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Financial Aid Information Booklet


Satisfactory Academic Progress

Graduate Students

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All students (including international students) enrolled at Messiah College are subject to the academic standards of the College, which are printed in the Graduation Information section of the College catalog. In addition, students receiving financial aid, in order to continue to receive financial aid, must meet other requirements as described in detail in this Statement of Satisfactory Academic Progress.

 

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), mandates institutions of higher education to establish minimum standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for students receiving financial aid. Program Integrity Regulations, modifying these requirements, were issued October 29, 2010, with an effective date of July 1, 2011.  In order to comply with these requirements, Messiah College has established the following definition or standard of Satisfactory Academic Progress for graduate students.

 

 

Full-Time and Less Than Full-Time Graduate Students

 

Beginning July 1, 2011, the definitions of Full-time and Less Than Full-Time status for graduate students are:

 

Full-Time Status: Graduate students who carry an academic load of 6 or more credit hours in a semester are considered full-time students and may be eligible for financial aid as full-time students.

 

Half-Time Status: Graduate students who carry an academic load of at least 3 credit hours but less than 6 credit hours in a semester are considered half-time students and may be eligible for any financial aid open to half-time students.

 

Less Than Half-Time Status: Graduate students who carry an academic load of 1-2 credit hours in a semester are considered less than half-time students and may be eligible for financial aid that is open to less than half-time students.

 

Since most financial aid programs for which graduate students are eligible require at least half-time attendance, a graduate student would need to be enrolled at or above the half-time status in order to be eligible for most financial aid programs.

 

To be considered to be maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress, the student must meet the following standards:

 

Pace

 

Have successfully completed an average of 67% of credit hours attempted during each semester of attendance.

 

An Attempted Credit Hour is defined as a credit for which the student was registered after the point in a term at which the student will still be charged for the credit even if the student does not complete the credit.  For graduate programs at Messiah College, this means the student was registered for the credit after the end of the 33.3% institutional refund period.

 

Explanation of the use of average credit hours: Use of average credit hours over the student’s entire academic career allows the student to complete fewer credits in later semesters while still maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress standing, provided the student completed enough credits during earlier semesters in order to maintain an average completion rate of 67% over the student’s entire academic history. 

 

Example of the use of average credit hours completed: Meredith attempts and completes 6 credits in each of her first two semesters of attendance (12 total/100% of attempted credits).  Then, in each of her third and fourth semesters, she attempts 6 credits, but only completes 3 credits.  Meredith has now attempted 24 credits and completed 18 credits after four semesters of attendance.  Even though she did not complete all of the credits attempted in each of her four semesters, she is considered to have Satisfactory Academic Progress standing because she has completed 75% of the credits that she has attempted ((18 total credits completed divided by 24 credits attempted equals 75% completed).

Qualitative Measure

 

 

In accordance with the Messiah College Graduate Programs Standards of Scholarship (http://www.messiah.edu/academics/graduate_studies/docs/HandbookGraduatePrograms.pdf), until the student has earned 9 credits, a minimum GPA will not be required.

 

Once the student has earned 9 credits, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 will be required to be considered to be maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress.  .

 

 

Remedies for Non-Satisfactory Academic Progress Standing:

 

A student who does not meet this standard will need to complete the following steps in order to regain Satisfactory Academic Progress standing.

Warning Status

 

Warning Status occurs following the first semester after which the student has:

 

  • completed 9 or more credit hours and;
  • the student’s semester GPA falls below 3.00, or;
  • the student fails to attain a cumulative completion rate of at least 67% of credit hours attempted.

The Financial Aid Office will automatically place the student in a financial aid warning status for the next semester and inform the student of this status.  No action is required on the part of the student in order to be placed in a warning status. 

 

During the warning semester, the student must regain Satisfactory Academic Progress standing by 1.) completing enough credit hours so that the student’s cumulative credits completed are at least 67% of the total credits attempted, and/or 2.) achieving a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.

 

 

Probation Status

 

If, by the end of the warning semester, the student is not able to achieve Satisfactory Academic Progress status, the student will not be able to receive financial aid for the next period of enrollment unless the student successfully appeals.

 

 

The requirements of this Satisfactory Academic Progress policy can be appealed based on the following circumstances:

  • Death of a relative
  • Student injury or illness
  • Other special circumstance.

