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Admissions . Financing Your Education . Financial Aid + Academic Progress 

Financial Aid + Academic Progress

Need-Based Financial Aid Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

In order to receive federal financial aid, you must make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward your degree. Your SAP will be checked prior to initial receipt of financial aid and at the end of each semester of each academic year. If you attend only one semester, you will be evaluated on one semester's work. If you have been granted an appeal, your academic progress will be reviewed each term or until you have met the standards of SAP (see below).

Federal Programs Affected by Need-Based SAP 

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Federal Subsidized Direct Loan
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan
  • Federal Work-Study Program
  • Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG)
  • Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
  • Paul Douglas/Byrd Teacher's Scholarships

Note: The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) Grant is not governed by federal SAP but by academic standards established by the state of Pennsylvania. Institutional funds and veteran's benefits are governed by the Cleveland Institute of Art's standards of SAP. 

SAP Academic Requirements

  • As an undergraduate student, you must maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA (3.0 for graduate students). Grades A through F and P will count towards the GPA calculation. Grades of incomplete (I) and withdrawal (W) are considered unsatisfactory and unacceptable.
  • If your undergraduate cumulative GPA is below 2.0 at the end of the academic year, you will not receive financial aid until you maintain SAP as outlined in these guidelines or until you are reinstated through the appeal process.
  • If you leave the Institute for an entire academic year or more, you will be evaluated on your performance during the most recent academic year of attendance at CIA. 

Credit Hour Percentage Completion Requirements 

  • You must earn at least 67 percent of credit hours attempted each semester at the Cleveland Institute of Art.
  • Percentage completion is calculated by dividing earned hours by attempted hours. Earned hours include all grades of A through D- and P. Attempted hours include all grades of A through F, P, I, and W.
  • If you leave the Institute for an entire academic year or more, you are exempt from the percentage requirements upon your return to CIA. However, your need-based financial aid will be awarded on a probationary status.

Hours Attempted

You are not allowed to attempt credit hours that total 150 percent of the expected number of earned hours needed to complete your program of study. For example, undergraduates needing at least 120 credit hours to complete their degree may not attempt more than 180 credit hours. Transfer hours and repeated courses are included in total attempted hours. 

Satisfactory Academic Progress and CIA Merit Scholarship Eligibility Review for Transfer Students

  • Transfer students will be awarded aid for one academic year before academic progress will be evaluated. Transfer students will be evaluated for Satisfactory Academic Progress and to determine if they are still eligible to receive their CIA Merit Scholarship after each semester of attendance.
  • In order to successfully fulfill the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements, each student must: maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.00, complete 67% of classes attempted each semester, and complete the BFA in no more than 6 years of full-time enrollment each semester.
  • At the end of your first academic year, you must comply with the above Standards of SAP, Credit Hour Percentage Completion Requirements, and Hours Attempted. All transfer hours accepted upon admission by CIA will be considered when determining compliance with the standards of SAP. Transfer hours will be included in the number of hours completed. All accepted for transfer to CIA upon admission to CIA will be considered when determining the compliance with the Satisfactory Academic Progress evaluation. All credit hours attempted during your academic career will be used to make sure you do not exceed the six year limit to receive financial aid while earning your BFA.

Transfer, Study Abroad, and Cross Registration Credit Hours

All transfer, study abroad, and cross registration hours you attempt and earn while enrolled as a degree-seeking student at CIA will be calculated in credit hour percentage completion and hours attempted requirements.


If you are receiving federal, state or CIA funded sources of financial aid, you are required to maintain “Satisfactory Academic Progress” (SAP) toward your degree in order to retain eligibility for financial aid as specified in Federal, State and CIA policies and procedures. SAP is monitored at the end of each semester.  SAP is evaluated for both CIA Merit Scholarship and for need-based financial aid funded by CIA, Federal and State programs.

