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Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

The U.S. Department of Education requires that students who receive financial aid make progress toward completing their program of study. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the measure of a student’s overall academic progress. Northern Essex Community College has created the following standards to comply with the federal regulations. Students who fail to meet these standards cannot receive financial aid, including loans.

Your entire academic history is reviewed for the purposes of determining SAP, including credits not paid for by financial aid.  Progress is reviewed at the end of each academic term after grades have been submitted. This includes fall semester, spring semester, and summer term.

Standard 1: Grade Point Average (GPA): You must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.

Standard 2: Completion Rate: You must successfully complete, with letter grades A, B, C, or D, a minimum of 67% or 2/3rds of all courses attempted.

EXAMPLE: A student who has attempted three (3), 3-credit courses (total of 9 credits) must successfully complete 6 credits to meet this standard. 

Attempted credits – all classes you have attempted are considered attempted credits whether or not the course is completed. Repeated courses as well as grades of F, course withdrawals (W), courses from which you have been administratively withdrawn (NW) and courses that are not completed (I) at the end of the semester are included as attempted.

Incomplete grades (I) – classes that are not completed (I) are included as attempted credits.

Repeated courses – these classes are included in the calculation for both attempted and earned credits. If you retake a course in which you have received a grade of A, B, C or D, you may only receive financial aid for the course one more time. If you take a class more than three times and have not yet earned credit (grade of F or withdrew), eligibility for financial aid to cover the class will follow the academic repeat policy.

Transfer credits – credits from other colleges that were accepted by NECC are counted as attempted and earned. 

Standard 3: Maximum Timeframe (150% Rule): You must complete your program within 150% of the published length of the program. If you do not complete your program within this timeframe you are no longer eligible for financial aid. 

EXAMPLE: Your program requires 60 credits. Financial aid will cover up to 90 credits for you to complete the program.

Transfer Credits:  All transfer credits that have been or could be applied to your current program are considered in calculating the maximum timeframe requirements for the program. 

Program changes: All attempted and earned credits (including grades of F, W, NW, I and repeats) that have been or could be applied to the new program of study are considered in calculating the maximum timeframe requirements for the new program.  

Please note:

Developmental credits are counted as attempted and earned credits.  The first 30 credits attempted are excluded from Standard #3.

English as a Second Language (ESL) credits are counted as attempted and earned credits.  All ESL credits are excluded from Standard #3.

SAP Review Status:

Financial Aid Warning. If you do not meet Standards 1 and/or 2 once you are placed on financial aid warning. You are still eligible to receive financial aid. At the end of the financial aid warning semester the following will happen:

  • You are removed from FA warning if you are now meeting all SAP standards.
  • You are placed on FA suspension if you have not met the requirements of Standard 1 and/or 2 for the second term.

Additionally, you need to meet the requirements of Standard 3.

Financial Aid Suspension. If the SAP standards are not met after the warning period, you will be placed on financial aid suspension and are no longer eligible for financial aid, including loans.  Financial aid eligibility can be reinstated if you either:

  • Enroll and pay for classes raising your GPA and/or completion rate to meet the SAP standards, or
  • Successfully appeal the suspension status.

Appeal Procedure: 

You have the right to appeal a financial aid suspension due to extenuating circumstances such as, but not limited to, illness, military service, or a previously undiagnosed learning disability.  The following must be completed and submitted to the Financial Aid Office:

  • The Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form, with personal statement.
  • Adequate documentation verifying the special circumstances (e.g., doctor’s letter, third-party letter).

The Financial Aid Office considers all appeals. Notification of the decision is sent to your NECC email account. 

If an appeal is approved, you are placed on Special Probation. Your academic progress is reviewed at the end of the Special Probation term and the conditions of your appeal are evaluated.  If the conditions of the appeal are not met, you are no longer eligible for financial aid until you meet the SAP standards.  If the conditions of the appeal are met, you continue to be eligible for aid.  However, the conditions of the appeal are reviewed each term until you are making satisfactory academic progress.

If an appeal is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision to the Director of Financial Aid.

The Summer 2024 Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form is now available. To obtain the form, please contact Financial Aid at or come in person to the Financial Aid Office. 

