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Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Federal Regulations require North Idaho College to establish Satisfactory Academic Progress standards (SAP) for all financial aid recipients. The purpose of SAP standards are meant to ensure that students and academic institutions are held accountable to the taxpayer-funded federal student aid programs while students complete their academic goals in a timely manner. This process monitors student performance in all terms of enrollment, including terms in which the student did not receive financial aid.

What affects your financial aid eligibility?

Thinking of withdrawing from classes? Doing so could result in you owing money or falling below the minimum requirements (SAP) to stay eligible.

Always check with the NIC Financial Aid Office before withdrawing from a course on MyNIC

There are minimum requirements that you must meet in order to stay eligible for financial aid. Please review our Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy and our Return of Title IV Funds Policy before withdrawing to avoid owing money or becoming ineligible for future semesters.

Please note before using the calculator: Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is evaluated on a semester by semester basis. At the end each semester, the NIC Financial Aid Office will evaluate your SAP based on cumulative (total attempted and completed) credits.

Completion Rate Calculator

Financial Aid SAP Appeal Submission Periods

*These dates are for current students only

  Fall 2023

 Midterm Review  Spring 2024  Midterm Review
 Aug. 20 Deadline    Oct. 15-22  Jan. 7  March 4-10


North Idaho College Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards

GPA Requirement

Federal Regulations require a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy for students receiving Federal Student Aid to be at least as strict as students who are not receiving federal funds at North Idaho College (NIC).

The SAP Policy at NIC requires the same GPA of 2.0 as NIC’s graduation requirement.

GPA, Completion Rate, and Maximum Time Frame Standards

The North Idaho College (NIC) Financial Aid Office has developed a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy which consistently applies SAP standards to all categories of students including full-time, part-time, programs less than one year, and programs over one year in length.

 All students receiving Federal funds must meet the Federal minimum requirements of a cumulative 2.0 GPA and 66.67% completion rate as well as complete their program within 150% of maximum time frame.

SAP Timeline Review

All students will be evaluated on a term by term basis. The evaluation is based on cumulative credits (total attempted and completed credits at NIC).

NIC and Financial Aid GPA 

The Grade Point Average (GPA) standard defines the quality of the student’s academic work. Students enrolled in an academic program must have a GPA standing consistent with NIC’s graduation requirements of cumulative completed credits resulting in a 2.0 or higher GPA.

Minimum Pace Requirements

The pace of progression standard measures the rate at which students must progress through their program of study to ensure that they will graduate within the Federal Maximum Time Frame. This completion rate is calculated by dividing the total number of completed credits by the total number of attempted credits. A student must maintain a minimum completion rate of 66.67% while receiving Federal Financial Aid.

Please Note: During an evaluation review, if it is determined that a student cannot mathematically complete the program of study within the Maximum Time Frame, the student automatically becomes ineligible for Federal Financial Aid.

Maximum number of attempted credits

For undergraduate students, Federal Student Aid funds cannot be paid to a student who exceeds 150% of the published length of their current degree program. The 150% is measured on the basis of NIC and transfer attempted credits.

For instance, if an associate degree program requires 60 credits for graduation, it must be completed within 90 credits. Programs credit hour requirements vary, check the Catalog for the precise number of credits required for program completion, then multiply the figure by 1.5.

If the number of attempted credits equals or exceeds 150% of the program requirements for graduation, the student will be placed on a Maximum Timeframe Status.

How grades are treated

The following items describe the treatment of academic programs, coursework, and grades in the measurement of the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards:

All North Idaho College (NIC) attempted coursework is included in the measurements whether or not the student received financial aid.

Course credits are treated as attempted credits if a student is enrolled as of the census date of the course’s term. Grades of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, S, and P will be treated as attempted and earned credits that are successfully completed.

Failures (grade of “F”), official student withdrawal (dropping with a grade of “W”), unsatisfactory work (grade of “U”), institutional withdrawal (grade of “IW”), no credit earned (grade of “NG”), and Incompletes (grade of “I”) are considered credits attempted but not earned.

