Satisfactory Academic Progress

The Office of Financial Aid (OFA) must monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for all financial aid recipients. Students have a lifetime maximum of generally $138,500 in federal Stafford Loans, so it is important to understand the SAP policies outlined below which could result in a loss of Stafford Loan eligibility for academic reasons. Several types of monitoring are required.

Types of monitoring

  • Time Limit
  • Completion Rate (Pace)
  • Excessive Withdrawals
  • GPA Requirements

Time Limit

Students in College of Law programs may not receive financial aid if they have exceeded the time limits published in the Student Handbook for JD, LLM or dual-degree students. Generally students in the JD program have 84 months (7 years) to complete their degree while LLM students have 24 months (2 years).

Consequences of failure to meet this requirement: Students who reach their time limit without completing the degree will be denied further financial aid.

Completion Rate (Pace)

Students must complete 67% of all of the credits they attempt each semester. Attempted credits are defined as credits you are enrolled in at the end of the official drop and add period.

Consequences of failure to meet this requirement: Students who fail to complete 67% percent of their attempted courses will be placed on warning for one semester. Failure to bring the completion rate to 67% in the next enrolled semester will result in aid denial until the completion rate is brought above 67%. Semesters of non-attendance are not counted in this calculation. Dropped courses are counted as courses the student has failed to complete.

Excessive Withdrawals

Students may not withdraw more than 3 semesters during their attendance and still retain their federal or MSU College of Law financial aid.

Consequences of failure to meet this requirement: Students who have withdrawn three times will be warned. A fourth withdrawal will result in denial of further aid.

GPA Requirements

Students must have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) sufficient to meet College of Law graduation requirements. Law students must have a minimum GPA of 2.00 as listed in the Student Handbook.

Consequences of failure to meet this requirement: Students with a cumulative GPA below the standard will be placed on warning for the following semester. Loan disbursements for the following semester will also be placed on hold until the GPA requirement is met. For example, a student who finishes his or her first semester with a GPA under 2.0 will have spring financial aid under "warning" status. If the cumulative GPA is still below the standard at the end of the next term of enrollment, the student will be placed in "denial" status until he or she regains the required cumulative minimum GPA. It is possible that a student will be dismissed at the end of the next term of enrollment.  Finally, a student enrolled for summer semester who fails to meet the SAP requirements in the prior semester may have his or her federal aid completely returned to the Department of Education which may result in a  bill to the College of Law.

Financial Aid Status

For Completion Rate and GPA measures:

Students who fail to meet satisfactory academic progress standards in one semester will receive one subsequent term of aid while in Financial Aid Warning status. At the end of the warning period, a student who still has not met the standards is changed to Financial Aid Denial status. The student's federal and MSU College of Law aid is terminated at this point and is not reinstated unless the student subsequently meets the required standards.

For Term Limit and Excessive Withdrawal measures, students who reach their final term or who withdraw four or more times will be placed in Financial Aid Denial status.

If the student files a successful appeal, the status will be changed to Financial Aid Probation. The student will be monitored at the end of each semester within the appeal period. If the student follows the plan as outlined, the Financial Aid Probation status will continue until the appeal period ends. If the student does not follow the stated academic plan, the status will revert to Financial Aid Denial.

Programs Affected

Students in Financial Aid Denial may not receive financial aid including, but not limited to, the following programs:

  • Federal aid (College Work-Study, Stafford Loan, Grad PLUS loan)
  • Any MSU College of Law need-based award (Part-Time Program Grant, Career-Transition Grant and Public Interest Grant and Stipend)
  • Any MSU College of Law scholarship with a GPA or SAP requirement, if the student fails to meet the requirement
  • Any private scholarship with a GPA or SAP requirement, if the student fails to meet the requirement

Appeal process

Students who have faced extraordinary circumstances may appeal the denial of financial aid. Documentation of circumstances is required. Students must explain their failure to meet SAP, what has changed to allow them now to regain SAP, and must submit documentation from their academic advisor supporting the appeal. An academic plan should be agreed to by the student and academic official.

Other documentation should be submitted also if relevant to the circumstances, e.g., physician's letter for medical reasons.

Students should be prepared to seek other options if the appeal is not approved.

Continuing at MSU College of Law after aid is denied

Unless academically dismissed by MSU, students denied financial aid generally may continue attending using private aid sources or by funding their education themselves.