New policy requires minimum GPA to retain financial aid

Marquette began operating under an adjusted student academic progress policy Wednesday — the result of new clarification of a U.S. Department of Education financial aid policy known as Satisfactory Academic Progress.

If an undergraduate student is not making satisfactory academic progress in both a quantitative (passing classes) and qualitative (achieving a required GPA) way, penalties for that student can include loss of eligibility for federal financial aid.

Marquette’s adjusted policy was developed by university officials from the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Student Financial Aid along with assistant and associate deans from the colleges over the past five months.

The quantitative portion of the policy has not been changed. It is standard practice for students not completing 67 percent of credit hours attempted to lose eligibility for aid. Policies like academic probation and Required Withdrawal for Academic Reasons (RWAR) have also always been standard procedure for a student not making sufficient progress. Academic probation does not affect financial aid, and RWAR is based on the federal SAP policy.

The revisions, rather, deal primarily with maintaining a minimum grade point average.

Under the new policy, after each semester, the Office of the Registrar and the Office of Student Financial Aid will monitor cumulative GPAs. Undergraduate students having completed less than 18 student credit hours must maintain a cumulative GPA of 1.5 and those with more than 18 credit hours must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0.

Students who fail to meet these requirements will be asked to withdraw under the RWAR plicy, and those not maintaining the standard cumulative GPA will lose eligibility for federal financial aid.

The appeal form for RWAR and loss of aid will be available on the Marquette Central webpage in May and will be handled through the academic colleges.

Also, a new sanction to the policy is a College Academic Alert (CAA), a registration hold that only an academic college can assign and remove. Colleges can assign the hold if they feel an undergraduate student is not making appropriate degree progress, which is outlined in the student bulletins for each college.

This CAA, however, may apply to students who meet RWAR and SAP standards.

Anne Deahl, associate vice provost for academic support programs and retention, gives the example of the College of Education, which requires students to have a 2.75 GPA — a requirement for teaching licensure in the state of Wisconsin. If a student in the College of Education has a 2.4, while they are meeting RWAR and SAP requirements, a College Academic Alert may be issued.

“Requirement of a 2.0 is more like a minimum to be in good standing and be eligible for financial aid,” Deahl said. “However,  majors may have different standards if it is a requirement of licensure or if the major requires a higher level of performance.”

The CAA removal process involves an internal appeal process. If the appeal is denied, students may apply to another Marquette college and the alert may be removed, but until it is removed, students may not be able to register.

Deahl said the revisions may change student habits.

“It makes it easier for students to determine how many hours they should put toward studying or if they should skip class,” Deahl said.

Deahl says that the 1.5 GPA requirement for those with fewer than 18 credit hours, particularly freshman, is to allow students to get used to college life and academics.

Jasmine Gladney, a freshman in the College of Business Administration, understands that logic.

“For a lot of students, coming to college is a big step. Academically, Marquette is on a higher pedestal than most schools,” Gladney said.  “If someone comes from a public school system where it’s not as rigorous it may be more challenging.”

However, Gladney said the requirements changing to a 2.0 once freshmen become sophomores is a good thing.

“It gives people a reason to study harder,” Gladney said.

Ben Self, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said although the revisions seem a little harsh, they make sense.  Self said maintaining a 2.0 cumulative GPA has never been much of a problem for him and wonders how many people are going to be affected by the revisions.

As for the distinction in the requirements for those with less than 18 credit hours, Self says it’s mostly irrelevant.

“The idea is you give them more wiggle room, but there’s not much of a difference,” Self said.