Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy
HEA Sec. 484(c), 34 CFR 668.16(e), 34CFR 668.32(f), 34 CFR 668.34
Revised for COVID-19 Exceptions and Flexibilities – March 2022


Federal and state regulations require that students receiving financial aid be enrolled as a regular student in a financial aid eligible program. An eligible program is one that leads to an associate or bachelor's degree, a one- to two-year program leading to a vocational certificate, or a specialized program that meets federal criteria. Continued eligibility requires meeting the criteria for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).  It is the responsibility of all financial aid recipients to understand the terms and conditions of the Napa Valley College (NVC) Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy in order to maintain their eligibility to receive aid. "Making SAP" means meeting all the standards and requirements of this policy.


Three standards are used for the assessment of Satisfactory Academic Progress. These standards are reviewed at the end of each semester and are subject to change.

Standard #1:  Qualitative GPA

Students are required to maintain a 2.0 minimum cumulative GPA. The GPA will include all aided and unaided terms at NVC.  

Standard #2:  Quantitative Pace

Minimum PACE at NVC is 67% of all cumulative units attempted.  PACE is the rate at which a student completes requirements for their educational goal and is calculated by dividing the number of cumulative units completed by the number of cumulative units attempted.  Remedial and ESL units do count when calculating Pace for SAP.

To measure whether students are progressing on pace for completion of their course of study within the maximum time frame, NVC evaluates the pace rate of financial aid students at the end of each term. At each term's end, students are expected to have completed at least 67% of all units attempted. Classes with grades of A, B, C, D, P (Pass), and CR (Credit) are considered to have been completed. Classes with grades of W, F, I, NP (No Pass), NC (No Credit), and RD (Report Delayed) are not considered completed.

All units on a student's transcript count as attempted units, whether they were completed with a "W", "P/NP", and "C/NC", were retaken for a better grade, or eliminated from the GPA calculation through the Academic Renewal policy. Note: transfer of credit from schools previously attended will count as both units attempted and units completed.

Standard #3:  Quantitative Timeframe

The maximum TIMEFRAME at NVC is 150% of published length of the student's declared program. TIMEFRAME is used to determine the maximum number of units for which a student may receive financial aid for their educational goal. Timeframe includes transfer units and all aided and unaided terms of attendance.

All financial aid students are expected to complete their program of study within 150% of the published length of the program. Students enrolled in 60‐unit AA/AS, 4‐year transfer, or vocational programs are expected to complete their programs by the time they attempt 90 units. Students enrolled in vocational programs of less than 60 units are allowed a maximum time frame (attempted units) that is 150% of their program's length.

For clock hour programs, the maximum timeframe must be no longer than 150% of the cumulative clock hours required for completion of the program, as expressed in calendar time. Example: For a program that is 40 weeks in length, requires 1200 clock hours and meets 30 clock hours per week, the maximum is 150% of 40 weeks, or 60 weeks. 


SAP will be evaluated at the end of each semester.  The number of units a student attempts and completes will be used to calculate SAP status. Clock hour programs are evaluated at the end of each payment period.


SATISFACTORY is the status assigned to a student in good standing who is making SAP and is not subject to disqualification.


WARNING is the status assigned to a satisfactory student who fails to make SAP. A student on WARNING status may continue to receive aid for one semester only. WARNING status does not require an appeal or other student action. In addition, students who have never applied for financial aid will be placed on Warning if their cumulative GPA is below 2.0 and/or if their cumulative PACE rate is below 67% at the time they enter the Financial Aid program.

At the end of the WARNING semester, a student is required to meet SAP standards. Students who have failed to make SAP will be notified by email from the Financial Aid Office about their loss of eligibility, and with instructions about an appeal process.


PROBATION is a status assigned to a student who was disqualified for failure to make SAP, who has successfully appealed, and has had eligibility for aid reinstated.

PROBATION status will be granted for one semester only after the student has appealed and has had eligibility reinstated based on approval of the appeal. Probation and reinstatement of aid are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and will not be granted automatically.

According to federal regulations, if it has been determined that a student cannot mathematically finish their program of study with the required cumulative GPA and PACE within the allotted timeframe, the student will be considered ineligible for financial aid and Probation will not be granted.


Students placed on DISQUALIFICATION status are not eligible to receive financial aid. Students may be subject to DISQUALIFICATION based on any of the following:

    1. Failure to meet SAP standards while on WARNING status.
    2. Being placed on NVC Dismissal status.
    3. Exceeding Timeframe.
    4. Completion of a Bachelor's degree or higher (at any school, foreign or domestic).
    5. Completion of an Associate's degree or vocational certificate.
    6. Failure to meet the terms and conditions of an approved appeal or academic plan.
    7. Exceeding the 600% FTE Federal Pell Grant limit (Timeframe equivalent of 144 units attempted).
    8. Other criteria as stated in the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy or required by law. 


