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Satisfactory Academic Progress

Blossom outside Clocktower

US Federal regulation (34CFR 668.16) mandates the University of Otago to check that all US Federal Aid loan recipients meet the minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirement as part of an academic review at the end of each semester.

This SAP review process will consider all students' progress under the following categories:

  • Measurement of Academic Progress/Performance
  • Maximum Time Frame allowed for completing the academic programme.

In order to receive US Federal funds students must meet the above standards, whilst simultaneously adhering to University of Otago academic progress rules and to New Zealand Immigration legislation.

Measurement of Academic Progress/Performance

New Students

Academic progress for new students will be measured on admission to the University of Otago.  A student must have a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.0, which is equivalent to a "C" grade (55-59%).

Continuing Undergraduate Students (enrolled in years 2 - 5)

Academic progress of existing students will be measured after the completion of each semester and prior to the next semester disbursement.  To maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress, students must have achieved a minimum GPA of at least 2.0, which is equivalent to a "C" grade (55-59%) at the end of each semester.

Postgraduate Research Students

PhD students are required to meet milestone reports as set by the Graduate Research School.  PhD supervisors will be required to confirm that a PhD student is at satisfactory progress at the end of each semester and prior to the next term's disbursement.

GPA values for grades are as follows:


Grade Grade Value Percentage
A+ 9 90 - 100%
A 8 85 - 89%
A- 7 80 - 84%
B+ 6 75 - 79%
B 5 70 - 74%
B- 4 65 - 69%
C+ 3 60 - 64%
C 2 55 - 59%
C- 1 50 - 54%
Fail D 0 40 - 49%
Fail E 0 Below 40%

A withdrawal will be assessed individually to ascertain whether there are any exceptional issues behind the withdrawal, and will include the timing of the withdrawal (including drop periods, University of Otago's protocols) and whether the student is attempting to maintain the required GPA by withdrawal from courses.

Maximum Time Frame Allowed

For an undergraduate or postgraduate programme, the maximum timeframe in which a student can receive Federal Student Aid cannot exceed 150% of the degree programme in which they are enrolled.  At Otago this will normally be constituted as follows

  • 2 year degree - eligible for aid for 3 years
  • 3 year degree - eligible for aid for 4.5 years
  • 4 year degree - eligible for aid for 6 years
  • 5 year degree - eligible for aid for 7.5 years

Students who have reached the maximum time allowed (based on 150% of the published duration of their course) will have their financial assistance suspended in accordance with Federal Regulations.  Where a student changes undergraduate programs prior to completion, previous study will be taken into account in determining the maximum allowable time to complete the course.  Cross credits will count towards the maximum timeframe.

It is your responsibility to keep records of your US Financial Aid eligibility.

Financial Aid Warning/Suspension

At the end of each semester and prior to the next semester's disbursement students will be assessed to determine if they are eligible for continued financial aid.  We will

  • Check eVision to determine the GPA of each student at the end of the semester
  • Check eVision to determine the GPA of each student cumulatively over the duration of their studies
  • Check the Academic Standing on eVision to determine if the student is still progressing as per University of Otago requirements
  • Check the student is still within the 150% timeframe of the published length of their programme

Students maintaining the minimum SAP requirements will continue to have access to financial aid.

Students not maintaining the minimum SAP requirements at the end of a semester will be informed by the Compliance Team via email that they have been placed on financial aid warning status for the next semester.  Students may receive financial aid assistance during the semester that they are on financial aid warning status.

Students who fail to meet the minimum SAP requirements at the end of the warning semester will be placed on a financial aid probation status.  During this status the student will not have access to financial aid funds, but they will have the opportunity to appeal their probation status, as per the appeal process.

Students with unsuccessful appeals will be suspended and will not have access to financial aid.  Suspended students who completed an academic period successfully and who meet the satisfactory academic progress requirements will regain eligibility to Federal Student Aid.

The University of Otago will notify students in writing, via email and a letter, within 31 business days of final grades being released if they

  • Have been placed on Financial Aid Warning, or
  • Have been placed under Financial Aid Probation status, or
  • Have been suspended


Students with extenuating circumstances and who have been placed on probation may appeal the probation decision.  Examples of extenuating circumstances include but are not limited to

  • Death of a relative
  • Serious illness or injury of the student resulting in an inability to engage with further studies
  • Serious illness of an immediate family member resulting in significant disruption to their studies
  • Victim of natural disaster

Within 15 business days, following receipt of a suspension email, all appeals must be submitted in writing and contain the following

  • Written statement indicating the reasons why an appeal is requested
  • Supporting evidence, for example death certificate, medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner, written statement from academic or programme supervisor

Appeals should be submitted to:

Director, US Financial Aid
International Office
University of Otago
PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054
New Zealand

The appeal will be considered by the University of Otago's Director, US Financial Aid at the International Office.  The student will be notified of the result via email within 15 business days.  The appeal decision is final.

Disbursements of funds will not be made while an appeal is being processed.

Contact us

For any enquiries about US Financial Aid at the University of Otago, please email us.

Effective from June 2016