Satisfactory Academic Progress

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP) provides the standards and guidelines used to measure a student’s successful completion of coursework towards a degree. SAP is measured with both qualitative (grade-based) and quantitative (pace of completion or time-based) criteria. For all students, SAP standards and guidelines are below. For students who are receiving Federal Direct Loans, they must maintain SAP standards in order to remain eligible for financial aid. 


Qualitative Standards

AGS has qualitative standards students are expected to maintain with their coursework in order to graduate and receive a diploma. The AGS SAP qualitative standard for the Master’s in IR&D (International Relations and Diplomacy) is a 3.0 GPA for coursework in the program. The AGS SAP qualitative standard for the Ph.D. in IR&D is a 3.0 GPA for coursework in the program. This requirement also allows for students to continue with the Dissertation Process portion of coursework (dissertation advising, pre-dissertation exam, and defense) in the Ph.D. process. For all programs, enrollment standards apply. 

Quantitative Standards

AGS has a quantitative standard that students are expected to maintain with their coursework in order to graduate and receive a diploma. At the normal pace, the Master’s in IR&D is a program of two academic years of coursework, and the Ph.D. in IR&D is a program of two academic years of coursework. Students are expected to complete all coursework towards their degree within the published length of the program. In certain circumstances, if approved by the AGS Academic Committee and Financial Aid Office, students may receive permission to extend their studies for a limited period of time under specific conditions. No extension is granted over 150% of the published length of the program. 

For all programs, enrollment standards apply.  

AGS Satisfactory Academic Progress Review Procedure

There is an evaluation at the end of each semester (also referred to as ‘payment period’) for all students in all AGS programs. This evaluation allows for the SAP policy at AGS to provide a consistent application of standards to all students in every program, whether they are full-time or less than full-time. After the first semester, SAP also allows for cumulative evaluations. The procedure involves a committee review for every student. For the qualitative portion of the review, the committee looks at the GPA of a student for the semester as well as cumulative GPA (after the first semester), looking for a minimum GPA of 3.0. For the quantitative portion of the review, the committee looks at where a student is in his/her progress towards completion. The pace a student is progressing is calculated by dividing the total number of hours the student has successfully completed by the total number he/she have attempted.

As a tool used to help keep students in good academic standing, progress monitoring may take place throughout each semester. This does not replace evaluations at the end of each semester.

In case of Non-compliance

Financial Aid Academic Warning

At the end of the semester (payment period), if an AGS SAP Review Procedure shows that a student does not meet the requirements for satisfactory academic progress (SAP), meaning his/her qualitative and quantitative progress do not meet the requirements of AGS, that student may be placed on Financial Aid Academic Warning. This is an alert that will last for the duration of the next semester (payment period). In this situation, the student is formally notified in writing that he/she is on Financial Aid Academic Warning, with an indication of both the qualitative and quantitative circumstance that he/she is in. That student is allowed to use this subsequent semester to meet the standards of AGS SAP. Students who have been receiving Federal Direct Loans remain eligible during this semester.

At the end of this semester (payment period), the student who is now achieving SAP is no longer on Financial Aid Academic Warning will be in a status of warning removed.

At the end of this semester (payment period), if the student has not achieved SAP (qualitatively and quantitatively), that student is no longer on Financial Aid Academic Warning as he/she is now in a position to become officially ineligible for Federal Direct Loans. This is Student Loan Denied status.

Student Loan Denied Status, Appeals, Financial Aid Probation and an Academic Plan

If a student is in Student Loan Denied status, no Federal Direct Loans will be disbursed during subsequent semesters until the student is removed from Student Loan Denied status. There is an opportunity for the student at this point to formally respond to his/her circumstance by appealing to the AGS Academic Committee and Financial Aid Office.

