Satisfactory Academic Progress

These are guidelines to follow to maintain your financial aid eligibility at Chattanooga State.

What should I expect when I accept financial aid?
  • A student must be enrolled in a program (Associate’s Degree, certificate, or Technical College certificate or diploma) that is approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • A student accepts responsibility for meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress policies every semester to remain eligible for aid.
  • If you anticipate receiving outside resources (i.e., V.A. benefits, WIOA, outside scholarships) OR received aid at another institution during this academic year, you must notify the Office of Financial Aid. Failure to do so may result in you owing back a portion of your aid.
  • Federal loans that have NOT been accepted within 45 days are subject to cancellation. Grants and scholarships are automatically accepted for you and pay towards the appropriate tuition, fees, and other charges based on enrollment.
  • All eligible fees and bookstore charges will be deducted from your financial aid awards.
  • All financial aid awards are estimated and subject to change based on enrollment status.
  • All award amounts are based on full-time enrollment: the actual amount disbursed will be pro-rated (except loans) based on the number of hours enrolled and attending on the 14th day (census date) of the semester.
  • You must be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours (half-time) to receive loans. Determine your expenses and resources before accepting any loans – do not borrow more than you need.
  • You may be required to provide additional verification documentation at any point during the academic year.
  • You may not receive federal/state aid at multiple institutions simultaneously. If you are concurrently enrolled at two institutions, notify Enrollment Services immediately.
  • Withdrawing from all classes will result in a re-calculation of federal aid. Students may be required to return a portion of their funds to Chattanooga State.
What are the three SAP standards for credit hour programs?

All Financial Aid recipients are provided a link to the satisfactory academic progress guidelines on their TigerWeb self-service account. Standards are published on this website.

Federal regulations require all colleges and universities monitor the academic progress of financial aid recipients to ensure they are advancing at an acceptable pace while maintaining an acceptable grade point average. Specifically, students must demonstrate Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward the completion of their degrees in order to continue receiving federal and state financial aid funds. Chattanooga State's Financial Aid Office determines eligibility by measuring academic performance against three SAP standards.

The Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy is comprised of three standards:

  1. Cumulative GPA - A student must earn the minimum cumulative combined GPA below for the total number of semester credit hours attempted:
    Cumulative GPA
    Attempted Hours Required Quality GPA
    0.0 - 12.0 1.00
    12.1 - 24.0 1.50
    24.1 - 36.0 1.70
    36.1 - 48.0 1.90
    48.1 - Above 2.00

    (Total hours attempted include collegiate hours)

  2. Completion Rate - Completion Rate - Effective Fall 2014, students MUST maintain a cumulative passing rate of 67%.  Students will no longer be measured on the passing rate of an individual semester.  Cumulative includes ALL courses attempted at Chattanooga State CC regardless of the year attempted.  The following grades are not considered passing: F (failing); W (withdrawal from course); I (incomplete status); and AU (audited course for noncredit).  Refer to examples below:
    • Student A: Student attempted 12 hours in the fall semester. At the end of the fall semester the student earned B in all 12 hours, however, the student’s cumulative passing rate is 50% because the student attended 3 years earlier and failed 6 hours and withdrew from 6 hours. Even though the student was successful in the one semester, the student’s total success rate was 12 out of 24 hours.
    • Student B: A first-time student attempted 9 hours in the fall semester earning a C in one class (3 hrs) and withdrawing from the other 2 classes (6 hours). At the end of fall semester the student is in warning status for failing to earn a 67% cumulative passing rate (3 / 9 = 33%). The student attends in the spring earning a B in 2 classes (6 hours). At the end of spring semester the student is suspended because his/her cumulative passing rate remains below 67% (9 hours passed / 15 total attempted = 60%).
  3. Time Limitation - students must complete their education within a maximum timeframe. Students may receive financial aid for attempted credit hours; however, the number of attempted credit hours cannot exceed 150% of the credit hours necessary to complete the program. For example, most associate’s degree programs require students to complete 60 credit hours of study; therefore, students can receive financial aid funds for up to 90 attempted credit hours. Calculations for maximum timeframe will incorporate credit hours transferred from another institution, as well as remedial (developmental/learning support) classes taken while at Chattanooga State. Specific time limits for specific program lengths are shown below:

    If your program length is… then your maximum timeframe is…
    16 credit hours (15 weeks, 1 semester) = 24 attempted hours
    18 credit hours (30 weeks, 2 semesters) = 27 attempted hours
    21 credit hours (30 weeks, 2 semesters) = 32 attempted hours
    32 credit hours (43 weeks, 3 semesters) = 48 attempted hours
    40-48 credit hours (43+ weeks, 3+ semesters) = 60 attempted hours
    60+ credit hours (AA, AS, or AAS degrees) = 90 attempted hours

What are the SAP standards for clock hour programs?

