Satisfactory Academic Progress

An annual review of student Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward an eligible degree or certificate is required by federal, state and institutional rules as one condition for financial aid eligibility. Students who do not meet the standards for satisfactory academic progress are not eligible for financial aid funding. There are limited opportunities to appeal. The Financial Aid & Scholarship Department will notify students who may be eligible to appeal immediately following the determination of failing status. Appeal procedure and deadline information are posted every June on the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department website. Appeal decisions are final.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

This SAP policy has four parts. Students who do not meet every condition cannot receive financial aid.

Part One: Satisfactory Pass Rate

We assess the satisfactory pass rate standard as an overall ratio of CSUN units earned to CSUN units attempted. Students must have passed at least 71 percent of all units attempted. Transfer units are included in this calculation. Units for repeated CSUN course work are included. Grades of F, I, NC, W, and WU count as units attempted with zero units earned. These units are not counted as units attempted on transcripts, so the units attempted on a Cal State Northridge transcript may not match the units counted by the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department when determining the satisfactory pass rate.

Part Two: Satisfactory Grade Point Average

Students disqualified by the university are ineligible for financial aid based on grade point average standards. Students are not eligible for financial aid until they are officially readmitted to Cal State Northridge. Students readmitted to the university are responsible for notifying the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department as soon as they are officially readmitted and no longer disqualified. Readmitted students must meet all other SAP policy standards.

Part Three: Unit and Time Limits

Undergraduates are limited to 168 attempted units (140 percent of units required to graduate) and are ineligible for further financial aid at the undergraduate level. Post-baccalaureate students are capped at approximately 140 percent attempted units of the total units required for their academic program (see chart below).

Academic program unit limits
ProgramsUnitsMaximum Units
Second bachelor's6084

Units attempted at all institutions attended, including transfer units, must be counted for both undergraduate and post-baccalaureate maximums, including repeat, incomplete, no credit, failure, in progress, and withdrawal units.

Part Four: Other Provisions

  • Students who enroll in classes inconsistent with their academic program, or students who violate the university's policies related to change of major, will be held to the maximum unit cap without exception. A student will not meet satisfactory academic progress for financial aid if records indicate that he or she is enrolled in courses for financial aid purposes and not because of degree requirements. This includes enrolling in unnecessary units to obtain financial aid based on full-time units.
  • Students who exceed the university limit for repeated course work are subject to review for eligibility. Courses that are repeated more than once may not be eligible for financial aid funding. A decision will be made by the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department after the term has begun. If a repeated course is not eligible for funding, the student may have to repay funds.
  • Students who exceed the university limit of 18 CR/NC units while in a degree, credential or certificate-granting program are subject to review for eligibility.
  • Students who complete all undergraduate degree course requirements but do not graduate, for any reason, are ineligible for funding. Unacceptable claims or reasons for further funding include, but are not limited to, improving one's GPA, failure to take or pass the Writing Proficiency Exam, or desire to complete a minor or additional major.
  • If at any point it becomes clear that a student will not be able to graduate within the maximum units allowed, then the student becomes ineligible for aid.
  • In addition to being identified through the SAP appeal process, students may also be identified through individual consultations with financial aid counselors, or when a review of the aid status is requested by a student, parent, or university official.
  • Students who complete zero units in any term are not meeting reasonable academic progress standards and may be ineligible to receive aid the following term. Aid received in that term may have to be repaid by the student.
  • Academic progress can be reevaluated at any time throughout the year by a member of the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department staff, academic personnel or school administrators.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal Conditions

To comply with federal and state requirements, Cal State Northridge has adopted an annual Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy to measure whether a student, who is otherwise eligible for financial aid, is maintaining satisfactory progress toward the completion of his or her educational objective.

How does SAP affect eligibility for aid?

SAP initial review is conducted every June and weekly thereafter for applications received after the initial review. The areas reviewed include academic disqualification by the university; unit and time limits required to complete a degree; and the total number of units attempted compared to the number of units completed.

If you do not meet one or more of the standards for each measure, you will not be eligible for grants, work-study or federal loans at CSUN until you regain eligibility by meeting all standards or file an appeal that is approved.  A notice will be emailed to you detailing the standards that have not been met.  The notice will include a link to the Appeal Form and will include further instructions.

Reinstatement is possible if you regain the ability to meet all of the standards, or if you are eligible to appeal and the appeal is approved.  See below for acceptable conditions to appeal.  Submission of an appeal does not guarantee the appeal will be approved.

How are maximum units and the pass rate determined?

For detailed information about maximum units and the completion ratio, please read “Maximum Units and Pass Rate” section on this page.

How do students regain eligibility after not passing enough attempted units and being told they are not eligible for appeal?

Eligibility for financial aid will be reestablished when the student has successfully attained the minimum 71 percent pass rate for units attempted and can graduate within the maximum unit limit.

