Academic Progress Policy

Federal regulations require that all students receiving federal financial assistance maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) towards degree completion.  The following policy presents the minimum standards adopted by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, effective November 1, 1985, and revised as needed, but most recently in July 2011.  The policy applies to all students receiving financial assistance through Title IV programs, Title VII programs, or any other assistance program administered with federal or state funds.

For all students, SAP is reviewed at the end of each academic year in late May.  Students not completing the minimum requirements addressed in the following paragraphs of this policy will be suspended from financial aid for the next semester of enrollment.  Students will be notified by the Office of Student Financial Aid via U.S. mail, and included in the letter explaining the reason for suspension will be an appeal form.  Students may appeal the decision, and if the Director of Financial Aid determines the reasons to be valid, students will be placed on probation for the next semester of enrollment.  All mitigating circumstances will be considered respectively:  personal, health, family problems, transportation issues, work-related issues, etc.  During this probation semester, students must complete the minimal academic standards addressed in the following policy, or be suspended the following semester.

Students successfully completing a semester of enrollment and maintaining SAP will be taken off probation and return to good standing.  Students who fail to make minimal progress will be suspended with no chance of appeal.  In order to regain financial aid eligibility, students must attend one semester enrolled at least half-time on his/her own financial expense at OUHSC or another institution.  Students may be reinstated if they attend another institution, but only if their program at OUHSC accepts coursework taken at another institution and this coursework assists in advancing the student toward completion of the degree at OUHSC.  A student may also return to OUHSC after a semester of suspension, even if he/she did not attend any other institution, if the student can explain what caused the poor scholarship resulting in suspension, and why the student feels it will not happen again.  Any semester in which the student is not on financial aid will be counted toward the 150% timeframe to complete the program if the student is attending classes.

These procedures are primarily for undergraduate and graduate students.  Professional students in programs such as Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmacy have exceptions to this rule that are discussed in a separate section.  Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy students also have standards that differ from the general graduate population, in that their program requires a specific progression of study and the department/college carefully evaluates each student’s success expectancy.  The Office of Student Financial Aid will generally honor the decisions of the department/college when the department/college is convinced the student has the capability of completing the program.

All Students

In some cases, a student’s cumulative GPA may fall below the required 2.0 or 3.0, and the student is suspended from financial aid.  When the student regains eligibility, either through a  successful self-paid semester, or an approved appeal, the student may have subsequent successful semesters that fail to raise the cumulative GPA to the required rate.  However, if the semester GPA is over the minimum, even though it failed to bring the cumulative GPA to the required standard, the student will continue financial aid eligibility on a probationary status.  

Dental, Medical, and Pharmacy Students

Each College reviews throughout, and at the conclusion of each academic year, the performance of each student.  The review and accompanying evaluation may include actual grades received, an indication of pass or fail, satisfactory or unsatisfactory, or another form of evaluation.  A student who does not satisfactorily complete all course requirements may be permitted to remediate. In this case, a student assigned a schedule which deviates from the norm and who earns satisfactory assessment in all courses for which enrolled will be deemed to be making SAP. In some cases, the student may be placed on a Leave of Absence until the necessary rotation of coursework is available again. If the Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, or Pharmacy determine that a student is close enough to SAP to be placed on academic probation rather than suspension, the Office of Student Financial Aid will take this into consideration.  The Office of Student Financial Aid will not suspend a student from aid if the College allows the individual to continue pursuing his/her degree, as the Colleges have extremely high standards and follow specific board testing criteria.

The normal timeframe for completion of required coursework for the M.D., D.D.S., and Pharm.D. degrees is four academic years.  Due to academic or personal difficulties, a student may require additional time.  In such situations, the promotions committee may establish a schedule for that student which departs from the norm and which may require repeating a year of study.  To be considered making SAP, a student must complete the first two years of the curriculum by the end of the third year after initial enrollment.  Students placed on Leave of Absence by their College will be given the opportunity to repeat a semester or a year, as appropriate, with financial aid assistance upon recommendation by the student’s College. A student not making progress will be ineligible for financial aid until he/she has successfully completed sufficient course equirements to enter the third year of studies.  All medical, dental, and pharmacy students are expected to complete their degree programs within 6 years after admission to their respective colleges.  No assistance is provided those students extending degree studies beyond that time.

