Satisfactory academic progress

La Trobe University is required by US Federal law (34CFR 668.16) to define and enforce standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) on students who wish to access US Federal funds. The guidelines have been established to encourage students to progress and complete successfully the academic program for which aid is received.

If you receive Stafford Loan funds you will be evaluated at the end of each semester. This evaluation process will consider the students progress under the following criteria:

In order to receive US Federal funds, students must meet minimum standards for both the above mentioned components, while also adhering to Australian ESOS and visa legislation.

Academic standing

Students with a course duration of 4 years or less:

  • Students must have a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.1 or greater at the end of each semester (equivalent to 'C' grade in Australian setting - average between 60% and 69%).

Students with a course duration of 5 years or more:

  • Students must have a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 1.8 or greater at the end of the first year (equivalent of the passing grade 'D' in Australian Grading setting - average between 50% and 59%).
  • Students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.1 or greater at the end of each semester after they have completed their first year.

Maximum timeframe

An undergraduate student is entitled to receive aid for 150% of the allocated course time frame:

  • 3 year degree – eligibility for aid 4.5 years
  • 4 year degree – eligibility for aid 6 years
  • 5 year degree – eligibility for aid 7.5 years

Students should be advised that whilst US Federal eligibility may allow them to continue – individual academic progress rules and student visa restrictions may impact on the students' ability to continue within the program.

Remedial, non-credit courses and incompletes

Non-credit courses will not be counted in assessing full-time hours. A student is required to achieve a grade on any deferred or supplementary assessment within 6 months of completing a class.

Postgraduate by research

Students undertaking postgraduate study via research mode are also bound by the same criteria in relation to the time in which they are able to access aid and successful progression towards completion of their degree. For students studying in this mode, you will need to achieve the 'good standing' criteria awarded by the research office to students.

Undergraduates and postgraduates by coursework

Students receiving of Financial Aid are entitled to modify their enrolment within the first two weeks of each semester and retain eligibility for aid, provided they maintain a full-time enrolment whilst onshore and do not drop below half-time whilst they are offshore. This requirement is also linked to DIAC regulations, as international students studying onshore are required to complete their studies within the duration of their initial Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).


Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) will be assessed for each student at the end of each academic period, to determine their eligibility for continued award or disbursement of aid. You will be notified in writing (by both email and hard copy) if you are placed on Financial Aid probation or if your Financial Aid eligibility has been suspended.

Financial aid probation and suspension

Students who fail to achieve the required GPA level proportionate with the longevity of their degree program, and their academic level within that degree structure, will be placed on financial aid probation for six months.

Students who have been placed on probation and subsequently meet the GPA requirements in the next semester will be placed back into good financial aid (SAP) standing and will be eligible to receive the funds.

Students who have been placed on probation and do not meet the requirements applicable to degree and level will be suspended and ineligible to receive aid until they achieve the required GPA.

Students who transfer into a new academic program will also transfer with any SAP probation or suspension, and will still need to meet the specified criteria in the new program before re-establishing eligibility to receive aid.

Financial aid appeals

A Financial Aid Appeal Application for verifiable extenuating or unforeseen circumstances is available, if you believe that you meet the appeal criteria. La Trobe University cannot automatically waive the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirement for any student to receive financial aid.

Students who have their eligibility for US Federal Aid suspended may appeal the suspension if one or more of the following circumstances exist:

  • death of a family member (parent, spouse, sibling, dependant child etc)
  • the extended illness of the student – extended illness defined as a documented chronic or recurring medical or emotional illness that causes the student to be absent from class at least 15 days or more
  • the extended illness of a family member that places hardship on the student. Immediate family member includes parent, spouse, sibling, dependant.
  • mitigating circumstances as determined by the Financial Aid Appeals committee.

All appeals must be received within 10 days of receipt of the Notice of Suspension.

Students must indicate in writing to the Executive Director, La Trobe International, clearly stating the reason(s) for failure to meet the necessary Financial Aid SAP requirements and why financial aid should not be suspended. All documentation to support the appeal is required at the time of appeal submission. The appeal will be considered on its merits and a response to the appeal will be provided with 14 days.

Reinstatement of eligibility

Students who have been denied access to aid as a result of their failure to maintain the appropriate level, are required to monitor their individual academic progress. When the student believes they have regained eligibility, they should submit the La Trobe FA Application along with all supporting documentation to the Financial Aid Administrator (FAA). Students who are re-instated will automatically be placed on financial aid probation.

Leave of absence

A leave of absence is a status during which a student is considered to be continuously enrolled for US Financial Aid purposes, as approved by the University, but is approved to suspend studies for an agreed period of time due to extenuating circumstances e.g. accident, medical illness.

An approved leave of absence is an approved break in enrolment, (not including a mid or end study period break), that is requested by a student and must be approved by the Financial Aid Administrator and relevant academic staff and College officer in accordance with the approved university policy.

The student must apply for the leave of absence in writing and include the reason for the leave and supporting documentation. In an approved leave of absence the student does not incur any additional charges and the enrolment status remains in-school.

If approved, the student must return by the agreed date, or the enrolment status will be changed to withdrawn, effective from the last date of attendance before the leave of absence was approved, which may have implications on the grace period and repayment obligations.

Students who wish to suspend study for a period of time must submit the Leave of absence application to the Financial Aid administrator at La Trobe International  before the desired start date of the leave of absence.

If the student fails to submit a leave of absence application or the application is not approved and the student ceases academic activity for a consistent duration during the study period, this may be treated as unofficial withdrawal from the university for US Financial Aid proposes, and reposted as withdrawn to the loan servicer(s).

The La Trobe International refund policy

For information on refunds, read La Trobe International's refund policy (PDF 60KB).

Please note that the FFELP procedure of calculating the amount of funds to be returned by the University to the lender (R2T4) in the event of a US Financial Aid student's discontinuing the course overrides the LTI refund policy.

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