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Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

The federal government requires that institutions, approved to offer Title IV aid, monitor each student's academic progress. This is done to ensure that students receiving financial aid are making what is called Satisfactory Academic Progress. To remain eligible for federal financial aid, students must meet all of Meridian’s Satisfactory Academic Progress standards established for their specific enrollment status. These standards are separate from the academic standing policies set by the institution.

For Students Enrolled in Coursework

For Coursework students, evaluation of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) occurs on an annual basis, once grades have been posted from the Summer quarter. SAP is also evaluated any time a student applies for Federal Student Aid.

Satisfactory Academic Progress for coursework students has three standards - quantitative, qualitative, and maximum timeframe.

Meridian University does not use the traditional GPA (grade point average) as a method of evaluation. Rather, the ratio of successfully completed credits to total attempted credits is examined for both qualitative and quantitative purposes, on a cumulative basis.

To remain eligible for financial aid, a minimum 67% of attempted units must be successfully completed. Transfer credit (“TU”) will be considered as both attempted and completed units. The grades of Incomplete (“INC”), No Credit (“NC”), Withdrawn (“W”), and multi-quarter courses in progress with grades pending (“MQC”) will be counted as attempted units - and excluded from completed units - until successful grades are posted to the transcript. This 67% benchmark serves as both a qualitative assessment of academic standing relative to institutional expectations as well as a quantitative assessment of progress towards completion.

The percentage of completed credits is calculated by dividing the number of successfully completed credits by the number of attempted credits, rounded up to the nearest integer. For example, if the student attempts 8 credits in the spring quarter but only successfully completes a total of 5 credits, the student has completed only 63% of attempted units and so is not maintaining SAP.

Students who do not make satisfactory academic progress will lose their financial aid eligibility until they again make SAP. For students who have lost aid, SAP will be checked quarterly to determine eligibility. If a student who has lost their aid is determined to be eligible again, they will receive any pending disbursements.

Example: The Quantitative and Qualitative Standards in Practice

  Courses and Grades SAP Implications
First Year - Fall Quarter Sarah takes four courses, each worth 3 quarter credits. Therefore she is attempting a total of 12 quarter credits. She passes three courses, but does not submit her final paper for the fourth course and therefore receives an “Incomplete” grade. Sarah has completed 9 of the 12 quarter credits she attempted. Therefore she has completed 75% of attempted credits and is successfully “making SAP.”
First Year - Winter Quarter Sarah takes three courses, each worth 3 quarter credits. Therefore she is attempting a total of 9 quarter credits. She passes one course, but gets a “No Credit” for the second course because she did not meet the attendance requirement. She gets an “Incomplete” for the third course because she did not submit the final paper. Sarah has now attempted a total of 21 quarter credits and completed 12. Therefore she has completed 58% of attempted credits and is not making SAP. She has until the end of the spring quarter to resolve her incompletes and until the end of the summer quarter to be back to “making SAP.”
First Year - Spring Quarter Sarah attempts two courses, each worth 3 quarter credits. She passes both. During the spring quarter, she also goes through the late paper submission process for the winter quarter course in which she received an “incomplete.” Her grade for that course is changed to a “pass.” Sarah has now attempted a total of 27 quarter credits and completed 21 quarter credits. Therefore she has completed 78% of attempted credits and is successfully making SAP again.
First Year - Summer Quarter Sarah attempts two courses, each worth 3 quarter credits. She passes both. Sarah has now attempted a total of 33 quarter credits and completed 27. Therefore she has completed 82% of attempted credits and is successfully “making SAP.” The Annual SAP check, which takes place for all students at the end of the summer quarter, shows Sarah as successfully “making SAP. ” This means that Sarah can proceed with the FSA process for the next academic year.

Financial Aid Warning Status

Students who fail to successfully complete a minimum of 67% of attempted units each year will lose eligibility for Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Grad Plus Loans. These students will be notified in writing if/when their eligibility for federal aid is suspended.

For students who have lost aid, SAP will be checked quarterly to determine the possibility of the student having regained their eligibility for financial aid. As such, a student who loses their aid due to not making SAP may have their financial aid reinstated the following quarter if they are once again making SAP.

Appealing Financial Aid SAP Status

A student who is no longer eligible for Federal Student Aid due to failure to meet Meridian’s SAP standards may appeal to have their financial aid reinstated for one quarter if extenuating circumstances have hindered academic performance. Appeals must be in writing and describe the basis for the appeal such as the death of a relative, an injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstance. The appeal should include an explanation as to what has now changed that would allow the student to demonstrate SAP by the end of the next quarter, as well as a proposed Learning Agreement that provides a detailed explanation of how and when deficiencies will be resolved. The outcome of this appeal will depend on the nature of the circumstances, the quality of the documentation provided, and how well the student has demonstrated the ability to progress towards degree completion within a reasonable time period.

The appeal and the Learning Agreement are submitted to:

Financial Aid Office
Meridian University
47 Sixth Street,
Petaluma, CA 94952
P: (707) 765-1836
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

These materials are to be submitted within two weeks of being notified of losing financial aid eligibility. The Student Development Committee will review each student’s appeal and proposed Learning Agreement to determine whether the SAP standards will be met and if eligibility for federal aid may be reinstated.

The following are examples of extenuating circumstances that can be considered for appeal, along with examples of documentation.

