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Financial Aid Policies

Section 1: Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards
Section 2: Definitions/Conditions
Section 3: Implementation

Financial aid eligibility is based on satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standards that Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is required by the U. S. Department of Education to establish, publish, and apply. The Financial Aid Office measures academic performance and enforces SAP standards to ensure that financial aid recipients progress toward completion of their degree. Students who fail to meet these standards become ineligible to receive financial aid until compliant with all of the requirements detailed in this policy.

To demonstrate Satisfactory Academic Progress, a student’s academic performance must meet two main SAP components. The first is a qualitative component, represented by grade point average (GPA). The second is a quantitative component measured by credit completion (the ratio between attempted and completed credits) and the maximum timeframe to complete the degree or certificate program.

Section 1. SAP Standards

 Qualitative Standard

Undergraduate students are required to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 each semester and a cumulative program GPA of 2.0. Graduate students are required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 each semester and a cumulative program GPA of 3.0.

Quantitative Standard

Credit Completion
All students must complete a minimum number of credits to successfully meet a cumulative 67% completion rate, both semester and cumulatively. To calculate a student’s cumulative rate of progression, please reference the following example:

Cumulative Credits Completed / Cumulative Credits Attempted = Completion Rate


Semester 1 Semester Rate Cumulative Rate
6 cr. completed/9 cr. attempted = 67% 6/9 = 67%
Semester 2
3 cr. completed/6 cr. Attempted = 50% 9/15 = 60%
Semester 3
6 cr. completed/6 cr. attempted = 100% 15/21 = 71%

Credit completion refers to grades of A, AB, B, BC, C, CD, or P. Withdrawals, incompletes, and repeated courses are included in credits attempted.

Maximum Time Frame
All undergraduate and graduate students are expected to finish their degrees within an acceptable period of time. Financial aid recipients may continue to receive federal aid through their cumulative attempted credit that equals 150% of the required number of credits needed to complete their program, including transfer credits from another college that apply to the Saint Mary’s program.

Section 2. Definitions/Conditions

Attempted Credit: An attempted credit includes all credits for which you are registered, but do not plan to attend or complete. Grades of I, W, NC, F, and X, or drops are attempted, but not counted as earned credits. Audit credits are not counted as attempted or earned credits.

Consortium/Joint Program Credits: Credits accepted by the University are included with attempted and earned credit totals.

Credit: A credit is the unit by which academic work is measured.

Cumulative Credits: Cumulative credits represent the total number of credits evaluated (attempted and earned) for all periods of enrollment at the University, including any terms for which the student did not receive aid.

Earned credits: Earned credits are those that are successfully completed with a grade of A, AB, B, BC, C, CD, D, and P.

Grade Point Average (GPA): The GPA is calculated using a grade point value outlined in the catalog for grades A, AB, B, BC, C, CD, D, F, and X. Although a grade of P will count as credit earned, it carries no grade point value.

Incompletes: An “I” is included in the cumulative credits attempted. These credits cannot be used as earned credits until a passing grade is assigned.

Post Secondary Education Options (PSEO): Credits earned while a PSEO student at Saint Mary’s University will be included in the cumulative credit completion standard, GPA, and maximum time frame calculation. PSEO credits earned at another postsecondary institution will be treated as transfer credits for federal financial aid purposes.

Program/Major Changes: In regards to program/major changes for SAP purposes, a student may change programs/majors one time. This will result in the re-setting of SAP qualitative and quantitative calculations. However, any credits that are applicable to the new program/major will still be counted. If a student completes a degree program and then enrolls in another degree program, then SAP begins with the start of the new degree program.

Remedial Credits: Remedial credits occur during a student’s program of study. The courses are required to progress in the program, but do not count towards the credits earned in the program. These credits are not counted in the SAP calculation.

Repeat Credits: Repeats may be allowed in order to improve a grade or meet program requirements. They are included in credit completion and maximum time frame standards. The most recent grade will become the grade calculated for GPA.

