Academic Improvement Plans
What is an AIP?
An AIP is an Academic Improvement Plan designed to help students become academically healthy and earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.
Who has an AIP?
Any undergraduate student with a cumulative GPA less than 2.0.
Why does Clarion require AIPs?
Students are required to be have AIPs for both academic and financial aid reasons.
First, undergraduate students must have cumulative GPAs of at least 2.00 to graduate. The PA State System of Higher Education sets this standard. We want to help you get on the right track for graduation.
Second, Federal Financial Aid regulations specify that to continue to receive financial aid, students must be in good academic standing with grades consistent with the required GPA for graduation. At Clarion, that’s a 2.0 cumulative GPA. Students with cumulative GPAs below 2.0 may continue to receive financial aid if they have a plan (like the AIP) for how they will improve their GPAs, if they have successfully completed at least 67% of all previously attempted credits, and if they have submitted a Financial Aid Appeal to the Office of Student Financial Services and had the appeal approved.
I don’t receive financial aid. Do I have to have an AIP?
Yes. You cannot graduate if your cumulative GPA is below 2.0. The longer your cumulative GPA is below 2.0, the more difficult it is to raise. We want to do everything we reasonably can to help you be academically successful, and the AIP is designed to help you become academically healthy. Additionally, the Federal Financial Aid regulations say that academic standards must be consistently applied to all students--those who receive financial aid and those who are not receiving financial aid.
How does a student get an AIP?
Undergraduate students with cumulative GPAs less than 2.0 will receive a letter/email telling them about the need to meet with staff in Academic Affairs. Staff will meet with the students in person or via phone to discuss grades and academic performance. The Academic Affairs office will begin the AIP and send it the students’ advisors and department chair. The advisors/department chair work with the students to develop schedules and strategies to improve the cumulative GPA.
Why do some students get only 1 semester to raise their GPAs and other students get 2 or 3 semesters?
Students who are failing classes are wasting both time and money, and they need to become academically healthy as soon as possible. Unfortunately, some students have GPAs so low that it is mathematically impossible to raise their cumulative GPAs to 2.0 in one semester. Academic Affairs uses a formula based on quality points and total credits to determine the number of semesters students should be given to earn a 2.0.
How is financial aid related to grades and grade point averages?
Federal Financial Aid comes from the federal government. The government wants to make sure it is investing its money in students who are succeeding in school, and it requires students to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress (sometimes called SAP) to continue to receive financial aid. There are three parts of satisfactory academic progress (SAP), and undergraduate students must meet all parts:
1) 2.0 cumulative GPA or higher
2) successfully complete at least 67% of all attempted credits, cumulatively. Attempted credits include all courses students have taken including transfer courses, remedial courses like Math 050, and even those that students repeated or withdrew from after the add/drop date.
3) students must not have attempted more than 150% of the credits needed for degree completion. This means that if it takes 120 credits to complete a bachelor’s degree, students lose aid eligibility when they reach 180 credits (120+60=180).
The Office of Student Financial Services explains this in more detail on their website
How do I determine if I’ve passed 67% of all previously attempted credits?
Ask Student Financial Services. You can get a rough estimate by looking at the unofficial PennWest Clarion transcript and dividing the earned credits by the attempted credits. If the earned credits divided by the attempted credits is less than .67, then you are not making satisfactory academic progress. This number is never rounded up, so .66667 is not good enough. The attempted credit column on the unofficial transcripts shows all the credits you’ve enrolled in at Clarion, and it includes courses you failed, repeated, or withdrew from after add/drop. Attempted credits do not include any AP credits or credits for life experience. Earned credits are credits you successfully completed.
If you have transferred into Clarion, determining the 67% is more complicated since the 67% applies to all courses you have taken at Clarion and the courses you transferred into Clarion from all other universities and colleges you attended.
What happens if I didn’t pass 67% of my previously attempted credits?
You will be notified by the Office of Student Financial Services that you failed to make the federally required satisfactory academic progress (SAP). You will not be eligible for federal aid (including federal direct Stafford loans and PLUS loans) until you have either regained SAP on your own or you have submitted and have been approved for a Federal Financial Aid appeal. The Office of Student Financial Services reviews your appeal and, if there are significant extenuating circumstances, may approve the appeal. Not all Financial Aid appeals are approved.
