Changes to Student Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

The U.S. Department of Education is requiring colleges and universities to make some substantive changes as of July 1, 2011; one of those policies is regarding student academic progress.  For those of you who are doing well in school this is a footnote.  For some of you this is very important information.  Fortunately, our SAP policy was already aligned with much of what the Department of Education is requiring.  The main change is regarding timeframes and conditions for appeals for continuing education.

Students are required to maintain a passing grade point average toward graduation.  Depending on the program you are in, that requirement may be a 2.0 (C grade) or a 3.0 (B grade) average.  If you fall below that grade point average at a checkpoint you are put on academic warning.  Likewise, you must complete at least two-thirds of all your coursework with a passing grade.  This is referred to as completion rate.

The change that we have had to make regarding academic progress is good news in our opinion.  Students are reviewed every four modules (16 weeks).  If a student is placed on academic warning, they will have a plan to improve their GPA and/or completion rate over the next four module period to get off of probation.  If a student fails to meet the grade or completion rate guidelines at the next checkpoint they will be dismissed from school.  If a student fails to meet the criteria in their plan, they may be dismissed even earlier.

What about situations where some serious life situation has occurred?  This is referred to as a mitigating circumstance.  The Department of Education has provided guidelines for mitigating circumstances.  If a student fails to raise their gpa and/or completion rate within the warning period they will be dismissed from school.  They can appeal the dismissal if the reason falls into one of the following twelve categories, and the student provides adequate documentation as noted in the following table:

MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCE DOCUMENTATION
1 Death of an immediate family member Copy of Death Certificate or Obituary
2 Illness of an immediate family member where the student is main caretaker or main financial support Letter from a physician that the family member is incapable of taking care of himself or herself
3 Student illness requiring hospitalization Letter from a physician with dates of hospitalization
4 Abusive Relationship Letter of attestation citing the abusive relationship (including but not limited to, restraining orders)
5 Divorce proceedings Any legal or court-related documents
6 Previously undocumented disability Medical documentation, such as a letter from a physician citing the disability/diagnosis
7 Work-related transfer Letter from employer verifying dates of work-related transfer
8 Change in work schedule Letter from employer verifying changes in work schedule
9 Unexpected loss of employment Letter from employer citing last date of employment
10 Natural disaster Letter of attestation and other evidence
11 Financial hardship such as a foreclosure or eviction Foreclosure or eviction notice from bank, landlord, Sheriff, or other authorized third party
12 Loss of transportation where there is no alternative transportation Letter of attestation as to reasons supporting lack of transportation and demonstrating no alternative transportation (bus, taxi) is available or feasible

As mentioned earlier, this is not a serious concern for eighty percent of the students at Stevens-Henager College Online.  Nevertheless, I want to make sure that you are all aware of this change.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, feel free to contact your advisor,  the registrar’s office, or the associate dean of your program.

Best wishes,
Dr. Alan Hansen
Executive Director
Stevens-Henager College – Online Division

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Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed here, except as specifically noted, are those of the individual authors or commenter’s and do not represent the views or policies of Stevens-Henager College.