ArtCenter College of Design | Pasadena, California | Learn to Create. Influence Change.
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In accordance with federal regulations, all degree-seeking students must make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward earning a degree as stipulated in the charts below to receive federal financial aid at Art Center.  Federal financial aid includes federal grants, federal work study, and federal loan programs.  State grant programs and all institutional scholarships have specific criteria to consider.

SAP Evaluation
SAP is calculated at the end of each term.  SAP is also calculated at the point when a continuing student applies for aid for the first time as a degree-seeking student.

Both qualitative (cumulative GPA) and quantitative (credits attempted and earned) progress is measured. These measurements apply to all credits attempted and recognized by Art Center for degree consideration from all institutions.

Federal Qualitative Evaluation




Minimum Cumulative GPA



Federal Quantitative Evaluation

All Degree Programs



Minimum % of Total Credits Successfully Completed Each Term (Credits Earned divided by Credits Attempted)



Maximum Total Credits Allowed to Complete Degree Requirements for Current Primary Program of Study

150% of the specific degree program's published length (1.5 x number of credits)

150% of the specific degree program's published length (1.5 x number of credits)

  1. Students meeting the standards above at the time of calculation will be considered in good SAP standing.
  2. Students who do not meet the requirements shown above will be put on SAP Financial Aid Warning for the following term.  SAP will be calculated again at the end of the warning term. If the student has not achieved SAP status by the end of the warning term, eligibility for the aid programs listed above will be suspended.
  3. Rules are applied uniformly to all students for all periods of enrollment.
  4. Students who are returning to the college after being on SAP Suspension by Enrollment Services will be reviewed by the Financial Aid Office upon re-entry and application for financial aid.
  5. Eligibility for financial aid is reestablished after a student improves his/her academic record to meet the minimum standards or an appeal due to unusual and/or mitigating circumstances is approved.
  6. Students are responsible for knowing the SAP eligibility criteria and their status at the end of each term. They may contact the Financial Aid Office if questions arise.

Credits Attempted and Credits Earned

  1. All courses taken at Art Center applying to the current degree pursuit are counted as credits attempted regardless of the grade earned. This applies to courses withdrawn from after the add-drop period as well as courses for which a grade of F is received. It also includes withdrawals from the college during the term after the add-drop period.
  2. Courses transferred from other institutions will be counted toward the maximum total credits attempted to complete degree requirements.
  3. Only courses that count toward degree completion and with final passing grades issued by the Office of Enrollment Services will be counted as Credits Earned.
  4. Temporary Incomplete, Missing, or Non Attendance grades will be counted as Credits Attempted and not as Credits Earned.
  5. Failed courses will count as Credits Attempted and not as Credits Earned.
  6. Courses dropped or withdrawn from AFTER Friday of week two (2) of the term will count as Credits Attempted but not as Credits Earned.
    1. Failed courses which are repeated count both times as Credits Attempted and, if passed on the second attempt, one time as Credits Earned.
    2. Passed courses which are repeated count twice as Credits Attempted and Credits Earned.

Changes in Major
For students who change majors, only credits attempted and earned which count toward the new major will be used in the SAP calculation of Credits Attempted and Credits Earned and the maximum total credits allowed.

Study Abroad
All credit hours applicable to the current degree program attempted during Study Abroad terms will count as both Credits Attempted and Credits Earned.

Entering Students
A student with no enrollment history in a degree program at Art Center will enter on SAP good standing and will qualify for aid if otherwise eligible. All work accepted for transfer by Art Center will be included in the SAP calculation.

Returning Students
Returning students will re-enter at the SAP status earned at the end of their last Art Center enrollment term. Students cannot reestablish eligibility simply by taking terms off from Art Center.

Probation and Suspension
Students who fail to maintain SAP will be placed on SAP Financial Aid Warning for the following term of enrollment. During this time they will remain eligible for financial aid. If good SAP status is not achieved by the end of the term, they will lose financial aid eligibility and be placed on SAP suspension.  In order to regain financial aid eligibility, the student must either achieve good SAP status while receiving no financial aid or file a successful appeal to regain eligibility.  If the appeal is granted, the student will then be placed on SAP Financial Aid Probation.

Appeals and Reinstatement

  1. SAP Suspension may be appealed if unusual and/or mitigating circumstances affected academic progress. Such circumstances may include a severe illness or injury to the student or an immediate family member, the death of a student’s relative, student activation for military service or other circumstances as deemed appropriate for consideration by the SAP Appeals Committee.
  2. To appeal, students must submit a completed SAP Appeal Form to the Financial Aid Office. This should explain in detail why they failed to meet the minimum academic standards, what unusual and/or mitigating circumstances caused the failure and how their situation has improved.
  3. Appeals must be submitted no later than 4 pm on the Friday before the beginning of the term for which reinstatement is desired.
  4. The SAP Appeals Committee decision result will be sent to the student by postal mail and by electronic mail.
  5. Appeals approvals may not be applied retroactively after the end of the term.
  6. Appeals approvals will state the conditions and timeframe for maintaining aid eligibility.
  7. SAP Appeals Committee decisions are final and cannot be appealed to another source.
  8. Students who have raised their cumulative GPAs or course completion rate to equal or exceed the minimum requirements should contact the Financial Aid Office to see if they may be reinstated to good SAP standing.

