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The University of Cambridge is required by US regulations to ensure that all students applying for, or receiving, Federal Aid (Direct (subsidized, unsubsidized) and PLUS loans) are making (and are continuing to make throughout their course) Satisfactory Academic Progress in order to remain eligible to receive US Federal Loan support.

To ensure students are making Satisfactory Academic Progress throughout their course of study the US Dept. of Education requires that the University of Cambridge check students progress at intervals to ensure they are meeting both Quantitative and Qualitative requirements of Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Undergraduates: on submission of an application for Federal Aid we will request confirmation from your College/Department that you are making Satisfactory Academic Progress. Confirmation of both quantitative and qualitative standards will be requested and required.

Postgraduates: on submission of an application for Federal Aid we will request an Academic Progress Form is completed by your Department/Faculty. In order to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress, your Department/Faculty comments on the Academic Progress Form (or provided in an e-mail), should confirm that you are making Satisfactory Academic Progress. Confirmation of both quantitative and qualitative standards will be requested and required.

For students about to start a course, Satisfactory Academic Progress is met by being accepted to Cambridge and reaching our entrance criteria.

Continuing postgraduate students e.g. MPhil students continuing to PhD. In order for you to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress we will require confirmation that you have passed your current course and that you have met the conditions to be accepted onto your new course.

Both quantitative and qualitative SAP standards are reviewed at each evaluation point.

Programs of study longer than one academic year we are required to evaluate SAP at least once annually and typically this will be before we certify loans for the coming academic year.

Programs of study that are one academic year or less in length we are required to evaluate SAP at the end of each term before the loan disbursements due at the beginning of the next payment period.

For students that have three disbursements that means we are required to evaluate SAP before the loan disbursements due at the beginning of the Lent and Easter term. A SAP review will be conducted typically at the end of the Michaelmas and Lent term.

For students that have two disbursements with the second disbursement due March or April we will evaluate SAP at the end of Michaelmas term. We will also evaluate SAP towards the end of Lent term before the second disbursement is due.

Programs of study that are more than two academic years; if studying an undergraduate course a student must have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least a Second Class degree by the end of the 2nd academic year.

Programs of study that are more than two academic years; if studying a postgraduate taught course a student must have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least a Pass by the end of the 2nd academic year.

Programs of study that are more than two academic years; if studying a postgraduate research  course a student must have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least a Pass which must be a level to progress to the next research degree stage.

Qualitative standard: Students must achieve minimum standards required by the academic department and supervisor/tutor, and the academic standing consistent with graduation requirements and on a cumulative basis. These should be equivalent of at least a Lower Second Class degree for undergraduate courses, at least a pass for postgraduate taught courses and at least at a level to allow a postgraduate research student to progress to the next research degree stage.

Quantitative standard: Students must progress through their course at a pace which ensures that they will graduate within the maximum timeframe. The maximum timeframe for completion is 150% of the published length of a course as measured in credit hours. The University takes each year of full-time undergraduate study to equal 120 UK credits and 180 UK credits for postgraduate study according to the Higher Education Credit Framework for England.

Degree and course length

Credits for Completion

Maximum timeframe

Pace

BA (3 years)

360

540 (4.5 years)

67%

BA (4 years)

480

720 (6 years)

67%

Master’s (9 months)

135

202.5 (13.5 months)

67%

Master’s (10 months)

150

225 (15 months)

67%

Master’s (11 months)

165

247.5 (16.5 months)

67%

Master’s (12 months)

180

270 (1.5 years)

67%

Doctoral (3 years)

540

810 (4.5 years)

67%

Doctoral (4 years)

720

1080 (6 years)

67%

 

Students must also be studying at least half-time in order to be eligible for federal loans.

Generally, all periods of a student’s enrolment count when assessing progress, even periods when the student did not receive loan funds. Some examples of changes to enrolment and how these impact on the measurement of SAP are outlined below:

 

Change to enrolment

Counts towards SAP measurement

Period of approved intermission, including medical/maternity/paternity/adoption leave

No, and therefore the period while suspended will not be counted towards the quantitative standard (pace).