Credits from coursework that earns an A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-,D+, D, D-, and F will be included in the calculation of cumulative grade point average (GPA).

Grade of 'I'

A student’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) evaluation will include all attempted and completed credits when calculating their current status.

Incompletes (grade of “I”) are considered credits attempted but not earned. Incomplete grades may negatively impact a student’s GPA or pace standard at the time of the evaluation.  A grade change can not be reviewed until the next SAP evaluation period.  

Dropping with a grade of 'W'

Withdrawals from courses will impact the student’s completion rate and pace of progression throughout their program of study.

The completion rate is calculated by dividing the total number of completed credits by the total number of attempted credits. A student must maintain a 66.67% completion rate and complete their program within 150% of the published length of their current degree program.

Repeating classes

Repeated courses and courses for which the student has been granted academic renewal are included in the calculation of both attempted and earned credits. NOTE: The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy abides within the College’s academic policies regarding the treatment of repeated courses in the determination of the cumulative GPA.

A student is permitted to receive Federal Financial Aid to retake a course only once after successful completion. A student may receive financial aid to repeat unsuccessful attempts of a course. 

How audit courses are counted

Audit courses, and a grade of “AU”, are not considered credits attempted or earned and do not factor into the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) calculation.

How Transfer Credits are counted

Credits accepted toward a student’s educational program must count as both attempted hours and completed hours when calculating pace for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).

Transfer credits are not counted in the calculation of the Cumulative GPA standard. Only courses taken at North Idaho College (NIC) are included in the GPA calculation.

How remedial credits are counted

Remedial and English as a Second Language (ESL) credits will be included in all measurements of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).

How credits-by-exam are counted

Credits earned by examination or testing are not counted in any measurement.

How changing your major may affect your eligibility

All periods of the student’s enrollment count when assessing progress. This includes periods in which the student did not receive federal funds; therefore changing programs or majors will count when calculating maximum time frame and may negatively impact students in completing their program of study.

Academic Renewal

North Idaho College (NIC) will allow a student to petition with the Registrar's Office, under certain circumstances, for academic renewal. If approved, previous poor academic work at NIC would be eliminated from the computation of credits and grade points (GPA) in the student’s academic record as well as for academic standing and eligibility for graduation.

Federal regulations, however, make no provision for academic amnesty. If a student’s prior coursework was given special treatment under NIC’s provisions for Academic Renewal, the student’s cumulative GPA as well as attempted and completed credits must be calculated based on the inclusion of all courses attempted at NIC. If the student does not have/maintain a 2.0 GPA and 66.67% completion rate, the student must appeal to receive aid for future terms.

What affects your eligibility?

Students will be evaluated on a semester by semester basis. Students that earn less than 66.67% and/or 2.0 GPA cumulatively will be placed on a Warning Status and will be eligible for financial aid for the subsequent semester. If the student does not meet the minimum 66.67% and/or 2.0 GPA while on Warning Status, they will be placed in an Unsatisfactory Status and must appeal to receive future financial aid. If the student is approved, they will be placed on Financial Aid Probation.

Students who exceed Maximum Time Frame or, if it is determined that a student cannot mathematically complete the program of study within the maximum time frame, the student automatically becomes ineligible for aid unless he or she is placed on Financial Aid Probation through an approved appeal.

Students who are currently on Financial Aid Probation as the result of a successful appeal will be evaluated at the end of each semester. Students that earn less than 66.67% and/or 2.0 GPA for that term will again be placed in an Unsatisfactory Status and will be ineligible for financial aid and must re-appeal.

Federal Regulations allow an institution to use professional judgment on a case-by-case basis to determine if an unusual or extraordinary situation affected your progression toward the successful completion of your program of study. The decision to permit appeals and the methods involved in reviewing appeals is at the discretion of the NIC Financial Aid Office.

