Carnegie Mellon University

Academic Progress

Federal Title IV

The Federal Department of Education requires that Federal Title IV Financial Assistance recipients meet academic progress standards each year. Federal Title IV Financial Assistance includes the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work-Study, Federal Direct Student Loan and Federal Direct PLUS Loan programs. Each university determines its own policy regarding satisfactory progress standards.

Federal academic progress standards must include two elements: cumulative QPA and cumulative units. At Carnegie Mellon, we define this as follows: first-year freshman students must pass 80 percent of all cumulative units attempted at Carnegie Mellon and have a 1.75 cumulative QPA after the first year; all other students (excluding graduate students in Tepper and Heinz) must pass 80 percent of all cumulative units attempted at Carnegie Mellon and have a 2.00 cumulative QPA. For standard undergraduate programs, Carnegie Mellon has established a maximum time frame of 12 semesters for students to finish a program and receive federal aid.

Federal regulations specify a minimum standard for full-time enrollment for undergraduate students. For undergraduates, full-time status must be at least 12 semester hours or equivalent (36 units at CMU) per academic term in an approved educational program using a semester system. A student's workload may include any combination of course work, research, or special studies that are considered sufficient to classify the student as enrolled. If a student is enrolled in courses that do not count toward his/her degree, they cannot be used to determine enrollment status for federal aid purposes.

Appeal Process

Carnegie Mellon realizes that extenuating circumstances may contribute to a student's inability to achieve satisfactory academic progress, and thus we encourage students to appeal after they receive notification of failure. A student appeals by writing a letter explaining the extenuating circumstances, defining information that prevented the student from making academic progress and what has changed in the student's situation that would allow the student to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress at the next evaluation. Appeal examples include: Extended illness, changes in major, difficult transition to first-year in college (academically and socially), recent diagnosis of learning disability or a recent death of a close family member. Students may also be required to submit a Federal Financial Aid Academic Progress Improvement Plan as part of the appeal to have their federal aid eligibility reinstated. Learn more about the plan.

Academic Progress Improvement Plan

Students who are unable to meet the minimum satisfactory academic requirements for federal aid may be required to design and submit a Federal Financial Aid Academic Progress Improvement Plan (pdf). The goal of the Academic Progress Improvement Plan is to ensure the student makes documented steady progress toward meeting our federal "satisfactory academic progress" standards and graduates within the university's normal time frame to complete a degree. The need for the plan will be determined on an individual student basis and depend on the length of the student's enrollment, class completion rate and earned grade point average. All subsequent or second appeals will require an academic plan.