Academic Standards


Federal regulations require that a student receiving federal financial aid make satisfactory progress in accordance with the standards set by Central Piedmont Community College and the federal government. Students are expected to achieve certain minimum levels of progress toward the successful academic completion of course requirements for a degree, certificate, or diploma. Progress is measured both qualitatively and quantitatively. To ensure that a student is making sufficient progress throughout their course of study, a maximum timeframe divided into increments is required.  At the end of each increment (semester), an institution must determine whether the student has completed a minimum percentage of work toward his or her educational objective degree or certificate, for all increments completed.

This policy applies to those students applying for or receiving federal and state funds. To reasonably measure a student's satisfactory academic progress toward completion of his/her degree, certificate, or diploma, the student's total educational record is evaluated regardless of whether or not they had received financial aid in the past. As a recipient of federal or state financial aid, students have individual rights and responsibilities. Failure to fulfill any part of the agreement, as described, may result in the cancellation of a student's award and the student may be responsible for repaying any received funds. The school cannot pay Title IV funds to a student who is not making satisfactory academic progress.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Definition

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is defined as a student passing 67 percent of all hours attempted; achieving a required grade point average of 2.0; not exceeding 150 percent of the total attempted hours needed to complete an approved program as defined by the Department of Education.


At Central Piedmont Community College, Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards also apply to non-federal aid, including state funds, institutional funds, and foundation scholarships. Progress is measured throughout the academic program by the student’s cumulative grade point average (qualitative) and by credits earned as a percentage of those attempted (quantitative or pace of completion).

The College’s Financial Aid Office will evaluate satisfactory academic progress before aid is awarded and again after grades are posted for every term, starting with the first semester of enrollment. To measure a student's satisfactory progress toward a degree, diploma, or certificate requirements, the student's total academic record at Central Piedmont Community College is evaluated whether or not the student received financial aid for the entire time of enrollment.

Some career studies certificate programs are ineligible for student financial aid, but those credits will be counted toward all SAP requirements (GPA, completion rate, maximum timeframe and developmental course maximum) if the student enrolls later in an eligible program.

Evaluating Progress

CPCC’s Financial Aid Office Satisfactory Academic Standards is applied consistently within all categories of students (for example: full time, part time).

Qualitative Standards

Cumulative GPA Requirements (GPA Rule): To remain eligible for financial aid consideration, students must meet minimum cumulative grade point average requirements based on a progressive scale. The calculation includes grades of A, B, C, D, F, P, and R.  The GPA evaluation excludes transfer credits. A 2.0 grade point average is required to graduate.

Quantitative Standards or Pace Completion

Completion Rate (67% Rule): Students must, at a minimum, receive satisfactory grades in 67% of cumulative credits attempted. This calculation divides the cumulative total number of successfully completed credits by the cumulative total number of credits attempted. All credits attempted at CPCC (except audits, entered as AU by the class census date) are included. All credits accepted in transfer count as both attempted and successfully completed credits. Credits with satisfactory grades at the College are those for which a grade of A, B, C, D, or P.

Maximum Time Frame (150% Rule): To continue receiving financial aid, a student must complete his/her program of study before attempting 150% of the credits required for that program. The 150% calculation excludes developmental coursework. Attempted credits from all enrollment periods at the College plus all applicable transfer credits are counted; whether or not the student received financial aid for those terms is of no consequence. If at any point in time it is determined that the student cannot complete their course of study within the 150% time frame, the student will no longer be eligible for financial aid.

Transfer Students: To calculate satisfactory academic progress, transfer students who apply for financial aid must request official transcripts from all other colleges attended. Official transcripts must be submitted directly to the Student Records Office. Credits officially accepted in transfer will be counted in the 67% rule and in determining the maximum number of allowable credit hours for financial aid eligibility. The College has the option on an individual student basis to put a transfer student on Financial Aid Warning status or Suspension status immediately upon evaluation for financial aid if academic history at previous colleges indicates a pattern of unsuccessful academic work.

Second Degree Students: If the student changes programs or attempts a second degree or certificate, all credits earned from the first degree or certificate are included in hours attempted and completed. Depending on the circumstances, an appeal might be warranted.

Developmental Studies: Students may receive financial aid for a maximum of 30 semester hours of developmental courses as long as the classes are a requirement as a result of placement testing, the student is in an eligible program of study, and the student meets satisfactory academic progress requirements. Developmental courses (designated by course numbers below 100, or beginning with DMA or DRE) are included in the calculation of satisfactory academic progress. Students enrolled in developmental courses must receive grades of A, B, C, or P to remain in good standing. Developmental hours more than the required 30 semester hours cannot count towards enrollment status for federal and state grants or the cost of attendance for any campus-based programs.

Cumulative Credit Hours Attempted: Cumulative credit hours attempted are defined as all credit hours attempted at CPCC, and all credit hours transferred from other institutions. Attempted credits include courses with grades of "A" through "F," “P,” “R,” "W,” "I/A,” "I/B,” "I/C,” "I/D,” "I/F" or "I".

Cumulative Credit Hours Completed: Cumulative credit hours successfully completed are defined as grades "A" through "D," “P,” "I/A," "I/B," "I/C," "I/D," "I/F." Credit hours not successfully completed are defined as “I,” “I/F,” "F," “R,” "W."