Change of course

If elements of the old course contribute towards the new course, then credit hours will be included in the quantitative standard (pace). When all elements of the new course are unrelated to the old course, then credit hours will not be included in the quantitative standard (pace).

Withdrawal or non-completion of a course and subsequent re-enrolment

If a student withdraws in the middle of the academic year, any credit hours completed will be counted in the quantitative standard (pace).

Repetition or reassessment due to academic failure

Yes, any credit hours already completed will be counted in the quantitative standard (pace).

Incorporation to Cambridge (transfer credits).

Yes, any credit hours already completed before transferring will be counted in the quantitative standard (pace).

 

For any students for whom we receive an Academic Progress Form indicating Unsatisfactory Academic Progress they will be given a Financial Aid Warning which will last until their next disbursement by which time they will be expected to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress. If by the next disbursement the Academic Progress Form indicates the student has achieved the required standard they will be placed into good standing for Financial Aid. If by the next evaluation period the Academic Progress Form still indicates Unsatisfactory Academic Progress the student’s Financial Aid will be suspended.

Financial Aid Warning: Students that fail to make Satisfactory Academic Progress will firstly be issued with a ‘Financial Aid Warning’. This warning will last for 1 payment period (ie until the next disbursement), during which time a student can still receive Financial Aid. Students that fail to regain Satisfactory Academic Progress by the next disbursement will no longer be eligible for Aid, unless they are successful in an appeal (see below).

Appeals Procedure: A student who has received a Financial Aid Warning and has failed to regain Satisfactory Academic Progress will be notified that they are ineligible for further disbursements of US Federal Aid. Upon receiving notification, a student can regain their eligibility only by submitting a successful appeal to be placed on probation, or by taking action that brings them into compliance with Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. A student may appeal due to extenuating circumstances beyond their control (e.g. injury, ill health, bereavement, or other special circumstances etc.) and state what has changed in their situation that will allow them to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress at the next evaluation date.

Appeals: A student who fails to meet SAP standards must include the following in their submission appeal:

  • The circumstances for not meeting SAP requirements

  • What will change that will allow the student to satisfy SAP requirements in the future

  • Any other relevant information

Appeals must be submitted in writing either by e-mail to Student.Loans@admin.cam.ac.uk or for the attention of Jane Armitage, US Loans, Funding Team, Student Services Centre, University of Cambridge, New Museums Site, Bene't Streeet, Cambridge CB2 3PT.

An Appeal Panel will be convened consisting of at least two members of staff from Student Registry. The Appeal Panel may require extra evidence, documentation or contributions from the student’s supervisor/tutor Department/Faculty or College. The decision made by the Appeal Panel will be sent to the student’s Cambridge e-mail address. The appeal decision may be:

  • a reinstatement of eligibility of US federal aid

  • a financial probationary period with conditions, or

  • a denial of US federal aid

Eligibility for US federal aid may be reinstated for a limited period during a financial probationary period (usually one term/payment period). Any conditions relating to a financial probationary period will be detailed in the appeal decision e-mail. Examples of conditions may include meeting with the supervisor/tutor to develop an academic plan to ensure future academic success. At the end of the probationary period (usually one term/payment period), SAP will be re-evaluated according to the SAP policy and any conditions stipulated in the appeal decision. Failure to meet the SAP requirements or any appeal conditions will result in denial of US federal aid.

If the Appeal Panel determines that the student will not be able to meet SAP standards, then the student will be ineligible for further disbursements of US federal aid until they are able to take action that brings them into compliance with the SAP standards. If a student who has lost federal aid eligibility and subsequently meets the requirements of SAP they would be placed back into good Financial Aid Standing (SAP).

Students who transfer into a new academic programme will also transfer with any SAP warning or sanction and will still need to meet the specified criteria in the new programme before re-establishing eligibility to receive federal aid.

Please also refer to the University's 'Statutes and Ordinances' which outline a series of regulations which will affect your time at the University. It contains all the relevant rules and regulations that should be observed over the course of a student or staff member's involvement in the University community.

Graduate students please also refer to Code of Practice for Master's students | Cambridge students and Code of Practice for Research Students for important policy information regarding graduate study at the University of Cambridge.