In light of COVID-19, what is the Seminary's policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PTS moved all classes online March 16, 2020, and adapted a Pass/Fail grading system for the Spring 2020 semester. After the outbreak is over, presumably the Fall 2020 semester, PTS grading and satisfactory academic progress policies will return to previously enforced rules.
On posting of Spring 2020 grades, SAP will be evaluated for pace and completion rate. Classes receiving a grade of “Pass” will count toward successfully completed courses. Classes receiving a grade of “Fail” will count as attempted and unearned. Students who fail to successfully complete at least 67 percent of all courses attempted will fail to meet the completion rate standard of SAP and become ineligible for financial aid. Should the course(s) failed cause time to completion to extend 150 percent of the published program length, the student would fail to meet the pace standard of SAP and become ineligible for financial aid. Students who fail to meet SAP have the opportunity to submit an appeal. Should the appeal be approved, aid can be restored provided the student is put on a personalized academic plan.
Because Pass/Fail courses do not have any impact on GPA, the latest cumulative GPA established prior to the Spring 2020 semester will be carried over into the spring. Students failing to meet the minimum GPA as established by their program will become ineligible for financial aid. Students who fail to meet SAP have the opportunity to submit an appeal. Should the appeal be approved, aid can be restored provided the student is put on a personalized academic plan.
Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?
No! Beginning in the Fall of 2021 he Seminary’s need-based aid will only require students to fill out the Aid Application during the admission process. Returning students will complete a Financial Aid Recertification Form each year. However, students must complete a FAFSA every year if they wish to borrow a loan from the federal government. Other documentation may be requested. Additional forms are required for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and Federal Graduate Plus Loans.
When should I apply for need-based financial aid?
Need-based aid processing for the Master's degree-seeking programs (tuition grants, housing grants, work-support) and most Certificates begins in November of the previous academic year and continues until the funds have been exhausted. Incomplete packets are not processed.
If I am awarded aid and then I defer my enrollment, will the Seminary hold my aid for me?
No, aid is awarded for students beginning in the Fall. If a student defers until a later date, the aid will be awarded to the next name on the Wait List. If a student plans to begin in a future semester, he/she should contact the Financial Aid Office to inquire about any available funds.
Is there a maximum amount of aid that I can receive in an academic year?
A student is required to report all aid that is received to the Financial Aid Office. Federal regulation dictates that the total of all aid cannot exceed the Cost of Attendance (for federal loan borrowers). If this occurs, the Financial Aid Office is obligated to reduce or cancel the loan. If a student receives financing in any form (scholarships, grants, in-kind support) that equals or exceeds the Cost of Attendance, PTS reserves the right to reassign our need-based aid to students on the Wait List.
PTS awards institutional aid up to 150 percent of the cost of tuition. This may include merit scholarships, grants, and work-support. Some merit scholarships have a value higher than the 150 percent rule and may be disbursed per donor requirements.
Can I receive financial aid for summer enrollment or CPE?
The summer semester is considered a "header" for the academic year. Students who qualify for tuition grants for the following academic year may have the summer PTS tuition covered by the grant amount. There are no merit scholarships, housing grants, Partner Grants, SYI Scholarships or work-support opportunities during the summer months. Clinical Pastoral Education Credits (CPE) do NOT qualify for PTS grants or loans.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available for all master's-degree-seeking students who meet the standard qualifications and enroll in a minimum of three PTS credits during the summer. Students must submit a separate Summer Loan Request Form and complete the FAFSA. Students qualify for a maximum of $20,500 from June through May. Borrowing during the summer months will reduce the amount of Federal Unsubsidized Loan available during the academic year. Students may make up that amount by borrowing the Federal Graduate Plus Loan.
Are my Wesley credits paid for by my PTS financial aid?
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has agreed to financially assist our Methodist students who are required to enroll in Wesley classes. If a PTS student qualifies for the Tuition Grant, we will allow the student to use the grant toward Wesley credits. Merit Scholarships are not disbursed for Wesley classes. The following policies will apply:
- Students cannot receive more than the amount of the Tuition Grant. Any difference in cost between PTS and Wesley is the responsibility of the student.
- Students should pay Wesley upon receipt of the Wesley bill. PTS will reimburse after the credits are transferred into PTS.
- PTS will not pay for classes that are taken at the Wesley campus, if the same class is offered on the PTS campus.
