Satisfactory Academic Progress for Federal Aid Recipients


All students who receive Federal Aid whilst studying at the University of Derby are required to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) in order to continue to be eligible to receive funding. This policy relates specifically to US students in receipt of Federal Aid.

The University of Derby evaluates a student’s academic progression prior to the start of each payment period for masters and research students, and prior to the beginning of each year after the first year for undergraduate students. Students must be meeting both the qualitative and quantitative requirements outlined below to maintain the SAP requirements.

Satisfactory academic progress qualitative (grade-based) requirements

An undergraduate degree requires 360 credits (120 at each of levels 1, 2, and 3).

A masters degree requires 180 credits.

The table below outlines the grading used for individual assessment components and modules:

Grading 0-100

Undergraduate degrees Postgraduate degrees US equivalent
70 and above First class Distinction A
60-69 Upper second class (2:1) Merit B
50-59 Lower second class (2:2) Pass C
40-49 Third class Fail D
Less than 40 Fail Fail E

All students are expected to maintain SAP throughout their studies. The performance of all students will be reviewed by a Board of Examiners to determine whether they have met the requirements to progress to the next level of study. To pass an undergraduate module, a student must achieve a minimum mark of 40% (Grade D). To pass a postgraduate module, a student must achieve a minimum mark of 50% (Grade C).

Progression requirements

Undergraduate students

To progress automatically to the next level, students must have passed all modules (a grade of at least 40 in each one) and achieved an overall grade of at least 40 (GPA D).

Postgraduate students

The progress of each student shall be assessed based on a report provided by the course leader or academic from the relevant college student centre. As grades are not usually made available before the end of a payment period, the report from the academic will demonstrate if they are satisfied with the student’s progress.

To progress automatically to the next level, students must have passed all modules and achieved an overall grade of at least 50 (GPA C).

Satisfactory academic progress quantitative (time-based) requirements

Pace of completion

Pace of completion is defined as the rate at which a student is progressing through a programme of study. It is calculated by dividing the cumulative number of credit hours the student has successfully completed by the cumulative number of credit hours the student has attempted. If a student’s pace of completion falls below 67%, the student is deemed to no longer be making satisfactory academic progress.

Maximum timeframe

A student must complete the programme in a maximum of 150% of the standard number of credit hours taken to complete the programme. For example, a three-year (360 credits) undergraduate  programme must be able to be completed in no more than four and a half years (540 credits attempted). This timescale includes any previous period of study at other institutions for the same programme. For example, an undergraduate student with one year of previous study (120 credits attempted) at another institution much complete their studies within three and a half years (420 credits attempted) at the University.

For all postgraduate taught programmes eligible for funding, the maximum timeframe is 150% of the standard number of credits (180 credits). For example, a one-year course must be completed within one and a half years. The standard timescale for research postgraduates is four years so, in order to maintain SAP, students must remain on track to complete within six years.

If a student temporarily suspends their studies, this period of interruption does not count towards the 150% maximum timescale to assess eligibility for federal funding as no credits are being attempted. For students studying some or all of their programme below full-time intensity, the 150% calculation is based on the full-time equivalent of their study. For example, two years of study at 50% intensity is the equivalent of one year of full-time study.

The below examples show a student meeting the time-based SAP requirements and a student not meeting the requirements:

Example 1

Undergraduate (360 credits) student has attempted 30 credits at another university and has passed all 60 credits attempted at the University.

Pace of completion: 60 credits/90 credits = 67% - meeting requirement

Expected timeframe: 390 credits (less than 150% of 360 credits) - meeting requirement

Example 2

Postgraduate taught (180 credits) student has attempted 120 credits and passed 60 credits

Pace of completion: 60 credits/120 credits = 50% (less than 67% minimum pace) - not meeting requirement

Financial aid warning

Students who fail to meet the requirements for SAP will no longer be eligible to receive assistance under the Title IV program. Any such students will be notified in an email sent to their university email address. The warning lasts for one payment period, until the next loan disbursement, and students are able to continue to receive funding during one payment period.

If a student fails to meet the requirements before the start of their next payment period, they will no longer be eligible to receive Title IV funding. The only exception to this is if the student is able to successfully appeal the decision by demonstrating their exceptional personal circumstances.

Appeals procedure

Students who have received a financial aid warning and failed to meet the SAP requirements by the end of the payment period are no longer eligible to receive funding. Any such students are permitted to appeal within 14 calendar days of receiving the notification if exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated. The basis on which a student may file an appeal are as follows:

Any students wishing to submit an appeal must confirm why they have not been making SAP and how their personal circumstances have now changed to enable them to meet the requirements before the next review date. Documentation to support the appeal will also need to be provided, this could include the following:

All appeals and the supporting evidence should be emailed to with the subject “Federal Aid SAP Appeal” and your student number.

Appeal decision

The US Federal Aid team will communicate in writing the outcome, justification and consequences of the decision in terms of eligibility to receive funding from the US Department of Education of any appeal submitted by a student within 21 working days, providing all relevant supporting evidence has been provided. Whilst the outcome of the appeal is pending, no further disbursements of Title IV funding will be made.

The decision is final, there are no further grounds to appeal for a student after they receive the outcome of their appeal.

Financial aid probation

If a student successfully appeals the loss of eligibility, they are put on financial aid probation. The student will continue to be eligible to receive funding for one further payment period. The student must be on track to meet the SAP requirements by the end of the subsequent payment period.

A student that has their Title IV funding suspended but continues by funding their studies through alternative sources can regain probationary status should they reach SAP in the future. They are eligible to apply for and receive Title IV funding.

If SAP has not been achieved at the end of the financial aid probation period, the student’s aid will be terminated, unless they are successful in a further appeal and develop an academic plan approved by their academic department (personal tutor or supervisor).