2020–2021 Walden University Student Handbook (March 2021) 
    
    Aug 04, 2021  
2020–2021 Walden University Student Handbook (March 2021)

Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards


Return to: Federal Programs  

Walden University’s satisfactory academic progress (SAP) requirements to receive Title IV student financial aid comply with U.S. Department of Education regulations. These standards are intended to establish minimum, reasonable levels of advancement toward degree completion and to guard against abuse of federal financial aid programs. Satisfactory progress requirements for receipt of federal financial aid are separate and distinct from the university’s academic progress requirements for academic continuance.

The requirements in this section also apply to Minnesota State Financial Aid Programs.

Satisfactory academic progress is reviewed for all students at the end of a payment period. All grades must be posted to the academic record before the SAP status will be determined. If the student is back in compliance with minimum standards after all grades are posted to the academic record for the payment period, federal aid eligibility will begin with the next payment period.

Students receive written notification to their Walden University email account if they are placed on financial aid warning status. Upon receiving this status, a student has one payment period to return to the standards listed in the following section. If the student does not meet these standards, they may appeal for one additional period of financial aid probation. If the appeal is not granted, the student becomes ineligible for federal financial aid.

It is the student’s responsibility to know the requirements for meeting satisfactory academic progress. Failure to receive notification will not nullify a student’s financial aid status with Walden University. Students considering a decision to withdraw from a class, drop a class, or stop participating in a class should check first with their student success advisor. Such a decision may affect their financial aid status.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards for Course-Based Programs

Minimum Standards for Federal Financial Aid 

Program Type

Minimum Financial Aid Course Completion Rate (Pace)

Minimum Cumulative Financial Aid GPA

Maximum Time Frame to Receive Federal Aid

Bachelor’s degree*

67%

2.0

272 financial aid attempted credits

Master’s degree 

67%

3.0

20 quarters or 15 semesters

Doctoral degree 

67%

3.0

32 quarters or 24 semesters

Stand Alone Quarter Based Certificates

67%

3.0

1–29 credit program, 8 quarters

30–45 credit program, 12 quarters

Stand Alone Semester Based Certificates 67% 3.0

1–19 credit program, 6 semesters

20–30 credit program, 9 semesters

Education Specialist 

67%

3.0

20 quarters or 15 semesters 

Teacher Preparation (without master’s degree option) 

67%

3.0

56 financial aid attempted credits 

Endorsement (without master’s degree option) 

67%

3.0

32 financial aid attempted credits

Preparatory coursework 

67%

2.0

12 consecutive months

*Some Walden bachelor’s programs have GPA requirements that are higher than 2.0. The minimum financial aid GPA requirement will be the same as the university GPA requirement for those programs. Please refer to the Walden University Student Handbook for your program GPA requirements.

 

The following policies will apply:

  • Minimum financial aid GPA is cumulative for the current program of study.
  • Minimum financial aid course completion rate is calculated, using bankers rounding, by dividing financial aid completed credits by financial aid attempted credits (e.g., if 40 credits are attempted, the student must have successfully completed 27 credits).
  • Financial aid attempted and completed credits are cumulative for all courses in all programs attempted at Walden.
  • The following grades adversely impact the course completion rate: I (incomplete), F (fail), NC (no credit), U (unsatisfactory), W (withdrawal), and XF/XU (code of conduct violation).
  • Students must meet both the GPA and course completion rate requirements within the defined maximum time frame.
  • Financial aid attempted and completed credit requirements include transfer credits.
  • Financial aid attempted credits include all registered courses with the exception of courses dropped before the start of the term or during the drop period.
  • For course repetitions, only the most recent grade is counted in the cumulative GPA and the most recent credits are counted in the completed credits; the credits from all attempts must be counted in the course completion rate and maximum time frame.
  • The maximum time frame will be reset for students completing a second or further degree at Walden or changing from a non-degree to a degree seeking status.
  • The maximum time frame will not for be reset for students that have earned degrees or certificates “Along the Way” at Walden University.
  • The maximum time frame for students who change programs without earning a Walden degree is cumulative for all programs attempted and is measured against the maximum time frame for the current program.
  • The maximum time frame excludes quarters/semesters of non-enrollment and quarters/semesters in which all courses are dropped before the start of the term or during the drop period.
  • Financial aid progress requirements include all terms of enrollment, including periods in which the student did not receive federal aid.
  • Courses that adversely impact financial aid academic progress cannot be removed from the academic transcript.

