2020-2021 Catalog

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

To remain eligible for financial aid, a student must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and must be in good academic standing as defined by the policies outlined below.

The academic year consists of two 16-week semesters. Full-time students may register each semester for a maximum of 18 units. Students enrolled in less than 12 units each semester are considered to be part-time, and both federal and institutional financial aid is pro-rated.

No institutional funds are available to a student on a leave of absence, a required academic leave, or studying at another institution (excluding Oxy approved study abroad programs). Students may, in some cases, receive federal or state aid to study at another by completing a Consortium Agreement. For more information please contact the Financial Aid Office.

Federal regulations under Title IV of the Higher Education Act require Occidental College to monitor the academic progress of students on financial aid. Occidental has two similar yet distinct SAP policies, one for federal financial aid eligibility and one for institutional financial aid eligibility. In addition, the College has its own Academic Standing requirements that determine whether a student is in good standing. If you have questions regarding the differences between these policies, please contact the Financial Aid Office for clarification. 

Aid Programs

The federal SAP policy applies to federal and state financial aid awards, while the institutional SAP policy applies to all Occidental College awards.

Federal SAP Policy Institutional AP Policy
Federal Pell Grant

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

Federal Work Study

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan

Cal Grant*
Oxy Need-Based Scholarships

Oxy Opportunity Grants

Occidental Merit Scholarships

Occidental Donor Funded Scholarships

Oxy Work Award

Oxy No Interest Loan

Oxy Low Interest Loan

*The Cal Grant program is a state funded grant that follows federal SAP requirements unless when specifically stated.

Qualitative and Quantitative Requirements

Both the federal and institutional policies require that a student make qualitative (grade-based) and quantitative (time-based) progress toward the degree each semester.

The qualitative (grade-based) requirement is measured by your GPA. The quantitative (time-based) requirement is the pace at which you progress toward your degree and earn units.

Both federal and institution policies require students to complete a certain number of units and maintain a certain grade point average after each semester of college attendance. However, each policy defines qualitative and quantitative progress differently.

Federal SAP Policy Institutional SAP Policy
Qualitative (grade-based) Requirement Must earn a 2.0 cumulative GPA at the end of each semester Must earn a 2.0 cumulative GPA at the end of each semester
Quantitative (time-based) Requirement Must complete a total of 12 units each semester Must complete a total of 16 units each semester

Progression and Maximum Time

Pace of progression measures the number of units you completed over the number of units you attempted to complete. To meet the pace of progression requirement, you must have a cumulative pace of progression rate of 67% each semester that you are enrolled.

Example 1: If you are a second-year and have attempted 48 units (16 + 16 + 16) by the end of your third semester; however, you only earned 42 units (16 + 16 + 10), your cumulative pace of progression rate is 42/48 =83.3%. Since the rate is above 67%, you are meeting the pace of progress requirement.

Example 2: If you are a first-year and have attempted 16 units by the end of your first semester; however you only earned 10 units, your cumulative pace of progression rate is 10/16 = 62.5%. Since the rate is below 67%, you are not meeting the pace of progression requirement.

In addition to pace of progression, students must also meet the maximum time-frame requirement. Maximum time-frame is the time in which you have to complete your degree. This limits the number of semesters that you are eligible to receive financial aid. After you have exhausted your maximum semesters of eligibility, no additional aid will be extended.

Students who pursue double majors or minors are expected to complete all degree requirements within their 128 units. Institutional financial aid will not be granted beyond 8 semesters; however, federal aid can be extended up to 12 semesters.


Federal SAP Policy Institutional SAP Policy
Maximum Semesters of Eligibility 12 semesters 8 semesters
Maximum Time-frame Requirement Must complete a minimum of 12 units per semester and 128 units by the end of your 12th semester Must complete a minimum of 16 units each semester
Pace of Progression Requirement Must have a cumulative pace of progression rate of 67% Must have a cumulative pace of progression rate of 67%
Transfer Student Eligibility Transfer student eligibility is based on the total number of semesters used by all institutions. This means that a student who used federal aid for 4 semesters at another institution can only receive 8 semesters of federal aid at Occidental College.

In addition, the Federal Pell Grant & Federal Direct Loan programs each have a maximum eligibility criteria separate from the 12 semester time-frame. For more information, please visit www.studentaid.gov
Transfer student eligibility is pro-rated based on the number of units transferred at the time of admission. This means that a student who enters as a first semester sophomore is eligible for 6 semesters of institutional aid.

How Courses are Counted

The following outlines how certain courses and grades affect the SAP requirements listed above.

Attempted Courses:

  • Attempted courses are those for which you are officially enrolled after the last date to drop courses.
  • All attempted courses count toward the maximum time-frame
  • All courses count in calculating a student's academic progress, including any for which the student did not receive financial aid.
  • Audited courses do not count in the calculation of attempted courses as no units are earned
  • Courses taken on a credit/no credit basis count toward the total number of attempted courses
  • Course credit by examination is counted as an attempted course

Incomplete Grades:

  • Credit for incomplete courses will not count as an attempted course until the course has been completed or the Occidental College Registrar has posted a grade


  • Withdrawals showing W on your academic transcript are counted as attempted courses

Repeated Courses:

  • If a student does not receive a passing grade for a course and chooses to repeat the course, the course may be repeated for credit. Both the original course and the repeated course will be considered as attempted for the purposes of determining SAP.
  • If a student receives a passing grade for a course and chooses to repeat the course, the repeated course does not count as a course completed and does not contribute to maintaining SAP. The units for the repeated course are not counted, unless the repeated course is identified as "repeatable" in the Course Catalog
  • Repeating a course does not remove the original course form the academic transcript
  • Both the grade for the original course and the repeated course will be posted and will calculate into the student's GPA.

Transfer credits:

  • Transfer credits from another institution accepted by Occidental College are counts when measuring the maximum time-frame to complete the degree. 
  • Occidental does not accept for credit any transfer grades lower than 2.0. Consult the Occidental College transfer policy for more information on how transfer credits are evaluated.