenuating circumstances that will not be considered:

  • Lack of planning or self advising
  • Late application for assistance

The Financial Aid Committee will review the written appeal with all documentation including the student's academic history to determine whether the circumstances warrant approval. The student must explain in the appeal how the documented circumstances will not prevent him/her from maintaining satisfactory progress in the future.

If the appeal is approved, the student will be allowed one (1) term to restore satisfactory standing. A student, whose financial aid has been re-instated through the appeal process, may have adjustments made to their original awards, including loans, as a condition of an approval.

If the student will need more than the allowed maximum "length of eligibility" for his/her program, a written appeal for an extension must be submitted. The written request must document circumstances responsible for the extended time needed. The student must be making satisfactory academic progress at the time of the request. A signed major program sheet must accompany the request along with a working copy of the student's transcript.

If the appeal is NOT approved, students will be eligible for financial aid when they are again making SAP.

Second requests for financial aid reinstatement will be automatically denied unless there are some extenuating circumstances that would allow for a second appeal.

Consortiums (These agreements are a privilege)

Credits taken at each institution will be used to determine your Satisfactory Academic Progress as an aid recipient at MSU-Northern. Zero credits earned at either institution will result in immediate termination.


It is the student's responsibility to read and understand the standards of satisfactory progress.

Changes or revisions to this policy may be made at any time without publication or notification, due to changes in federal, state, and/or institutional regulations or policies.