Maximum Time Frame

Federal financial aid eligibility expires without warning when the student reaches the maximum time frame or if the financial aid academic progress review makes it clear that the student cannot mathematically finish the current program within the maximum time frame.

Right to Appeal

Occasionally, a student’s academic progress may be impacted by unusual circumstances that are beyond the student’s control. A student may appeal for an extension of financial aid if after a period of financial aid warning the student successfully completes the warning term, or if the student reaches maximum time frame. 

In both instances, the student must be able to document that unexpected, unusual, and temporary circumstances affected the student’s ability to progress at the required rate. Examples of such mitigating circumstances are a death in the immediate family, illness, or other significant life change.

Students who wish to appeal must complete log in to their myFinAid Document portal and submit an appeal request. The student is required to submit to the Office of Financial Aid a personal letter and supporting documentation regarding the following:

  • Why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress
  • What has changed in the student’s situation that will allow the student to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress at the next evaluation

Failure to provide supporting documentation will result in an automatic denial. If the appeal is accepted, the student must meet the requirements outlined in the written approval of the appeal.

A pre-existing condition (a condition or illness that a student had before beginning any Walden University program) is not cause for appeal unless there was an unexpected change in that condition.

Students may not use the same circumstances in a subsequent appeal, although a student may submit an appeal for a future period of difficulty for different mitigating circumstances. Courses that adversely impact financial aid academic progress cannot be removed from the student’s academic transcript.

SAP decisions by the Office of Financial Aid are final.

Treatment of Courses and Credits

Course Repetitions: Repeated courses for which a grade of D or better has already been earned do not count as earned or as completed credits toward the student’s completion rate.

Drops: Courses dropped before the end of the add/drop period are not included in the financial aid satisfactory progress calculations.

Incompletes: Incomplete grades count as credits attempted and not completed, but do not impact GPA.

No Credit: No credit grades count as credits attempted and not completed, but do not impact GPA.

Periods with No Financial Aid: Financial aid progress requirements include all periods of enrollment, including periods in which the student did not receive financial aid.

Second Program: The maximum time frame will be reset for students who complete one program or degree at Walden University and begin a subsequent program or degree. The maximum time frame will not be reset for students that have earned degrees or certificates “Along the Way” at Walden University.

Transfer Credits: All transfer credits are considered as both attempted and completed when calculating the minimum course completion rate and maximum time frame.

Unsatisfactory Grades: Unsatisfactory grades (a grade of U or XU) count as credits attempted and not completed, but do not impact GPA.

Withdrawals: Courses dropped after the add/drop periods are considered to be attempted but not completed.

Policy and Definitions

Appeal: Occasionally, a student’s academic progress may be impacted by unusual circumstances that are beyond the student’s control. A student may appeal for an extension of financial aid if the student successfully completes the warning term and can document that unexpected, unusual, and temporary circumstances affected the student’s ability to progress at the required rate. See the Right to Appeal section of this policy for details.

Financial Aid Annual Award Year: Walden defines the annual award year as three 12-week quarters or three 16-week semesters.

Maximum Time Frame: Federal financial aid eligibility expires without warning when the student reaches the maximum time frame or if the financial aid academic progress review makes it clear that the student cannot mathematically finish the current program within the maximum time frame.