Please note:  Students receiving scholarship funds from Art Center must maintain institutional SAP eligibility with a GPA of 3.0.  Please see information about Art Center scholarship and grants for additional information.


The Higher Education Amendments of 1998 changed the formula for calculating the amount of aid a student and school can retain when the student totally withdraws from all classes. Students who withdraw from all classes prior to completing more than 60% of a term will have their eligibility for federal aid recalculated based on the percent of the term completed. For example, a student who withdraws after completing only 30% of the term will have “earned” only 30% of any Title IV aid received. The remaining 70% must be returned by the school and/or the student.

The Financial Aid Office encourages you to read this policy carefully. If you are considering withdrawing from all classes prior to completing 60% (60 days) of the term, you should contact the FAO to see how your withdrawal will affect your financial aid.

This policy applies only to students who:

  1. Are receiving federal student aid; and
  2. Are withdrawing prior to completing 60% of the term for which the aid was provided.

All other students will be subject to Art Center’s Institutional Refund Policy as outlined in the Art Center catalog.

Please note that this policy does not affect the amount of tuition the accounting office returns to you. The Accounting Office refunds a certain percentage of tuition and fees through week 5 of the term as specified on the withdrawal form. Therefore, depending on the date of withdrawal and the amount and type of financial aid received, you could owe a substantial balance to the college.

First, the college will restore to the appropriate federal fund source a proportional share of the federal financial aid that went toward your institutional charges. Second, if there is more aid to be returned, you will be required to return portions of amounts that you received to pay for living expenses. If you must return any loan funds, you may repay them in the same way you would have if you had completed the term—by the original terms of your loans—usually a 10-year repayment term after a grace period. In the case of any federal grant funds that you must repay, Art Center will return the funds to the programs and you may repay Art Center.

Funds will be returned to federal programs in the following order:

Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
Subsidized Stafford Loan
Perkins Loan
Pell Grant

If your financial aid file is complete at the time of your withdrawal but all of your federal funds have not been disbursed, you may be eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement.

The withdrawal date used will normally be the date you began the school’s withdrawal process by contacting the Enrollment Services Office. If you wish to withdraw or take a leave, you must go to the Enrollment Services Office and complete a Withdrawal or Leave of Absence form. If this is not possible, contact Enrollment Services so they can begin the process for you.

Other funds which do not come under the Federal policy may also be returned. Art Center Scholarships and Cal Grants will be returned following the Institutional Tuition Refund policy. For example, if the school refunds 80% of tuition, 80% of the scholarship will be returned to the scholarship fund and 80% of the Cal Grant will have to be returned to the California Student Aid Commission. Since the Accounting Office policy refunds tuition through Week Five of the term only, Cal Grants and scholarships will not be returned after that point.

If, after tuition charges have been adjusted and other financial aid has been returned to programs as appropriate, there is a credit balance on your tuition account, we will contact you for your authorization to return the excess funds to your private lender. We strongly counsel that these funds be returned in order to reduce your overall debt burden.


Art Center Lite (ACL) terms provide an opportunity to take fewer than 12 units. Tuition for ACL is charged on a pro-rated basis.

Some financial aid is available for students enrolled in 6 or more units.

Since the tuition for ACL is less than for a full-time term, the Financial Aid Office (FAO) will adjust your financial aid budget. This may result in your receiving less aid than you anticipated.

Art Center scholarships will be prorated based on units. For 6 to 8 units, you are paid 50% and for 9 units 75% of the normal scholarship amount. Art Center scholarships will be disbursed based on the unit total at the beginning of the term. If you add units during the Add-Drop period, please inform the FAO. Scholarships are not paid for less than 6 units.

You must take at least 6 units to receive a student loan in an Art Center Lite term.

If you drop units after receiving a refund check, you may have to repay a portion of your refund to the school.

Withdrawing after the term begins may necessitate adjustments to your financial aid, which could result in a tuition balance owed. Please refer to the Return of Funds policy and to your student account on inside.artcenter.edu

NOTE: Change of enrollment after aid is applied can also result in funds being returned and tuition owed. Be sure you complete the ACL process early so Financial Aid can be updated in time.


Leave of Absence & Withdrawal

Each student must officially withdraw by completing a Leave of Absence/Withdrawal form with the Enrollment Services Office. Financial aid is NOT available for non-credit internship terms or other terms during which you are not considered enrolled at Art Center. Withdrawals done after the term begins will result in tuition charges and adjustments to your financial aid, which could result in a tuition balance owed. Please refer to the refund policy in the Art Center Catalog.

