Catalog Policies

Satisfactory Academic Progress and Financial Aid Eligibility

While the mission of faculty and staff at CalArts is to foster each student’s artistic and academic success, students are expected to take responsibility for adhering to Institute policies. As part of the college learning experience, students should be aware of their progress in earning the degree or certificate and, when necessary, ask for help in assessing their progress.

Students who receive federal financial aid should also be aware of further regulations related to their eligibility to receive these funds.  All students at CalArts must make satisfactory progress (SAP) in order to do the following:

  1. Advance toward completion of the degree within the maximum timeframe allowed by the institute;
  2. Remain eligible to receive the degree or certificate;
  3. Maintain previously established eligibility to receive financial aid (institutional, state, and federal, including Veteran’s Administration benefits when applicable).

Satisfactory academic progress is assessed in both qualitative and quantitative measures at the end of each semester.

Qualitative evaluation occurs each semester through the assignment of grades. Although CalArts does not follow a standard letter grading system, grades of High Pass, Pass, and Low Pass are assigned to reflect the quality of students’ work in each course. These grades may be equated to the A, B, and C grades in a traditional letter grading system (there is no equivalent to a D grade). A No Credit grade is assigned to students who do not meet the minimum course requirements. The minimum passing grade to earn credit toward the degree, and for consideration in SAP calculations is Low Pass.

Quantitative evaluation occurs each semester through calculation of completed units versus attempted units.  Full-time undergraduate students are expected to attempt a minimum of 12 units per semester, as are MFA students in the Schools of Art, Dance, and Music. Full-time MFA students in the Schools of Critical Studies, Film/Video, and Theater are expected to attempt a minimum of 9 units per semester, as are MA students in their first year of studies. MA students in their second year of studies are expected to attempt 6 units per semester, while DMA students are expected to attempt a minimum of 10 units per semester.

In order to make satisfactory academic progress, students must complete a minimum of 80% of their attempted units each semester. This ensures that even those students enrolling in the minimum units allowed for their degree program will continue to progress toward degree within the 150% maximum timeframe allowed for completion. For undergraduate students, the maximum timeframe that a student can remain eligible for financial aid is 6 years (12 semesters) of undergraduate study. The maximum number of units that may be attempted is 180. Veteran’s Administration benefit eligibility duration is determined by the Veteran’s Administration alone.

CalArts assesses satisfactory academic progress at the end of each semester. Students who successfully complete a minimum of 80% of attempted units with a grade of Low Pass or higher at the end of each semester will be considered in good SAP standing.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Warning

Students who complete less than the minimum units threshold in a single semester will be placed on SAP Warning for the following semester. Students will retain financial aid eligibility for the semester on Warning.

Loss of Federal and State Financial Aid Eligibility

Students on SAP Warning status who do not meet the minimum units threshold in their next term of enrollment will lose their eligibility for federal and state financial aid.

Students will regain eligibility for federal and state financial aid after they have improved their academic record to meet the minimum satisfactory progress standards.

SAP Financial Aid Appeal Process and SAP Probation

Students who have lost their federal financial aid eligibility following their semester on SAP Warning may appeal to retain their eligibility for one semester on the basis of injury or illness, the death of a relative, or other special circumstances. A written appeal must be submitted to the Director of Financial Aid before the start of the semester in which the student will be on probation.  The appeal must explain why the student failed to make satisfactory progress, and what has changed in the situation to allow the student to make satisfactory progress at the end of the semester.  The appeal must also include a detailed degree completion plan approved by a CalArts Academic Advisor.  The Financial Aid Advisory Group will review the appeal and notify the student in writing of its decision.

A student whose SAP Financial Aid Appeal is approved will be placed on SAP Probation for one semester during which their federal and state financial aid will be reinstated.

Policy Category:
Revised Date:
Jan 2019
Responsible Office:
Financial Aid