Summer 2024 deadlines:

  • For classes beginning May 20 – Friday, May 10 by 2 pm
  • For classes beginning July 1 & No May Start Classes – Friday, June 21 by 2 pm
Return of Title IV Funds Consumer Information

Return of Title IV Funds Consumer Information

Northern Essex Community College is required to determine the earned and unearned portions of Title IV aid (Federal Financial Aid) within 30 days of the date in which the Financial Aid Office is notified, that a student ceases to attend all of his/her classes. Earned and unearned aid is based on the amount of time a student spent in attendance. Up through the 60 percent point in each semester a pro-rata schedule is used to determine the amount of Federal Financial Aid a student has earned at the time of withdrawal. After the 60 percent point in the semester a student has earned 100 percent of their Federal Financial Aid.

NOTE: The Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) regulations do not dictate an institutional refund policy. Withdrawing from or ceasing to attend classes can result in owing a balance to NECC if a student does not earn enough financial aid to cover their bill. See the NECC refund policy .

EXAMPLE: Sally Student is enrolled in two classes and is charged $1,300 in tuition and fees. She has been awarded $1,000 of financial aid, which means she owes NECC a balance due of $300 ($1,300 – $1,000). Sally withdraws from all of her classes during week six of the semester. It is determined that Sally has attended 40 percent of the semester. Therefore, the R2T4 calculation dictates that Sally gets to keep $400 (or 40 percent) of her financial aid. Sally’s balance due NECC is now $900 because she withdrew after the NECC refund period ($1,300 – $400).

In most cases, only students who have withdrawn from all classes and/or have been reported as not participating/attending are subject to the R2T4 calculation. Situations that would not require a R2T4 calculation include students who were only awarded federal work-study and those students who never began attendance in any classes. Also, if a student withdraws from some, but not all their classes, a R2T4 is usually not required. The exception to this rule includes students who are attending 13 week classes, 8 week classes or summer classes. A R2T4 calculation may be required based on any withdrawal from a class during that period of enrollment. If you are attending a class that is less than 15 weeks in length, please consult the financial aid office to determine how a withdrawal will affect your financial aid eligibility.

If a student has not earned a passing grade in at least one course offered over an entire period, the college must assume, for Title IV purposes, that the student has unofficially withdrawn. The R2T4 calculation will be processed as an unofficial withdrawal using the last date of attendance as provided by the instructor(s).

NECC will return the required amount of Federal/State financial aid based on the R2T4 calculation based upon the following priority: Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Direct Subsidized Loan, Direct Unsubsidized Loan and Federal Direct PLUS Loan. Student Accounts will then bill a student for any outstanding balance.

Acceptable methods of payment for paying an outstanding balance after a R2T4 calculation include cash, personal check (if no previous check has bounced), bank check, credit cards, debit cards, and money orders. Students who owe money can be sent to the College’s collection agencies and then to the state intercept program, based on Student Accounts policies and procedures for all outstanding bills.

Post-Withdrawal Disbursements:

Occasionally a student who withdraws from NECC is entitled to a post-withdrawal disbursement. A post-withdrawal disbursement occurs when the R2T4 calculation determines that a student is entitled to financial aid even though the student has completely withdrawn or stopped attending. If a student withdraws and is entitled to a post-withdrawal disbursement of a student loan or a parent is entitled to a post-withdrawal disbursement of a Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), a disbursement notice is mailed to the student informing them of their eligibility for the loan funds. It is your right/responsibility as a student to notify NECC within two weeks of the date of the letter if you do not wish to receive the loan funds. If you decline the post-withdrawal disbursement or do not respond to the disbursement notice, the post-withdrawal loan will be canceled.

Financial Aid Code of Conduct – Student Aid and Loan Programs

Financial Aid Code of Conduct – Student  Aid and Loan Programs

The primary goal of NECC and the Financial Aid Team is to help students achieve their educational potential by providing appropriate financial resources. To this end, financial aid professionals are guided by a set of principles that serve as a common foundation for an acceptable standard of conduct. NECC and the Financial Aid Team shall:

  • Maintain the highest level of professionalism
  • Commit to the highest level of ethical behavior and refrain from a direct or perceived conflict of interest
  • Respect the dignity and protect the privacy of students
  • Ensure the confidentiality of student records and personal circumstances
  • Provide information to families about lenders that have proven to provide the best combination of price, access to funds, and service to students and families

Further, NECC ensures that all officers, trustees, directors, employees or agents, and financial aid professionals adhere to the following:

  • May not accept gifts, meals, travel, or any other non-trivial items from student loan providers in connection with the institution’s loan business
  • May not accept, from a lending institution, money, equipment, or printing services or anything of value that may provide or suggest an advantage or grant a preferred status
  • If serving as a member of a lending institution’s advisory board, may not accept anything of value in exchange for this service, such as “revenue sharing”

*Adopted from the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Code of Conduct – Student Loan Programs

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