Qualitative Standards

  • Students enrolled in a clock hour program must maintain a minimum, cumulative grade of “C” unless otherwise specified by the program, for programs where letter grades are given. They must also receive passing grades (no I’s, F’s, or W’s) to continue to be eligible for the program.

Quantitative Standards

  • Students must complete 91% of the scheduled hours each payment period to remain eligible for subsequent payments. Failure to complete 91% of the scheduled clock hours in any payment period could cause the student to become ineligible.
  • Payment will not be made for the subsequent payment period until the deficit hours from the previous payment period are completed. The payment will be pro-rated based on the hours remaining in the payment period after deficit hours are completed.

Time Frame

The maximum time frame for a Tennessee College of Applied Technology student to receive financial aid is the number of hours required for a certificate. A student will never receive Federal Financial Aid for hours past their program length.

If your program length is... then your time limit is…
780 clock hours = 30 weeks
1125 clock hours = 43 weeks
1290 clock hours = 43 weeks
1357 clock hours = 43 weeks
1500 clock hours = 57 weeks

Appeals are not allowed for vocational students. If a student has failed to meet SAP standards, eligibility can be re-established by paying out of pocket for one payment period and making satisfactory academic progress at the next SAP evaluation.

What is the SAP status?

The Office of Financial Aid reviews the SAP status of all students, regardless of whether or not they are receiving financial aid, at the end of each payment period or semester, and a status is assigned based on previous SAP evaluations, academic performance during the semester, and overall, cumulative hours (including transfer hours) and institutional GPA:

  • In Good Academic Standing: meeting all SAP guidelines, including first-time freshmen and current or transfer students with credits from Chattanooga State or other institutions (both credit and clock hour programs)
  • SAP Warning: failed to meet SAP standards in a previous semester, still eligible for aid while in a “warning” status (both credit and clock hour programs)
  • Approaching 150% of Program Length: at least 75 attempted hours, still in a “warning” status and eligible for aid – will be  ineligible upon reaching 90 attempted hours (credit hour programs only)
  • Suspended: not eligible for most financial aid, must either appeal for aid or attend at your own cost until meeting  SAP guidelines
  • Max Hours:  accumulated 90 or more attempted hours, suspended and ineligible for aid without appeal
  • Academic  Plan: appeal approved, must achieve a 75% completion rate and minimum 2.5 GPA in upcoming semesters to meet SAP guidelines (credit hour programs only)
  • Graduation Plan: appeal approved, must follow academic plan and achieve a 75% completion rate and minimum GPA in upcoming semesters to graduate by the semester indicated in the appeal (credit hour programs only)
  • Appeal Denied: must attend at own cost until meeting SAP guidelines or completing program (credit hour programs only)

Transfer students may be required to appeal for aid immediately upon admission to a credit hour program once transcripts from all other schools have been received and evaluated, if 90 or more attempted hours are transferred from other programs. Former dual enrollment, collegiate high, or middle college students at Chattanooga State may be in a “warning” status their first semester in a degree or credit hour certificate program, if they failed to meet SAP guidelines while taking college credit classes in high school. Students enrolled in a general transfer degree program will most likely not be approved for an appeal for maximum timeframe beyond 180 attempted hours.