  • The maximum time frame will be reset for students completing a second or additional degree at Walden. The maximum time frame will not for be reset for students that have earned degrees or certificates “Along the Way” at Walden University.
  • The maximum time frame for students who change programs without earning a Walden degree is cumulative for all programs attempted and is measured against the maximum time frame for the current program.
  • The maximum time frame excludes quarters/semesters of non-enrollment and quarters/semesters in which all courses are dropped before the start of the term or during the drop period.
  • Financial aid eligibility for an academic program ceases as soon as all academic requirements for graduation have been met regardless of maximum time frame standing.

Minimum Course Completion Rate (Pace): A percentage calculated by dividing cumulative successfully completed credits by total credits attempted. For example, a student who has successfully completed 27 credits at Walden out of a total of 40 attempted credits has a course completion rate of 67%. This rate includes credits transferred in to Walden.

Minimum GPA—Cumulative: The GPA for all coursework pertaining to the current program of study.

Minimum GPA—Payment Period: The GPA for all courses attempted during the most recent payment period.

Period of Enrollment: One semester or one quarter.

Status—Financial Aid Warning: This status is assigned to a student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress during their most recent payment period. The student has one payment period to be successful and maintain eligibility for financial aid.

Status—Financial Aid Probation: This status is assigned to a student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress during their payment period, fails to successfully return to satisfactory progress during one term of financial aid warning, completes a successful appeal for mitigating circumstances, and has eligibility for financial aid reinstated on a probationary basis. Financial aid probation is assigned for one payment period. If an appeal is completed and determined that it will require more than one payment period to meet satisfactory requirements, the student may be placed on an academic plan.

Status—Academic Plan: This status is assigned in order to assist students in returning to compliance by a specified date. If an appeal is completed and it is determined that it will require more than one payment period to meet satisfactory requirements, the student may be placed on an academic plan. The Office of Financial Aid will review the student’s progress at the end of one payment period, as is required of a student on probation status, to determine if the student is meeting the requirements of the academic plan. If the student is meeting the requirements of the academic plan, the student is eligible to receive Title IV aid as long as the student continues to meet those requirements. The Office of Financial Aid will review the student’s status at the end of each payment period to determine if the student continues to meet the academic plan requirements.

The option for an academic plan is only available if it is not reasonable to expect the student to achieve successful academic progress during the typical one-term extension of probation. An academic plan may be a course-by-course plan for degree completion, a specification for number of credits and/or grade requirements for particular payment periods, and/or requirements for the student to get academic support or to use other academic resources. A student must comply with all aspects of an academic plan in order to retain eligibility for financial aid.

Status—Financial Aid Ineligibility: This status is assigned to a student who failed to be successful during the period of financial aid warning or probation. Students who do not complete a successful appeal, who are not successful during a single-term financial aid probation, or who do not comply with an academic plan for an extended period of financial aid probation will lose all federal financial aid eligibility. A student with financial aid ineligibility status is not eligible for federal financial aid until the student meets all the requirements again. Simply sitting out a term, paying cash, or changing academic programs will not return a student to satisfactory academic progress.

Loss of Federal Financial Aid Eligibility

Students who become ineligible to receive federal financial aid but remain in compliance with the academic progress standards for continuance in their program are not withdrawn from the program, but they must make alternative payment arrangements logging in to the the Payment Gateway (course based and Tempo Learning®) before the appropriate tuition due date. Students may still be eligible for private educational loans if federal aid eligibility is lost.

Financial Aid SAP for Modality Switch from Tempo Learning® to Course-Based

Students who are not in a denied SAP status who switch from Tempo Learning® to course-based will have their SAP status forwarded to the new modality until the end of the first SAP evaluation period in the new program. Outside of the initial 6-month SAP evaluation, if the status is denied, the student will have to appeal to receive federal aid in the course-based modality.

Tempo Learning® Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

Required for all Tempo Learning® students, Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) ensures students are making adequate progress through their program to complete their degree on or before the maximum allowable time frame. The SAP tracks student progress as it relates to completion of credit equivalencies, which are the associated credit values that students would have earned if they successfully demonstrated the same learning outcomes in the Walden course-based program.

