Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Federal regulations require that students demonstrate SAP in their educational program in order to maintain eligibility for financial aid.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Federal regulations require students demonstrate Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in their educational program in order to maintain eligibility for financial aid. SAP is established and reviewed by the Office of Student Financial Services and is evaluated independently from the Law School academic policies set forth in the Law School’s Rules and Regulations. Because there are two separate standards involved, it is possible for a student to be making satisfactory academic progress as determined under this policy, but fail to be in good academic standing. It is also possible for a student to be in good academic standing under the Law School’s Rules and Regulations, but not be making SAP as determined by Student Financial Services. Students who are dismissed from the Law School do not retain eligibility for financial assistance.

Standards for SAP

Students must meet the following standards to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress. These standards will be evaluated at the end of each academic term, including summer term, if applicable. Students will be notified if the SAP evaluation affects his or her financial aid eligibility.

Qualitative Standards

JD students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.500. LLM and MSLL students receiving federal student aid must opt for the numerical grading system and are required to maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.000. Transfer credits will not be factored into the GPA at Suffolk University Law School. In addition, JD, MSLL, and LLM students earning two or more unsatisfactory grades (C- or below) in a given term will not be considered to be making SAP. Students enrolled in the SJD program who receive one or more “F” grade will not be considered to be making satisfactory academic progress.

Quantitative Standards

In addition to meeting the qualitative standards above, all law students must successfully complete at least 67% of cumulative attempted credits at the time of each SAP evaluation. The evaluation of completed credits is calculated by dividing the number of hours a student has earned by the cumulative number of hours the student has attempted. Grades of F, I, NC, W, WI, NG, U and X will be counted as attempted credits, but will not be considered as earned credits. All other grades will be counted as both attempted and earned. Transfer credits accepted towards a Law School degree will be treated as both credit hours attempted and credit hours earned. Students who withdraw or take a leave of absence from the Law School at any time after classes have begun will be subject to the SAP policy. Courses dropped during the add/drop period will not be evaluated under the SAP policy, unless a student drops all courses for the term.

Maximum Time Frame

Financial aid eligibility is limited to 150% of the published minimum credit requirement of the student’s academic program. Refer to the Law School’s Rules and Regulations for specific program lengths. Suffolk University Law School measures a student’s timeframe in attempted credits. A student will not be considered to be making SAP if his or her enrollment exceeds the 150% timeframe. Periods of non-enrollment are not factored into this timeframe evaluation. Please note: ABA requirements stipulate, except in extraordinary circumstances, a student must complete his/her law school degree within 84 months.

Evaluation of SAP Performance

  • Office of Student Financial Services will review each student’s progress after each term, including the summer term if applicable and a student will be notified if the results of an evaluation impact financial aid eligibility.
  • All periods of enrollment while enrolled at Suffolk University Law School, including study abroad and consortium agreement terms, are considered when evaluating SAP.
  • Only credit bearing coursework will be considered as attempted credits for the purposes of SAP evaluation.
  • When a student receives a final grade for a course which was previously incomplete, the SAP evaluation will only be recalculated at the student’s request.
  • Credits dropped during the add/drop period are excluded from the SAP evaluation.
  • Each time a student enrolls in a course, it will count as attempted credits. When a student repeats a course, all grades appear on the academic transcript.  Only the most recent course grade, however, will be used to compute the cumulative GPA.
  • If a student changes programs within the Law School, the Office of Student Financial Services will evaluate SAP only for credits and grades which are applicable to the new program.
  • For students enrolled in the LLM Program, only previous academic coursework accepted for purposes of advanced academic standing will be considered in the calculation to determine SAP. These credits are treated as transfer credits.
  • All dual degree students must meet the criteria for SAP at the Law School, even if all attempted credits are at the Sawyer Business School and/or College of Arts and Sciences. In addition, dual degree students must meet SAP requirements for the Sawyer Business School and College of Arts and Sciences portions of their programs. 

Failure to Maintain SAP

Automatic Warning Semester

Law students not meeting the minimum SAP requirements are placed on financial aid warning and will receive a written warning indicating they have not met SAP standards. Financial aid warning lasts for one academic term. During the financial aid warning period, financial aid will be awarded and the student will be given one term to improve his/her academic standing. No action is required of the student who is placed on warning status and no appeal of the decision to place a student on financial aid warning is permitted.

If the student’s subsequent SAP evaluation determines the student is still not meeting SAP standards, the student will be notified in writing that he/she is ineligible for future financial aid. Students should be aware this includes all federal, institutional and many alternative loan programs. If a student is ineligible for financial aid due to failure to make SAP after the warning term, he/she may request reconsideration by submitting an appeal to the Office of Student Financial Services for a probationary semester.

Appeal for a Probationary Semester

Students who fail to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements at the end of the warning semester may appeal in writing to the Office of Student Financial Services if extenuating circumstances exist which negatively impacted the student’s ability to make SAP.

SAP appeal applications may be found on our forms page.

Examples of situations where appeals will be considered include serious illness, hospitalization, or death of a family member. A student’s appeal must address why the student failed to make SAP and what has changed that will now allow the student to satisfy academic progress requirements at the end of the next academic term. Appeals must also include supporting documentation (i.e. hospital records, doctor’s note, etc.). Students who submit an appeal will be notified in writing of the outcome. In evaluating an SAP appeal, the Office of Student Financial Services considers both the extenuating circumstances that led to the failure to make SAP and whether the student will be able to meet SAP standards by (i) the end of the following academic term or (ii) a specific later date by adhering to an academic plan.

The Office of Student Financial Services will respond to all written appeals by mailing a letter of decision to the student’s permanent address on file with Suffolk University. All appeal decisions will be made by the Financial Aid SAP Appeals Committee, which includes representatives from the Dean of Students, Academic Services and the Dean’s Office. These decisions are final. If an SAP appeal is granted, the student will be placed on financial aid probation. Conditions may be imposed on the student’s continued eligibility through an academic plan, which is developed in conjunction with the Academic Deans Office in the Law School. At the end of the first financial aid probation term, the student must either be making SAP or successfully completing the conditions of the academic plan in order to be eligible for further financial aid.

Regaining Eligibility

A student can re-establish eligibility for financial aid only by taking action that brings the student back into compliance with the qualitative and quantitative components of the SAP standard. Some options of re-establishing eligibility are as follows:

  • Paying for charges associated with enrollment via personal funds or a private loan until qualitative and/or quantitative measurements are met.
  • Successfully completing courses that are currently “Incomplete.”

A student’s SAP status is reviewed and updated at the end of each semester. While a student may regain eligibility for financial aid, they are reminded that most financial aid programs have lifetime aggregate limits. All other rules and regulations governing Federal and State financial aid programs still apply.