MD Satisfactory Academic Progress

The George Washington University, Washington DC

Responsible University Official: 

Director of Financial Aid

Responsible Office: 

Office of Financial aid

Most Recent Revision: 7/14/2022


Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Policy Statement

To receive federal financial aid at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, students must demonstrate satisfactory progress toward completion of the MD degree.  Students who receive federal financial aid (aid through the Department of Education and Health Resources & Services Administration) must, in accordance with federal regulations, be in good standing and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward their degree. Under Federal Title IV law, the school’s SAP requirements must meet certain minimum Federal requirements and be at least as strict as the institution’s established standards for good academic standing [34 CFR 668.34]. Federal regulations require three measurements to determine SAP: qualitative, quantitative, and time frame. GW’s SAP Policy also addresses the ability to appeal and receive additional eligibility while an SAP status is remediated.


Who Is Governed By This Policy

All MD, MD/MPH, and MD/Clinical Research Practice Certificate program students are governed by this policy.


SAP Policy Definitions and Procedures

Qualitative Review

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences does not compute grade point averages using letter grades. To meet satisfactory academic progress students must, therefore, achieve the minimum grade of “P” (satisfactory completion of work) in all required courses, including preclinical coursework, core clinical clerkships, and clinical electives. All preclinical courses in years one and two are graded as pass/fail/conditional and incomplete. All clinical coursework, including core clerkships, clinical electives, advanced clerkships, and clinical sub-internships, are graded on the four-tier system: honors, high pass, pass, and fail.

Grades that fail to meet SAP thresholds include those attempted but not earned: Fail, Incomplete, Unsatisfactory, and Conditional.

Once a grade of Fail, Incomplete, Unsatisfactory, or Conditional is successfully remediated (and a new “Pass” score is recorded on the official transcript), a student is placed in compliance with SAP, and is again eligible for federal financial aid in the subsequent semester.

Quantitative Review

Students must have academic standing consistent with the MD program curriculum and graduation requirements to maintain continued financial aid assistance. To meet graduation requirements, students must successfully complete the prescribed courses of study of the first through the fourth years (See MD Program Coursework Requirements). Additionally, students must pass all required USMLE exams according to regulations, as stated in the MD Program Class Regulations Grades/Evaluation Appeal, section C.3.

Students are expected to take the USMLE Step 1 exam by the deadline stated in the MD Program Regulations. Students who fail the exam on a first attempt will remain in good standing as long as they register a passing score by the deadline stated in the MD Program Regulations. Students who are provided an extension by the Senior Associate Dean must provide a copy of the extension approval to the Office of Financial Aid in order to maintain Satisfactory Academic Standing.

Students are expected to register a passing score on the USMLE Step 2 exam by the deadline stated in the MD Program Regulations.

Failure to meet the above MD Program requirements will result in failed compliance with SAP, and loss of eligibility for federal financial aid until successful remediation of all pending MD Program requirements.

Time Frame/Pace

Maximum time frame is the maximum number of years after first enrollment that a student may complete MD Program courses in the full-time pursuit of the MD degree, MD/MPH dual degree, or MD/Clinical Research Practice Certificate. The maximum time frames for completion of the programs are: 

Program Expected Maximum Program Type
Medicine/MD 4 years 7 years  
MD/MPH 5 years 8 years Joint Degree Program
MD/Public Health Certificate 4 years 7 years Joint Certificate Program
Treatment of Repeat Coursework

Students may receive Federal financial aid funding for the repeat of a failing grade or withdrawal of any class or classes. Repeated coursework may only be funded one additional time per repeated course. Additional time taken for repeated coursework is counted toward the maximum timeframe listed in the table above.

Leaves of Absence

The period of time for which a student receives an approved leave of absence will be included in the maximum time frame required to complete their program.

How often is SAP Reviewed?

The Office of Financial Aid will review the satisfactory academic progress of all aid recipients at the end of each academic year. Review of a student's academic status will be in collaboration with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, or his/her designee, after the MSEC has reviewed the academic progress status of all students. Students who fail to meet the required Financial Aid SAP standards (qualitative, quantitative, and/or time frame) will be ineligible for continued financial aid funding beginning in the fall term. The Office of Financial Aid will notify the student in writing of their aid suspension status and the appeal process for possible reinstatement.

Academic Dismissal or Withdrawal

Students who are academically dismissed or who withdraw from the school are not making academic progress and will no longer qualify for financial aid.

MD/MPH and MD/Certificate Program Satisfactory Academic Progress

All MD/MPH and MD/Certificate Program students must meet program-specific performance requirements (e.g. minimum GPA requirements) as stated in each Program’s Regulations. Failure to maintain a minimum required academic performance will result in failure to meet SAP requirements and loss of eligibility for Federal financial aid.

Appeal Process

Students who fail to meet SAP requirements (qualitative, quantitative, and/or time frame) may appeal to the Office of Financial Aid for review. The Office of Financial Aid will notify any student who has failed to meet SAP that they must complete the appeal process for reinstatement of aid. The appeal must state the reasons for failing to meet SAP requirements (e.g. special circumstances that contributed to the student’s failure to make SAP).  All appeals must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid within two weeks of the date of notification that a student has not met SAP.

Students who have a non-passing grade that cannot be remediated by the end of the academic year in which they are notified of their noncompliance with SAP must appeal to the Office of Financial Aid for continued Federal financial aid eligibility, and must submit a formal remedial Academic Plan to the Office of Financial Aid. The Academic Plan describes the coursework and timeline needed to remediate the non-passing grade or exam.  This plan must be in keeping with the required pace for meeting graduation requirements.

Students who receive a non-passing grade on two occasions for any single course may not appeal for reinstatement of Federal financial aid eligibility for the MD program unless and until the failed coursework is successfully remediated and a score of Pass is recorded on the Official Transcript.  Students on probation and under a formal remedial Academic Plan who fail to meet all conditions of the Academic Plan may not appeal for reinstatement of Federal financial aid eligibility for the MD program unless and until the terms of the Academic Plan are successfully met and approved by the Senior Associate Dean.


» Download the appeal form

Financial Aid Probation

Students who have appealed for reinstatement of financial aid funding and had the appeal approved will be placed on financial aid probation for one full semester and/or the period outlined in the remedial Academic Plan. Students must show improvement in coursework and progression in their program or academic plan (as determined by the MSEC and Office of Financial Aid Standing Committee) in order to maintain eligibility for Federal financial aid.

Students will remain on financial aid probation during the period of academic review.


Students who fail to meet SAP requirements will be notified in writing by the Office of Financial Aid of their status for continued financial aid funding.


Office of Financial Aid: 202-994-2960;

Who Approved This Policy

Director of Financial Aid