Appeals and deadlines 
Appeal Conditions

Undergraduate students:

Undergraduate students who have completed less than 71 percent, including transfer units, may appeal only if they meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Death of a close relative (parent/guardian, child, spouse or sibling) during the time your academic record was negatively impacted
  • Military service
  • Withdrawals approved by the university
  • Readmitted after at least a two-year absence
  • Serious injury or illness of student or relative for whom they have primary care
  • Other compelling circumstance that can be documented

Undergraduate students who have exceeded 140 percent attempted units of the total units required for their academic program may appeal with the condition they have a registered graduation date and must explain, through an appeal, the reason they have exceeded the maximum units allowed.

You will receive a link to the appeal form in your SAP notice.

Students who are eligible to appeal must do so by the published deadline.


 Graduate students:

Master’s, credential, certificate, doctoral and second bachelor’s degree students who have not passed at least 71 percent of their units or are over the maximum units allowed may appeal if there are documented circumstances beyond the student’s control that have led to low grade point average, pass rate failure or exceeding the maximum units.

Appeal Deadlines and Information

SAP Appeal Filing Deadlines

 Initial deadline for the 2023-2024 Academic Year

July 14, 2023

 Appeals submitted after July 14, 2023

December 8, 2023


If you missed both appeal deadlines for the academic year, you can submit an appeal and be considered for Spring 2024 only. This deadline is to be considered for Spring 2024.     

 March 8 2024

When will I know the status of my appeal?

Students will be notified about their appeal status in mid-August via CSUN email.  Appeal decisions are final.

Where can I view the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy?

You can learn about the Cal State Northridge Satisfactory Academic Progress policy and the standards you must meet to maintain financial aid eligibility by selecting the "SAP Policy" tab on this page.

Fee Payment and Enrollment Protection

If you do not meet satisfactory academic standards for financial aid, you are responsible for paying tuition fees* and housing payments with your own resources by the established deadline. For payment information, visit University Cash Services.

*Fees and obligations you may owe

The CSU makes every effort to keep student costs to a minimum. Fees listed in published schedules or student accounts may need to be increased when public funding is inadequate. Therefore, CSU must reserve the right, even after fees are initially charged or initial fee payments are made, to increase or modify any listed fees. All listed fees, other than mandatory systemwide fees, are subject to change without notice, until the date when instruction for a particular semester or quarter has begun. All CSU listed fees should be regarded as estimates that are subject to change upon approval by the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor, or the Presidents, as appropriate. Changes in mandatory systemwide fees will be made in accordance with the requirements of the Working Families Student Fee Transparency and Accountability Act (Sections 66028 - 66028.6 of the Education Code).

Maximum Units and Pass Rate

Maximum Units and Pass Rate

In order to determine financial aid eligibility, federal, state and institutional rules require an annual review of student progress toward an eligible degree or certificate. During this review, progress is measured by calculating a pass rate (units attempted vs. units completed) and the maximum units allowed while attempting degree completion.

How are maximum units calculated?

Add all of your units attempted at Cal State Northridge, including repeated course work, withdrawals, failures, incompletes and no credits. Then, add all transfer units accepted at Northridge.

As a graduate, second bachelor's, credential or doctoral student, you must complete your degree within 140 percent of units required for your degree. If you have been enrolled in more than one post baccalaureate program, units for all programs are counted towards the maximum attempted unit cap.

Example: Sally has transferred in 110 units. This includes 70 units from community college and 40 units from Cal State Los Angeles. Sally has also attempted 45 units at Cal State Northridge. Add the 110 units transferred and 45 units at Northridge to calculate a total of 155 maximum units.

As an undergraduate, you must complete your degree within a maximum of 168 attempted units or within 140 percent of units required for your degree.

How is a pass rate determined?

Take all units earned and divide it by the units you have attempted.

Units earned include any Northridge courses you enrolled and received a passing grade in, from A plus to D minus or CR.  Units earned will also include transfer units.

Units attempted include all units attempted, including transfer units.  The Financial Aid & Scholarships Department counts grades of F, I, NC, W and WU as units attempted with zero units earned, but these are not counted as units attempted on a student’s transcript.  Therefore, when determining a satisfactory pass rate, CSUN transcripts may not match the units counted by the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department.

Course work taken at Cal State Northridge includes remedial, credit/no credit and repeat course work, as well as failing grades, incompletes and withdrawals.

Example: Sammy is admitted for the spring semester and enrolls in 12 units, which count as total units attempted. At the end of the spring term, Sammy completes one three-unit course with a passing grade, withdraws from one three-unit course with a grade of W, and receives an NC for three units of remedial math and three units of English. Sammy's pass rate is 25 percent (3 units earned divided by 12 units attempted).