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"Academics Come First" USU Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Financial aid comes with standards and limitations to encourage you to graduate in a timely manner. To be in good standing to receive federal financial aid, federal law requires you to make "satisfactory academic progress" toward a degree.

These standards apply to all periods of attendance including semesters you did not receive financial aid. Academic progress standards must be met by all students, including those with disabilities or chronic medical conditions. If you have a disability, contact the Disability Resource Center about possible accommodations.

    1. Grade Point Average: To be in good standing, all students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average:
      2.0 total institution GPA for undergraduates,
      3.0 total institution GPA for graduate students.
      Undergraduates who have earned more than 60 credits, must have a 2.0 overall total institution GPA to continue receiving financial aid.
      We only count USU courses for this standard.
    2. Pace: To be in good standing, undergraduates must also earn passing grades in 67% of the courses they attempt (all classes listed on their transcript).
      F grades, W grades, WF grades, and grades fixed by academic renewal do not count as passing grades.
      Incompletes, repeated courses, audits also do not count as passing grades.
      We count all credits, including transfer credits for this standard after your first semester at USU. Please review our frequently asked questions about pace.
    3. Maximum Credits: All students must be able to complete their program before attempting 150% of the required credits.
      Attempted credits include all graded courses, transfer courses, testing credits, Pass/Fails, repeats, as well as Fs, Incompletes, Rs, Ws, and WFs.
      We count all credits, including transfer credits for this standard. Incoming transfer students who exceed 150% of the required credits may not be eligible for financial aid
      - Certificated Program: 45 credits
      - Associate Degree: 90 credits
      - First Bachelor's Degree: 180 credits
      - Additional Bachelor's Degree: 60 credits
      - Master's Degree: 60 credits
      - Ph.D.: 60 credits

Academic progress for total institution GPA and PACE is monitored at the end of each semester's grading period for every student enrolled at USU as soon as a student's grades are all posted to their USU transcript. Financial aid recipients are notified immediately by email or letter with further instructions if there is a problem.

Maximum credits are monitored about a month into the semester so that USU can total the number of credits being taken during the term with the previous attempted credits on the student's transcript. If the total exceeds the maximum limit, financial aid recipients will be notified by email or letter with further instructions.

Please note that these standards are not the same as Utah State University's academic requirements. You may be eligible to attend USU but not be eligible to receive financial aid.

Changing Majors

Changing majors or degree programs can have a significant impact on the maximum credits allowed for a degree program. Students who change majors or programs are at risk of losing financial aid eligibility before they can graduate in their new program. It is highly recommended that students in associate degree programs graduate in their first program before starting a second associates degree program. Bachelor degree students should consult with their Financial Aid Counselor about the impact a new major will have on their maximum credit limit.

Dropping Classes

Attempted credits do not include classes you drop before the last day to add classes (generally the end of third week). If you need to drop some of your classes before the last day to add, it will not count against your academic progress. However you may be required to repay some or all of your financial aid. Dropping or withdrawing from classes after the last day to add will affect your academic progress, and you will receive a W on your transcript.

Withdrawing or Failing Classes

Financial aid recipients must begin attendance and participate academically in their courses. If students withdraw from a class they must document academic participation with one of the following:

  • Copies of graded assignments, projects, quizzes or tests,
  • Evidence that they attended an assigned study group,
  • Evidence that they contacted a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course such as exchanged emails,
  • Printouts of your graded course activity on Canvas. (Simply logging in is insufficient, but participation in discussions, asking questions of the instructor, or submitting assignments counts as participation.)
  • Your instructor may also email us directly at to confirm participation, please have them include your full name, USU ID, and course name and number. We cannot accept forwarded correspondence from your instructor.

If a student cannot document academic participation, they may be required to repay the federal aid they received for that course.

If a student fails a course, the instructor will verify if a student participated academically by listing a last date of attendance on the student’s grade report. If an instructor cannot verify any academic participation, they will list an NF grade instead. If a student receives an NF grade, they may be required to repay the federal aid they received for that course.

