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 Type of ReviewUndergraduate/Graduate Levels
Standards for Academic Review (SAR) - Academic    Warning, Suspension, Probation, (appeal approved), Dismissal (if no plan is received or criteria not met)
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) - Financial Warning, Suspension, Probation(appeal approved)


There are two types of academic review performed each term by the Registrar’s and Student Finance offices. These are separate review processes and it is possible that a student’s status may not be the same under each review category. The Standards for Academic Review (SAR) process is monitored on a term by term basis and reviews the cumulative GPA and Completion Ratio. The review is designed to assist a student in meeting academic standards to facilitate successful completion of his or her degree program.  The process requires the student to meet with his or her academic advisor and open a dialogue about current term grades and obstacles. Since the goal of SAR is to ensure the success of the student, there is no appeal process. If the student disagrees with the status, the appropriate means of expressing that is the academic plan.

The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) review performed by the Student Finance Office adheres to the financial aid regulations regarding GPA and pace minimum requirements.   

Federal regulations require that a student receiving title IV financial aid funds maintain specific standards in his or her academic program in order to remain eligible to receive these federal financial aid resources. These standards are called Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). SAP is defined as passing a required number of hours and achieving a required grade point average during a reasonable period of time. Regulations require that a student’s entire academic history be considered, including periods of time where financial aid was not received. These standards of satisfactory academic progress apply only to eligibility for financial aid, and not necessarily to eligibility for continuation at the University, or for readmission to the University.

The standards for both types of review are passing grades of A, B, C, D, P, or X in at least 67% of courses attempted and the maintenance of a cumulative GPA of at least 2.00 for undergraduate students and 3.00 for graduate students. “Courses attempted” include withdrawals (WW, WS, WF, WU or WN), in-progress (I, IE, IN, IU), no credit (N), and failing (U, F, FX). You can view the policies for each review at the links below:

SAR (Academic Review)

SAP (Financial Aid Review)


Frequently Asked Questions


1)      Why do I need to adhere to these academic standards?

If you are placed on SAR, it allows you and your advisor to open a dialogue about obstacles you may be facing. You can learn about the resources available at NLU that can help you overcome any difficulties that may be preventing you from achieving better grades and making progress towards successful degree completion.

SAP requirements are federally mandated.  For students placed on SAP, it encourages the same conversation about obstacles, available NLU resources and the grades needed to boost the cumulative GPA and pace to avoid Financial Aid Suspension.


2)      How is PACE or Completion Ratio calculated?

PACE and Completion Ratio refer to the number of credit hours successfully completed versus attempted. Undergraduate and Graduate students must both receive passing grades of A, B, C, D, P, or X in at least 67% of courses attempted.  “Courses attempted” include withdrawals (WW, WS, WF, WU, or WN), in-progress (I, IE, IN, IU), no credit (N), and failing (U, F, FX).


3)      What grade point average (GPA) is used to determine SAR or SAP?

For SAR and SAP, the cumulative GPA is the one reviewed. The cumulative GPA can be found on the transcript in the student portal. Undergraduate students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and Graduate students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.


4)      When do I need to submit an Academic Plan form?

If you are placed on Academic Suspension because you have not met the criteria for good standing for two consecutive terms, you must submit an academic plan in conjunction with your advisor. The purpose of this plan is to outline what you must do to return to good standing at NLU. This plan can also be submitted as part of the SAP (financial aid) appeal.

Because the purpose of the Academic Plan form is to help you get back on track to good standing, you must complete this Plan within two weeks of receiving the academic suspension letter through your NLU email. An example of the Academic Plan can be found below but this is just a sample and will not be accepted. Please contact your advisor to fill out the official plan.

 Academic Plan Form

5)      When do I need to appeal SAP Suspension?

A student placed on SAP Suspension can appeal if he or she opts to and must submit the required documentation at least two weeks prior to his or her term end date. If the appeal is approved, the student is then eligible for Financial Aid as long as he or she follows the terms of the academic plan.

A student may only appeal Financial Aid Suspension once.  If an appeal is approved and the student does not adhere to the academic plan requirements financial aid eligibility will be suspended until the student again returns to meeting SAP requirements.


6)      How do I appeal?

The student will work with his or her advisor to complete the Academic Plan form and submit a letter explaining the reasons he or she was placed on SAP suspension and how he or she plans to overcome those obstacles in the subsequent terms. The letter should explain any medical, personal or financial issues that affected the prior term coursework and why those difficulties will no longer impede academic progress.  Any supporting documentation should be submitted along with the academic plan and appeal letter.  All appeal documentation must be submitted to your academic advisor.  Only complete appeals will be reviewed so sending all required documentation at one time is required. The appeal letter must also be signed by the student.


7)      When will I be notified of the SAP appeal decision?

The student will receive an email to the NLU email account from his or her advisor within 3 days notifying him or her of the decision or if the appeal needs more documentation. Please sign the plan and submit a complete plan and appeal if needed for SAP to receive a response within 3 days. If the appeal is denied, a student may seek out private student loans or establish payment arrangements with the Student Finance Office to cover the tuition costs or work with his or her advisor on dropping the current term courses.


8)      If my appeal is accepted, what is my financial aid eligibility?

The student will receive Financial Aid as long as he or she is adhering to the signed academic plan submitted to the SAP committee. When a student raises his or her GPA or PACE to the minimum federal standards, then he or she will no longer be on SAP Probation.


9)      Am I allowed to appeal if I’m Academically Dismissed?

 A student dismissed for reasons of academic ineligibility may direct his or her written appeal to the University Registrar after two terms of non-enrollment. The appeal may be submitted by the end of the second term of non-enrollment and must include documentation of any exceptional circumstances. The Registrar will respond to the appeal in accordance with the University’s Policy on Academic Appeals. If the request is submitted after one year of non-enrollment, the request will be subject to the Reentry Policy requirements.

A student can appeal the dismissal by submitting a signed letter explaining why he or she should not be dismissed. A student may appeal for mitigating circumstances such as an injury or illness of the student or the death of a student’s relative. The appeal letter, along with supporting documentation and the signed academic plan, should be sent to the Registrar’s Office at All appeal documents must be received no later than three weeks before the start of the term in which the student wishes to return. The merit of the appeal will be determined and the student will be notified in writing of the final decision. If the appeal is approved the student will be permitted to reenroll in term three, following the two terms of non-enrollment. The student will be able to continue future enrollment as long as he or she is meeting the conditions of the academic plan.


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