For example, all of the competencies found in the Tempo Learning® programs have an associated credit equivalency value that is aligned with existing courses in the course-based versions of the programs. While students may earn credit toward their SAP as they work through their competencies, credit is only awarded to students on their transcripts upon the completion of all of the competencies that correspond to a traditional Walden course.

The image below is just one example of how credit equivalency values of competencies add up to the full credit value of a traditional Walden course.

Tempo Learning® programs have a unique minimum number of credit equivalencies a student must accept per subscription period depending on the course-based program structure and number of total credits.

This requirement ensures that each student is attempting a credit equivalency value that would equate to the estimated time to completion of the course-based equivalent program. To stay in good academic standing and meet the Walden SAP policy, graduate students will need to successfully complete at least 50% of the attempted credit equivalencies, and undergraduate students must successfully complete at least 67% of the attempted credit equivalencies. SAP is checked every 6 months to ensure students are making adequate progress. All Agreed-to Credits will be factored into SAP compliance whether or not the student completed the period, withdrew, or was administratively withdrawn. Transfer credits are also included in the completed and attempted credits for the SAP completion rate.

The credit completion requirement ensures that students are making qualitative progress and are on track to finish within the maximum time frame for program completion and for the receipt of federal aid (if applicable).

The table below outlines the minimum number of credit equivalencies students must agree to per subscription period and the maximum time frame for program completion for the various programs currently offered:

Program Minimum Number of Credit Equivalencies per Subscription Period Maximum Time Frame to Complete Program
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN Completion Program): RN-BSN Track and RN-BSN-AIM Track 11.25 36 months
BS in Business Administration 11.25 72 months
BS in Criminal Justice 11.25 72 months
BS in Early Childhood Studies 11.25 72 months
BS in Health Studies 11.25 72 months
BS in Healthcare Management 11.25 72 months
BS in Public Health 11.25 72 months
Graduate Certificate in Applied Project Management* 3.75 18 months
Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Administration, Management, and Leadership 3.75 24 months
Master of Business Administration (MBA) 4.5 48 months
Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) 6.625 48 months
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) BSN-MSN Track 6.625 48 months
Master of Science in Nursing (MNS) RN-MSN Track 6.625 85 months
MS in Criminal Justice 6 48 months
MS in Early Childhood Studies 4.125 48 months
MS in Human Resource Management 3.75 48 months
MS in Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology 6 48 months
MS in Psychology 6 48 months

* Program not approved by the U.S. Department of Education for Title IV funds

If students’ completion of earned credit equivalencies is below the benchmark percentage (graduate students = 50%, undergraduate students = 67%) of their attempted credit equivalencies at the time SAP is checked (every 6 months), they will be placed in a “warning” status. Students are required to bring their completion rate of earned credit equivalencies up to or above the benchmark percentage by the next SAP check, 6 months later. Students who are on warning and fail to meet the benchmark percentage requirement will be placed in a “denied” federal financial aid status (if applicable) and removed from the Tempo Learning® modality. Students receive written notification to their Walden University email account if they are placed on warning or denied status.

Example: A graduate student agrees to 14.25 credit equivalencies over a 6-month period. At the end of the 6-month evaluation period, the student has successfully completed 8.5 credit equivalencies. Student is in good academic standing since 50% of 14.25 credit equivalencies is 7.125 credit equivalencies, and the student successfully completed 8.5 credit equivalencies.

Additionally, students should engage in some sort of measurable academic activity as often as possible but no less than once in each 30-day period. Student engagement in the learning platform is continually tracked and monitored. If a student has failed to demonstrate academic engagement in the learning platform for 30 consecutive days, the student will be considered an unofficial withdrawal and will be administratively withdrawn from the modality.