 CIA Merit Scholarships

CIA requires that a student maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average for all merit scholarship funding with the exception of the CIA Dean’s Scholarship and CIA Transfer Dean's Scholarship. Both of these scholarships require a 2.6 cumulative grade point average. Students who fail to maintain the required cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) for their CIA Merit Scholarship will be placed on a warning, probation, or suspended status. Students with a warning or probation status are still eligible for their CIA Merit Scholarship for the subsequent semester, despite not having met the minimum required cumulative GPA. They will be notified in writing of their status and of the GPA target that they are to achieve in the subsequent semester in order to retain their scholarship.

Students receiving a CIA Merit Scholarship who are placed on a suspended status are no longer eligible for their CIA Merit Scholarship. These students are evaluated on a case-by-case basis to receive funds from CIA to help offset a portion of the CIA Merit Scholarship for which they are no longer eligible. The CIA funds awarded will be less than the original amount of the CIA Merit Scholarship.

Please note:  In all instances where, following a warning, probation, or suspension status, students are able to achieve the requisite cumulative GPA for their CIA Merit Scholarship, and they have not exceeded the allotted time frame for CIA Merit Scholarship eligibility, their CIA Merit Scholarship will be fully reinstated and the CIA funds awarded to help offset the loss of CIA Merit Scholarship will be revoked. Recipients of CIA merit Scholarships can only receive these funds for a maximum of 4 years (eight semesters).

Need-Based Financial Aid

CIA and the Ohio Board of Regents require a minimum cumulative grade point average of a 2.0 in order to remain eligible for need-based funds from CIA and for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG). If you are receiving state funds from another state (like Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, etc.) they have similar requirements. Recipients of CIA need-based funds, the Ohio College Opportunity Grant and other state grant programs can only receive these funds for a maximum of 4 years (eight semesters).

Federal regulations require CIA to measure academic progress each semester to determine if a federal financial aid recipient has achieved a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average after each semester AND the federal aid recipient is on pace to ensure completion of her/his BFA within a maximum time frame (i.e. 6 years of full-time enrollment; earning a minimum of 20 to 23 credit hours per academic year depending on your major) by completing a minimum of 67% of the credit hours attempted each semester.

Students failing to maintain the minimum requirements for CIA, state and/or federal need-based sources of financial aid can receive a one semester probationary award from any of these sources of financial aid. Students failing to meet the minimum standards of any of the sources of aid they receive after receiving a one semester probationary award will have their financial aid cancelled. However, students can appeal to seek reinstatement of aid. Any appeal must include an academic plan which shows what course work a student will take, statements addressing circumstances that prevented them from maintaining satisfactory academic progress, what steps they have taken to ensure that these problems will not be a factor in their future progress, and what has changed that will allow them to maintain satisfactory academic progress. This information is submitted to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee for review. The Appeals Committee’s decision is final.

Additional information regarding Satisfactory Academic Progress is available from the Office of Financial Aid.


The Office of Financial Aid will notify you if you fail to meet need-based aid and/or CIA Merit Scholarship Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards. Students cited for failing to maintain eligibility for need-based aid and/or a CIA Merit Scholarship are given the opportunity to appeal. Appeals must be based on an undue hardship caused by the death of a relative, personal injury, illness absence from CIA for an academic year, or other special circumstances. Any appeal submitted must have supporting documentation.

Appeals must be submitted in writing to the Office of Financial Aid within 10 working days after receipt of the denial notification. Appeals are reviewed by the Financial Aid and Scholarship Appeals Committee. The Financial Aid and Scholarship Appeals Committee will notify the Office of Financial Aid regarding their decision. Once the Office of Financial Aid is notified of an appeal decision, staff will contact the student regarding the appeal decision.

If an appeal is approved, students will receive a letter outlining the conditions of the approval of the appeal. In many cases the Financial Aid and Scholarship Appeals Committee will require that an Academic Plan be completed. All Academic Plans must be completed, signed and returned to the Office of Financial Aid before financial aid is processed.

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