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Financial Aid Policies, Terms & Conditions

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy ~ effective 2013-14

The Office of Financial Aid uses the SAP Policy to determine continued eligibility for financial aid programs. The SAP Policy is comprised of two parts, a qualitative and a quantitative component.

Students must be in good academic standing and uphold the minimum requirements for both the qualitative (grade-based) and quantitative (time-based) requirements of the SAP policy to maintain eligibility to receive financial aid. In compliance with federal regulations, Soka University of America (SUA) has established guidelines that are designed to ensure that students successfully complete courses and to promote timely advancement toward degree objectives.  These requirements also serve as a standard against which to evaluate student’s progress, grade point averages (GPA) and the overall time frame in which students complete their undergraduate program.  SAP is evaluated at the end of each semester at SUA.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) applies to the following programs:

Federal: Pell Grant, SEOG, Work Study, Direct Loans

State: California Grant

Institutional: Soka Scholarships, Grants, Loans

SAP policy is a complement to the Academic Probation policy but is a separate policy governing only financial aid eligibility. Students must be aware that it is possible to avoid academic probation or suspension, yet fail to meet SAP for financial aid.

The Office of Financial Aid will notify students of failure to meet SAP; the Office of the Registrar will notify students of academic probation or suspension.

The following minimum academic standards must be met:

1.     Qualitative Measure:

Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least 2.0 in order to be eligible for Federal, State financial aid and Institutional loans.  Student must maintain either a cumulative or semester GPA of 3.0 order to be eligible for Institutional Scholarships & Grants.

2.     Quantitative Measure:

The second component used to measure SAP is the maximum time a student may take to complete a program.  Students must complete their program within 180 credits (150% of 120 credits). To measure this, a student must successfully complete 66% of credits attempted. 

A student must be enrolled at least half-time (6 units) to be eligible to receive all or part of his/her financial aid.  Financial aid may be prorated for students who are considered less than full-time.

Students must achieve both the qualitative and quantitative requirements of SAP to remain in good financial aid standing. 

Additional Terms and Conditions for Institutional Scholarships and Grants

All institutional scholarships and grants are subject to additional terms and conditions, excluding athletic scholarships.  (Contact the Athletics Department for details on athletic scholarships.)

Institutional aid has a lifespan of 8 semesters. Institutional scholarships and grants will not be awarded beyond 8 semesters.

Students must maintain either a cumulative GPA of 3.0, or a semester GPA of 3.0.  Student’s GPA will be reviewed annually for renewal beginning of each academic year. Student will either be eligible or “disqualified” based on their GPA after their first year.  This is a separate assessment than SAP.  There is a separate appeal form “Institutional Award Appeal” for students who have been disqualified for institutional awards due to a GPA below 3.0. 

Failure to meet SAP Requirements

The US Department of Education (ED) has mandated that universal terms (warning, suspension, and probation) be implemented to describe failure to meet SAP across all colleges.  These terms were first implemented in the 2012-13 school year.

SAP Warning

Failure to meet SAP after one semester will result in a placement on “SAP Warning” status.  Student will have one semester of financial aid eligibility to correct their SAP deficiencies.  Students will be notified that he/she is on SAP Warning.  Warning is not given to students who have reached their maximum time frame or students who have failed to meet SAP for 2 consecutive semesters.   

Academic counseling should be sought to ensure the student satisfies all deficiencies during this period.

If the student meets SAP within the warning period (of one semester), he/she will be automatically placed back in good standing for financial aid.

It is possible for students to be placed on warning multiple times in their academic career.

SAP Suspension

After one semester of warning and continued failure to meet SAP, all of the student’s financial aid will be suspended/cancelled and student will be placed on “SAP Suspension.”

Students will be notified in the event that he/she is on SAP Suspension. Failure to receive notification from the Financial Aid Office is not terms for an appeal approval.  It is the student’s responsibility to understand the Financial Aid SAP policies and adhere to them.

