Cuesta College Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy has been developed to assist in the academic planning and success of students with financial need. By accepting federal financial aid, the student agrees to successfully complete the number of units attempted while making progress toward an educational goal that will lead to an Associate’s degree, a Certificate or a Transfer program.



Federal financial aid regulations mandate that a school establish satisfactory academic progress standards for students applying for, or receiving, financial aid.  These regulations require that the financial aid office review all periods of a student’s enrollment history, to determine if a student is making academic progress towards an educational goal.  Your progress will be evaluated at the end of the fall, spring and summer semesters by the standards listed below. 

Special note: All periods of enrollment for all students will be evaluated regardless of whether or not financial aid was received.  Although some grades may be excluded by academic renewal, federal regulations require that all grades must be counted for federal satisfactory academic progress standards. 

Failure to maintain ALL these standards may result in losing financial aid eligibility



Minimum Requirement

Qualitative Standard

A minimum term AND a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 in all coursework attempted

Quantitative Standard

A minimum term AND cumulative course completion rate of 80% of all coursework attempted.


Maximum Time Frame

Attempted units may not exceed 150% of the number of units required to complete your educational objective.




Grade symbols of A, B, C, D, or F received at Cuesta College will be used to calculate grade point average for S.A.P. purposes, a 2.0 GPA is required. Courses completed with CR, P, I, NC, NP or W will NOT be used in calculating a student’s grade point. Be advised that symbols not used to determine grade point average will be used to determine the minimum unit requirement detailed in the next section.



A student must complete a minimum number of units per semester and overall cumulative number of units according to their enrollment status. Students enrolled full time, ½ time or ¾ time during the semester must complete 80% of the attempted* units. Students enrolled in less than ½ time, must complete ALL units attempted. For example, a student who is enrolled at full time status will be expected to complete at least 10 units for the semester in order to satisfy this requirement (see table below).  

Enrollment Status (per semester)

80% Unit Completion Requirement

Full Time (12+ units)

10 units per semester

¾ Time (9.0-11.5 units)

7.5-9.5 units per semester

½ Time (6.0-8.5 units)

5.0-7.0 units per semester

Less Than ½ time (0.5-5.5 units)

All Units Attempted

*Attempted units are defined as all units enrolled regardless of whether or not a grade was received or if the student finished the course unless the course has been repeated.  Units that are dropped are counted as units attempted.



Federal regulations require that institutions establish a maximum unit total for a student to complete an educational goal (degree or certificate) if financial aid is received. Cuesta College students MUST complete the educational goal indicated in their admissions application by the time they have attempted 150% of the total units required for the degree or certificate (see table below). Maximum Time Frame is evaluated at the end of every semester.  

Students must complete their educational goals within 150% of the program length. All course work appearing on your Cuesta College District academic transcript will count toward Maximum Time Frame.

Educational Goal

Units Required to Complete Goal (100%)

Maximum Unit Time Frame (150%)

Associate Degree

60 units

90 units

Transfer Requirements

60 units

90 units


24 units

36 units



Students seeking a second degree at the same level as first degree must complete the subsequent degree within the maximum time frame (or appeal). In the appeal the student will need to explain the rationale for the pursuit of a second degree. In addition, a student seeking multiple majors must complete the primary degree within the maximum time frame (or appeal). In the appeal the student will need to explain the rationale for the pursuit of multiple majors if this causes them to exceed the maximum time frame.



Academic progress will be evaluated at the end of each term to determine continued eligibility. Students who fail to meet academic progress will be placed on Warning (see Warning).



ESL coursework must be part of an eligible program of study to receive financial aid. ESL coursework is not an approved program in itself. A student enrolled in ESL classes, who is not in an eligible program of study, is not eligible for financial aid funds. ESL coursework will count toward the 2.0 GPA term, cumulative GPA and 80% unit completion requirements (SAP Standard).  ESL units will not count towards the maximum time frame limit and will be subtracted from the total when maximum time frame but will count toward the term, cumulative 2.0 GPA and 80% unit completion requirements.



Students are allowed to receive financial aid for remedial units if the remedial classes are a prerequisite for entrance into a regular college program.  Financial aid cannot be received for more than 30 attempted units of remedial classes. Remedial units must be taken in recommended sequence.



For financial aid purposes, courses may be repeated consistent with district academic standards, as identified in the college catalog. However, all repeated units will count toward Maximum Time Frame. Students may receive financial aid for repeat course work which they passed only once.



Students who fail to make satisfactory progress will be placed on Financial Aid Warning. Financial aid is available to students during a Warning period; however, satisfactory progress will be evaluated at the end of the academic term for which the warning period was established. Students will only receive ONE warning period for not meeting the progress standard.



SAP standards are checked and verified each semester. Students who fail to meet satisfactory academic progress standards while on warning will be placed on Suspension and will no longer be eligible to receive financial aid. Generally, a student who is disqualified from financial aid must meet SAP standards by completing at least a successful semester without financial aid, and meet all SAP eligibility criteria to regain eligibility or successfully appealed the suspension status. Students on suspension status will continue to receive the Board of Governors Fee Waiver (BOGW) if eligible.



A student Suspended for failing to meet Satisfactory Academic Standards may regain eligibility by submitting an appeal form if extenuating circumstances occurred with supporting documents to the Financial Aid Office or

By achieving SAP unit completion and GPA requirements during the semester(s) without financial aid eligibility. It is the students’ responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office in writing when they have met the standards for reinstatement.



Students whose appeal was approved will be placed on financial aid probation. Financial aid is available during this probation period; however, satisfactory progress will be evaluated at the end of the probationary term. During probation, students must complete 100% of all attempted units during this term, with a term GPA of 2.00 or better and must be following their approved Academic Plan.



In certain circumstances, students may lose any or all of their financial aid. Students on unsatisfactory financial aid status may submit an appeal to the Office of Financial Aid. In all cases, the appeal request must come from the student by the given deadlines. The appeal may be submitted in person or via letter to the Financial Aid Office. Appeal forms may be requested from the Financial Aid Office in person or online.

Appeal decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and may require the student to provide additional documentation for further review. There is no guarantee that an appeal will result in financial aid being revised and/or reinstated; the decision of the Financial Aid Office is final.

Appeals may be filed for the following mitigating circumstances:

  • Medical problems
  • Death
  • Family emergency
  • Other documented extenuating circumstances

The student is responsible for providing documentation of the extenuating circumstances as well as an up-to-date Student Education Plan (SEP) signed by both the student and a Cuesta College academic counselor.



2014-15 SAP Appeal Form



Spring 2014: Thursday, May 1st, 2014