Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Project

Start Term
Spring 2020
End Term
Summer 2022
Project Leads
Dean of Students
Core Team

Dean of Students, College Registrar, Director of Financial Aid, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Director of Student Success

Ad Hoc team

Academic Dean, Dean of Students Administrative Assistant, Institutional Effectiveness Project Coordinator, Data Analyst

Pillars of Success
Student Success
Equity and Inclusion
Financial Sustainability
Strategic Plans
Equity 2030
Project Purpose

The college learned through a data review of students on academic suspension that students of color and first-generation students utilize the SAP appeal process at lower rates than white or non-first-generation students. This project was developed to address the gap in the rate of appeals by revising policies, procedures and processes as well as establishing metrics and a reporting framework to assess effectiveness.


Recommendations on changes to the SAP appeal process, SAP policy/procedures, SAP communications and SAP criteria.

Project Scope
In Scope
  • Review of and recommendations for changes to:
    • SAP criteria
    • SAP policy and procedures
    • SAP communications
    • SAP appeal review team
    • Recommend additional support opportunities for students on academic warning
  • Participation in Minnesota State system sponsored SAP workgroup in collaboration with MDRC
  • Review of relevant college data
Out of Scope
  • Hiring additional staff
  • Operating outside of Minnesota State system policies and procedures
  • Operating outside of Federal Financial Aid regulations
Effectiveness Measures

Project Goals

  • Equal appeal rates for all race/ethnicity student groups
  • Make the SAP process more student friendly and accessible

Key Performance Indicators/Metrics

  • Appeal rates for all race/ethnicities compared to the overall rates of students on warning
  • Rate students of color are accessing the SAP appeal process compared to the rate of white students
  • Number of students on academic probation retained to the subsequent term through the appeal process
  • Percent of students completing the first term in good standing

Metrics Collection and Review Schedule

  • Annually - Appeal rates by race/ethnicity
  • As needed when initiatives align with data point - Retention of students that appealed to the subsequent term; percent of students completing the first term in good standing (e.g. data is part of program reviews)

Reporting of Results

  • Reported to college leadership

Internal Policy review and comment process could be a constraint should changes be recommended and accepted.

Financial Impact

Increased tuition and fees if more students access SAP appeal process and continue their education in a timely manner.

Summary of Results
  • Fall of 2020 - Started sending letters to students whose academic performance the previous term moved them from the status of Academic Warning or Academic Probation to Good Academic Standing congratulating them on their hard work and perseverance and noting their academic success. These letters are sent via USPS after the term has been completed and final grades have been awarded.
  • July 2021 - The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) – Academic and Financial Aid Standing Policy's academic suspension was changed from one year to one semester (excluding summer); minimum term GPA of 2.15 and 75 percent completion rate for students to continue on probation (GPA was 2.25).
  • Fiscal Year 2022 - Implemented a policy change to no longer count developmental level courses in completion percentage.
  • Spring 2023 - Created SAP help article webpage(s) to better inform students about the SAP appeal process, including deadlines and documentation requirements. The webpages are especially helpful for students who sat out for the suspension period and returning to the college.
  • Other notable process improvements that have helped improve the process and increase approval rates from 87% in FY21 to 92% in FY22:
    • Consolidated appeal decisions from a campus-based appeals committee to a single college-wide SAP Appeal Committees to ensure consistent and prompt decisions.
    • A step was added to the process for a staff member to review appeals to ensure all required documentation is provided and to contact students if documentation is needed to reduce the number of appeals denied due to missing information.
    • Registrars office reaches out to students who should have been suspended but should appeal based on success criteria.
    • Academic advisors reach out to students on academic warning prior to spring term to offer support and revise upcoming semester academic plans.
    • Rewrote SAP communications.


Future Direction

This project is now college practice and has been institutionalized.