All F Grades

Students who earn all F grades during a term may immediately lose eligibility for further federal financial aid. Students in this situation may appeal for circumstances beyond their control. In most circumstances, students are required to immediately repay all or a portion of their financial aid for the semester.

Complete Withdrawal

Dropping or withdrawing from all of your classes after the last day to add will affect your academic progress, and you will receive a "W" grade on your transcript.

If you completely withdraw from the University during the course of a semester, you will be required to return a percentage of your Federal Student Financial Aid. All types of Federal Financial Aid are included in the repayment, including: Pell Grants, Supplemental Grants, Perkins Loans, and Direct Loans. Students who withdraw, or cease attending, after completing 60% of the semester are not required to return aid unless they never participated academically. However, they may still face warning or suspension from financial aid for failing to maintain their pace. See full policy.


Good Standing for Financial Aid

Students who meet the total institution GPA and Pace requirements listed at the top of this page and who are below the maximum credits allowed for their degree are considered "in good standing" for financial aid as long as they meet all other federal eligibility requirements and are not in default on their student loans.

First-time USU students who meet all other federal eligibility guidelines are considered "in good standing" unless they are over the maximum credit limit for their program due to transfer credits. A first-time transfer student can be in good standing their first semester at USU but then go on financial aid warning the following semester because of not passing enough of their transfer credits.

Financial Aid Warning

If your overall pace or your USU total institution GPA drops below the standards listed above, you will be placed on financial aid warning. You will receive an email notification about your warning status. You can still receive aid for one semester in this status.  If your performance doesn't lift your USU total institution GPA and overall pace to the minimum standard for good standing, you will be ineligible for further aid. Graduate students are exempt from the PACE standard.

For example, if you are placed on warning at the end of fall semester, you will receive aid spring semester. If your USU total institution GPA and overall pace at the end of spring semester are below the required standard, you will lose eligibility for aid (“suspended”).

Financial Aid Suspension

Students suspended after their warning term for failing to make satisfactory progress are ineligible to receive further federal aid including grants, work-study, and federal student loans.

Note: Financial aid suspension does not prevent students from attending the university. In some cases, students may be able to continue at their own expense so they can improve their performance and regain aid eligibility.

Appealing Financial Aid Suspension

In extraordinary circumstances beyond your control, such as accidents, extreme illness, or death of an immediate family member, you may appeal your suspension in writing to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee. Check with your Financial Aid Counselor to set up an online appeal. Generally, an appeal is a description of the circumstances that prevented a student from remaining in good standing for financial aid and supporting documenation. The appeal must also demonstrate that those circumstances have been sufficiently resolved so that the student can be successful in the future. Students whose appeals are granted may continue to receive aid on financial aid probation. 

  • The financial aid appeals committee meets each Thursday morning to review academic progress and total hours appeals.
  • Students will be notified by email about the appeal's committee decision by Friday.
  • Appeals cannot be granted twice for the same circumstances.
  • Appeals will not be approved for students who cannot get back into good standing for total institution GPA and/or PACE before reaching the maximum credit limit.
  • Students will be given conditions they must meet each semester to get back into good standing before graduation.
  • Suspended students who have earned more than 60 credits must have a 2.0 total institution GPA to appeal for financial aid.

Never Received Aid? Appealing to Start on Probation

If you have completed prior semesters at USU without receiving financial aid, and your total institution GPA and/or pace are below the required level, you may appeal to be placed on financial aid probation the first term you receive aid. Appeals must still demonstrate circumstances beyond a student's control that prevented academic progress towards a degree or certificate.

  • Suspended students who have earned more than 60 credits must have a 2.0 total institution GPA to appeal for financial aid.

Financial Aid Probation

Students who have been suspended are sometimes allowed to continue receiving financial aid on probation. Students on probation are given specific conditions to receive aid to get back into good standing. Students who fail to meet these conditions are suspended again.

Maximum Credits Appeals

You may appeal for an extension to finish your degree.

Please visit with your Financial Aid Counselor to set up the Total Hours Appeal online. You should not appeal for an extension until you have been suspended from financial aid unless otherwise instructed.