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Satisfactory Academic Progress

Policy for Cornell Law School Financial Aid Applicants

Federal regulations (General Provision CRF 668.1) require that Cornell University review the academic progress of students who apply for and/or receive financial assistance. Satisfactory academic progress is comprised of three areas as required by federal regulations. A student must complete their degree within a specified period, demonstrate they are making progress towards the completion of their degree by earning a minimum number of credits hours each semester, and achieve a GPA that is consistent with meeting graduation requirements. This regulation applies to each financial aid applicant, whether a previous recipient or not.

This policy on satisfactory academic progress relates to Cornell Law School (Law School) students who apply for and/or receive federal financial. In addition to meeting the standard for receiving financial aid, students must also meet the academic standards of the Law School. Academic standards can be found in the Law School’s Student Handbook.

Annual Evaluation

Annual financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) evaluations will be completed by the Cornell Law Financial Aid Office at the end of each academic year and cannot take place until final grades have been posted. This review will determine academic eligibility for the upcoming summer, fall, winter, and/or spring terms. Every student who applies for financial aid must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress, regardless of whether they are a first-time applicant or have received financial aid in the past. Any financial assistance offered for the year ahead is subject to cancellation if the minimum standards of satisfactory academic progress were not met in the year prior.

Students will be notified of their failure to meet the SAP guidelines via their Cornell email account.

Maximum Time Frame for Degree Completion

The Law School adheres to the New York State Board of Law Examiners Instructional, Credit Hour and Course of Study Requirements. Program and course of study at the Law School must be completed no earlier than 24 months and no later than 60 months after the commencement of all law study.

Federal regulations do not allow for the exclusion of courses in which a student has remained past the drop period and earned a grade of ‘W” from its calculation of the maximum time frame.

 Required Completion Rate

Federal regulations require that a student make steady progress toward degree completion by earning a minimum number of credit hours each semester. Progress is measured for all students by semester. In order to graduate within the maximum time-frame (10 semesters), a student must earn at least 16 credits per semester during the first year of law school. A student must earn at least 13 credits per semester for the second and third year of law school.

 Required Grade Point Averages

Federal regulations require the student to meet minimum cumulative GPA standards to retain eligibility for aid. A student must attain a 2.5 cumulative grade point average. For the purposes of this regulation, the Degree GPA will be used. Credits that have been transferred to the Law School are not included in the Degree GPA.

 Failing to Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students failing to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress standards will lose their financial aid eligibility. They will be notified in writing of their status by the Cornell Law School Financial Aid Office.

Students terminated from receiving financial aid can reestablish eligibility by successfully completing the required number of credit hours and by attaining the overall required grade point average by the end of the next semester. Neither paying for one’s classes nor sitting out a semester is sufficient to reestablish the financial aid eligibility of a student who has failed to meet SAP. If a special or unusual circumstance contributed to a student’s lack of satisfactory academic progress, the student may appeal the denial of financial aid.

 Appeal Process

The letter of denial from the Law School Financial Aid Office will describe the appeal process and a link to the appeal
will be provided. Examples of special or unusual circumstances are a personal injury or illness, death of a relative, or other circumstances as determined by the Law School Registrar. The appeal must explain how the special or unusual circumstances have been resolved so that the student will now be able to complete the required number of credit hours or attain the required grade point average.

The appeal must be submitted to the Law School Registrar for evaluation. The Law School will respond to the appeal in writing within two weeks of receiving the complete appeal.

If the appeal is approved, the student's financial aid will be reinstated for one semester. By the end of that semester, the student must have successfully completed the required number of credit hours and attained the overall required grade point average. Students who fail to make SAP by the end of that semester will have their future financial aid eligibility terminated.

Federal regulations prevent a student from submitting an appeal two semesters in a row. However, there is no limit to the number of appeals a student can submit if they can document there are new circumstances preventing the student from making SAP.


Financial Aid Office

115 Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell Law School
Ithaca, NY 14853
(607) 255-5141