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Financial Aid Eligibility

In order to receive financial aid, a student must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Enrollment as a regular (matriculating) student in a degree or certificate program.
  • Maintenance of satisfactory academic progress as defined below. Note that satisfactory progress standards for receipt of financial aid may differ from minimum University academic standards for continued enrollment.
  • For federal aid programs, status as a US citizen or eligible noncitizen, in addition to certification that funds will be used only for educational expenses.
  • For federal aid, certification that the student is not in default on any federal student loan and does not owe repayment on a federal student grant.
  • Any other specific requirements of the program providing the aid.

Federal Regulation 34 CFR 668.34 requires postsecondary institutions receiving federal student aid funds under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish a policy for determining whether an eligible student is making satisfactory academic progress (SAP) in his or her education program to receive federal aid.

The Cairn University Financial Aid staff monitors the academic progress of all students with an annual review occurring at the end of each spring semester.

Financial aid satisfactory academic progress (SAP) includes both qualitative standards and quantitative standards, which are detailed in this policy. This policy governs a student’s eligibility to receive federal student aid funds and any other student aid sources that base eligibility on federal or institutional financial aid SAP standards.

All students must meet the qualitative and quantitative standards for financial aid SAP, regardless of enrollment status.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

The following table summarizes the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy requirements for maintaining eligibility for undergraduate student aid:

Academic Progress Evaluation


Qualitative Standard

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Students must have a minimum cumulative GPA as defined below at each evaluation to be making financial aid SAP.

Undergraduate students: minimum GPA is based on attempted credits as indicated in the above table.

Graduate students: minimum GPA is based on the student’s program.

  • All Business and Divinity programs require a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.50
  • All Counseling and Education programs require a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00

An undergraduate student enrolled in an educational program of more than two academic years must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 by the end of his or her second academic year (4th semester), or have academic standing consistent with Cairn’s requirements for graduation.

Quantitative Standards

Maximum Timeframe Standard

Students must complete their program within a maximum timeframe based on credits attempted for their primary academic program. All attempted credits by the student count for SAP purposes.

The maximum timeframe is calculated by multiplying the minimum credits required for the academic program by 150% to determine the maximum number of attempted credits.

Maximum Timeframe = Minimum credits required for academic program x 150% 

For example, a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree that requires 120 credits has a maximum timeframe of 180 credits.

Once the maximum timeframe is reached, or the Financial Aid Office determines that it is not mathematically possible for the student to complete the academic program within the maximum timeframe, the student is considered ineligible for financial aid and will be assigned the status of financial aid suspension.

Attempted credits are counted for all terms (e.g., semesters or other terms) and include transfer credits, credits for courses taken during a semester from which a student has withdrawn, and credits for which the student did not receive financial aid.

Pace of Completion Standard

Students must maintain a pace of completion of at least 67%. This pace of completion should ensure that students will complete their academic programs within the maximum timeframe described above. Percentages are not rounded, and students who fail to meet the pace of completion risk losing eligibility for student financial aid.

Pace of Completion % = (Cumulative credits successfully completed ÷ Cumulative credits attempted) 


Monitoring for Financial Aid SAP

The following evaluations occur in accordance with the federal regulation:

  • All students are monitored annually at the end of the spring semester when the grade reporting deadline has passed.
  • Students not meeting one or more SAP standards are monitored at the end of every semester to determine if they are now meeting all standards.

Students enrolled in educational programs exceeding two academic years in length are evaluated at the end of their second academic year (4th semester) for a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA, or an academic standing consistent with requirements for graduation.

Students who meet all financial aid SAP standards, and other applicable eligibility requirements, are eligible to receive financial aid. Students who are not meeting financial aid SAP standards, or for whom it is not mathematically possible to meet the standards in the maximum timeframe, will receive notification from the Financial Aid Office via their university email accounts of the impact on their aid eligibility.

The full satisfactory academic process policy can be found here.


Financial Aid Suspension

Financial aid suspension is the status assigned to students who fail to meet one or more standards of SAP. A student assigned the status of financial aid suspension is not eligible to receive financial aid subject to this policy.

Financial Aid Links
Contact the Financial Aid Office