Students utilizing financial aid who are administratively withdrawn from Tempo Learning® for any reason will be subject to the return of Title IV funds using the last date of engagement as the withdrawal date.

In addition to keeping their academic progress at or above the benchmark percentage of Agreed-to-Credits value by each SAP period, during their first 6-month period, students must complete a minimum number of credit equivalencies at Walden (graduate students = 2 credits, undergraduate students = 3 credits). At the first 6-month SAP evaluation, students who do not meet the minimum credit equivalency requirement, even if they meet the completion rate requirement, will be placed in a denied federal aid status (if applicable) and academically dismissed from the Tempo Learning® modality. This additional policy during the first 6 months is to ensure that the Tempo Learning® modality is a good academic fit.

Students who are academically dismissed from the competency-based modality after their first 6-month SAP evaluation may return to the same program in the course-based modality but will be placed on Academic and Financial Aid SAP warning and will be required to meet the policies and requirements of the course-based version of the program.

For students beginning Tempo programs prior to January 4, 2021, in addition to keeping their academic progress at or above the benchmark percentage of Agreed-to-Credits value by each SAP period, students in their first subscription period must complete a minimum of two competencies or be automatically placed in SAP warning status within the Tempo Learning® modality. This additional first subscription period policy is to ensure that the Tempo Learning® modality is a good academic fit.

Students who are on SAP warning at the time of SAP evaluation, and who have not met their SAP requirement will be academically dismissed from the competency-based modality. They may return to the course-based program but will remain on SAP warning and be required to meet the policies and requirements of the course-based version of the program.

Students who wish to explore moving into a course-based modality should reach out to their Academic Coach, who will assist students in taking the necessary steps to move out of Tempo Learning®.

The following policies will apply:

  • Qualitative progress is demonstrated by the completion of competency credit equivalencies.
  • Minimum financial aid credit completion rate is calculated by dividing the completed credit equivalencies by the attempted credit equivalencies (e.g., if 16.5 credit equivalencies are attempted, the student must have successfully completed 8.25 credit equivalencies).
  • Financial aid attempted and completed credit equivalencies are cumulative for the program.
  • Financial aid attempted and completed credit requirements include transfer credits.
  • Financial aid attempted credits include all registered credit equivalencies with the exception of credit equivalencies dropped during the drop period.
  • The maximum time frame will be reset for students completing a second or further degree at Walden or changing from a non-degree to a degree seeking status.
  • The financial aid maximum time frame for students who change programs without earning a Walden degree is cumulative for all programs attempted and is measured against the maximum time frame for the current program.
  • The maximum time frame excludes periods of LOA.
  • Financial aid progress requirements include all periods of enrollment, including periods in which the student did not receive federal aid.
  • Financial Aid SAP will be reset for students who change from course-based to Tempo.

Right to Appeal

Occasionally, a student’s academic progress may be impacted by unusual circumstances that are beyond the student’s control. A student may appeal for an extension of academic continuance and financial aid after a period of SAP warning if the student completes the following: at least the minimum required credit equivalencies for the program within the warning evaluation period and if the student can document that unexpected, unusual, and temporary circumstances affected the student’s ability to progress at the required rate. Examples of such mitigating circumstances are a death in the immediate family, illness, or other significant life change. Students may appeal to Tempo Learning® Academic Appeal Committee at the end of the financial aid warning period. Students who wish to appeal must complete the Academic Progress Appeal Form and provide the Academic Appeal Committee with supporting documentation regarding the following:

  • Why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress
  • What has changed in the student’s situation that will allow the student to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress at the next evaluation

Failure to provide supporting documentation will result in an automatic denial. If the appeal is accepted, the student must meet the requirements outlined in the written approval of the appeal. A preexisting condition (a condition or illness that a student had before beginning any Walden University program) is not cause for appeal unless there was an unexpected change in that condition. Students may not use the same circumstances in a subsequent appeal, although a student may submit an appeal for a future period of difficulty for different mitigating circumstances.