Transfer Credits: Grades associated with transfer credits are not included in the cumulative GPA calculation. Transfer credits accepted by Saint Mary’s University that are applicable to the current degree program apply toward the maximum time frame calculation for that program.

Section 3. Implementation 

Academic progress for every financial aid applicant will be monitored after each semester. All of a student’s academic coursework is considered in the review process, whether the student received aid that term or not. The assessment will be based on the student’s entire academic record, including all transfer credit hours accepted. 

Financial Aid Warning:
If the student does not meet either the GPA or Credit Completion standard, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for the next registered term. While on warning status, students are eligible to receive financial aid. Students on warning status are encouraged to use the many academic support services on campus to improve their academic standing.

To be removed from financial aid warning status the student must meet GPA and credit completion standards. A student who has reached the maximum time frame prior to completing the program will no longer eligible for financial aid.

Financial Aid Suspension:
Students who do not meet the minimum cumulative GPA and/or credit completion ratio or do not meet the terms of financial aid warning status will be no longer eligible for federal, state or institutional aid. Students may be eligible for private loan programs and outside assistance that does not require SAP.

Provided the student’s academic status allows for registration, s/he may attend the University at his or her own expense until the minimum cumulative GPA and credit completion requirement has been met. Once requirements are met, the student may regain federal, state and/or institutional aid.

Saint Mary’s University may immediately deem a student ineligible for financial aid in the event of extraordinary circumstances, such as a student who registers for but does not earn any credits for two consecutive terms, or a student who demonstrates an attendance pattern that abuses the receipt of financial aid.

Students who failed to meet these standards due to unusual circumstances may appeal the financial aid SAP suspension status.

Financial Aid Appeal:
A student who is unable to achieve satisfactory academic progress and is suspended from receiving financial aid has the right to complete a one-time appeal based on unusual or extenuating circumstances, such as illness, injury or other special circumstance. The student may appeal the financial aid suspension status at any time during the term if:

  • The record shows that the student has now earned the required qualitative and quantitative SAP standards.
  • Unusual circumstances interfered with the student’s ability to meet SAP standards, including but not limited to: 
    • Illness, accident, or injury experienced by the student or a significant person in the student’s life.
    • Death of a family member or significant person in the student’s life.
    • Divorce experienced by the student or parent.
    • Reinstatement after an academic dismissal or extended break in the student’s enrollment.
    • Personal problems or issues with spouse, family, roommate, or other significant person.

To appeal, students must submit to the Financial Aid Office the following:

  1. A statement from the student explaining the nature of the extenuating circumstances that contributed to the SAP deficiency. This must include an explanation of how the barriers/circumstances to academic success have been removed.
  2. Third party statement and/or documentation to support the circumstances.
  3. If compliance cannot be achieved in one semester, an approved academic plan must be developed by the student and program director.

SAP appeal documentation is collected by the Financial Aid Office and submitted to an appeal committee for review. The committee reserves the right to deny an appeal.

Financial Aid Probation:
If the student successfully appeals the financial aid suspension status, the student will be placed on financial aid probation for the next registered term. While on probation, students are eligible to receive financial aid. Students on probation status are encouraged to use academic support services on campus to improve their academic standing.

Financial Aid Probation with Academic Plan:
If the student is on an academic plan, the student must follow the plan exactly. The academic plan supplements the traditional SAP requirements. If a course is not offered during a particular semester, the student may change the course with approval from the Financial Aid Office and program director.

During financial aid probation with academic plan, financial aid will be awarded on a semester-by-semester basis until the student meets the qualitative and quantitative SAP standards.

Financial Aid Termination:
If the student does not successfully complete financial aid probation or financial aid probation with academic plan, financial aid eligibility for federal, state, and institutional aid will be terminated without the option for appeal. The only way to regain financial aid eligibility is to pay tuition out-of-pocket until SAP standards are met. Students may be eligible for some private loan programs and outside assistance that does not require SAP. 

