The federal government requires each institution to set an Academic Progress Policy for their students. There are different standards for Academic Progress for Title IV aid than the PTS institutional aid. Title IV Federal Student Aid includes Federal Direct Loans and Federal Graduate PLUS Loans. Some lenders also adhere to the federal guidelines for approving private loans.
Students must be in good academic standing before a federal loan can be originated. At PTS, federal academic progress standards are met when a student maintains a cumulative 2.0 GPA for the M.Div., M.A., M.A.T.M., M.A.T.S., and Th.M. degrees. Full-time students must complete a total of 27 credits during the three term academic year. Half-time students must complete 18 credits per year. Less than half-time students must complete all credits that were attempted during the three term academic year to be in good academic standing. Those numbers will be prorated for terms that the student was not enrolled.
The Financial Aid Office will receive grade point average and pace information downloaded from the Seminary's database at the end of the academic year. The review process will be performed by the Director of Financial Aid. Students who do not meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements will be notified in writing.
If a student fails to meet satisfactory academic progress standards, but meets the standards at some point, the student can once again be eligible to receive federal aid. The Financial Aid Office will reconsider the student’s loan eligibility whenever his/her circumstances improve. If a student feels that he/she has earned the reinstatement after new grades are posted, then it is the student’s responsibility to contact the Financial Aid Office to request a reevaluation. The student may receive Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Federal Graduate Plus Loans only for the period of enrollment in which he/she becomes eligible.
Title IV Funds Maximum
Assessment of a student's academic progress compares to the number of credits attempted to the credits successfully completed, to evaluate if the rate of progress indicates the student will finish the program within the maximum time allowed.
M.Div. students must complete the M.Div. program within six years after entering the program; M.A., M.A.T.M., and M.A.T.S. students have four years to complete the their program; Th.M. students have two years to complete the Th.M. program. A student who completes the academic requirements for a program but does not have the degree is not eligible for further Title IV aid for that program.
If a student takes longer to complete his./her degree program than the policy on quantitative progress allows, he/she must request permission to extend the period of study from the Dean of Faculty. The student must also submit a Financial Aid Appeal Request Form. Periods of enrollment in which the student did not receive will be counted.
Maximum Time Frame to Receive Federal Funds
Master of Divinity
Master of Arts
Master of Theology
The following lists the levels of grade level advancement based on the number of credits successfully completed:
Junior 0-36 Middler 37-75 Senior 76-111
Financial Aid Appeal for Title IV Funds
If a student has not maintained the academic standards for financial aid, he/she may file an appeal with the Financial Aid Committee for reinstatement of Title IV Federal Student Aid. This appeal will not reinstate PTS funding.
The appeal will only be considered for “mitigating circumstances” per federal regulation; e.g.. death of a relative, serious injury or illness in which a student required an extended recovery period, other special circumstances. Under such circumstances, the student should submit a completed Appeal Form and attach the required supporting documentation. The student’s appeal must include the following components:
- The student must explain why he/she failed to make satisfactory academic progress
- What has changed in the student’s situation that will allow the student to comply with the SAP requirements
- Outline an Academic Plan which allows the student to meet SAP requirements for the next evaluation.
Appeal documentation is to be submitted to the Director of Financial Aid. Appeals will be evaluated by the Financial Aid Committee or the Dean of Faculty.
Completed appeals must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office no later than ten days before the end of the payment period for which reinstatement is desired. The decision of the SAP appeal is sent to the student via mail or electronic means. Appeal approvals are not applied retroactively after the end of a term for Title IV aid eligibility. Approval notices will include conditions and time frame for maintaining aid eligibility. The Financial Aid Committee's SAP decision may not be appealed to another source.
Financial Aid Probation for Title IV Funds
If the appeal has been approved and eligibility is reinstated, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Probation. The probation period will allow the student to receive Title IV funds for one academic year. The school may require the student to meet certain terms and conditions while on financial aid probation, such as taking a reduced course load or enrolling in specific courses. The student must meet the Satisfactory Academic Standards at the end of the payment period or meet the requirements of the academic plan developed by the school.
A student on Financial Aid Probation for one academic year may not receive Title IV funds for a subsequent academic year unless the student is complying with SAP requirements at the end of the period or if the school determines that the student is meeting the requirements of the academic plan.
The Financial Aid Director will continue to monitor the student's eligibility following the appeal. She will consult with the Dean of Faculty to determine whether the student is following the academic plan.
If taking coursework at another institution, only "credits" transfer into Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the grades do not. If the student's deficiency is in cumulative GPA, taking courses at another institution will not resolve the deficiency. Credits taken elsewhere must be accepted as PTS transfer credits in order to be counted toward satisfactory academic progress.
If a student is readmitted to the Seminary, satisfactory academic progress will be based on the student's previous attendance at PTS and credits accepted in transfer. Students who have not met the minimum requirements will be notified by the Financial Aid Department of their eligibility for federal financial aid and informed of the options to regain eligibility.
Attempted and Earned Measurement
Attempted and earned units include any courses for which the student has remained enrolled for the semester past the add/drop period.
- Withdrawals, NGs, failures are considered attempted but not earned.
- Passing grades received for pass/fail courses are considered attempted and earned; failing grades in pass/fail are considered attempted but not earned.
- Repeated courses are included in the calculation of both attempted and earned.
- Audited courses are not considered attempted or earned.
Students may receive Title IV funds to retake previously passed coursework one time and count the coursework in the student's enrollment status for determining academic progress for aid. A student may not receive Title IV funds to retake previously passed coursework if the student is required to retake the course due to the student failing other coursework. (For example, if the student is enrolled in four classes in Term I and fails one of those courses, the school may require the student to repeat the previously passed three courses along with the failed class. If the student retakes four courses, only the failed course may be counted toward the student's enrollment status.) Students may receive Title IV funding for retaking previously failed classes.
The last grade earned is used when calculating the GPA. If the student failed the course the first time but passed it the second time, the appropriate number of credits will be received after the second attempt. If, however, the student passed the course the first time, repeats it in an attempt to improve the cumulative GPA but receives a failing grade, the appropriate number of credits will be deducted from the credits earned.
Effective July 1, 2016, "an enrolled student who is carrying a full-time academic workload; the workload may include repeating any coursework previously taken in the program but may not include more than one repetition of a previously passed course." A failed course can count multiple times and receive Title IV aid to pay for it multiple times.
Withdrawal credits will be counted in the credits attempted but will not be counted as credits passed.
Withdrawals from all classes (and hence the Seminary) requires that the student make this known by the use of an official withdrawal form, obtained form the Registrar's Office. Federal regulation governing federally insured student loans requires to declare a date for any student's withdrawal from classes. If the form is not used, or if a letter of withdrawal is not received, professors will be asked to name the last day (or approximate last day) of class attendance.
NG - No Grade
An "NG" (no grade) indicates that a grade has not been reported for a particular course and will not be recorded at a later date. If no graded is reported, the NG reverts to a failure. PTS has no category of "Incomplete". The "NG" credits will be counted in the credits attempted. NG credits will not be counted as credits passed.
If a student is enrolled in courses that do not count toward his/her degree, classes cannot be used to determine status unless they are noncredit or remedial. This means a student cannot receive aid for classes that do not count toward his/her degree.