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Satisfactory Academic Progress for Graduate Students

All Columbia College graduate students, full-time and part-time, who are receiving Title IV funds must meet the following guidelines for satisfactory academic progress (SAP). Graduate federal aid recipients are required to be in good standing and to maintain SAP toward their degree requirements each semester in which they are enrolled. SAP is evaluated once per year at the end of spring semester.  Failure to maintain satisfactory progress may result in the loss of financial aid eligibility.

Standards for Graduate Students

  1. Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher. All graduate students must maintain a ‘B’ average or at least a 3.0 GPA.
  2. Maintain minimum pace toward degree progress. Graduate students must successfully complete (receive passing grades) three-fourths (75%) of their attempted coursework at the end of the spring term and will be calculated by dividing the earned credit hours by the attempted credit hours. Transfer credit accepted from an accredited post-secondary institution is not included in the determination of a student’s pace toward degree progress.
  3. Complete their degree program within the maximum timeframe. A graduate student’s attempted hours may not exceed 150% of the published length of the program. All transfer credits and all other credit sources are included in the calculation of a student’s maximum timeframe.

The following measurements will be used to establish maximum timeframe based on individual graduate programs:

Program Program Credits Required for Completion Maximum Timeframe Attempted Creditsv Maximum Years
MFA Range 40 - 60 90 5 years
MFA Range w/ Thesis 40 - 60 90 7 years
MA Range w/ Thesis 40 - 60 90 7 years
MA Range 40 - 60 90 5 years
MA Range 30 - 40 60 4 years
MAT 41 62 5 years
Certificate 18 - 30 45 3 years
MAM w/ Thesis 48 - 50 90 7 years

Students who have attempted the maximum attempted hours or years and have not achieved their degree will not be eligible to receive financial aid, will be dismissed from the College and will not be allowed to enroll in future semesters. There are no probationary terms for maximum time frame.

Retaking Course Work

Any course in which a W was assigned may be retaken for credit. Within limits established by individual programs, certain courses required for the degree may be taken for credit more than once; however, federal financial aid may only be used for one retake of a course in which a passing grade was previously earned. The original grade for the course is not replaced. Both the original grade and the “retake” course grade appear on the academic record and are included in calculation of the cumulative grade point average.

Notification of SAP status

Student Financial Services (SFS) will notify all graduate students via their LOOP email of their financial aid suspension at the end of each spring semester immediately following the grading period if they fail to meet the minimum standards for academic progress. Students who successfully met the SAP standards will not receive a notification.

Graduate students will be immediately suspended from receiving federal financial aid if, at the end of the spring semester, they failed to meet the minimum requirements for SAP for one or more of the following reasons: Graduate students may enroll for future terms at Columbia College Chicago but they are ineligible to receive financial aid while on suspension.

Students who complete the appeal process (see Appeals) and are approved are placed on probation for one semester. Students on probation are eligible to receive financial aid. Students must meet the following terms and conditions during their probationary semester in order to maintain good academic standing for financial aid: The student and his/her Faculty Advisor will design an academic plan as part of the appeal process. If approved, the student is required to follow this academic plan during the probationary term. Failure to meet any or all of the academic plan requirements will result in the student’s suspension of financial aid eligibility for future terms.


SFS recognizes there may be extenuating and mitigating circumstances affecting student performance. Graduate students may appeal their satisfactory academic progress status if any of the following circumstances exist: SFS will provide instructions for appeal as part of the notification sent to students placed on suspension. Graduate students placed on suspension after the spring semester must submit an appeal and appropriate documentation in order to receive financial aid consideration for fall enrollment.

Deadlines to Appeal

Appeal Processing
A SAP appeal must be submitted on or before the established deadline for the appropriate term and is subject to approval. SFS will review all appeals submitted and notify a student of its decision within 10-15 business days.

Students who have been suspended may be eligible to appeal their academic standing and should speak with a SFS representative about the appeal process and requirements. Students who complete the appeal process and are approved will be placed on probation. Students who are ineligible to appeal, whose appeal is denied or who fail to submit an appeal will remain on financial aid suspension.