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Satisfactory Academic Progress: Medical Students

What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?

Students who receive Federal Financial Aid must, in accordance with federal regulations, be in good standing and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward their degree. Under Federal Title IV law, the school’s SAP requirements must meet certain minimum requirements, and be at least as strict as the institution’s established standards for Good Academic Standing. This policy applies to students receiving Federal Financial Aid for semesters/periods of enrollment that begin on or after July 1, 2011.

The standards used to evaluate academic progress are cumulative and, therefore, include all periods of the student’s enrollment, including periods during which the student did not receive federal financial aid funds.

What is the SOM SAP Policy?

To continue receiving federal financial aid at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (SOM), students must demonstrate satisfactory progress toward their academic objectives. Federal regulations require three measurements to determine SAP: qualitative, quantitative and timeframe.

Qualitative Review

In determining student’s academic progress, the Financial Aid Office follows the School of Medicine’s Committee on Medical Student Promotion academic review policy which is established for all students regardless of financial aid eligibility and meets the minimum Title IV academic policy requirements.

Students must achieve the minimum grade in all required courses, electives, and clerkships to show progress. Information about grading policy can be found here.

Quantitative Review

Students must have academic standing consistent with SOM’s curriculum and graduation requirements to maintain continued financial aid assistance. To meet graduation requirements, students must successfully complete the prescribed courses of study of the first through the fourth years (See SOM Catalogue).

Academic progress requires that students must attempted and complete 100% of the first two years of the curriculum by the end of the third year of their initial enrollment (100% course completion rate in Years 1 and 2). Courses attempted and completed will be evaluated during the Financial Aid Office’s annual review to determine the student’s required course completion for progression to the next year.

Time Frame/Pace

Maximum time frame is defined as the maximum number of years after first enrollment that a student may complete SOM courses in the full-time pursuit of a degree and receive federal financial aid funding. The maximum time frames for completion of the programs are:

 Program LengthMaximum Time Frame to Completion 
Medicine/M.D.4 years6 years 
M.D./Ph.D.9 years13 years(Joint Program)
M.D./M.B.A.5 years6 years*(Dual Program)

*Note: after completion of year one M.B.A. track, student will follow M.D. track for time frame completion.

Treatment of Courses

Grades for required courses and clerkships will be evaluated as follows:

  • Attempted and earned: H, HP, P
  • Attempted but not earned: F, I, U, W
    Note: “I” grades will be changed to completed once a grade is applied
  • Grade not counted as attempted or earned: A (audit)

Treatment of Repeat Coursework

Repeat Coursework

Students may receive federal financial aid funding to repeat a course in which they received a failing grade or from which they withdrew. Repeat of a course may only be funded once .

Repeat of Entire Year Coursework

Under current federal financial aid guidelines, students who failed a course(s) and are required to repeat an entire year of coursework, which would also include successfully completed courses, will be eligible for federal loans for the repeat of that year. Funding will be provided only once for the repeat of the same academic year.

Leaves of Absence

The period of time for which a student received an approved leave of absence or an approved leave on research (SIR-Student in Residence or ASP-Advance Student Program) will be excluded from the maximum time frame required to complete their program.

Loss of Financial Aid Eligibility

Students will automatically lose federal financial aid eligibility if they receive two failing grades, one failing and one unsatisfactory grade, or unexcused incompletes in two or more courses.

How often is SAP Reviewed?

The Financial Aid Office will review the Satisfactory Academic Progress of all federal financial aid recipients at the end of each academic year. Review of a student’s academic status will be in collaboration with the Associate Dean of Medical Student Affairs or a designee after the Committee on Medical Student Promotion has reviewed the academic progress status of all students.

Students not meeting academic progress as determined by the Committee on Medical Student Promotion will be notified in writing by the committee of their status. The communication will outline their deficiency(ies), methods for correcting the deficiency(ies) and the consequences of the deficiency(ies) (which may include probation, suspension or dismissal from the program).

Students who may fail to meet the additional required Financial Aid SAP standards (qualitative and/or time frame) will be ineligible for continued federal financial aid funding beginning with the term immediately following the term in which the SAP requirements were not met. The Financial Aid Office will notify the student in writing of their federal aid suspension status and the appeal process for possible reinstatement.

Academic Dismissal or Withdrawal

Students who are academically dismissed or who withdraw from the SOM are not making academic progress and will no longer qualify for financial aid assistance.

Appeal Process

Students not making academic progress as determined by the Committee on Medical Student Promotion may petition for review and appeal of their status by following the SOM’s policy for review by the appropriate standing committees as outlined in the SOM catalogue. Students who may have lost their federal aid eligibility, but who successfully petitioned for reinstatement through the appeal process, may regain eligibility for federal financial aid funding.

Students not meeting financial aid SAP requirements (qualitative and/or time frame) may appeal to the Financial Aid Office for review. The Financial Aid Office will notify the student if they must complete the appeal process for reinstatement of aid. The appeal must state the reasons for failing to meet SAP requirements, such as special circumstances that contributed to the student’s failure to make satisfactory academic progress (e.g., the death of a relative, an injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstances).

Financial Aid Probation

Students who have appealed for reinstatement of federal financial aid funding, and the appeal has been approved, will be placed on Financial Aid Probation and allowed one additional payment of federal financial aid during the award period. Students must show improvement in coursework and progression in their program in order to continue receiving federal financial aid. Progress will be based upon the terms outlined by the Committee on Medical Student Promotion requirements for continued academic progress.

Students will remain on Financial Aid Probation during the period of academic review.


Students in academic difficulty will be notified in writing by the Financial Aid Office of their status for continued financial aid funding.

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