Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal and State regulations require that all financial aid recipients maintain specific academic standards called "Satisfactory Academic Progress" (SAP).  Except for certain private and institutional funds, students must meet SAP standards in order to receive all forms of financial aid (grants, direct loans, work-study and scholarships). At the end of each semester (including summer), all students' academic progress is measured using the four SAP standards listed below. Each student's entire academic history at Red Rocks Community College, including transfer credits and credits attempted during periods when financial aid was not received, is included in the SAP calculation. We will attempt to notify you if you are being placed on financial aid Warning or if you are Ineligible for Aid due to SAP. If we determine that you are Ineligible for Aid, you may attempt to have your aid reinstated by submitting an appeal packet to the Financial Aid Office, along with supporting documentation to substantiate the existence of extenuating circumstances.

The evaluation of students’ academic progress is based on the following four SAP criteria:

  • Cumulative grade point average (GPA)
  • Cumulative completion rate (# of credits earned divided by the # of credits attempted)
  • Semester completion rate, and
  • Maximum timeframe (total number of credits attempted)

Withdraws and incomplete credit hours

  • Any courses that are not passed, including “W”, “AW”, and “I” grades, count as attempted hours. This affects both completion rate and maximum time frame components of SAP.
  • Courses from which a student withdraws will be included in the SAP review at the end of each academic semester.
  • Whether or not a student was passing a course from which they withdrew or were granted an incomplete is not taken into consideration. All withdrawals and incompletes must be factored into a student's SAP status.

Repeated courses

  • Courses repeated for an improved grade and then removed from a student's academic history or GPA calculation must still be included in the calculation of a student's SAP status.
  • Grades removed from a student's record through an academic appeal process can impact a student's SAP status.

Transfer courses

Transfer courses are counted towards maximum time frame (total attempted credits). Upon receipt of the transcript, the initial evaluation performed by the school is based on the program that the student has declared at that time. Students who have changed programs and are later required to appeal due to exceeding the maximum timeframe for their declared program of study must address in their appeals any transfer credits that do not count toward their current program. Those excess credits may be excluded subjectively by the Financial Aid Office in the decision process. 

Changes in Majors or Degrees

At times, students who have changed majors or degrees may be required to appeal due to having exceeded the maximum timeframe (total attempted credits) prior to having completed their degree. Such changes may be considered extenuating circumstances that students would be required to address in their appeals.  See Grounds for Submitting a SAP Appeal below for documentation needed for such appeals. Changes in majors or degrees, just as second degrees completed after an initial one has been completed, are looked at subjectively by the Financial Aid Office in the decision process.   

How a Student Maintains Good Standing

  • Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0.
  • Students must successfully complete at least one course each semester and maintain a cumulative completion rate* of at least 67%.
  • Students must complete their educational certificate or degree by the time they have attempted *150% of the total number of credit hours required for their specific program.
    • *Note: Attempted credit hours (used to determine both completion rate and maximum time frame components) include transfer credits, remedial credits, ESL credits, and Prior Learning Acquisition (PLA).

SAP Warning status

If a student was in Good Standing during the prior semester of attendance and fails to meet the SAP criteria for cumulative GPA and/or cumulative completion rate, they will be placed on a Warning status the subsequent semester. While on Warning, a student remains eligible for financial aid but will become Ineligible for Aid if they do not bring their cumulative GPA and cumulative completion rate back above the standards outlined to maintain Good Standing by the end of the Warning semester. A student who does not meet the SAP criteria for program length, or who did not successfully complete at least one course in the prior semester, will not be granted a Warning status but will become Ineligible for Aid, effective immediately for their next attending semester at RRCC.

Students will be placed on Ineligible for Aid status if:

  • After a Warning status, their cumulative GPA remains below 2.0.
  • After a Warning status, their cumulative completion rate remains below 67%.
  • The student has attempted more than 150% of the required number of credits for their degree or certificate.
  • The student does not pass at least one attempted course during a single semester.

To re-establish aid eligibility, a student may do one of the following:

  • Submit a SAP appeal to the Financial Aid Office and be approved. (If approved, the student remains on Probation status as long as they are successfully following their Academic Plan.)
  • Pay out of pocket until meeting the SAP standards.
  • Attend another Title IV (financial aid eligible) institution.**

Grounds for submitting a SAP appeal:

  • The student experienced extenuating circumstances during the affected semester(s), such as medical problems, military duty, a family emergency, or other circumstances beyond the student’s control.
  • The student is seeking a new program (certificate or degree).
  • The student changed majors during their academic career.
  • The student attempted developmental coursework which, when disregarded, would mean they have not attempted 150% or more of the total number of credits needed for their program at RRCC.
    • Note: Developmental coursework may be disregarded for the maximum timeframe component but is included when calculating completion rate. Also, developmental coursework is not college-level and is not included in the GPA calculation.

How to appeal SAP

The SAP Appeal Policy and SAP Packet can be found on our website: The completed packet must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office for review. Decision letters are generally emailed to the student's secure, RRCC-issued student email address within two weeks. In order to allow adequate time for your appeal to be reviewed, all appeals must be completed and submitted at least 10 days before the end of the semester for which aid is requested. Under no circumstances can appeals be approved retroactively per federal regulation. No exceptions can ever be made. For additional information on appealing SAP, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

When SAP appeals are approved at RRCC

  • Until a student is able to meet the SAP standards, they will remain on SAP Probation.  While on Probation, a student must pass all attempted credit hours. This is part of the agreement in the Academic Plan a student signs when submitting a SAP appeal.
  • In addition, if a student has appealed for maximum timeframe, the student is allowed to take only the courses needed for their program at RRCC.
  • Probation status will continue as long as the student is meeting the above requirements or until the student is again meeting SAP standards.
    • Note that the Appeals Committee’s decision applies to the current or upcoming semester and cannot be applied retroactively.

When SAP appeals are denied at RRCC, a student may do one of the following:

  • Pay out of pocket until meeting the SAP standards.
  • Pay out of pocket for a minimum of six credit hours at RRCC (or another Title IV institution**) and, after successfully passing their courses, re-appeal at RRCC for their subsequent semester.

**Upon successful completion of courses taken at another Title IV institution, the student could request to transfer the credits to RRCC. They would need to notify the RRCC Financial Aid Office at that time to re-evaluate their SAP status to determine if they are now meeting the SAP standards. If they do meet the standards, they would not have to submit an appeal and their RRCC SAP status will be updated.
            Note: The Financial Aid Office highly recommends that students who choose to take courses elsewhere consult an RRCC Academic Advisor before doing so. This will ensure that the credits are transferable to the program the student is seeking at RRCC.

More information is provided at the following links:
SAP is explained further in the RRCC SAP Pamphlet.
Federal regulation and RRCC policy updates regarding SAP.
RRCC SAP Appeal Packet.
RRCC Official Degree Evaluation form.