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Financial aid satisfactory academic progress

According to the United States Department of Education regulations and Missouri Department of Higher Education policy, all students applying for federal and/or state financial assistance (as well as some private, credit-based loans) must meet and maintain satisfactory academic progress in a degree program to receive funding. Students who are not making academic progress when they initially apply for aid will not be eligible for financial aid at Columbia College until academic progress is met or the appeal for financial aid is approved. The financial aid office will review the academic progress of financial aid recipients at least once per academic year. The standard review time is in May.

What is satisfactory academic progress & how is it defined?

How can I measure or estimate my current or future satisfactory academic progress?

What happens if I do not meet satisfactory academic progress?

The quality of a student's progress is measured by grade point average (cumulative GPA). The minimum cumulative GPA for Financial Aid recipients is the same as the academic standard for Columbia College:

Minimum cumulative GPA per number of attempted hours (with transfer credit)

  • 0-30.9 cumulative hours: 1.75 minimum GPA
  • 31-45.9 cumulative hours: 1.90 minimum GPA
  • 46 or more cumulative hours: 2.00 minimum GPA
  • Graduate program: 3.00 minimum GPA

The GPA calculator can help you estimate your current course GPA

The quantity of a student's progress is measured by the Cumulative Pace of Completion (hours earned divided by hours attempted). Students are required to complete 2/3 of attempted hours while at Columbia College. Students who receive an I (incomplete), F (failing), W (withdrawal), or WE (excused withdrawal) for a course in a semester or session will have those courses included in the cumulative attempted hours (for definition of grades please see academic policies, regulations, and procedures in the academic catalog). The Cumulative Pace of Completion will be calculated in May to determine eligibility for financial aid for the following term.

Please note the following:

  • Repeated courses will add total hours attempted but not hours completed. The new grade will be included in the cumulative GPA calculation and the old grade will be excluded. The repeated course will be included in both qualitative and quantitative calculations.
  • Withdrawals, including excused withdrawals, will count toward hours attempted for the Cumulative Completion Rate, but will not be considered a complete course or included in the GPA calculation.
  • Remedial, enrichment and English as a second language courses will count toward the Cumulative Completion Rate as well as cumulative GPA.
  • Audit and pass/fail courses will count toward the Cumulative Completion Rate.
  • Transfer credit (including those received during consortium study) will count in the calculation of both cumulative attempted credit hours and cumulative completed credit hours. Transfer credit does not count in the calculation of GPA.

The completion rate calculator can help you estimate your completion rate

Maximum Time measure

Financial Aid recipients must complete an educational program within a time frame no longer than 150% of the published length of the educational program. All attempted withdrawn, and/or transferred credits that apply to a student's program count toward this maximum time limit. For example, a student pursuing a bachelor's degree requiring 120 credit hours may attempt up to 180 hours before Financial Aid eligibility is suspended (120 x 150% = 180).

Financial Aid recipients that have reached 100% of the published length of the educational program will be notified via CougarMail that they are approaching their maximum time frame. These warnings will continue to be sent each time academic progress is reviewed until a student reaches 150%. At 150%, the student will no longer be eligible to receive federal financial aid.

Financial Aid suspension

Failure to meet the minimum academic progress requirements will result in federal financial aid suspension. The first time a student fails to meet the minimum (quantitative or qualitative) requirement, he/she will be placed on financial aid suspension, and will be ineligible to receive federal financial aid. Students will be notified in writing via CougarMail and the standard annual review time is in May.

If placed on Financial Aid suspension, notification will be sent to the student and all federal and state aid will be removed for future sessions. Students on financial aid suspension have options to reinstate aid once suspended.


Financial Aid may be reinstated when one of the following conditions has been met:

  • The student completes courses without federal aid in one or more terms at Columbia College until the cumulative GPA and/or completion rate meet the required standard. It is the student's responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office once reinstatement conditions have been met.
  • The student files an appeal and the Financial Aid Appeal Review Committee approves the appeal. (see appeal procedures).

Students who have been suspended from federal financial aid may make a written appeal for reinstatement of eligibility if extenuating circumstances have contributed to their inability to meet the requirements for satisfactory progress.

Extenuating circumstances include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Death of an immediate family member
  • Severe injury or illness of the student or an immediate family member
  • Emergency situations such as fire or flood
  • Legal separation from spouse or divorce

Students who do not meet the above criteria and/or cannot thoroughly document such situations, must reestablish eligibility by completing courses without federal aid in one or more terms at Columbia College until the cumulative GPA and/or pace of completion rate meet the required standard before any additional federal or state aid will be disbursed.

Students who have extenuating circumstances may appeal using the following procedures:

  1. Submit a completed appeal form online and additional supporting documentation. Submission of additional supporting documentation is optional. All supporting documentation that a student wishes to have reviewed by the appeal board should be submitted by the student.
  2. The appeal packet is presented to the Financial Aid Appeal Review Committee for review. See appeal information regarding deadline submission and result notification dates.
  3. The student is notified via CougarMail of the Committee's decision and recommendations. The Committee's decision is final.
Financial Aid Appealed Probation

Financial aid appealed probation is a status assigned to students whose written appeal has been reviewed by the Appeal Committee and the decision was made to reinstate aid for one session. At the end of the appealed probation session, a student's academic performance will be reviewed for that one session to determine if the student is meeting minimum academic plan requirements. Minimum academic plan requirements are a GPA of 2.0 and a 66.67% pace of completion for an undergraduate student. Graduate students must meet a 66.67% pace of completion and a GPA of 3.0.

What happens when the appealed probation session is complete?

A student may regain or lose federal eligibility following the appealed probation session. The status for the session following the appealed probation session will fall into one of the categories below:

  • Stay in an appealed probation status. In order to remain in appealed probation status, a student must have a completion rate of 66.67% and GPA average of 2.0 or better for undergraduate students or a 3.0 or better for graduate students during the appealed probation session.
  • Move back to a suspension status. If student does not meet the required pace of completion or GPA, the student status will return to suspension and federal aid will be cancelled for future sessions.
  • Move to satisfactory status. If a student meets the overall GPA and/or pace of completion requirements for satisfactory academic progress, aid will be reinstated. Maximum time measure of 150% suspension excluded.

Students who remain in an appealed probationary status will have aid in place for the next session and will continue to be monitored each session. Students who move back to a suspension status will not have aid in place the next session and have the option of reinstatement. Students who move to a satisfactory status will have aid reinstated and will be reviewed again the following May.


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