- It is the student's responsibility to give written notification to the Financial Aid Office if they are enrolling in Wesley classes and expect financial assistance from PTS.
- Students must submit the written reimbursement request by the end of Spring semester add-drop period. Requests received after the spring add-drop period cannot be met. At the end of the add-drop period, remaining tuition grants are distributed to students on the Wait List so funding is not available for late requests.
Academic Progress Standard for Financial Aid
Effective 2019-2020 the overall GPA requirement is 3.0. This takes effect with the 2018-2019 grades submitted for 2019-2020 renewal scholarships. This policy is not retroactive.
Satisfactory Academic Progress - SAP
Academic Progress for Financial Aid
Financial aid policies and regulations dictate that a student demonstrate Satisfactory Academic Progress in order to continue to receive financial aid. An Award Letter from the school means that a student is financially eligible; the Financial Aid Office is required to determine if the student is also academically eligible when the grades are posted. If a student is NOT academically eligible, no financial aid will be awarded.
The standards and procedures described in this section apply to the following types of aid:
- PTS Grants
- PTS Merit Scholarships
- PTS Work-Support Funds
- Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Federal Graduate PLUS Loans
- Some private student loans
Financial aid eligibility is assessed after the completion of the Spring Semester. This review concentrates on the grades and credits earned at the end of the academic year which includes Fall and Spring semesters (end of payment period). The evaluation determines a student’s eligibility for the following academic year. Summer credits will be evaluated at the end of summer, and the student must be in good standing.
If a student applies for federal loans during the school year, he/she must be in good academic standing at that time, and the evaluation will include terms in the same academic year. For example, Fall grades and credits will be evaluated for a student who applies for a Federal Direct Loan for Spring only. The number of credits will be adjusted accordingly.
Students who apply for financial aid will receive a letter from the Financial Aid Office at the end of the academic year which advises them if they have not achieved Satisfactory Academic Progress.
|Type of Aid||Minimum PTS Cumulative GPA||Number of Completed Credits|
PTS Merit Scholarships (exceptions below)
Full-time: Complete 18 credits each year / Half-time: Complete 12 credits each year
(Fall and Spring Semesters Only; not Summer or J-Term)
W. Carl Scholarship
St. Clair Scholarship
Full-time: Complete 24 credits each year
(Fall and Spring Semesters Only; not Summer or J-Term)
PTS Institutional Aid
(Tuition Grant, Housing Grant, Work Support)
Full-time: Complete 15 credits each year / Half-time: Complete 12 credits each year
(Fall and Spring Semesters Only; not Summer or J-Term)
|2.5||Complete 12 credits per year|
|PTS Partner Grants||2.5||Full-time: Complete 18 credits each year|
PTS Institutional Aid
Doctor of Ministry
|S or H||Full-time: Complete 12 credits each year|
Full-time students much complete 15 credits per year; Summer = 3 credits
Part-time students must complete 9 credits per year or all credits that were attempted per year if less than half-time; Summer= 3 credits
|Graduation||2.0||See the Catalog|
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Institutional Need-Based Aid
No PTS Tuition Grant, Housing Grant, or Work-Support funds will be available to any student whose cumulative GPA is below a 2.5 and/or the student did not complete 18 credits (will prorate for part-time enrollment.). Half-time students must earn an overall 2.5 GPA and complete 12 credits. Credits taken in the Summer or J-Term do not count toward credit completion of the semesters.
Transcripts will be reviewed at the end of each academic year. If a student’s cumulative GPA is less than 2.5 in the required number of credits completed, then that student will not receive need-based financial aid for the following academic year. After one year, financial aid may be awarded again if the career GPA has been raised to 2.5 and the required number of credits has been met.
Should a student fail a course(s) or withdraw with faculty approval, there will be no financial aid for this course(s) when repeated or for electives that may be substituted as repeat credits. Should a student withdraw without faculty approval from a class after the official add/drop period, financial aid for this course will be revoked and the student is responsible for any tuition fee. A student could lose eligibility for all need-based aid if falling below the full-time or half-time enrollment requirement.