SAP decisions by the Academic Appeal Committee are final.

Maximum Time Frame

Federal financial aid eligibility expires without warning when the student reaches the maximum time frame or if the financial aid academic progress review makes it clear that the student cannot mathematically finish the current program within the maximum time frame.

Treatment of Competencies and Credit Equivalencies

Competency Repetitions: Because competencies are not time bound, there are no repetitions.

Credit Equivalencies are not tied to specific competencies: The student agrees to a specific number of competencies in the Customized Learning Plan at the start of a subscription period. The student may switch the competencies attempted within the subscription period without necessarily changing the overall attempted credit equivalency attempted total.

Drops: Credit equivalencies dropped before the end of the drop period are not included in the financial aid satisfactory progress calculations.

Periods with No Financial Aid: Financial aid progress requirements include all periods of enrollment, including periods in which the student did not receive financial aid.

Second Program: The maximum time frame will be reset for students who complete one program or degree at Walden University and begin a subsequent program or degree.

Transfer Credits: All transfer credits are considered as both attempted and completed when calculating the minimum credit completion rate and maximum time frame.

Policy and Definitions

Academic Plan: This status is assigned in order to assist students in returning to compliance by a specified date. The option for extended probation with an academic plan is only available if it is not reasonable to expect the student to achieve successful academic progress during the typical one evaluation period extension of probation. An academic plan may be a specification of the number of credit equivalencies for specific SAP evaluation periods, and/or requirements for the student to get academic support or to use other academic resources. A student must comply with all aspects of an academic plan in order to retain eligibility for academic continuance and financial aid.

Appeal: Occasionally, a student’s academic progress may be impacted by unusual circumstances that are beyond the student’s control. A student may appeal for an extension of academic continuance and financial aid if the student completes the following: at least the minimum required credit equivalencies for the program during the warning evaluation and can document that unexpected, unusual, and temporary circumstances affected the student’s ability to progress at the required rate. See the Right to Appeal section of this policy for details.

Maximum Time Frame: Federal financial aid eligibility expires without warning when the student reaches the maximum time frame or if the financial aid academic progress review makes it clear that the student cannot mathematically finish the current program within the maximum time frame.

  • The maximum time frame will be reset for students completing a second or additional degree at Walden.
  • The maximum time frame for students who change programs without earning a Walden degree is cumulative for all programs attempted and is measured against the maximum time frame for the current program.
  • The maximum time frame excludes periods of LOA.
  • Financial aid eligibility for an academic program ceases as soon as all academic requirements for graduation have been met regardless of maximum time frame standing.

Minimum Credit Completion Rate (Pace): A percentage calculated by dividing cumulative successfully completed program credit equivalencies by total program credit equivalencies attempted. For example, a student who has successfully completed 8.25 credit equivalencies out of a total of 16.5 attempted credit equivalencies has a course completion rate of 50%. This rate includes credits transferred into Walden.

SAP Evaluation Period: The 6-month interval beginning with the start date of the student’s first subscription period. The first SAP evaluation period includes the first and second subscription periods, the second includes the third and fourth subscription periods and so on.

Status—Denied: This status is assigned to a student who does not meet the minimum credit equivalency requirement during the initial 6-month SAP evaluation period, who does not come back into compliance after a warning or probation, or who does not meet the requirements of an academic plan during their most recent SAP evaluation period.

Status—Probation: This status is assigned to a student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress during their SAP evaluation period, fails to successfully return to satisfactory progress during one period of SAP warning, completes a successful appeal for mitigating circumstances, and has eligibility for academic continuance and financial aid reinstated on a probationary basis. Academic probation is assigned for one SAP evaluation period. It may be extended if accompanied by an academic plan.

Status—Warning: This status is assigned to a student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress during their most recent SAP evaluation period. The student has one SAP evaluation period to be successful and maintain eligibility for academic continuance and financial aid.