Repeated Courses: Repeated courses are counted as hours attempted and also toward maximum credits allowable for each type of program for financial aid.  Repeated courses enable the student to achieve a higher cumulative grade point average. Students can repeat courses with financial aid until successfully completed, but repeating courses adversely affects the student’s ability to meet completion rate requirements. Financial aid can be considered for successfully completed classes that are repeated to achieve a higher grade but for only one additional attempt. For example, for courses in which a grade of “D” or higher is received, federal financial aid will pay for just one repeat.  All attempts will count toward the student’s financial aid cumulative grade point average and cumulative completion rate.

Audited Courses: Credit hours taken for a grade of "audit" do not apply toward an associate degree, diploma, or certificate program. Therefore, credit hours with this designation are not included in determining enrollment status for financial aid or satisfactory academic progress.

If a student changes his/her grade type to an "audit" (AU) after the disbursement of financial aid, there will be an enrollment status change. This change may result in a reduction of financial aid eligibility and a balance owed to the College.

Credit by Examination: Courses completed by credit by examination are not covered by financial aid.

Incomplete Grades: Courses with grades of “I” (Incomplete) are considered as credit hours attempted and not completed. Students who make arrangements with the instructor to complete required course work are not required to re-register for the same class during a subsequent semester to complete the work. Any course carried forward to the next semester for completion is not counted as part of the new semester enrollment status. If the “incomplete” grade resulted in placing a student on financial aid probation or suspension, the student may appeal for an Incomplete Grade, once the course is completed. A student may appeal for a re-evaluation of Satisfactory Academic Progress by submitting or faxing the Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal form to the Financial Aid office at the Central Campus. If the grade becomes final before the review, the actual grade, credits attempted and credits earned are used to determine whether the student is making satisfactory progress.

Course Withdrawals: Students who withdraw from classes officially or unofficially should understand how withdrawals affect their eligibility for financial aid as determined by this Satisfactory Academic Progress procedure. A “Withdrawal” will count as attempted, not completed, and will count in the Financial Aid GPA calculation. Financial Aid recipients should discuss their possibility of withdrawing with a financial aid representative before doing so.

Reducing enrollment during any semester can create severe consequences for financial aid recipients:

    • Satisfactory Academic Progress may be affected;
    • In cases of complete withdrawals, students may be required to repay a percentage of financial aid received for that semester. (See Return of Title IV Funds).

EFL Studies: English as a second language (EFL) credits are limited as long as they are taken as part of an eligible program, and satisfactory academic requirements are met. A student enrolled in EFL courses, who is not in an eligible program of study is not eligible for federal financial aid funds. Students enrolled in EFL courses should also be enrolled in courses in their primary program of study.

Dual Enrollment: A student may not receive federal aid from more than one institution at the same time. A student transferring to Central Piedmont Community College from another school must have their aid canceled at the former school.

Change of Major: Students who change their major (program of study) are still responsible for maintaining satisfactory academic progress by the procedures outlined. A review of satisfactory academic progress is based on the student's current program of study. A student changing from an associate program into a diploma or certificate program may lose federal and state eligibility immediately upon making the change.

Dual Programs of Study: Satisfactory academic progress will calculate on the student’s primary active program of study.

Summer Session: Credit hours attempted and earned during the summer session are included in the calculation of Satisfactory Academic Progress. Full-time status is the same for the summer session as it is for the fall and spring semesters (12 credit hours).


Communicating Satisfactory Academic Progress to Students

Satisfactory academic progress is calculated at the end of each semester, after grades post. Emails are sent to students via the student’s CPCC email account notifying students of meeting guidelines, probation, or suspension. Students can also view their satisfactory academic status on FA Self-Service.

Satisfactory Academic Progress and Consortium Agreements

CPCC’s Financial Aid Office Satisfactory Academic Progress policy applies to students with a consortium agreement seeking to establish or maintain financial aid eligibility. A consortium student is defined as a student who has an active consortium agreement for the current semester and CPCC is the home institution. The standards apply to a student’s entire degree program including terms in which financial aid was not applied or disbursed. CPCC’s Financial Aid Office will measure a consortium students’ eligibility for all satisfactory academic standards at the end of each semester.

Attempted and earned hours for courses taken at an institution acting as the host school under an approved consortium agreement, are included in the calculation of cumulative completion rate.  All students attending Central Piedmont Community College, either as their home school or host school will have satisfactory academic progress calculated at the end of each term.

After Suspension

Other than when an appeal is granted for unusual or mitigating circumstances, a student can reestablish eligibility only by taking action that brings the student in compliance with the qualitative and quantitative components of the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards including the maximum timeframe.

Each student is notified by email when placed on warning or suspension. If the student takes the necessary action that brings the student in compliance with the qualitative and quantitative components of the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards, the Federal Pell Grant and other types of financial assistance (depending on availability of funds) are reinstated at the beginning of the next term of attendance, if otherwise eligible. Whether approved by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee or approved after one semester of satisfactory progress, the student’s status upon reinstatement will be “Satisfactory.”

What are the different Financial Aid Statuses?

How do I appeal my SAP?