Appeals are a process by which a student who is in Student Loan Denied status (after previously being placed under Financial Aid Academic Warning) petitions AGS for reconsideration of his/her eligibility to receive Federal Direct Loans. Procedurally, the student in this position may appeal in writing on the basis of: injury or illness, death of a relative, or other special circumstances. This appeal must explain, at the minimum, why the student failed to make SAP and what has changed in his/her situation that will allow him/her to meet satisfactory progress at the next evaluation. They must explain what has happened to make the changes necessary and how he/she will now be able to make academic progress. If AGS determines, based on the Appeal, that the student should be able to meet SAP standards by the end of the subsequent payment period, he or she is placed on Financial Aid Probation with an Academic Plan.

Financial Aid Probation is the status that AGS assigns to a student who is failing to make SAP, but who has successfully appealed. After a successful appeal, eligibility for aid may be reinstated for one semester (payment period) while the student is on Financial Aid Probation. In an effort to support the student during Financial Aid Probation, an Academic Plan is designed for that student by the Academic Committee. An Academic Plan includes regular monitoring and states the expectation of a clear progress by a specific point and time. Students must always appeal in writing for any changes to their Academic Plan.

Reinstatement of Aid after Student Loan Denied Status

The Financial Aid Office will review the student’s SAP at the end of the Financial Aid Probation semester as part of the AGS SAP review process. If a student has been put on Financial Aid Probation after having his/her Student Loan Denied status Appeal approved, and achieves SAP, his/her status of probation is removed. If a student who has been on Financial Aid Probation following his/her appeal, has not achieved SAP, he/she is returned to Student Loan Denied status. Full reinstatement after a student is placed on warning status, denied status or probation status is always achieved through SAP.

Repeating Coursework, Incompletes, Withdrawals and Transfer Credits

Repeating Coursework

Repeating coursework at AGS (also called re-taking coursework or, less frequently, remedial coursework) is a circumstance where a student is allowed to repeat coursework that he/she has taken before. At AGS, for the purpose of Federal Direct Loans, there are certain conditions to be met in order to repeat coursework. If a student passes a course but receives a grade that he/she is not satisfied with, that student is allowed to re-take the same course one time. Repeating a course one time will replace the original grade, and will count towards a student’s GPA and enrollment status. This coursework must be part of the academic requirements for a program.

If a student receives a failing grade for a course, he/she is allowed to repeat this same course until he/she passes the course. The repeating of a course where the student is trying to receive a passing grade will count toward enrollment status as many times as it takes to pass the course.

The maximum timeframe for Federal Direct Loan eligibility is not changed by repeating coursework. Not all courses at AGS are offered every semester. As a result, it is important for students to understand the academic and financial implications of repeating coursework.

No student may repeat a course for which they have an Incomplete.


An Incomplete (Inc) is the temporary placeholder for a final grade, for students who, due to extenuating circumstances, are unable to complete all necessary coursework requirements for a course by the end of a semester. At AGS, students who wish to temporarily receive an Incomplete for a course must file a Notice of Incomplete form, which they can get from the administrative office. The date of the Incomplete is the date the form is signed by the administration. Any Incomplete is temporarily given, at the discretion of the faculty member, to a student if that student is otherwise receiving a passing grade at the end of a semester (that is, outside of the remaining coursework that is due). The professor determines a reasonable period of time for a student to complete outstanding coursework and have their Incomplete replaced with a permanent grade. Students are expected to work with professors to complete an Incomplete as quickly as possible. Incomplete grades are not included in the GPA calculation, and are considered a non-completion of attempted coursework until the Incomplete is replaced with a Permanent Grade (A-F) and SAP can be fully evaluated.

A cumulative GPA at the end of a semester cannot be determined until all final grades are in.

In a situation where a student has not completed his/her Incomplete before the beginning of subsequent semesters, the Financial Aid Office is required to measure the possibility of that Incomplete as being an ‘F’ or failing grade, and based on this measure, determine if a student meets the minimum 3.0 GPA for SAP. For those students who receive Federal Direct Loans, this may affect eligibility.


