USU Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

To be in good standing for federal financial aid, federal law requires aid recipients to make satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or program. These standards are not the same as Utah State University's academic requirements. Students may be eligible to attend USU but not be eligible to receive financial aid. The standards outlined below apply to all periods of attendance, including semesters for which USU students did not receive financial aid. If students have a disability, we encourage them to contact the Disability Resource Center about possible accommodations. Please visit THRIVE for additional academic resources.

Grade Point Average:

To be in good standing for aid, all students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average:

  • 2.0 overall GPA for undergraduates
  • 3.0 overall GPA for graduate students
  • Transfer courses that were failed do not count against the overall grade point average for financial aid purposes
  • Note: Failing courses can create a pace problem - see below


To be in good standing for aid, all students must successfully complete a specified percentage of their classes:

  • Undergraduates must earn passing grades in 67% of the courses they attempt.
  • Graduates must earn passing grades in 50% of the courses they attempt.
  • F grades, W grades, incomplete grades, repeated and audited courses do not count as passing grades and can create a Pace problem. Withdrawing from courses to maintain a good GPA can also create a Pace problem.
  • Transfer courses that were withdrawn from or failed no longer count against Pace.
  • Please review our frequently asked questions about Pace.

Academic progress for Grade Point Average 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. Problems with Pace eventually result in a maximum timeframe suspension.

Maximum Timeframe:

All financial aid recipients must complete their degree or program in a timely manner or timeframe. For example, most bachelor's degrees require at least 120 credits to graduate. Federal regulations allow up to 180 credits or 150% more than the 120 credit minimum for a bachelor’s degree. This flexibility allows a student to explore different programs for a limited time or have one or two bad semesters on their transcript. Different undergraduate programs have specific 150% timeframe limits. See the table below for details.

Graduate students at USU have a 200% maximum timeframe; generally, a 60 credit limit for a 30 credit program.

  • Specific programs may require more credits than what is listed below, adjustments can be made in consultation with the academic advisor.
  • For maximum timeframe, attempted credits include all graded USU courses, transfer courses with passing grades, testing credits, Pass/Fails, repeats, as well as Fs, Incompletes, Rs, Ws, and WFs.
  • Incoming transfer students who exceed the limits below are not eligible for federal aid but may appeal for consideration.

Maximum Timeframe Limits:


General Program Length

Maximum Timeframe

Certificate of Proficiency

16 credits

24 credits

Certificate of Completion

30 credits

45 credits

Associate Degree

60 credits

90 credits

First Bachelor's Degree

120 credits

180 credits

Additional Bachelor's Degree

40 credits

60 credits

Master's Degree

30 credits

60 credits

Doctor of Philosophy

30 credits

60 credits

Maximum Time Frame Notifications

Maximum timeframe is monitored throughout each semester so that USU can review the number of credits being taken during the term, along with the previous attempted credits on the student's transcript. If the student's total is nearing the maximum limit, financial aid recipients will be notified by email or letter with further instructions.

Reminder: USU students may be ineligible for federal aid because their overall GPA and/or Pace were already below the required level before they applied for aid or they had already exceed the maximum timeframe for their program.

Federal Aid Petitions

Transfer Courses

Only passing grades from transfer courses are counted toward maximum timeframe. By policy, students may petition the financial aid office to have transfer courses that don't count toward their current program excluded from Pace and Maximum Timeframe. Please contact our office for more information.

Concurrent Enrollment & Advanced Placement Credits

By policy, students may petition the financial aid office to have Concurrent Enrollment and Advanced Placement courses that don't count toward their current program removed from consideration for maximum timeframe. Please contact our office for more information.

Additional Majors, Emphases, AS + AAS

By policy, students may petition for an extension of their maximum timeframe limit up to the number of credits required by the additional major or program. However, if a student has fulfilled all the credits required for their first bachelor's degree, they may not receive any more Federal Pell Grant, even if they haven't graduated yet. Please contact our office for more information.

Previous Majors or Programs

By policy, students who change majors or programs may petition the financial aid office to remove up to 35 credits pertaining to the previous program(s) from Pace and Maximum Timeframe considerations. A student in a certificate program may petition for the exclusion of an uncompleted AS or AAS program from consideration in the maximum timeframe calculation. Please contact our office for more information.

Federal Aid Warning

If a student's Grade Point Average and/or Pace drops below the standards listed above, they will be placed on financial aid warning and notified. They will receive federal aid for one semester under this status. If their overall Grade Point Average and Pace don't reach the minimum standard for good standing by the end of the warning semester, they will be ineligible for further aid at USU.

For example, if a student does poorly and is placed on financial aid warning at the end of fall semester, they will receive their aid for spring semester. If their overall Grade Point Average and/or Pace at the end of spring semester are still below the required standard, they will lose eligibility for aid and be suspended from financial aid at USU.

Federal 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.

  • A student is also suspended from federal financial aid if they are academically suspended from the university regardless of Grade Point Average or Pace.
  • Financial aid suspension at one university may not prevent a student from receiving aid at another university.
  • 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 GPA or Pace.

Appealing Federal Aid Suspension

A student may appeal their financial aid suspension for Grade Point Average, Pace, Maximum Timeframe, or academic suspension. A student may be able to successfully appeal when there were special circumstances in the past that have now been resolved or are under control.

  • Special circumstances could include things like accidents, illness, or the death of an immediate family member.
  • Students may appeal their suspension by contacting our office to set up an online appeal.

Generally, an appeal is a description of the circumstances that disrupted a student's academic progress and includes supporting documentation. 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. 

Financial Aid Probation

Students who successfully appeal their financial aid suspension will receive financial aid on probation. Students on probation are given specific conditions as part of an academic plan to continue receiving federal aid. Students who fail to meet these conditions are suspended again.