Withdrawing During the Term

The federal government mandates that students who withdraw from the term after beginning classes but before completing 60 percent of the term will have their eligibility for federal aid recalculated based on the percentage of the term completed. For example, a student who withdraws after completing 30 percent (at Art Center, 30 days) of the term will keep 30 percent of his federal aid (Pell Grant, SEOG, Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans). The remainder will be returned to the financial aid programs. Please note that this policy is different from the tuition forgiveness policy; depending on the date of withdrawal and type of aid received, the student may owe a substantial balance to the College. Cal Grants and Art Center Scholarships will be refunded to the programs based on the institutional Tuition Forgiveness policy. For example, if the school refunds 60 percent of tuition, 60 percent of scholarship will be returned to the scholarship fund and 60 percent of the Cal Grant will be returned to the California Student Aid Commission.

Withdrawal & Leave of Absence

All students who wish to take a term off or withdraw from Art Center need to file a Withdrawal Form in the Enrollment Services Office. Once the Financial Aid Office receives the information, the student's award letter will be revised. Financial aid is not available during a term when you are not enrolled at Art Center; all loans will be canceled and/or returned to the lender. All other aid will be returned to the appropriate programs.

Tuition Forgiveness

When a student withdraws from all classes during the first five weeks of the term, the Accounting Office will issue a tuition refund. During week 1, a full refund of tuition will be Issued and a fee of $500 will be charged. For weeks 2 through 5, the Accounting Office will issue a partial refund ranging from 80 percent in week 2 to 20 percent in week 5. After the end of week 5, no tuition refunds will be processed. For further information, please check with the Accounting Office. Please see the section on Leave of Absence and Withdrawals in Chapter 1 for more information about deadlines and tuition forgiveness.

Unofficial Withdrawal

If official notification is not provided by the student because of circumstances beyond the student’s control, the date the school determines is related to the circumstance beyond the student’s control will be used.

In all other instances where a student withdraws without providing official notification, the midpoint of the payment period (enrollment period) will be used, unless Enrollment Services has determined that the student never attended.

If the student has an “N” for all courses, Enrollment Services has determined that the student did not attend any classes. The student will be required to return all financial aid funds that have been disbursed.

Important Reminders

  • The Financial Aid Office will notify CSAC (Cal Grant) of your enrollment status automatically.
  • Leaves of absence may not exceed a total of three (3) terms. This includes any terms you may have been on leave before using your grant. It is your responsibility to keep track of your Leave of Absence and Academic terms.
  • You are not eligible to receive Federal Loan funds when you are not enrolled (taking an entire term off). Funds will be canceled and/or returned to your lender.
  • If you have completed a Master Promissory Note, subsequent loans will be processed automatically upon your return/enrollment as awarded on your most current award letter.
  • Part-time students (ACL) MUST BE enrolled at least half-time (at least 6 units) to both be eligible for loans and to be considered as in-school status.
  • If you take 2 terms off consecutively, you will be reported as out of school as of your last date of attendance. Federal regulations allow for only a 6-month grace period before repayment starts. There is no grace period for Consolidation loans.
  • You may take terms off after being awarded a scholarship but may not take three consecutive terms. A non-credit Internship is considered a term off.
  • You may apply for a scholarship or an increase to your current scholarship while you are off. It is your responsibility to submit your portfolio on the date of your review, and make sure your financial aid paperwork is current

Federal Loan Deferment/Cancellation

Under certain circumstances, the federal government will cancel all or part of an educational loan. To qualify, you must perform volunteer work, perform military service, teach in certain types of communities or meet other specified criteria. Qualifying volunteer programs include the Peace Corps, Americorps and VISTA. For more information, see www.finaid.org/loans/forgiveness.phtml.

Rights of Federal Aid Recipients

Confidentiality: All records and information submitted with your application for financial aid are confidential and subject to legal requirements concerning disclosure of such information. You may complete a FERPA form to permit the Financial Aid Office to discuss your aid with your parent, spouse or others to whom you wish to give access.

Financial Aid Programs and Application Process: You have the right to know what federal, state and institutional aid programs are available and the application procedures for each program.

Financial Aid Eligibility and Disbursements: You have the right to know how your financial aid eligibility was determined, and how and when your aid is distributed.

Return of Title IV Funds: Federal law requires that the Financial Aid Office perform a calculation to determine if federal funds must be returned to the programs when you withdraw after the semester begins. You have a right to know the return policy and how your return of funds was calculated.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP): You have a right to know how the FAO determines your SAP status and the consequences of not maintaining good SAP.

Student Loans: You have the right to information from your lender regarding the interest rate of your loan, repayment terms and procedures, and the total amount to be repaid. You have a right to request a reduction or cancellation of your student loan. You have 30 days after the loan funds are disbursed to request reduction or cancellation in writing.

Responsibilities of Federal Aid Recipients

You are responsible for submitting a FAFSA form by the appropriate deadline each year and for submitting requested documents in a timely manner. It is your responsibility to check your student email account for the Financial Aid newsletter and other information sent to you by the College's Financial Aid Office.

Your awards are determined in accordance with the regulations of the U.S. Congress and the State of California, and the awarding policies of Art Center and are subject to adjustment or cancellation in the event of changes to laws or your eligibility. Art Center reserves the right to revise awards at any time due to changes in funding levels, your enrollment status, your receipt of additional resources including scholarships, information reported to Art Center by you or your parents, unintended errors and other reasons consistent with Art Center policy and procedures.
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