I have an AIP. Why do I have to pass all of the courses listed on the AIP?
There are three reasons. The first is obvious; failing a course will not improve your cumulative GPA. The AIP is designed to help you become academically healthy and progress towards graduation. Secondly, as a condition for being allowed to continue to attend Clarion, you agreed to pass all of the courses on the AIP. Thirdly, a failed course reduces your credit completion rate. You have to get a passing grade in at least 67% of all previously attempted credits to remain eligible for federal financial aid.
I have an AIP. Why can’t I withdraw from a course I am failing?
Withdrawing from a course may make you ineligible for future financial aid. There are two reasons why this is so. 1) Withdrawals count toward your attempted credits. More attempted credits and fewer passed credits reduces the completion rate. Students need to complete with a passing grade at least 67% of all previously attempted credits. 2) Some students with AIPs completed an appeal to Student Financial Services which granted them financial aid under certain conditions. One of those conditions was that students would take the courses specified in the AIP. If they withdraw from one of the courses, they violate the conditions of the financial aid appeal.
So you cannot withdraw from any course after drop/add if you have an AIP.
No one told me I might lose my financial aid. Shouldn’t my advisor have told me that I might lose my financial aid?
No. Federal and state regulations say that… “It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of federal and state guidelines that affect her/his ability to receive and retain financial aid. Other offices and personnel on campus (including academic advisors, Academic Affairs, faculty; and staff in the Registrar’s Office) do not know which students are recipients of financial aid, do not monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress for financial aid purposes, and cannot make or override decisions regarding your eligibility for financial aid” (www.clarion.edu/sappolicy)
What happens if I do not meet the semester cumulative GPA goal listed on the AIP?
If you who do not meet the cumulative GPA goal for the semester, you will be suspended. Federal financial aid recipients who have been placed on an AIP and who fail to follow or achieve the requirements of their AIP also will lose eligibility for federal financial aid.
What happens if I am suspended?
You must sit out one semester. That means you cannot take any Clarion courses and cannot live in University housing for that semester. After that semester, you can petition the University to be readmitted. But if you are readmitted, you may not be eligible for federal financial aid because you do not demonstrate satisfactory academic progress.
Can I appeal the suspension? A lot of things happened to me that affected my grades.
If you are suspended, you may file a written appeal with the Provost’s Office within 3 weeks after receiving the suspension letter. The Associate Vice President will review the appeal. When reviewing the appeal, the Associate Vice President will look for evidence that you actually carried through with the activities checked in Section B of the AIP.
Students who have failed the terms of their AIP must also appeal the loss of their federal financial aid eligibility to the Office of Student Financial Services, if extraordinary circumstances caused the student to fail.
A successful academic appeal does NOT ensure that you will be eligible for federal aid.
Academic Improvement Plans
Additional questions and answers for faculty (rev. 9.21.16)
We never had AIPs before. Why do we have to do them now?
The federal government and Middle States are placing increased scrutiny on retention rates and the 4-year and 6-year graduation rates. The AIP process will have a role in increasing our retention and persistence to graduation rates. In the past, there was no intervention when students were placed on probation. The AIP now outlines some interventions which should help students persist.
Additionally, federal financial aid regulations changed. The Department of Education (34 CFR 668.34) said students who are not in good academic standing must have an individualized “institutionally developed academic plan” “that ensures that the student is able to meet the institution's satisfactory academic progress standards by a specific point in time” or be they will ineligible to receive Pell Grants, federal direct student loans, and PLUS loans. Approximately 93% of Clarion students receive some form of financial aid; 43% receive Pell Grants and 76% receive federal direct student loans. The Department of Education also said that universities must consistently apply the standards to all categories of students. Thus, all Clarion students who are on academic probation, whether they receive financial aid or not, should have AIPs.
Are Academic Probation and Financial Aid Probation the same thing?
No. The table below compares and contrasts the academic and financial aid probation processes.