Students who are DISQUALIFIED from financial aid may re-establish financial aid eligibility by meeting all SAP standards.  Students who failed to make SAP, but have not yet exceeded timeframe may re-establish financial aid eligibility by meeting all of the following requirements:

  • Without benefit of aid (other than a fee waiver or COVID-19 Emergency Grant), students on Financial Aid Disqualification must:
    • enroll in at least 6.0 units for a semester, and
    • complete 100% of units attempted for the semester, and
    • achieve a semester GPA of 2.0 or better, and
    • achieve a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better, and
    • achieve a minimum 67% PACE.
  1. Students who complete a semester on DISQUALIFICATION must have their academic progress reviewed before financial aid eligibility is determined for the following semester. 
  2. If eligibility is re-established, students must submit a written request for reinstatement of their financial aid awards.
  3. Under certain circumstances, students who are DISQUALIFIED from financial aid may submit a Financial Aid Appeal.


All Appeal Decisions Are Final And Incontestable

  1. A student who has lost eligibility due to failure to make SAP or by exceeding Timeframe may file a Financial Aid Appeal.  Submission of an appeal does NOT GUARANTEE the reinstatement of financial aid.
    • 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, qualify as extenuating circumstances for the Financial Aid Appeal process.
    • Students should be prepared to pay for their books and other school-related expenses pending the outcome of their appeal.
  2. Financial Aid Appeal form and instructions are available on the Financial Aid Appeal Instructions webpage at
    • If approved, students must strictly adhere to the terms and conditions of their appeal approval letter and contract.
    • Failure to meet the terms and conditions of the appeal will result in termination of the appeal and immediate disqualification from further financial aid.



1.    Class repeats may be included when determining the student's enrollment for Financial Aid as long as the repeat is NOT a result of:

    • More than one repeat of a previously passed course, or
    • Any repeat of a previously passed course due to the student failing other coursework required to be taken simultaneously, or

2.    Repeated coursework may not be eligible for federal aid, if:

    • A student repeats a previously passed course (grade of "D" or better) more than once. A student who has received a passing grade in a course two times, cannot have that class count toward financial aid if enrolled in for a third time;
    • A student repeats a previously passed course due to failing other related coursework, and
    • A student repeats a previously passed course only for the reason of obtaining financial aid.


Students may receive aid for no more than 30 units of remedial coursework.


Students enrolled in ESL courses may receive financial aid as long as they are in a financial aid eligible program and meet all other eligibility criteria. 


The following criteria applies to students who are identified with Admissions & Records as having dropped due to COVID-19 related reasons. Applicable for SAP assessments made March 13, 2020, through the end of the payment period that includes the last date that the national emergency is in effect.  

  1. Napa Valley College implemented a COVID-19 Excused Withdrawal (EW) grade and a COVID-19 drop reason code to identify students who withdrew from classes due to COVID-19 related reasons.
    • Classes dropped with an "EW" grade are automatically excluded from attempted credits when the SAP calculation is run each semester.
    • Classes dropped with a COVID-19 drop status (but not an "EW" grade) are manually reviewed and excluded from attempted credits after the SAP calculation is run each semester. 
  2. On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared a COVID-19 pandemic national emergency, resulting in the temporary caseation of operations and interruption of instruction at Napa Valley College.  Due to that interruption, all Spring 2020 students were determined to have been affected by COVID-19 and given an "EW" grade if they dropped a course during the affected period.  Affected drops that did not qualify for an "EW" grade (due to registration rules) were reviewed and excluded manually after the semester SAP Calculation was run.
  3. Beginning Summer 2020, students who drop for COVID-19 related reasons must submit a petition to Admissions & Records requesting an Excused Withdrawal (EW) for a COVID-19 releated circumstance.  If the petition is approved:
    • An EW grade is entered if the student dropped for COVID-19 related reasons during the timeframe allowed to drop a class with a "W" grade.
    • A COVID-19 drop status code is entered if the student dropped outside the timeframe allowed to drop a class with a "W" grade.
  4. Students affected by COVID-19 circumstances who fail to meet the FA SAP criteria and lose financial aid eligibility may submit a Financial Aid Appeal.  See section 14.4 Appeal Process for more information.

COVID-19 Related Guidance Links

Click on the link to open and print the PDF version of the FA SAP policy.

Academic Progress-Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy Rvsd for COVID-19 Exceptions and Flexibilities.pdf