Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards ensure that a student is successfully completing their coursework to continue receiving financial aid. All students receiving financial aid (e.g., Federal, State, Institutional, Private) are required to meet SAP standards.

About Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal regulations require Howard University to establish, publish, and apply standards to monitor financial aid recipients’ progress toward completing their degree program. If the student fails to meet the published SAP standards, the student will be placed on financial aid suspension. Financial aid recipients’ academic performance must meet all of the SAP standards which are:

  • Minimum GPA
  • Minimum Completion Rate
  • Maximum Hour Limit

SAP Criteria

New policy (effective January 2017)

Satisfactory Academic Progress will be evaluated at the end of each academic year. It will no longer be evaluated on a per semester basis. Once a student finds themselves on 'financial aid suspension' per email notification and by checking their BisonWeb account, they then are to initiate the appeal process. Once an appeal has been received, reviewed, and approved by members of the office's Appeals Committee, students must also submit an Academic Plan (AP) to be electronically signed and acknowledged by their major advisor. The AP must have the advisor's signature on it to confirm they have approved the courses a student plans to take and successfully pass in upcoming Fall semester.

If AP's are not received within a timely manner, this will subsequently affect the disbursement of a student's aid for that particular award year. At the conclusion of each academic year, a student's performance will be assessed upon the following criteria:


Completion Ratio

Your enrollment status is reviewed at the conclusion of each academic year to verify that you have earned the required minimum number of credits during fall and spring semesters. You are required to complete at least 70% of all attempted hours of coursework each academic semester. (E.g. If a student registers for 15 credit hours in the fall semester; 5 (3 credit) courses, they must pass each course with a letter grade of "C" or better.) Grades or indicators of ‘F’ (Fail), ‘I’ (Incomplete), ‘U’ (Unsatisfactory), ‘UW’ (Unofficial Withdrawal), ‘NR’ (Never Reported) all count against your completion ratio. Repeated coursework may not be used in the calculation of your completion ratio and is not covered by financial aid.


Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)

At the end of each evaluation period (end of spring semester), you must have achieved at least a minimum cumulative Howard University GPA in order to remain eligible for financial aid. The GPA requirements are indicated in the below table.

Degree or Certificate Minimum Cumulative Howard University GPA
Bachelor's 2.0
Certificate 3.0
Master's 3.0
*Master of Divinity 2.0
*Master of Law (LLM) 70.0
Doctoral 3.0
*Doctor of Pharmacy 2.5
*Juris Doctorate 75.0
*Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) 2.0

*Program-Specific GPA Requirement

For students who are enrolled in the medical program, satisfactory academic progress is not measured by a cumulative grade point average. Satisfactory academic progress is measured by grades of H (Honors), S (Satisfactory), and U (Unsatisfactory).


Maximum Eligibility

Students are expected to complete their degree within a specified timeframe. Undergraduate and graduate students must complete their chosen academic program within 150 percent of the number of credit hours required for graduation or successful completion. For example, an undergraduate student may attempt a maximum of 191 credit hours for a program requiring 127 hours for graduation.

Undergraduate students will be notified when they are within 24 credit hours, and graduate students within 18 credit hours of reaching the expiration of their financial aid eligibility. You must continue your studies at your own expense when you have reached your maximum eligibility.

Because of the special nature and delivery format of the professional education programs, professional program students will maintain financial aid eligibility for a period not to exceed the following:

  • Juris Doctorate - 3 academic years (or 6 semesters)
  • Master of Law (LLM) - 2 academic years (or 4 semesters)
  • Medicine - 5 academic years (or 10 semesters)
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) - 4 academic years (or 8 semesters)
  • Dental Hygiene - 2 academic years (or 4 semesters)
  • Doctorate with previous graduate degree - 5 academic years (or 10 semesters)
  • Doctorate without previous graduate degree - 7 academic years (or 14 semesters)

Financial Aid Probation

Students who do not meet the minimum SAP requirements at the end of the spring semester are given an opportunity to file an appeal. Appeals will only be approved if mitigating circumstances are shown to have been present during all periods of poor performance, and those issues are shown to have been resolved, and will no longer hinder academic pursuits.  Mitigating circumstances may include, but are not limited to, a death in the family, illness of a student or a student’s dependent, or other undue hardships that would reasonably prohibit a student’s academic success.  Circumstances are completely confidential, and will be evaluated by a staff member in the Office of Financial Aid.  There is no guarantee of approval.

If the student’s appeal is approved, the student will be placed on Probation and eligible to receive aid for the next semester. The student must meet all SAP criterial for the any subsequent terms of attendance in order to maintain financial aid eligibility.


Types of Financial Aid Suspension

A student’s financial aid eligibility will be suspended if they fail to one or more components listed in the Howard University’s SAP Policy. At that time, the student will no longer be eligible to receive financial aid to attend Howard University.

There are two options to reinstate or regain financial aid eligibility.

(1) To reinstate financial aid eligibility, the student must an appeal to the Office of Financial Aid by the proposed deadline.

(2) To regain financial aid eligibility, the student can re-enroll and successfully complete the courses that they have registered for at their own expense, at least for one academic year. At the conclusion of that particular academic year, students can re-appeal to the Office of Financial Aid explaining in a detailed type-written narrative to then request to have their aid be reinstated.

Students cannot receive financial aid if they do not meet the necessary criteria. Students who have been suspended consecutively will be ineligible for aid reinstatement until they have covered the courses they have registered for at their own expense. Students are more than welcome to seek other sources of funding that include alternative loans that do not consider SAP to be a criterion.