What is the SAP appeal process?
  • Students are in eligible for aid as soon as they are in a suspended status. This often impacts most types of state aid in addition to federal aid.
  • To have aid eligibility reinstated in an upcoming semester, students must submit an appeal for the appropriate aid year by the appropriate deadline.
    • It is strongly suggested that students meet with an Academic  Advisor, Academic Completion Specialist, or Success Coach prior to submitting a SAP appeal, to discuss the academic plan that is required for the appeal
    • All students appealing for aid must complete and sign the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form (available in TigerWeb) and submit any necessary supporting documentation. The  explanation with the appeal must explain why one or more of the SAP guidelines was not met and state what steps will be taken to improve academic progress
    • An Academic Advisor must also sign the appeal form and provide an Academic Plan that clearly maps out the classes needed to make successful academic progress or complete the program of study.
    • Incomplete SAP appeals will not be reviewed by the appeals committee.
  • If  an appeal is denied, a student must pay out of pocket until they are meeting the SAP guidelines for GPA and completion rate, or until the program is completed if they have exceeded the maximum number of hours
  • A student whose aid is reinstated as the result of an approved appeal must meet all conditions specified in the appeal to maintain continued aid eligibility. A student who fails to enroll after an appeal is approved may be required to submit a new appeal with an updated Academic Plan. Once a student is again meeting all SAP guidelines, they will again be in good standing for financial aid.
  • There is no appeal process for clock hour programs. Students must enroll  at their own cost or sit out for 180 days to restart the program in a new payment period.

Appeals Committee
The SAP Appeals Committee reviews all appeal requests in the order that they are received and is the final authority on all decisions as it relates to SAP appeals.

Appeal Timeline
It is recommended that appeals be submitted by the priority dates listed below, and the final deadline for appeals will be the day before classes start for the full semester:

  • Requesting aid for the upcoming Fall semester: July 15 (final deadline in August before classes start)
  • Requesting aid for the upcoming Spring semester: December 1 (final deadline in January before classes start)
  • Requesting aid for the upcoming Summer semester: April 1 (final deadline in May before classes start)

Students should anticipate a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks for the appeals committee to review the appeal and make a decision. Incomplete appeals (lack of supporting documentation, missing Academic Plan or Advisor signature) will delay the review process. Notifications will be posted in TigerWeb once the review process is complete. Students pending an appeal decision at the beginning of a semester are responsible for securing their classes via payment to the Bursar’s Office. No student class schedules will be held due to a pending appeal decision.

What are the SAP appeal exceptions?
  • Chattanooga State reserves the right to deny or cancel a student's financial aid in the event of extraordinary circumstances that may not be covered in the current policy.
  • The college guarantees prompt notification of ineligibility and explanation of the appeal process if a student is denied financial aid under this exception.
  • Appeals will automatically be denied for maximum timeframe if a student is enrolled in a program that does not result in a credential, such as a degree or certificate. Appeals may also be automatically denied for General Transfer degree programs if a student has reached or exceeded 180 attempted hours.
  • All students will be limited to a total of 3 SAP appeals.
Am I notified of my eligibility to continue receiving financial aid?

Students are responsible for checking their Academic Progress on their "TigerWeb" account at the end of each semester. The Academic Progress is posted under the Financial Aid Status. The Financial Aid Office will update each student's Academic Progress as it relates to their financial aid after grades are posted at the end of each semester.

What is a cause for an award adjustment?
  • You fail to begin your classes at the start of the term.
  • You withdraw completely from the college.
  • Your enrolled hours change - you drop below full-time or below half- time or you STOP attending your classes.
  • You received additional financial aid, including scholarships, veterans benefits, etc.
  • Your tuition rate changes (out-of-state to in-state)
What is the TN Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS) appeal process
  • In accordance with the policies set forth by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, the Financial Aid Office will review all Tennessee Education Lottery scholarship (TELS) appeals with regards to changing enrollment status after census date, requesting a leave of absence, reinstatement of award (based on meeting benchmark GPA), grade change, or one-time regain.
  • The Institutional Review Panel (IRP) hears appeals from decisions that denied or revoked a recipient's eligibility to decide the continuation or revocation of a lottery scholarship award. To request an appeal of a denial or revocation of the TELS, the student must submit a letter to the ChSCC IRP for consideration. Students are notified upon the appeal denial their rights to appeal to the IRP. Students have 5 days to submit an appeal letter to the IRP after the initial denial notification from the Financial Aid Office. The IRP may award or reinstate the student's TELS award with or without a hearing and shall make a determination no later than 14 calendar days after considering an appeal, except for exigent circumstances.
  • If the IRP denies an appeal, a student must then submit a copy of the denial as well as any additional documentation to TSAC for a ruling within 45 days of when the student was notified of the decision rendered by the IRP. Appeals made to the TSAC Appeals Panel should be mailed to the following address:

    Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation
    c/o Lottery Scholarship Award Appeals Panel
    Suite 1510, Parkway Towers
    404 James Robertson Parkway
    Nashville, TN 37243-0820

How do I calculate my GPA or Completion Rate?