Learn more about the Appeal Process


Federal Regulations require students to achieve Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards. These standards are:

  1. Maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  2. Maintain a completion rate of at least 66.67% (completed credits divided by attempted credits)
  3. Graduate within the Maximum Timeframe (150% of the credits required to complete a student's current program) 

If you are not meeting all of these requirements, you will be disqualified from Federal Student Aid and need to submit an appeal to be considered for future aid. Students will be placed on a “Warning” status for one semester following an Unsatisfactory Semester to allow them one additional semester to raise their SAP status above the minimum standards.


 A student enrolls in 15 credits for the Fall Semester:


 Fall Semester  Credits  Grade
 ENGL 101  3  B
 MATH 108  4  F
 COMM 101  3  C+
 PE 221  2  W
 HIST 101  3  B-
 Attempted Credits  15 GPA: 1.85 


  • This student’s completion rate is 60% (9 out of their 15 attempted credits, after receiving an “F” in Math 108 and a “W” in PE) and GPA is 1.85
  • They are below the minimum SAP requirements and will be placed on a Warning Semester for the Spring.
The student enrolls in 12 credits for the Spring Semester. They successfully complete all 12 credits with a 2.5 GPA.  


 SAP Requirements  Fall Spring  Total Credits  GPA 
 Completed Credits  9  12  21  FALL: 1.85
 Attempted Credits  15  12  27  SPRING: 2.5
 Total  60%  100%  78%  2.175


Looking at the new SAP calculation based on cumulative GPA and completion rate for both semesters, the student is at 78% and a 2.175 GPA. The student successfully used their Warning Semester to raise their GPA and completion rate to a Satisfactory Status.

If the student was unsuccessful in raising their GPA and completion rate after the Warning Semester, they would be disqualified from financial aid and need to submit an appeal.

If you have questions please contact Cardinal Central at 208-769-3311 or

Stipulation of an Academic Plan

Sometimes, it may be mathematically impossible for a student on Financial Aid Probation to achieve minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards at the conclusion of one payment period; therefore an institution may consider a long-range academic plan with appropriate check points and milestones to be achieved by the student.

The North Idaho College (NIC) Financial Aid Office will evaluate each student on a case-by-case basis and determine an academic plan which ensures the student is able to meet SAP standards by the expected graduation date indicated on their appeal form.

An academic plan can be voided by NIC if the student changes their program of study, violates the academic plan, does not take classes which pertain to their current program of study, or does not enroll for the payment period that the academic plan was applicably designed.

Notwithstanding these terms and conditions within the probationary period, the student on Financial Aid Probation must meet the minimum SAP standards of a 66.67% completion rate and a minimum GPA of 2.0 at the next SAP evaluation or fulfill the requirements of the required academic plan in order to retain future financial aid.

How to be eligible without an approved appeal

A student that is making unsatisfactory progress and is ineligible for financial aid due to below minimum completion rate and/or GPA may enroll in subsequent semesters at his/her own cost. Financial Aid eligibility may be reinstated once all Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) minimum standards are met.

A student’s eligibility will be automatically calculated at the end of each semester. If a student is achieving SAP before the end of the semester, they must notify the Financial Aid Office to have their SAP evaluated on a case by case basis.

Neither paying for one’s classes without financial aid nor sitting out for a semester will restore a student’s SAP standing, and is not sufficient to re-establish eligibility for financial aid funds.

How will the North Idaho College (NIC) Financial Aid Office contact me about Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?

Students will be informed of their Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standing via Cardinal Mail at the end of the evaluation period if they fall below minimum requirements.

Notification to students regarding their SAP status will be individual, confidential, timely, and informative.

The goal of the NIC Financial Aid Office is to provide clear and consistent communication to current and potential students in order to help students successfully complete their education. SAP has been implemented to ensure student success and accountability to the taxpayer-funded Federal Student Aid Programs.