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Graduate Financial Aid

Eligibility & Policies

Satisfactory Academic Progress

In order continue receiving financial aid, you must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). The policy detailed below is effective February 2, 2015.

Federal regulations require us to monitor the academic progress of all graduate students--including PhD students--receiving financial aid toward the completion of their degree. (Please note: this policy pertains only to financial aid and is separate from other academic policies published by the institution.) SAP is monitored on a yearly basis--usually in mid-to-late summer--and is effective the following fall term. Certificate program students are an exception; their SAP is monitored at the end of every term. As a financial aid recipient, you must maintain the following minimum standards to continue receiving financial aid:

  • You must maintain a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.0 (77 for Graduate Tax students).
  • You must complete and pass a minimum of 66.67% of all courses attempted . This is known as your Cumulative Completion Rate (CCR).
  • You must complete your degree within 150% of the minimum credits required to graduate. This is known as the Maximum Time Frame (MTF) limit.

Learn more about each of these standards below, or review a PDF of the SAP Policy.


Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA)
  • Policy: You must maintain a minimum CGPA of at least 3.0 (77 for accounting majors) in order to remain eligible for financial aid. This is a qualitative standard based on your degree program.
  • Calculation: According to the policy of the Registrar, the grade point average is determined by multiplying the credit points (for example, B+ = 3.3) by the number of credit hours for each course. CGPA is calculated by totaling credit hours attempted, totaling the credit points, and then dividing the latter by the former. Official GPAs at the University of Denver are truncated at two decimal places, e.g., a mathematical result of 3.8766666 is reported as 3.87.
  • Unfinished Coursework: Grades of I, NR, and W earned at DU are not included in the grade point average and therefore do not impact its calculation results. However, incompletes earned while attending DU that are not completed within one year are then calculated as "F" in the CGPA. This conversion of incomplete grades to “F” can reduce your CGPA figure, which may increase the possibility that you will be placed on financial aid probation or suspension.
  • Transfer Credits: Grades associated with accepted transfer credits are not recorded by DU and therefore can neither increase nor reduce your calculated CGPA.
  • Repeat Coursework: All grades for repeated courses are included in determining the CGPA and therefore impact its calculation.
  • Remedial Coursework: Credits earned from completed, remedial coursework are not accepted by DU and therefore can neither increase nor reduce your calculated CGPA.
Cumulative Completion Rate (CCR)
  • Policy: You must complete and pass a minimum of 66.67% of all courses attempted to remain eligible for financial aid. This is a quantitative standard based on your degree program.
  • Calculation: CCR is calculated by dividing your total earned credits by your total attempted credits. The courses used to calculate your CCR are only those associated with the courses you are enrolled in at the end of the first week of each term.
  • Course Completion: Grades which signify the successful completion of a graduate course of study can vary amongst academic unit policies. Grades of W, NC, NP, WF, F, Audit, or Incomplete do not constitute successful completion of a course and therefore reduce your CCR, which will position you closer to financial aid probation or suspension.
  • Transfer Credits: All accepted, transfer credits are counted as both attempted and earned credits when calculating your CCR (with the exception of transfer credits completed while you are not meeting DU SAP requirements).
  • Repeat Coursework: Credits associated with repeated, DU courses count only as attempted credits until a passing grade is earned. This may reduce your calculated CCR. Passing grades assigned to repeated, DU courses are counted as both attempted and earned credits. This may improve your calculated CCR.
  • Remedial Coursework: Credits earned from completed remedial coursework are not accepted by DU and therefore can neither increase nor reduce your calculated CCR.
Maximum Time Frame (MTF) Limit
  • Policy: You must complete your degree requirements within 150% of the minimum credits required to graduate. This is a quantitative standard based on your degree program. Once you have reached the MTF limit, or at the point it is determined you will exceed it if you complete your required courses, you are no longer eligible for federal, state or institutional aid.
  • Calculation: Your MTF limit is calculated by multiplying the minimal number of credits necessary to confer your degree by your program’s MTF allowance. For example, the MTF allowance for all graduate students is 150%; therefore, you may attempt a maximum of 135 credits in order to complete a degree that requires 90 credits. The DU credits used to calculate your MTF status are only those associated with the courses you are enrolled in at the end of the first week of each term.
  • Repeat Coursework: All credits associated with repeated, DU coursework are counted as attempted credits when calculating your MTF status.
  • Transfer Credits: Accepted transfer credits earned through enrollment in programs outside of DU count as attempted credits in the calculation of your MTF status if those credits are satisfying graduation requirements set by your current degree program (with the exception of transfer credits completed while you are not meeting DU SAP requirements).
  • Remedial Coursework: Credits earned from completed, remedial coursework are not accepted by DU and therefore can neither improve nor harm your calculated MTF status.
Additional SAP Considerations
  • Changing Major or Degree Program While Attending DU:
    If you choose to change your major or degree program while attending DU--before you complete your original course of study--only those previously attempted credits (both DU and transfer) which satisfy graduation requirements set by your most recent choice of major or degree program are to be used to calculate the CGPA, CCR, and MTF status.  If you have, over your course of enrollment at DU, changed either your major or degree plan and you are flagged by Financial Aid for not making SAP, you should meet with a financial aid representative to validate your SAP status based on a program conversion.
  • Simultaneously Pursuing Different Degrees at DU: 
    If you choose to pursue earning multiple degrees simultaneously while attending DU, it is possible that the total number of credit hours you attempt during your pursuit will cause you to violate SAP rules based on an overall calculation of your credit history. If you are in this situation, you should be aware of potential SAP complications and prepare yourself to file an appeal with Financial Aid should your account be flagged for not making SAP. Appeals may be approved based on enrollment history.
  • Pursuing a Subsequent Degree at DU:
    If you choose to earn a degree at DU subsequent to finishing a different degree program, previously attempted credits (both DU and transfer) that are allowed to satisfy graduation requirements set by your newest degree program will be used to calculate your CGPA, CCR, and MTF status.
  • Enrollment in the Summer Term:
    Credits attempted during summer terms that satisfy your degree requirements will be included in the calculation of your CCR and MTF status.  The grade associated with credits earned during a summer term will count towards the calculation of your CGPA.
Financial Aid Suspension and Probation

