Eligibility & Satisfactory Academic Progress

The academic progress of every student working toward a degree is monitored carefully by their respective schools as well as the offices of the registrar and financial aid. In financial aid the review of progress is called the Satisfactory Academic Process (SAP). This progress is evaluated at the end of every year to ensure that students are meeting minimum degree requirements and progresses established by both their school and the office of financial aid. Incoming first year and new transfer students will be considered for financial aid for one academic year prior to the evaluation of the Satisfactory Academic Progress. At the end of the first academic year of attendance, all students will be evaluated based on the standards of their designated academic level.

Regaining Financial Aid Eligibility

The processes outlined below establish guidelines to maintain federal and state financial aid.

Students who do not meet the satisfactory academic progress have the option to:

  1. Attend college at their own expense without the use of Title IV funding and work towards regaining eligibility
  2. Initiate the appeal process

SAP Appeal Instructions

  1. Complete an SAP Appeal Form
  2. Meet with the appropriate academic advisor and complete a SAP Program Plan form
  3. Submit both forms with documentation to the senior director of student financial services - students will be contacted if more information is requested, and the appeal decision will be emailed and mailed to the student

The SAP Appeal Form will request supportive documentation to help support the following claimed circumstances: family illness or death, personal illness or serious injury, or other unusual mitigating circumstances. The SAP Academic Plan must include: specific outcomes of how SAP can be established and maintained, a list of courses needed, and certification by the student and advisor.

SAP Appeals Process

If the appeal is approved, the student will be placed on probation which means aid eligibility will be extended for one semester only. Students on probation status will have their eligibility reviewed again after that initial term, in accordance with the terms of their approved Academic Plan. If a student fails to meet the terms of the plan after the probationary term, they will be ineligible for student aid. Students in this situation cannot have federal financial aid reinstated and have already submitted an appeal during the prior term, thus exhausting their right to appeal. Resolution of all deficiencies is the only mechanism through which a student may once again be considered eligible for federal financial aid.

If the appeal is denied, students are not eligible to receive federal aid and can choose to attend at their own expense.

The appeal decision of the office of financial aid is final and cannot be overridden.

Process to Evaluate Federal Financial Aid Eligibility: Satisfactory Academic Progress

The Department of Education requires that all students who receive federal financial aid maintain satisfactory academic progress in order to remain eligible for federal financial aid. The Satisfactory Academic Progress process outlined below provides the minimum standards that students must meet in order to continue to be eligible for federal financial aid, and information as to how the institution assesses satisfactory academic progress. There are three basic standards:

  • Academic performance as measured by the cumulative GPA
  • Academic progress measured as credit completion
  • Maximum time to degree

A student’s eligibility for the following financial aid awards is determined by SAP assessment

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) award
  • Federal College Work-Study
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loans (Parent and Graduate)
  • Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
  • All other federal awards
  • All Institutional Grants, Assistance, State, and any other types of scholarships unless specified otherwise; except half-tuition scholarship

Academic Performance

Students must maintain grades consistent with the graduation requirements for their degree program: a minimum of 2.00 for undergraduate degree candidates, and 3.00 for graduate degree candidates. Students are encouraged to review the specific graduation requirements of their schools.

Credit Completion

Students must complete the appropriate percent of all courses attempted as established in the tables provided below. The completion percentage is calculated by dividing total credit hours earned by total credit hours attempted.

The following grades count as “attempted but not completed” courses and thus credits hours do not count as earned:

  • Incomplete (I)
  • No Grade Reported (N)
  • Withdraw (W)
  • F
  • No credit – (N) in a credit/no credit course

Federal regulations do not allow for the exclusion of courses in which a student has remained past the drop period and earned a grade of ‘W” from its calculation of the maximum time frame.

Both transfer and advanced placement credits count as attempted and completed courses.

Maximum Time to Degree

According to Federal Regulations, all students must complete a minimum of 67% of their enrolled credits for each academic year and overall enrollment history.

For undergraduate students:
All credits attempted must have earned at least 67% of attempted credits with a GPA of at least 2.0.


For graduate students:
All credits attempted must have earned at least 67% of attempted credits with a GPA of at least 3.0.

These standards serve to support a student’s ability to complete their degree within 150% of the published length of the program.

Review of Student Satisfactory Progress

A student’s satisfactory progress is evaluated annually. Upon review one of the following statuses will apply:

  • Satisfactory: the student is achieving the course and credit progression standards required for satisfactory academic progress and can continue receiving aid.
  • Financial Aid Warning: the student is not meeting one or both minimum standards and may continue to receive financial aid for one semester of enrollment. The student will be required to meet SAP standards for the term. If not, the student will be placed on financial aid suspension.
  • Financial Aid Suspension: The student’s performance and progress will be evaluated at the end of the warning term. Failure to meet minimum standards will result in the student being placed on Financial Aid Suspension. This means that the student will not be eligible for federal financial aid, state, all institutional grants, assistance, and any other types of scholarships unless specified otherwise; except half-tuition scholarship. Once standards have been met, the student will resume eligibility for federal financial aid, state, and all institutional aid based on current FAFSA status.


In the event of extenuating circumstances, students on Financial Aid Suspension may advance an appeal to the office of financial aid. Extenuating circumstances include personal injury or the death of a relative. In such an appeal, students are asked to address what contributed to their inability to meet SAP standards for the term, why they did not take proactive action, and to discuss how they plan to recover the GPA or credit completion ratio in the next term.

Appeals are handled on a case by case basis. If an appeal is approved students will be notified in writing that the application has been approved, and provided criteria, they must meet to be eligible to receive Federal Financial Aid beyond the probationary term.

Financial Aid Probation

If a student's appeal is approved they will be placed on financial aid probation for one term. The student’s record will be reviewed again at the end of the subsequent term to determine if they are now in compliance with the requirements of probation. In the case where it will take a student several semesters to fully comply with SAP standards, as long as the student continues to meet the requirements of the SAP probation plan, the student will be eligible to receive federal aid.

Applicants whose appeals are denied will be notified of the decision in writing and will be asked to contact the office of financial aid to explore alternative options to help fund their education and develop a plan to recover their federal financial aid.

Contact: Senior Director of Student Financial Services for additional supporting documents and academic plan.

Process to Evaluate State Financial Aid Eligibility: Satisfactory Academic Progress

To maintain eligibility for NYS financial aid, a student must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). This generally consists of maintaining at least a 2.00 GPA on a 4.00 scale (e.g., at least a C average) beginning their junior year (second year at a community college), and passing enough classes consistent with progress toward a degree. The maximum timeframe requirements typically limit financial aid eligibility to no more than three years for an Associate’s degree and no more than four years for a Bachelor’s degree, with the exception of the Bachelor of Architecture program that requires five years to complete.

TAP Waiver Appeals

A student who is not considered in good academic standing for financial aid purposes may apply for a one-time TAP waiver. This appeal, along with any supporting documentation, must be submitted to the office of financial aid and will explain the reasons for poor academic performance. Appeals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the student will be notified, in writing, of the decision.

Generally, regulations dictate that the appeal should be granted for a one-time failure to meet standards for an otherwise academically successful student. Extenuating circumstances might include death of a family member or friend, illness of the student, or other circumstances that prohibited the student from successfully completing their coursework.


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.