Circumstance Examples of Appropriate Supporting Documentation
The death of a family member, relative, or significant person in the student’s life Copy of an obituary or death certificate
Significant injury or illness of the student Physician's statement, police report, or hospital billing statement, and personal statement of the illness
A significant injury or illness of a family member, relative, or other such close person in the student’s life Physician's statement, police report, or hospital billing statement, and personal statement of the illness from the individual for whom the student provided care or support
Family difficulties such as divorce or separation of the student or student’s parents Court documentation or letter from the attorney in the case
Significant interpersonal problems with friends, roommates, or significant other Written statement from an attorney, professional advisor, or other individual describing circumstances and personal statement to this effect

The Student Development Committee reviews appeals on a case-by-case basis to determine if the student qualifies for an extension. Reviews are completed within 15 working days from receiving all complete documentation from the student.

If this appeal is approved, the student will be eligible to receive financial aid for one quarter and will be placed on financial aid probation. Students will be notified via email of the outcome of their appeal.

Academic Probation

If a student has been placed on academic probation by the Student Development Committee, the student must develop a learning agreement that has been approved by the committee. During this academic probation period, a student may remain eligible to receive financial aid.

Students who fail to meet the requirements of their learning agreement are required to meet with the Student Development Committee. The committee may extend the student’s academic probation (as opposed to administrative withdrawal) but during this academic probation period the student is not eligible to receive further financial aid.

For PhD Students Enrolled in the Dissertation Period

All eligible financial aid recipients entering the dissertation phase of the PhD program will be awarded financial aid on a borrower-based academic year. This means that from the time the eight-quarter PhD dissertation period begins, financial aid will cover four consecutive quarters, twice.

Students who are completing their dissertation during the eight quarter PhD dissertation period demonstrate SAP by submitting acceptable written work to their dissertation committee chair and advisor, as follows:

  • Upon completion of the first four quarters of the eight-quarter PhD dissertation enrollment period, the financial aid office will confirm your active participation in the dissertation process. Active participation is defined as the submission of written materials beyond the dissertation proposal as well as ongoing consultation with your dissertation committee. The committee chair must confirm that such progress has occurred via the chair’s submission of the Active Participation form.
  • Once active participation is confirmed, the student may be eligible for additional financial aid during the second year of the two-year clock.

At the end of the eight quarters of the PhD dissertation enrollment period, in order to be making SAP, a student must at minimum have submitted the dissertation’s Chapter Four in order to receive aid during a third year of PhD dissertation work.

Students who find that additional time beyond the eight quarters is necessary for completion of the PhD dissertation must enroll in the extended four-quarter clock. In order to make SAP to remain eligible to receive aid during a third year of PhD dissertation work, the student must at minimum have submitted an acceptable draft of the dissertation’s fourth chapter (the Learnings Chapter). The committee chair must confirm that such progress has occurred via the chair’s submission of the Learnings Chapter Submission form to the financial aid office.

Requirements for the dissertation’s fourth chapter are defined by each program and are included in the program’s Dissertation Handbook. It is the student’s responsibility to stay in contact with their committee and to follow-up on the progress of their chapter four approval.

Financial aid is not available beyond the third year of PhD dissertation work.

PhD dissertation students completing the dissertation are considered to be in progress and will be counted as attempted credits; students will not receive completed credits until the student completes their dissertation.

All pending financial aid will be canceled once the final draft of the dissertation is approved.

For PsyD Students Enrolled in the Clinical Case Study (CCS) Period

All eligible financial aid recipients entering the clinical case study phase of the PsyD program will be awarded financial aid on a borrower-based academic year. This means that from the time the four-quarter PsyD clinical case study period begins, financial aid will cover four consecutive quarters.

  • Upon completion of the first two quarters of the four-quarter PsyD clinical case study enrollment period, the financial aid office will confirm your active participation in the clinical case study process. Active participation is defined as the submission of written materials beyond the first two clinical case study chapters, as well as ongoing consultation with your advisor. Your advisor must confirm that such progress has occurred via their submission of the Active Participation form.

Students who find that additional time beyond the four quarters is necessary for completion of the PsyD clinical case study must enroll in the extended four-quarter clock. In order to be making SAP to remain eligible to receive aid during a second year of PsyD clinical case study work, the student must at minimum have submitted an acceptable draft of the clinical case study’s first three chapters. The clinical case study advisor must confirm that such progress has occurred via the advisor’s submission of the Three Chapter Draft Submission form to the financial aid office.

Requirements for each of the clinical case study chapters are included in the program’s Clinical Case Study Handbook. It is the student’s responsibility to stay in contact with their advisor and to follow-up on the progress of their three chapter draft approval.

Financial aid is not available beyond the second year of PsyD clinical case study work.

PsyD students completing the clinical case study are considered to be in progress and will be counted as attempted credits; students will not receive completed credits until the student completes their clinical case study.

Please be aware that all pending financial aid will be canceled once the final draft of your clinical case study is approved.

Maximum Timeframe

The length of time that the student can remain eligible for Federal Student Aid is measured in terms of credits attempted. Students may not attempt more than 150% of a program’s length (e.g., for a 60 credit program, the student may not attempt more than 90 credits).

The following chart lists the maximum number of credits a student may attempt in the process of completing their degree:

DEGREE PROGRAM Total Credits Required Maximum Number of Attempted Credits Allowed
Ph.D. Psychology 181 271.5
Ph.D. Psychology
(Advanced Standing)
150 225
Psy.D. Clinical Psychology 166 249
Psy.D. Clinical Psychology
(Advanced Standing)
135 202.5
M.A. Counseling Psychology 105 157.5
M.A. Psychology 64 97.5
Ed.D. Organizational Leadership 115 135
M.Ed. Educational Leadership 60 90
MBA Creative Enterprise 60 90
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