Federal regulations require that all students make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in a program of study to maintain eligibility for financial aid. SAP includes meeting the minimum GPA requirement for your career, school, college, and/or program; completing 67% of all attempted course work, and completing your degree within 150% of the standard program length.

 To see how the SAP policy works, watch our SAP video.


Students must maintain a University GPA consistent with their academic program requirement. The University GPA is the official GPA on the student transcript. It is a cumulative GPA from all the campuses of the University of Colorado for the student’s current career (undergraduate or graduate). Grades of P, P+, S, U, I, IP, NC and NR (grade not yet entered) are not included in the GPA calculation. SAP is recalculated for changes to GPA after I, IP and NR grades are updated to a letter grade. Incompletes (I) are changed to F’s if not completed within one year.

If you are approved to retake a course with grade replacement, your GPA for SAP purposes will be calculated based on the grade from the most recent attempt of the course. If you are not eligible for grade replacement, grades from all attempted courses including repeat coursework will be counted in in your cumulative GPA.

Type of Program GPA
Undergraduate 2.00
Law 2.00
Graduate 3.00
Doctorate 3.00

All students must progress at a pace that allows the student to complete their program within the maximum allotted timeframe.

The pace is calculated by dividing the number of successfully completed credits by the number of attempted credits. Students must pass at least 67% of all attempted credit hours with a grade of D- or better, Pass (P or P+), Satisfactory (S), or CR (credit).

Non-passing grades are: F (failing), I (incomplete), W (withdraw), NC (no-credit), or U (unsatisfactory).

Attempted credit hours are: all hours for current career (undergraduate, graduate or law) including CU hours (all campuses and continuing education) regardless of grade received, study abroad credit hours, transfer hours accepted at CU from any other college or university, and AP or IB college credits (undergraduate only). Repeated and non-passing grades will also count as attempted credit hours even if the grade is no longer calculated in the GPA.

For graduate students, IP (in progress) grades are considered satisfactory and will not affect the completion rate.

Students have up to 150% of their program length to complete their degree before they become ineligible to receive financial aid (including federal Direct and PLUS loans).

Refer to the chart below to review the maximum timeframe by degree type:

Degree Type Maximum Timeframe
Undergraduate 180 credit hours
Undergraduate - Engineering 192 credit hours
Law 133 credit hours
Graduate (Master's) 10 semesters
Doctorate 18 semesters

Undergraduate and Law students maximum timeframe is determined by credit hours. The maximum credit hours are all attempted hours for current career (undergraduate or law) including CU hours (all campuses and continuing education) regardless of grade received, study abroad credit hours, transfer hours accepted at CU from any other college or university, and AP or IB college credits (undergraduate only). Repeated coursework and courses with non-passing grades are also included in maximum credit hours even if the grade is no longer calculated in GPA. All coursework is counted whether or not the student received financial aid.

For undergraduates, the maximum timeframe is intended for a student to complete all undergraduate coursework including changes in majors or degrees, a second bachelor's degree, or a teaching certificate.

Graduate Master’s and Doctoral student maximum timeframe is calculated by terms. Any term that the student has attempted credit hour enrollment will count towards maximum timeframe including summer and terms for graduate coursework at other CU campuses. Terms are counted toward maximum timeframe if the student receives grades of F, I, or IP; or the student withdraws for the term with grades of W. The number of terms is not extended for less than full-time enrollment. All terms are counted whether or not the student received financial aid.

Note: For dual degree programs, students will be allowed to complete both degrees based on the program with the highest maximum timeframe allowed. For example, if a student is enrolled in a Master's and PhD program, they will be given a total of 18 semesters to complete both degrees. 

Policy Implementation

SAP is evaluated at the end of every semester, including summer, whether or not the student receives financial aid for the semester. The first violation results in the student receiving a warning. The second violation results in loss of financial aid eligibility. All notifications will be sent to the student's official university email address.

Students are only given one warning for their entire career at CU Boulder, even if they did not receive financial aid during the semester they did not meet the minimum academic requirements.

Students currently receiving financial aid will receive notification of their warning or violation status, to their official university email address, when they are below their required GPA, or get close to meeting their completion rate and/or maximum timeframe.