Undergraduate Students

Full-time enrollment for undergraduate students is 12 or more credit hours per semester during the Fall/Spring, and 6 or more credit hours during the summer.  Students may attempt as little as 6 hours in Fall/Spring and 6 hours in Summer to qualify for financial aid as a half-time student.   Students may enroll half-time, but will still be subject to completing the program within 150% of the time normally allowed for the program.  Students beyond the 150% timeframe of the program may result in loss of financial aid eligibility unless the student can prove mitigating circumstances and the Director of Financial Aid  approves a written appeal.  Because students admitted to any undergraduate program at OUHSC must already enter at the junior level and have 67 credit hours completed in appropriate lower division coursework, they generally will be expected to complete the bachelor degree in two academic years.

The aid recipient must complete the year with a 2.0 grade point average and maintain a cumulative (OUHSC) GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale.  Incomplete coursework, audits or coursework taken at other institutions during the semester do not count toward the hour requirement. The only exception is coursework taken at another institution that is accepted by OUHSC toward the student’s OUHSC degree.  All undergraduate students are expected to complete their degree programs within three years after admission to the Health Sciences Center. A student who has not completed 2/3 of attempted hours at the end of the academic year will be suspended from financial assistance.  Students may appeal this decision in writing, and the Financial Aid Director will determine the validity of the appeal.  Students who appeal successfully will be placed on probation for the following semester.  Any undergraduate student who is denied assistance based on unsatisfactory academic progress may regain eligibility for aid by completing one semester of at least half-time enrollment during any semester with a minimum 2.0 GPA for the semester at the student’s expense.  After that requirement is met, the student will again qualify for financial aid on a probationary status.  The first semester on probation must be completed with a 2.0 or above, or the student will be suspended from federal student aid.  Reinstatement for future financial aid will be at the Financial Aid Director’s discretion.

Graduate Students

Full-time enrollment for graduate students (including PHP) is 9 or more credit hours during the Fall/Spring semesters, or at least 2 credit hours during the Summer session. A Graduate Assistant or Research Assistant holding a 0.5 FTE appointment will be required to enroll in at least 6 hours per Fall/Spring semester and at least 2 hours during the Summer session to be classified as a full-time graduate assistant student.

Students must complete the year with a 3.0 GPA and maintain a cumulative (OUHSC) GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Master of Occupation Therapy and Doctor of Physical Therapy students must have a 2.5 average. Incomplete coursework, audits, or coursework taken at another institution does not count toward the hour requirement.  A graduate student enrolled in only thesis or dissertation hours is subject to the same credit hour requirements for at least half-time status and must show satisfactory progress as identified by the “X” grade. All graduate students are expected to complete a Master’s degree within 3 years.  A Doctoral program student is expected to complete that degree within 4 years (beyond M.S. degree).  Students enrolling in a Doctoral program with intentions of bypassing the M.S. degree are expected to complete the Ph.D. within 6 years.  Any additional time needed beyond the length of time previously mentioned must be approved by the appropriate College.

A graduate student who is denied assistance based upon unsatisfactory academic progress may regain eligibility for aid by completing one semester of at least half-time enrollment during a regular or summer session with a 3.0 average for the semester at the student’s expense. 

Transfer Students

Transfer students are considered to be meeting SAP at the time of initial enrollment at OUHSC.  Because of the nature of the highly competitive health career programs, students do not transfer in the middle of a program after starting a similar program at another institution. Eg.  A third year dental student does not enter OUHSC as a third year student because he/she completed two years of dental school at another institution.  Even in the R.N. program this does not happen because OUHSC offers a bachelors degree, and most other R.N. programs are associate's degree level.  A transfer student at OUHSC means that the student has completed lower level coursework at another institution that is required as a prerequisite for admission to our more high level programs.


Students who are suspended from financial aid may appeal the decision in writing.  The decision of the Financial Aid Director will be final. 

Summer Terms

The Summer term begins the OUHSC academic year and the summer GPA and ratio of hours completed to hours attempted will be counted toward the total academic year evaluation.  Most students taking summer coursework at OUHSC are doing so because it is required as part of the lock-step progression of their program.  Those taking Summer coursework voluntarily are subject to the normal SAP requirements.