Withdrawal from the University

Federal law requires institutions and/or the student to return the portion of your financial aid that is considered UNEARNED, called Return to Title IV. This policy applies only when during the term, the student withdraws from ALL classes AND the percentage of the term completed is equal to or less than 60%. Course load reductions that leave a student with at least one remaining class are not affected by this policy, but may result in reduction in Institutional or State aid. Returning of Federal aid must be done within 45 days of the student’s withdrawal. The following example illustrates how the policy works:

  1. Calculate the percentage of the term completed (# days completed / # days in semester x 100). If greater than 60%, then no return of Federal financial aid is required. If less than or equal to 60%, then proceed to step #2.
  2. Determine the percentage of Federal financial aid EARNED by multiplying the total amount of Federal financial aid received for the term by the percentage in step #1. You are permitted to keep this amount in your student account.
  3. Determine the amount of UNEARNED Federal financial aid that must be returned to financial aid programs accounts by subtracting the amount of EARNED Federal financial aid (determined in step # 2) from the total amount of financial aid received for the term.
  4. There are specific calculations that determine how much of the UNEARNED financial aid must be returned to the federal program(s) by the institution and how much must be returned by the student.
  5. There is a prescribed order in which funds must be returned to the programs:
    1. Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan
    2. Subsidized Direct Stafford Loan
    3. Federal Perkins Loan
    4. Federal PLUS Loan
    5. Federal Pell Grant
    6. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
    7. Federal TEACH Grant
    8. Iraq/Afghanistan Service Grant

It is possible, depending on the date of withdrawal, to have no refund of tuition and fees, although part of the Federal financial aid may be required to be returned. For example, if a student withdraws from the university after the end of ALL refund periods, it is possible that the student may owe the full amount of billed costs. Even if the student does not finish the term, he/she may still be charged for these fees.

If, when the Financial Aid Office is completing the Return to Title IV worksheet, it may be determined that additional aid could have been disbursed to the student and/or parent. A post-withdrawal disbursement will be offered in writing to the student or parent. The student or parent will have 30 days from the date the notice is sent to respond. The notice will include if any of the post-withdrawal disbursement will be used to reduce a student’s current tuition bill.

Furthermore, if the withdrawal occurs after the end of ALL refund periods but on or before 60% of the term is completed, the student may be required to repay all or part of the financial aid as determined in steps #1-5 above. If the student is required to repay all or part of your financial aid, they will be notified of the amount required to be repaid. In addition, future registration at Saint Mary's University and requests for academic transcripts may be denied until repayment is complete.

How to Withdraw:
To initiate the withdrawal process, obtain a withdrawal form from Student Central. The Financial Aid Office will perform the appropriate calculations to determine the amounts (if any) of the Federal financial aid that must be returned to the program accounts.

Withdrawal Date:
The withdrawal date is the date you begin the withdrawal process. If you fail to withdraw officially, the withdrawal date will become the midpoint of the term, unless the institution can document a later date. In certain circumstances if an earlier date of last academic activity is determined, this date may be used in the calculation of “earned” federal aid.

Institutional and State Refund Policy:
The Return of Title IV policy, cited above, only considers federal aid. Saint Mary’s is also required to determine if any institutional, state or private financial aid must be returned if you completely withdraw. Saint Mary’s offers pro-rated tuition refunds and on-campus room refunds through the sixth week of classes. Board will be refunded through twelve weeks.

If you withdraw during a period of time that allows for a refund of tuition, a portion or all of your institutional, state and/or private funding may be reduced or cancelled. If you receive a 100 percent refund on all courses for a particular term, all institutional, state and private funding must be returned to the appropriate aid program(s). If your institutional refund was not used to fully repay the Return of Title IV aid, a proportional share of the remaining institutional refund must be returned to the appropriate non-federal aid program(s).