 

The student’s appeal must include:

 

  • An explanation of why the student failed to make Satisfactory Academic Progress.  In other words, explain how the circumstance prevented the student from performing up to his or her normal academic potential.
  • A description of what has changed that will allow the student to achieve Satisfactory Academic Progress status after the probationary semester.

 

To appeal the loss of Satisfactory Academic Progress status, the student should complete the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form and submit it to the Messiah College Financial Aid Office.

 

Academic Plan  

 

A part of the appeal process can be the establishment of an academic plan designed to help the student regain Satisfactory Academic Progress standing.  The Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form includes space for this. 

 

The academic plan is worked out between the student, his or her academic advisor, and/or the Registrars’ Office. 

 

The academic plan is not required at the start of the probationary semester.  But, if the student fails to regain Satisfactory Academic Progress status at the end of the probationary semester, the student must be successfully following the academic plan in order to continue to receive financial aid.

 

The academic plan must define how the student can regain Satisfactory Academic Progress status by a specific point in time.

 

 

Frequency of Progress Checks

 

The Financial Aid Office will check Satisfactory Academic Progress each semester.  If a student fails to achieve Satisfactory Academic Progress, the student will be informed of this via letter or electronic mail from the Financial Aid Office.  Included in this communication will be information on the student’s status, the effect of this status on the student’s financial aid eligibility, and any actions that the student must take.  The notice will be sent to the student’s most current address on file. It is the responsibility of the student to inform the College of a correct mailing address at all times.  If sent by electronic mail, the student’s Messiah College electronic mail address will be used for all such communications. 

 

 

Since the break between semesters is not always long enough to allow the Satisfactory Academic Progress review to be completed before the start of the next semester, it is expected that students will be familiar with this policy and aware of their own situation as related to Satisfactory Academic Progress.  Even if the next semester starts before a Satisfactory Academic Progress notice has been sent to the student, it will still be necessary to adjust the student’s financial aid in accordance with the policy once the Satisfactory Academic Progress review is completed.

 

 

Repeated Courses

 

The student’s enrollment status may include repeating any coursework previously taken in the program but may not include more than one repetition of a previously passed course, or any repetition of a previously passed course due to the student’s failing other coursework.  In other words, an institution may not pay a student for retaking previously passed courses if the student is required to retake those courses because the student failed a different course in a prior term.  For example, if a student enrolls in four classes in the fall semester and passes three of them, the institution could require the student to retake the failed class and also require the student to retake the other three classes because of failing the one class. If the student retakes the four classes in the spring semester, the failed class would be included in the student’s enrollment, but the three classes passed in the fall would not be included in determining the student’s enrollment status for the spring semester, for financial aid purposes.

 

Miscellaneous

 

Any withdrawals that take place before or during the 33.3% institutional refund period will not be counted as credits attempted when determining Pace.

 

Incomplete courses and course withdrawals after the 33.3% institutional refund period will be counted as credits attempted but not earned in Satisfactory Academic Progress calculations.

 

Noncredit remedial courses will not be counted towards Satisfactory Academic Progress.

 

Transfer hours counted toward completion of the student’s program will be counted as both hours attempted and hours completed, but will not be counted in the calculation of GPA.

Generally, all periods of the student’s enrollment count when judging Satisfactory Academic Progress, even periods in which the student did not receive financial aid funds. How­ever, for students who change majors, credits attempted and grades earned that do not count toward the new major will not be included in the SAP determination. 

Students seeking to earn additional degrees will be placed into the grade level progression based on the number of credits accepted toward the additional degree and financial aid eligibility will be based on the grade level determined in this way.

 

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 Maximum Time Frame

 

Under Federal regulation, the maximum time frame that a student may have to complete an undergraduate program is 150% of the published length of the educational program for a full-time student. Messiah College has chosen to make this measurement on a credit basis. Since the various graduate programs require different numbers of credits to be completed in order to obtain a degree, the calculation of maximum time frame will vary by program:

 

Program Name

Credit Hours Required for Completion

Maximum timeframe

Master of Arts in Counseling

51-60

90

Master of Music in Conducting

30

45

Master of Arts in Art Education

36

54

Master of Arts in Youth & Young Adult Ministries

36

54

Master of Education

30-39

59

 

It is expected that all students will complete all degree requirements by the time the student has completed the number of credit hours defined above. Students who do not complete their program within this time frame can continue to attend, but they will not be able to continue to receive financial aid.

 

 

 

 

 

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