Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress

To maintain eligibility for student financial aid, students must successfully complete their coursework. This is defined by the COSSS (Committee on Student Scholastic Standing) policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).

Federal regulations require the Medical School to establish, publish, and apply standards to monitor your progress toward completion of your M.D. degree. Three measurements are used to determine Satisfactory Academic Progress for financial aid eligibility—qualitative (“grades” earned), quantitative (pace of progression), and timeframe. If you fail to meet these standards, you will be placed on financial aid warning or suspension.

Qualitative and Quantitative Measurement for aid eligibility

Academic progress is not measured by a cumulative grade point average. In Years 1 and 2, academic progress is measured by grades of Pass/Fail.  In Years 3 and 4, academic progress is measured by grades of Honors, Excellent, Satisfactory, and No Pass, or Pass/Fail in selected courses. In the majority of courses, however, academic progress is measured by grades of Pass/Fail.

Year 1: All courses must be completed with a grade of Pass to progress to Year 2.
Year 2: All courses must be completed with a grade of Pass to progress to Year 3.
Year 3: All courses and/or clerkships must be completed with a grade of Satisfactory, Pass, or higher to progress to the final graduating year.
Year 4: All courses and/or clerkships must be completed with a grade of Satisfactory, Pass, or higher.

Each semester, a student's cumulative completed-credits percentage is determined to ensure at least 67% of all credits attempted toward the M.D. degree are completed. The total credits attempted to date (including any course in which a student was enrolled past the drop/add period) will be compared to the total credits actually earned.

Students are eligible for federal financial aid if they progress through the program, with passing grades, while successfully completing at least 67% of all credits attempted and in accordance with all applicable federal financial aid regulations. Students approved to repeat coursework are making Satisfactory Academic Progress, as long as they meet the conditions established by COSSS.

Maximum timeframe for aid eligibility

  • For M.D. students: Students are eligible to receive financial aid for a maximum timeframe of 150% of the published length required to complete the degree program. For example, if the degree program requires 4 years, students are eligible for financial aid for up to 6 years of enrollment. The 6-year financial aid limit includes any semester or summer period the student was enrolled, regardless of whether or not the student received financial aid during that time. With COSSS approval, the 6-year timeframe may be extended to 7 years if the student was approved for an official University leave of absence.

  • For M.D./Ph.D. students in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP): The maximum time period for financial aid eligibility is 150% of the sum of enrollment periods established by MSTP and the University of Minnesota Medical School. For reference, the traditional course of study begins with the first two years of medical school, followed by Ph.D. training, and concludes with the third and fourth years of medical school.

Reviews and warnings

The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) of students will be reviewed at the conclusion of each semester.

Students notified of “at risk” status by COSSS will be placed in a “financial aid warning period." Federal financial aid can be disbursed to the student during the warning period.

Students who are on extended academic plans for remediation will also be reviewed at the end of the semester in which they complete the requirements outlined by COSSS to progress to the next year of study.

If you have not met the standards for SAP during the “financial aid warning period," you will be:

  • Placed on academic probation by COSSS
  • Notified in writing by the Medical School Financial Aid Office that you are ineligible to receive federal financial aid beginning with the term immediately following the term in which the standards were not met


If you have lost federal financial aid eligibility, but are permitted by COSSS to remain enrolled in the Medical School, you may appeal to the Financial Aid Office to have federal financial aid eligibility reinstated.

The appeal must be made in writing and submitted to the Financial Aid Office within ten business days of the notification of ineligibility.

Eligibility for federal financial aid will be restored if you subsequently meet the SAP standards and advance to the next year of study.

What your appeal should include:

  • Brief statement outlining the reason for appeal
  • Steps you will take to ensure future academic success
  • Certification from COSSS that documentation exists and is on file regarding mitigating circumstances that prevented you from meeting the SAP standards (e.g., death in the family, illness or injury, other personal circumstances)

What happens after you submit your appeal:

  • The Financial Aid Office will review the appeal and render a decision within ten business days of its receipt
  • You will be notified of the decision in writing

If your appeal is approved:

  • You will be placed on financial aid probation
  • You will collaborate with the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs to develop an academic plan that, if followed, will help you meet all SAP standards by a specific point in time. 
  • You will be eligible to receive federal financial aid during the timeframe stated in the academic plan

If you do not meet all SAP standards by the end of the probationary period:

  • You will be suspended from federal financial aid eligibility
  • You can be reinstated for federal financial aid eligibility when you complete sufficient coursework to meet these SAP standards


The Offices of Student Affairs, the Registrar, and Financial Aid are responsible for monitoring and enforcing SAP.

These offices will rely on information provided by COSSS.