If an undergraduate student has 60 or more non-passing credit hours (64 or more for engineering students), a review will also be done to determine if they can complete their program within the maximum timeframe. If it is determined that a student cannot complete their program within the maximum timeframe they will be automatically suspended from receiving financial aid without a warning letter.

Appeal Process

If a student has extenuating circumstances that prevent them from making academic progress toward a degree, an appeal may be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid (OFA) by the deadline (listed below). OFA will review and consider appeals for extenuating circumstances such as a death in the family, a serious medical illness (personal or immediate family), accident, house fire, or other special circumstance.

A complete appeal will include the following:

  1. SAP Appeal form (available on our forms webpage, under Special Circumstances & Appeal Forms)
  2. Personal statement explaining the circumstances that prevented academic progress toward a degree/certificate and a plan to ensure future academic success
  3. Supporting documentation (Examples: letters from professors, medical documentation, etc.)
  4. Remaining Courses Required for Degree form (available on our forms webpage, under Special Circumstances & Appeal Forms) for students who have exceeded the maximum timeframe requirement

To expedite your appeal, submit all documents together and be as detailed as possible in your personal statement.

CU Boulder has a responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment. Please be aware that if the appeal references sexual misconduct or protected class discrimination or harassment, OFA is obligated to report allegations of this nature to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC) in addition to considering the appeal on these grounds. OIEC may contact the student appealing in this case, but the student is not required to respond.

Deadline to Appeal

  • November 1 to receive aid in the fall 
  • April 1 to receive aid in the spring 
  • July 1 to receive aid in the summer

Appeal Decision

Each appeal will be reviewed by a committee. If the appeal is approved, the student will be placed on probation and will be eligible to receive financial aid for a period of one term and will be issued an academic plan by email. The academic plan will provide conditions the student is required to meet for that term.

  • If the student is not meeting SAP at the end of their probationary semester, but they are meeting the terms of their academic plan, their academic plan is rolled over to the next semester and the student will continue to be aid eligible.
  • If the student is on probation and does not meet the SAP requirements or the terms of their academic plan, they will be suspended from receiving financial aid in future semesters.

If an appeal is denied or suspended after probation, the student may request a second review by the committee if the student can provide new information and documentation that may have been omitted from the initial appeal. Decisions on second appeals are final. Third appeals are not accepted.

A student can regain financial aid eligibility by meeting the SAP standards or the conditions set forth in their academic plan.


Scholarship recipients are also expected to meet the GPA and Completion Rate components of satisfactory academic progress (SAP). In addition to SAP, a scholarship may have more rigorous requirements and/or a separate appeal process. Refer to your original scholarship notification or contact the scholarship donor for specific requirements.

In the event a student fails to meet the SAP requirements for GPA or Completion Rate, Scholarship Services will contact either the private scholarship donor or the university department to notify them. It is then their decision to determine if the student is still eligible for the scholarship. If the scholarship is cancelled, the student may appeal directly to the donor or department.

Graduate Funding

Please note that graduate funding, such as tuition waivers or fellowships which are paid directly to the student bill or through the payroll system, will not be impacted by SAP suspension.

The following definitions apply to the terms used in this section:

  • Warning: A warning semester is given to every student the first time they violate minimum GPA or completion rate requirements. Students are still eligible to receive financial aid while in warning status.
  • Probation: If a student has received a warning semester and is still in violation of the SAP requirements, the student is suspended from receiving financial aid. The student may appeal this decision and if the appeal is approved, the student will be placed on a probation semester, emailed an academic plan and will be eligible to receive financial aid for this semester.
  • Appeal: Personal statement and supporting documentation asking for financial aid to be reinstated based on an extenuating circumstance that prevented the student from meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress. Appeals that are approved will allow a student a probationary semester and require that the student sign an academic plan.
  • Academic Plan: If a student appeals their financial aid suspension and is approved they will be assigned an academic plan detailing the academic performance and necessary measures required to maintain financial aid eligibility until meeting SAP.
  • Completion Rate (Pace of Completion): All students must complete at least 67% of the credit hours they attempt. The rate is calculated by dividing the number of successfully completed credits by the number of attempted credits.