Financial aid will be available to the student for the specified length of the degree program chosen. Financial aid will not be provided to any student beyond the minimum credits required for graduation.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Federal Graduate PLUS Loans (Title IV Aid)
The federal government requires each institution to set an Academic Progress Policy for their students for Federal Title IV aid. Title IV Federal Student Aid includes Federal Direct Loans and Federal Graduate PLUS Loans. Some lenders may 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 MDiv, MAPS, and MTS degrees. Full-time students must complete a total of 15 credits during the two semester academic year. Part-time students must complete 9 credits per year. Less than half time students must have completed all credits that were attempted to be considered in good academic standing. Those numbers will be prorated for semesters that the student was not enrolled.
If a student fails to meet the 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 reevaluate 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 Loan and Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan only for the period of enrollment in which he/she becomes eligible.
Summer credits will be evaluated separately. If a student borrows a federal loan for summer credits, all credits that are attempted must be passed to maintain satisfactory academic progress for the next loan. (Summer enrollment: 3 credits = half-time; 6 credits = full-time)
Pace of Progression and Maximum Time Frame
To evaluate if the rate of progress indicates the student will finish the program within the maximum time allowed, the Seminary assesses a student’s academic progress by comparing the number of credits attempted to the credits successfully completed.
Credits Needed for Graduation
Master of Divinity at 3 years:
- Juniors: 0-27 credits (includes Spiritual Formation)
- Middlers: 28-54 credits (includes 3 credits in the J-Term)
- Seniors: 55-81 credits (includes 3 credits in the J-Term)
Master of Divinity at 4 years:
- Juniors: 0-21 credits (includes Spiritual Formation)
- Middler 1: 22-39 credits
- Middler 2: 40-60 credits (includes 3 credits in the J-Term)
- Senior: 61-81 credits (includes 3 credits in the J-Term)
MAPS and MTS:
- Juniors: 0-24 credits
- Seniors: 5-48 credits
MDiv students must complete the MDiv program within six years after entering the program; MAPS and MTS students have four years to complete their program.
If the student takes longer to complete his/her degree program than the Progress policy allows, he/she must request permission to extend the period of study from the Dean of Faculty. That student must also submit a Financial Aid Appeal Request Form. Periods of enrollment in which a student did not receive aid will be counted.
Maximum Time Frame to Receive Federal Funds and Part-time Institutional Funds
Maximum Time Frame to Receive to Receive Full-time Merit Scholarships
Master of Divinity
Master of Pastoral Studies and Master of Theological Studies
A student who completes the academic requirements for a program but does not earn a degree is not eligible for further Title IV aid for that program.
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 Office 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:
- Explanation of why he/she failed to make satisfactory academic progress;
- What has changed in the student’s situation that will allows the student to comply with the SAP requirements; and
- 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.
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 Dean of Faculty and/or faulty 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 this payment period.
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 of their ineligibility 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, and 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.
Repeated Coursework and Title IV Funds
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 satisfactory 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 the Fall Semester 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 course failed may be counted toward the student’s enrollment status.)
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.
Withdrawal from all classes (and hence from the Seminary) requires that the student make this known by the use of an official withdrawal form, obtained from the Registrar’s Office. Federal regulation governing federally insured student loans requires PTS 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 be recorded at a later date. If no grade is reported, the NG reverts to a failure. There is no category of “Incomplete”. The “NG” credits will be counted in the credits attempted. NG credits will not be counted as credits passed.
Students with Disabilities
Satisfactory academic progress standards are the same for all categories of students; including students registered with the Dean of Faculty for Disability Services. Students registered for Disability Services should take advantage of suggested accommodations in order to meet the SAP standards. Failure to reach out to the Dean of Faculty will not be considered an extenuating circumstance.
Financial Aid Appeal Form 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. Be specific and site what measures will guarantee future academic success.
Forward all appeals to the Director of Financial Aid. Appeals will be evaluated by the Financial Aid Committee or the Dean of Faculty.
Return of Title IX Funds
PTS Refund Policy for Title IV Funds
Students who officially withdraw from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary during the term may be eligible for a refund of a portion of the tuition and fees paid for that term. Title IV aid (Federal Direct Loans and Federal Graduate Plus Loans) refunds are based on the date the student began the institution's withdrawal process or the Registrar’s official date of withdrawal. Students who do not follow the official withdrawal procedure but who stop attending all classes will be considered to have withdrawn at the 50 percent point of the term unless attendance is documented after that time.
