Maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress for Law School

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy for Law Students

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to define successful completion of coursework to maintain eligibility for financial aid. To be eligible for federal financial aid, law students are required by the U.S. Department of Education to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward their degree objectives. LMU has established a SAP policy to ensure student success and accountability and to promote timely advancement toward degree objectives. If applicable, SAP evaluation for most law programs occurs once a year at the conclusion of the academic year, including the summer term.    

SAP standards are the same for all categories of students within each Law program (J.D. or LLM). SAP assessment does not differ if a student is full-time or part-time. All enrollment periods will be included in the measurement of SAP, and semesters in which the student enrolls but is not receiving Federal financial aid will also be included.

Financial Aid Programs Subject to Financial Aid SAP Policy:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Graduate PLUS Loans
  • Federal Work-Study
  • Institutional Scholarships & Grants
  • Institutional Work awards

The following criteria define satisfactory Academic Progress:

  • Meeting a minimum cumulative grade point average requirement (GPA).
  • Earning a minimum number of units for credit per semester (Pace of Progression).
  • Completing the degree objective within a maximum number of years.

Students who do not meet one or more of the above criteria will be considered not to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). 

  • Law students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA). The GPA is based on cumulative (not term) units at LLS and will not include transferred units.

    To determine academic standing, a student's weighted cumulative grade point average will be computed at the end of the Spring semester of each academic year, or summer if applicable. Academic standing will not be determined for a first-year student until after the completion of the academic year. 

    GPA Requirements by the program of study:

    • J.D. Students must have a 2.23 by the end of their first year, and a 2.33 every year after the first year.
    • LLM must have a GPA of 2.23. 
    • M.T. and MLS must have a 2.5 by the end of their first year, and a 3.0 every year after the first year.
    • Tax LLM and Online TAX LLM must have a 3.0 required GPA.
    • JSD has a 3.0 required GPA. 
  • The timeframes below include any summer session courses for which the student has enrolled. Students who exceed this time limit will be ineligible for financial aid consideration.

    The terms in which the student withdraws and/or the student did not receive financial aid are counted toward a student's maximum timeframe. 

    • J.D. financial aid recipients have five years to complete the J.D. degree requirements of 87 units.
    • LLM, Tax LLM, Online Tax LLM, MLS, and M.T. financial aid recipients have three years to complete the requirements of 24 units.
    • JSD financial aid recipients have five years to complete the JSD degree requirements.
    • Students must complete a minimum number of units each semester (Pace) to ensure the completion of the degree within the maximum time frame. To calculate the Pace of Progression, divide the cumulative number of units you have successfully completed by the cumulative number of units you have attempted.
    • All students pursuing concurrent degrees are still subject to the same pace requirements specified above.
    • Each degree candidate must successfully complete 66.67% of courses offered as part of the curriculum for each academic year or the substantial equivalent.
    • Courses enrolled during summer sessions are subject to the same pace calculation as the traditional academic year.
    • The number of attempted units counted in the formula reflects the units attempted as they appear on the student's transcript.
    • Units for the following grades will not be counted as completed units toward meeting the pace requirement for law students: F (Failure), I (Incomplete), Y.L. (Year-long), and N.C. (No credit), A.U. (Audited).
    • If a student repeats a previously passed course, only the first enrollment will apply toward the completed unit count; subsequent repeats will not. This does not apply to courses that are repeatable for credit (i.e., independent study courses).
    • Required remedial courses will count toward the LLS student Pace requirement. 
  • Students who withdraw from all coursework or take a leave of absence before the start of a term and later enroll in a subsequent term retain the SAP status held during their last term of enrollment.


  • All students who have received financial aid are reviewed for satisfactory academic progress at the end of the spring term, or summer term if applicable. Continuing students who apply for financial aid for the first time must have demonstrated earlier progress in order to receive financial aid.

    SAP is monitored as follows for the following programs:


    • J.D. (day and evening)
    • Master of Taxation (M.T.)
    • Master of Laws Taxation (Tax LLM)
    • Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
    • Online Tax LLM (OL LLM )


    • Masters of Law (LLM )

    When a student fails SAP, they are denied financial aid but are allowed to submit an LLS Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form.

    The Financial Aid Appeal Committee reviews the SAP appeal. If approved, the student is placed on financial aid probation and is eligible to receive financial aid for the next payment period.  The student is then evaluated at the end of the following semester to ensure that they are meeting SAP standards.

  • LMU Financial Aid annually monitors grade point average, Pace of Progression, and Maximum Time Frame Allowance for all financial aid applicants. This evaluation generally occurs after each academic year.

    When a student can be expected to complete a program of study within one academic year (two semesters), the Financial Aid Office will evaluate SAP at the end of every enrolled semester.

    These generally include programs designed to be completed within one academic year (two semesters).

  • Students who fail to meet SAP will be automatically placed on "financial aid warning" for the next enrollment period. 

    During the "financial aid warning" enrollment period, the student may receive federal financial aid despite the determination that the student is not meeting SAP standards. 

    The student must meet SAP standards at the end of the financial aid warning period or will be suspended from further financial aid until such time as the student:

    • Meets SAP standards (student must pay for any additional course enrollment after the financial aid warning period through personal or private funds) or
    • Successfully appeals and is placed on financial aid probation.

    Students will be notified of their status at the time of each SAP evaluation. Students who lose eligibility will be notified via their LLS email, which will include instructions for appealing the loss of eligibility.

    If you do not meet the minimum requirements in your next term of enrollment, you will not be eligible for financial aid. You will then be required to submit a Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal, which must be approved for you to receive financial aid. A SAP appeal must detail why you were unable to make satisfactory academic progress and what steps you are taking to ensure you make satisfactory academic progress in future terms.


  • If a student is not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress, GPA, or Pace of Progression requirements, they may appeal to have their financial aid eligibility reinstated on a probationary basis by submitting an LLS Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form

    The SAP appeal must explain why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress and what has changed in the student's situation to allow the student to make satisfactory progress by the next evaluation.

    It is essential that students explain their circumstances in detail.  Generalized statements will not be sufficient for consideration of a SAP appeal.

    All SAP appeals must include a Student Educational Plan signed by the Dean of Students or Academic Support Professor who assisted the student in mapping their educational goals, and it must provide the tools they need to meet the minimum financial aid satisfactory academic progress standards.

  • Students will be sent an official notification of the appeal decision to their LMU Lion email account.

    If the mitigating circumstance, documentation, and Student Educational Plan are acceptable to the SAP Appeals Committee, the appeal will be approved. The student will then be placed on Financial Aid Probation, and the student's financial aid eligibility will be reinstated for one subsequent semester.

    At the conclusion of the subsequent payment period after the approved appeal, the Financial Aid Probation status will be removed if the student meets the standards of SAP. If not, the student's academic performance for the term will be evaluated against the student's SAP Educational Plan.

    If the student meets the requirements of the Student Educational Plan, the student will be assigned Financial Aid Probation for one subsequent payment period. If the student fails to meet SAP standards or the requirements set forth in the SAP Educational Plan, the student must enroll without financial aid and meet SAP requirements to regain eligibility.