Academic Suspension

A student is not considered eligible to receive financial aid if they have been de-matriculated (academically suspended) from the University. Once the student has been readmitted by the University, there is a process that students must complete with the Office of Admission.

Additionally, the student must complete the SAP appeal process. The student’s financial aid eligibility will be based on the SAP criteria and a thorough a review of the student’s academic transcript.


The following types of registration and grades cannot be used to fulfill probation, suspension or re-matriculation requirements: credits by special exam, Advanced Placement or CLEP exams, distance education or correspondence courses for which you have not obtained prior approval, audit, withdrawal, incomplete and zero credit courses.

Appeal Process

A student may appeal a financial aid suspension status by submitting a completed appeal packet to the Office of Financial Aid by the deadline date. It is the responsibility of the student to follow up with their advisor as often as possible. The student must check on the status of their appeal throughout the semester by checking their BisonWeb account for updates and financial aid eligibility from one year to the next, as well as their personal preferred email address for emails on pertinent deadlines and updates.

For SAP appeal forms, the student may visit the Office of Financial Aid in Suite 205 of the Administration Building or by browsing through the Financial Aid Forms, Worksheets & Links webpage.

If you have failed to achieve SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) because of mitigating circumstances, the student’s appeal packet must consist of the following:

  1. SAP appeal form with type of suspension indicated per the student’s BisonWeb account
  2. Detailed type-written narrative of what led to the student’s suspension status and explanation of what the student intends to do to improve their academic performance, and
  3. Copies of all supporting documentation attached with the student’s HU ID number on each page beginning with the '@' symbol.

Mitigating circumstances would include, but are not limited to extreme illness or injury, family crisis, or death of an immediate relative. The circumstances must be documented and will not be considered for approval without the supplemental documentation attached. Examples of documentation would include medical documentation, birth or death certificates, etc.

A student can attend a summer session at Howard University and increase their GPA or earned credits. The student has the option of appealing once those grades have been submitted to the Office of the Registrar. It will not be until the summer courses are updated to the student’s account that an evaluation of the student’s courses can be made. The student can monitor their BisonWeb account for appropriate updates as well as the student’s email address. Summer credits will also be count toward determining the student’s maximum eligibility for the next school year. The student must complete the appeal process at the end of the summer term.

Please send your appeal with any required documentation to:


Howard University Office of Financial Aid

2400 6th Street, NW

Suite # 205 Washington, DC 20059

Attention: Appeals Committee

Once the student’s SAP appeal has been received and reviewed by the Appeals Committee, the student will receive written notification of the committee's decision by email to the address you have provided in your appeal packet. You will also notice the appropriate changes made to your award package on your BisonWeb account. Note: All incomplete appeals will be denied. All appeal decisions are final and the submission of a SAP appeal does not guarantee reinstatement of aid eligibility. Students who are currently SAP suspended are strongly advised to create alternate financial plans in the event your appeal is denied.


Additional SAP Requirements

  • If the student is listed as being SUSPENDED FROM THE UNIVERSITY, the SAP appeal process is two-fold. Step 1: The student must appeal to their school/college as well as Step 2: the Office of Financial Aid. It is the student’s responsibility to stay abreast of deadlines. Academic stipulation letters from the student’s academic department does not guarantee financial aid reinstatement and one is not contingent upon the other. For further inquiries please contact the Office of Financial Aid.
  • Although the student may not be receiving financial aid, the student will be evaluated for financial aid eligibility on the same basis as students who receive federal and state aid. Should the student apply for aid, the student’s eligibility will be based on their prior academic performance at Howard University.
  •  If the student is enrolled in a dual degree program, the student may appeal for an extension of the maximum time frame provision of this policy.
  • If the student is an undergraduate student pursuing a second degree, the student may attempt an additional 48 credit hours to complete their second degree program, including prerequisite courses. Graduate/professional students may attempt an additional 24 credit hours.
  • If the student is a transfer student, the student’s maximum eligibility will be reduced by the number of transfer credits accepted by Howard University.
  • Credits the student has earned at foreign institutions will be included in their SAP evaluation provided the credits are applicable to the degree/program sought.
  • Courses in which the student received a grade of ‘I’(incomplete) accompanied by a letter grade will be considered when evaluating their completion ratio and will influence the term and cumulative GPA. All attempted and earned credits are considered in maximum eligibility determination.
  • Courses in which the student received a grade of ‘W’ (withdrawal) do not earn credits or affect the student’s GPA, but the credits will be considered when evaluating maximum eligibility. The student may retake courses from which the student withdrew, and those credits will count toward determining attempted credits and completion ratio.
  • If student is enrolled in undergraduate remedial courses, credits attempted/earned will count toward determining the number of credits attempted, minimum credits earned and maximum eligibility.
  • If the student takes undergraduate courses while they are a graduate student, the courses that are satisfactorily completed do not earn graduate credit or influence their graduate GPA, nor will the credit count toward determining the number of credits attempted or minimum credits earned at the graduate level.
  • All undergraduate and prerequisite courses are evaluated in SAP Maximum Eligibility.
  • If student is taking courses to earn professional licensure, the student must be admitted to a degree program in order to receive financial aid. Students completing licensure courses and are not seeking a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree are not eligible for financial aid.
  • The credits earned from repeated courses will count toward the determining the number of credits attempted and maximum eligibility. However, for purposes of financial aid satisfactory academic progress, only credits adding to the cumulative credits earned will be acceptable toward the required minimum number of credits earned per year.