A withdrawal from a course is when a student, due to extenuating circumstances, decides to no longer be enrolled in a course for which they were registered that semester. At AGS, students who wish to withdraw from a course must file a Notice of Withdrawal form, which they can get in the administrative office. The date of withdrawal is the date the form is signed by the administration. During the first week of classess, as part of the add/drop period of each semester, a student may withdraw, and there will be no indication of withdrawal on the student’s transcript. Between the second and sixth week of a semester, a student may withdraw, and the withdrawal will appear on the student’s transcript as a ‘W,’ but will not affect the student’s cumulative GPA. In the case of students who stop going to class after the six-week allowance, with or without formal notice given to AGS, AGS may authorize a ‘WF’ (Withdrawal/Fail) and the student may receive a Failing grade ‘WF’ on their transcript. Information on a transcript is part of the student’s SAP review.

Withdrawals trigger a change in enrollment status. For those students eligible to receive Federal Direct Loans, the standards of minimum enrollment and maximum timeframe of 150% to complete course requirements of a program are not adjusted for a withdrawal.

Transfer Credits

Accepted transfer credits will count towards the student’s degree at AGS as both attempted and completed hours. They are not averaged into SAP at AGS. Students with transfer credits are encouraged to work with AGS to determine the coursework they need in order to graduate and to make sure that transfer credits do not affect enrollment planning. Once courses have been accepted by AGS, they cannot be removed from a student’s transcript.

Enrollment Status and Grading

Enrollment Status

A student must be enrolled at least half-time in order to receive Federal Direct Loans. Students will not be awarded Federal Direct Loans for courses that do not count toward their degree and these courses will not count towards a student’s enrollment status. Federal Direct Loans are only awarded for courses instructed at AGS. Students will not be awarded Federal Direct Loans for courses instructed outside of AGS and such courses will not count towards a student’s enrollment status. 


AGS's grading scale goes from A - F, Inc (Incomplete), W (Withdrawal), WF (Withdrawal Fail) and two specific circumstances: AU (Audit) and P (Pass).

An ‘AU’ is awarded to students who sit in on a course that is not for credit. An audit (AU) grade is not considered attempted coursework. It is not included in the GPA calculation or completion rate determinations. It will also not be counted towards enrollment.

A ‘P’ is awarded to students having successfully completed an internship. This grade is not included in the calculation of GPA, but may be included in the enrollment status, and may be included in completion rate determination one time. 

Course Refund Policy

Students who are permitted to withdraw from a course may be eligible for a refund from AGS.

These withdrawal allowances, if a student is eligible, are granted after the student has formally submitted a Notice of Withdrawal form and a written request to the Financial Aid Office. The following percentages of the charge for tuition may be refunded, credited against a balance due, or applied to a subsequent balance:

  • Within the first week of class: 100%

  • Within the second week of class: 75%

  • After the second week of class: 0%

Outside of the AGS refund policy, for those who receive Federal Direct Loans, there may be a Return of Title IV Funds requirement by the U.S. Federal Government.

Return of Title IV Funds 

If a student recipient of financial aid withdraws, the Financial Aid Office must first determine whether any of the financial aid must be returned to the U.S. Federal Government.

If money has to be returned, then the return should be made in the following order:

  • 1 - Stafford Unsubsidized

  • 2 - Graduate Plus

If AGS is required to reimburse the U.S. Federal Government for any part of the funds that a student has been awarded, then the student is expected to pay that balance to AGS. Any remaining funds will be returned to the student.

For more information see Return of Title IV funds



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Chrissie Graham USA
M.A., School of International Relations
Class of 2007

quote leftThe people that I met at AGS will remain my friends forever, despite the fact that they are now all over the world. I know each one of my professors personally and keep in touch with them. I don't think that I would ever have been as involved in my grad school if I had gone to a larger institution.quote right

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