Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students in receipt of Federal Title IV funding only

1. Overview

All students who receive US Title IV funding whilst studying at the University of Leeds are required to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) in order to be eligible to receive funding. Although the University has an institutional policy for standard academic achievement, this policy relates specifically to US students in receipt of Title IV funding. It should be noted that the University standards for all enrolled students on the same course are the same regardless of the student’s source of funding.

The US Department of Education requires the University of Leeds to check a student’s progression at the end of each term, to ensure they are meeting the criteria outlined in section 2.

2. Satisfactory Academic Progress Criteria


An Undergraduate degree requires 360 credits (120 at each of levels 1, 2, and 3)

Taught postgraduate

A Master’s degree requires 180 credits at M level

Research postgraduate

A Doctoral course (e.g. PhD) does not carry a credit load but students are expected to submit their thesis 4 years after their start date which is reflected on the student record. Therefore, the maximum time frame to complete a full time doctoral course is 6 years.  

General SAP criteria

  • A student must complete the programme in a maximum of 150% of the normal time taken to complete the programme (for example a three year programme must be able to be completed in no more than 4.5 years). This time scale includes any previous period of study at other institutions for the same programme.
  • Periods of interruption will not count towards this calculation for federal loan purposes but will count towards the Universities maximum period of registration as outlined in the Academic Regulatory Framework.
  • If a student has attended part of the programme below full time, then this calculation is based on full time equivalent of their studies (for example 2 years at 50% study is the equivalent of 1 year full time study).

Rules for Award

Assessments classification undergraduate and Master’s degree programmes are as follows:

Grading 0-100

Undergraduate Degrees

Postgraduate Degrees

US equivalent


First class




Upper second class




Lower second class




Third class



Less than 40




All students are expected to maintain satisfactory progression throughout their programme of study and at the end of an academic year achieve the standard required by the University Board of Examiners.

To pass an assessment

To pass an undergraduate assessment a student must achieve a minimum mark of 40% (Grade D), to pass a postgraduate assessment a student must achieve a minimum mark of 50% (Grade C).

To pass a module

These are detailed in the module specification for each individual programme.

3. To Progress to the Second Year of Study (and any subsequent years for longer programmes) 

If a student meets all progression requirements they will be placed on good standing for Financial Aid. Students who are not able to meet the progression criteria are deemed for Title IV purposes unable to progress. The student will then be placed on a finacial aid warning for the remainder of the payment period. A finnacial aid warning can be appealed under certain circumstances (see below for further details). If at the end of the payment period SAP is not met then financial aid payments will cease and Financial Aid will be suspended.

  • Undergraduate students must achieve a minimum of 40% across all modules to progress to the next year of study i.e. a student must achieve 100% of all credit attached to that year of study.
  • Postgraduate students must achieve a minimum of 50% across all modules to progress to the next year of study i.e. a student must achieve 100% of all credit attached to that year of study.

Pace of progress

A student will not be able to progress to the next year of study without completing the previous year of study. Progression reassessment will be scheduled to facilitate progression by the start of the next academic year. Only in exceptional circumstances will a student be permitted to suspend studies and be reassessed during the next academic year.

Attendance: a student will not be able to progress to the next year of study if they are not attending University at least 50% and Financial Aid will be suspended. If a student meets the requirement for progression on their programme of study they will be placed on good standing for financial aid.

4. Financial Aid Warning

Students who fail to make Satisfactory Academic Progression will no longer be eligible to receive assistance under the Title IV HEA program. Such students will be advised in writing by Student Funding Team and issued with a ‘Financial Aid Warning’. This warning will last for one payment period (that is until the next disbursement) during which time student can still receive Financial Aid.

The University does not have the right to waive the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirement for any student. Students that fail to regain Satisfactory Academic Progress by the next disbursement will no longer be eligible for Financial Aid unless they are successful in an appeal. The appeal may be submitted to the Student Funding manager where they will have the opportunity to demonstrate exceptional circumstances.

5. Appeals.

Students who have received a ‘Financial Aid Warning’ may appeal within 14 calendar days of notification, where exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated.

Exceptional circumstances may include:

  • The death of a relative (parent, spouse, sibling, child).
  • The extended illness of an immediate family member (parent, spouse, sibling, child).
  • The extended illness of or injury to the student.
  • Other special circumstances as determined by the Student Funding manager.

Students will be required to indicate why they believe financial aid should not be terminated and state what has changed in their situation that will allow them to meet satisfactory academic progress at the next evaluation date. Students will also be required to supply documentary evidence in support of their appeal. This may include:

  • A copy of death certificate
  • A medical certificate from a registered doctor or psychiatrist
  • A statement from tutor or other senior School official
  • Bank statements or Financial accounts
  • Other relevant evidence specific to the appeal

All appeals should be submitted in writing along with supporting documentation to:

Alison Jackson - Student Funding Manager

Student Funding

Student Services Centre

Leeds University


Disbursement of loan funding will not be made while an appeal is being processed.

6. Appeal Decision.

The decision of the appeal will be communicated to the student in writing within 21 days of submission, if all necessary supporting evidence (as determined by the SAP Appeals Panel) is complete. The decision of the appeals panel is final.

7. Financial Aid Probation.

If a student has successfully appealed the decision then the student will be placed on Financial Aid Probation. The student will continue to be eligible to receive funding for one further payment period.

A student that has their Financial Aid suspended but continues to self-fund their studies can regain probationary status should they reach Satisfactory Academic Progress in the future. They are entitled to apply for and receive Financial Aid.

If Satisfactory Academic Progress has not been achieved at the end of the Financial Aid Probation period, the student’s aid will be terminated, unless they are successful in a further appeal and develop an academic plan approved by their personal tutor/supervisor.

Students that exceed 150% time limit cannot receive Federal Aid and cannot be reinstated at any point.