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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 satisfactory academic progress (SAP) in order to remain eligible to receive US loan support.

Students are expected to maintain satisfactory academic progress throughout their course of study.

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 payment period and before the loan disbursements due at the begining of the next payment period.

For those 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 those students that have two disbursements with the second disbursement due March or April that means we are required to evaluate SAP before the second disbursement. A  SAP review will be conducted typically during Lent term.

Undergraduates: on submission of an application for federal aid we will require confirmation from your College that you are making satisfactory academic progress.

Postgraduates: on submission of an application for federal aid we will request that an Academic Progress Form is completed by your principal course supervisor/course supervisor/course director/course advisor or your Department/Faculty. In order to be making SAP, your principal course supervisor/course supervisor/course director/course advisor comments on the Academic Progress Form, or provided in an e-mail, should confirm that you are making satisfactory academic progress.

For students about to start a course, SAP 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.

Satisfactory Academic Progress is assessed as follows:

Qualitative standard: Students must achieve minimum standards as required by their supervisor/tutor Department/Faculty or College, and academic standing consistent with graduation requirements equivalent at the very least to be sufficient to obtain a pass when taking their exams, and in the case of research students satisfactory progress as determined by their supervisor.

Quantitative standard: Students must progress through their programme at a pace which ensures that they will graduate within the maximum timeframe. The maximum timeframe for completion is 150 % of the standard published timeframe for a course. A student must also remain at least half time in order to be eligible for federal aid.

SAP Appeals: A student who fails to meet SAP standards 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 SAP 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 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 the Code of Practice for Research Students for important policy information regarding graduate study at the University of Cambridge.