Regaining Eligibility

Students on “SAP Suspension” can earn units and raise their cumulative GPA the next academic semester; however they are ineligible to receive financial aid during that period of suspension.  Once the SAP requirements have been met, students are eligible to apply for financial aid for the upcoming semester.

It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office when he/she regains eligibility for reinstatement of funds. 

Appeals and Extenuating Circumstances

Students may appeal for reinstatement of financial aid via a written request if they have an extenuating circumstance that has prevented the student from meeting SAP for institutional scholarships.  Such situation must be exceptional and nonrecurring in nature.  Some examples are death in the family, illness, or car accident. The appeal must explain the cause of academic difficulty and how the situation has been resolved.

The appeal must be submitted within 20 days of notification of financial aid ineligibility.  The student must meet with the academic advising staff to create an academic plan that will ensure success in completion of their program. The academic plan must be submitted with the SAP appeal.

Students must submit the “SAP Appeal” in-person to the Office of Financial Aid. Students may request that the form be date marked for when it has been received.

Students can expect to have a decision within two weeks of submitting an appeal form.  The Office of Financial Aid may need to request documentation from the student which could extend this period. In addition, if the appeal is sent to committee, the period of time needed to convene a committee could also extend the time required to make a decision. If this is the case, students will be notified that there will be a delay.     

If the SAP appeal is approved, the student will be placed on “SAP Probation” and will regain eligibility for financial aid for one or more semesters based on the academic plan submitted.

If the SAP appeal is denied, students are entitled to an explanation. Once an appeal has been denied, students may not make an identical appeal because he/she did not agree with the outcome. The appeal will be considered officially denied.

A student may not appeal after the enrollment period for the academic year or once graduated.

Grades, Repeated Courses, Transfer Credits

Grades that meet SAP completion standards are grades for which credit is awarded: A, B, C, D and P.  F, NP, Withdrawals (W), and Incompletes (I) are not passing grades. 

If a student repeats a failed or a previous passed class (D or F), it will replace the highest grade to recalculate into the new cumulative GPA.  Credits attempted in repeated classes will be included in the cumulative credits attempted in addition to the original credits.  Students who passed a class and chooses to repeat for a higher grade may receive financial aid only once for that repeated class.  Students may receive financial aid for a failed class that they repeat until they pass.

Transfer credits that have been officially accepted will count toward quantitative measures but will not compute into the GPA.

Study Abroad

SAP is calculated at the end of each semester after the regular period for posting grades has ended and grades are posted. Students returning from study abroad may experience a delay in the posting of grades earned while abroad.   Courses may show as incomplete during this time and will be treated as attempted credits for which no credit has been earned.  The incomplete incurred from study abroad will not have an impact on the GPA calculation for SAP.

Once study abroad grades and credits arrive, they will be calculated in the same manner as regular courses are calculated for SAP.

If the study aboard grades are not posted by the time of disbursement, students may be placed on SAP Warning.  However, for students who are already on SAP Warning prior to their study aboard program, their financial aid will not be disbursed until grades and credits arrive. If SAP Suspension occurs as a result of study abroad grades or delay, the student will have 20 business days to appeal after having been notified of the Suspension.

Non-Discrimination Policy

SUA admits students without consideration of their abilities to meet the costs. Soka University’s need-blind admission policy means that student financial aid status will not affect his or her possible admission to the university.

It is the sincere objective of the Office of Financial Aid to fair access to aid across all student populations.  However, there are some types of aid only available to US citizens and eligible non-citizens as mandated by US Federal Regulations.  In these cases, every effort has been made to create an equal alternative program for those who are not eligible for such aid.

The Office of Financial Aid is committed to adhering to positive awarding practices that does not discriminate on the basis race/ethnicity, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, or age in the administration financial aid or any other programs.

Communication Policy

Email is the standard and preferred method of communication with the Financial Aid Office.  The Office will use the email address noted on the admissions application for all communication with applicants.  Once a SUA email address is assigned to a student, the Office of Financial Aid will use this as the primary communication method and cease to use other email addresses.