Change in Academic Major

Due to the nature of the academic programs at OUHSC, it is extremely rare for a student to change a major.  However if that occurs, the Financial Aid Director will require in writing the following information from the student’s new academic department:  1) number of credit hours completed that apply toward new degree 2) amount of estimated time student will need to complete the program at  full-time enrollment, and 3) evaluation of student’s potential to successfully complete the new program.  The Financial Aid Director will give the student, in writing, an estimate of the number of semesters the student will potentially qualify for aid.

Pursuit of a Second Degree

The same requirements as in the Change of Academic Major section apply to pursuit of a second degree, which is also extremely rare at OUHSC.  However, in some cases there is a very close relationship between two programs of study, and one is considered a positive advancement.  The two most common are D.D.S. and the progression to an M.S. degree in either Periodontics or Orthodontics. These two programs are considered graduate level, and thus, have reduced aggregate lifetime loan limits.  They are specialized programs and considered to be advanced training after the traditional D.D.S. degree.  Students should complete Periodontics and Orthodontics in two academic years, with a maximum timeframe of three years.  The same is true with students working toward a M.D./Ph.D., either during progression toward, or immediately after receiving an M.D.  Any degree in any other field that can be considered a progression from a B.S. to an advanced degree, such as M.S. or Ph.D., will begin a new timeframe as appropriate. An undergraduate or a graduate who chooses to pursue another degree, even at the same level, will receive additional time on financial aid, subject to the conditions described in the first sentence of this section.


Any course a student withdraws from is counted as “hours attempted,” and is taken into consideration when determining the percentage of hours completed. Generally a student must complete 2/3 of the hours attempted in order to graduate in the 150% timeframe.  As with other components of SAP, it is rare that a student will withdraw from just one or two classes at OUHSC.  Most programs have a very specific academic progression towards the degree.  Students do not just pick and choose random courses that count toward their major, as they might in studying Business, Liberal Arts, etc. All withdrawn courses count the same for financial aid purposes, whether a “W” or “WF”.   Students who withdraw completely for a semester may return, and receive financial aid on an initial probation semester.  At the end of the semester on probation, the Financial Aid Director will determine if the student has made the required GPA and 2/3 completion rate to be removed from probation, continue probation, or be eliminated from financial aid eligibility for the following semester. 

Because of the nature of the programs at OUHSC, and the close accountability the departments and colleges take into consideration in evaluating all students and their progression, the Office of Student Financial Aid works closely with the departments, and will allow students to continue on financial aid, if the department head feels the student has an excellent chance to finish the program.  As with all other aspects of OUHSC, most of the programs carry required licensing board exams periodically throughout the program, so students with poor scholarship are eliminated from the University through that means more frequently than the Office of Student Financial Aid applying its SAP policies to the student.

Remedial Coursework

Students at OUHSC are admitted based on highly competitive criteria.  Students are not admitted to programs if remediation is required.  OUHSC offers no remedial coursework.  However, a form of remediation or special study may be required to assist with passing a licensing exam or step exam required to continue on in the program.  Financial aid does cover the required semester of remediation or special study, if required by the College.

Repeated Coursework

In a few programs at OUHSC, a student may be able to drop one or two courses, and retake them the next semester, or the next year.  The Office of Student Financial Aid will allow aid for this on a probationary semester, as long as the student continues to make progress at the rate of at least 2/3 completion each semester on probation.  However, in some programs, the student must wait a full academic year for the rotation to become available.  Generally, the College either puts this type of student on a Leave of Absence or drops the student from the program permanently. If a student is progressing satisfactorily after one or two poor semesters, and is on track to graduate, The Office of Student Financial Aid will allow aid even if it takes the student past the 150% point.  Each case is reviewed by the Financial Aid Director, and documented in the student’s file, along with a projected/expected graduation date.  Financial Aid will work closely with the College's academic departments to determine the graduation requirements.

Students will be notified in writing of probations and suspensions, and will be instructed in the path necessary to continue to receive aid, or get it reinstated.  If the College places the student on probation, or suspends the student, The Office of Student Financial Aid may not duplicate the message to the student, but will retain the College’s notice to the student as documentation.