Return of Title IV Funds Formula
A student’s resignation and tuition charges will be adjusted in accordance with the official federal “Return of Title IV Aid” formula. The federal formula is applicable to any student receiving federal aid who withdraws from the Seminary during the first 60 percent of a term. These students will have their federal aid adjusted based on the percent of the term completed. Basically, students will be entitled to retain the same percent of the federal aid received as the percent of the term completed. This percent is calculated by dividing the number of days in the term (excluding breaks of five days of longer) into the number of days completed prior to the withdrawal (excluding breaks of five days or longer). There will be no adjustment to federal financial aid after the completion of 60 percent of the term.
How Remaining Refunds are Distributed
If any refund remains after the required return of the Title IV aid, the refund will be used to repay Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, other private sources, and the student. This will be distributed in proportion to the amount paid by each non-federal source, as long as there was no unpaid balance due at the time of withdrawal. If there is an unpaid balance, then all aid sources will be repaid before any refund is paid to the student.
PTS Distribution Policy
Once the amount of the federal funds to be returned has been calculated, the funds will be returned to the appropriate programs in the following order:
- Unsubsidized Direct Loans
- Graduate Plus Loans
Repayment of Unearned Financial Aid Assistance
Students who receive a refund from financial aid before withdrawing from the Seminary may owe a repayment of federal aid funds. Students will be notified by the Business Office and will be given an opportunity to repay the funds to the Seminary. Students who fail to return the unearned portion of federal financial aid funds given to them will have a “hold” placed on their Seminary records.
PTS Enrollment Status
Federal regulations and institutional guidelines require students to be registered before aid can be disbursed. In addition, all programs specify minimum enrollment requirements in order for a student to receive any assistance. At PTS, these requirements are broken into enrollment classifications; full-time, half-time, and less-than-half-time. The chart below indicates the number of credits used to determine a student’s enrollment status.
|Full-time||9 credits or more||6 credits or more||6 credits|
|Half-time||6 credits||3 credits||3 credits|
|Less-than-half-time||Less than 6 credits||Less than 3 credits|
Leave of Absence
Withdrawal from all classes (hence the Seminary) requires that a student make this known by the use of an official withdrawal form, obtained from the Registrar's Office. Students who wish to return during the same academic year must meet with the Dean of Faculty or Registrar. All students who voluntarily leave for a period greater than two years must reapply through the Admissions Office. Students who have dismissed by action of the faculty must reapply to the Admissions Office. All aid will be canceled when a student ceases to be enrolled.
Voter Registration Information
We encourage students to register to vote and participate in the electoral process. Learn more.
This information is posted as part of our efforts to comply with Section 487(a)(23) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 that references the National Voter Registration Act of 1993(NVRA) and requires higher education institutions to distribute voter registration forms to their students.
Please use this link to apply for your Voter Registration.
More information about the political process and voting can be found at:
- Your Vote, Your Voice The National Campus Voter Registration Project and Your Vote, Your Voice are cooperative efforts of 50 Washington, D.C.-based national higher education associations known collectively as the Washington Higher Education Secretariat.
- Congress.org Congress.org is a non-partisan news and information website devoted to encouraging civic participation. Their mission is to provide information about public policy issues of the day and tips on effective advocacy so that citizens can make their voices heard.
- L.O.V.E. / Let One Voice Emerge is a non-partisan campaign to reach out to the largest group of non-voters in America—nearly 20 million unmarried women—and to support the important work of The Voter Participation Center
What if I need an exception to the PTS aid policies?
All exceptions to the standard Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Financial Aid policies must be presented to the Financial Aid Committee for a vote. This includes exceptions to the Merit Scholarships, the need-based aid program, and other funding managed by the PTS Financial Aid Office.
- All discussion concerning PTS funding should be referred to the PTS Financial Aid director.
- If the current policy does not allow for the funding, the student must submit a written request to the Financial Aid director to be considered for an exception to existing policy. This request may be submitted by e-mail or hard copy. The student should specify that he/she wishes the request to be presented to the Financial Aid Committee.
- The student should include in the request:
- Describe unique circumstances
- Describe funding exemption being requested
- The Financial Aid director will forward the formal request to Financial Aid Committee by e-mail or at a meeting. (The Student Association representative(s) may not be included in the discussion based on privacy issues.)
- The Committee will discuss and vote on the exception. Majority vote determines the outcome.
- The Financial Aid director will notify the student of committee’s result.