If you fail to meet either the CGPA or CCR requirements, you will be placed on financial aid suspension and will not receive your disbursement of federal, state, or institutional financial aid, or be able to use your work-study, until a SAP Probation Contract is completed. (Please note that financial aid suspension and probation pertains only to financial aid and is separate from any academic suspension or probation you may have.) To complete this contract, please make an appointment with a financial aid advisor. You will have one term to complete a SAP Probation Contract, which will always be the fall term, or the term immediately following the failure to meet SAP standards for certificate students. If a SAP Probation Contract is not signed, you will no longer be eligible for federal, state or institutional financial aid, unless an appeal is submitted and approved (as stated below).

Once you complete a SAP Probation Contract, you will be able to receive federal or state aid for a probationary period of three quarters to make up the deficit, as long as you are maintaining progress throughout those quarters. We will review your progress prior to the next payment period and if you are not maintaining progress, you will be asked to submit an appeal for the remaining terms. Certificate students, however, have a probationary period of one quarter. You must meet both the CGPA and CCR standards by the end of the probationary period or you will no longer be eligible for federal financial aid. (Please note that we cannot accept any transfer credit completed during the SAP probationary period as a means to change SAP status.)

If you fail to meet the SAP standards by the end of the probationary term outlined in the contract, you will lose your eligibility to receive all forms of financial aid including, but not limited to, work-study and loans during subsequent terms. Should circumstances arise during the school year which you feel will cause you to violate the terms of your contract, contact us immediately. We recommend that you work closely with your academic advisor to help determine appropriate coursework and grade objectives for your degree.

You will be suspended from financial aid if you reach the MTF limit, unless an appeal is submitted and approved (as stated below).

Appeal Process

If you are failing to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress standards and have extenuating circumstances surrounding this failure, you may appeal your status to the Office of Financial Aid.

Examples of a possible appeal include:

  • a student who exceeds his or her MTF limit due to a change in degree program
  • a student who had extenuating personal/medical circumstances that have since been resolved

To appeal a financial aid suspension, please submit the following documentation:

  • A written statement that includes your program of study, anticipated completion date, a list of required courses left to complete the program, and the reason for the appeal.
  • If appropriate, third party documentation surrounding the reason for the appeal.

Each appeal request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Special Circumstances Committee. Appeal decisions are emailed to you within 3-5 weeks after submission. If the Special Circumstances Committee needs additional information regarding the SAP appeal to make a decision, an advisor will coordinate this effort and the time frame to make a decision will be delayed. In some cases, an advisor may require a SAP Probation Contract. Appeal decisions are final.

If you have questions regarding this policy, please contact us.