There are some differences between academic probation and financial aid probation. One applies to academics and the other applies to a student’s ability to continue to receive financial aid. Also, academic probation reviews occur at the end of both Fall and Spring semesters while Financial Aid probation reviews occur only at the end of Spring semester. There is, however, much overlap between the two since Federal Financial Aid regulations specify that students must be in good academic standing with grades consistent with the required GPA for graduation in order to continue to receive financial aid. Therefore, when students are placed on academic probation they also are not making satisfactory academic progress (SAP). The two processes are outlined below.
Student Financial Services checks for Satisfactory Academic Progress only once each year at the end of Spring semester. All undergraduate students who have not met satisfactory academic progress at the end of Spring semester have an AIP and are placed on Financial Aid Probation. These students must file a Financial Aid appeal. Since faculty do not know if a student is on Financial Aid Probation, advisors should tell every student who has an AIP to talk to Student Financial Services.
Why can’t students repeat all of their failed classes at once? That’s the quickest way to bring up their GPAs.
Some students failed classes because the classes were difficult. Students may struggle (and fail again) if we ask them to repeat all of those difficult classes during the same semester. For other students, repeating all of the failed classes in one semester may take them out of compliance for financial aid. In order to continue to be eligible for federal financial aid, students must successfully complete at least 67% of all previously attempted credits. In order to be eligible for PHEAA grants, full-time undergraduate students must complete 24 new credits per year. If an advisor believes that a student should repeat more than one class, the advisor is encouraged to check with Student Financial Services.
Why can’t students with AIPs take more than 15 credits?
These students have struggled. To become successful, they will have to learn many new skill sets—time management, how to set priorities, how to study, organizational skills, how to manage multiple assignments at once, self motivation, etc. We don’t want to overwhelm students by asking them to simultaneously learn these skills while carrying the maximum course load.
Why must students take only the courses required for their major or degree program? There are some other easier courses they could take that would help them boost their GPAs.
First, students who take extra courses outside of their major or degree program will increase their time to graduation and are less likely to graduate in 4 or 6 years. Secondly, federal financial regulations say students may receive aid only for courses required for their degree programs. Additionally, most students with AIPs have filed a financial aid appeal in which they agreed to take only the courses required for their program of study or their major.
Why must students pass all of the courses listed on the AIP?
The AIP is designed to help students become academically healthy and progress towards their degrees. Obviously, failing a course will not improve the cumulative GPA. The students have been told this and agreed to pass all of the courses on the AIP so they could continue to attend Clarion. Additionally, a failed course reduces a student’s credit completion rate. Students need to complete with a passing grade at least 67% of all previously attempted credits. Some students are dangerously close to that 67% mark, and failing one more course will put them under 67%.
How does Academic Affairs determine which students get more than 1 semester to raise their GPAs?
Unfortunately, some students have cumulative GPAs so low that it is mathematically impossible to raise their cumulative GPAs to 2.0 in one semester. To provide equitable treatment of students, Academic Affairs has piloted a formula based on quality points and total credits to determine the number of semesters students should be given to earn a 2.0. The formula is:
(total attempted credits for GPA x 2.0) – (total attempted credits for GPA x cum GPA) = y.
y is number of quality points needed to reach 2.0; if y < 6, then 1 semester. If y = 7 through 12, then 2 semesters. If y > 13, then 3 semesters.
An easy way to determine this is to use the Points column on the unofficial transcript. Multiple the total number credits for the GPA by 2.0. Then subtract the number in the Points column to get the number of quality points needed to reach 2.0.
How do I determine if a student has passed 67% of all previously attempted credits?
Student Financial Services does this, but you can get a “ballpark” estimate by looking at the student’s unofficial PennWest Clarion transcript and dividing the earned credits by the attempted credits. If the earned credits divided by the attempted credits is less than .67, then the student is not making satisfactory academic progress. This number is never rounded up. The attempted credit column on the unofficial transcripts shows the credits the student enrolled in and includes failed courses, repeated courses, or courses the student withdrew from after add/drop. Attempted credits do not include AP credits or credits for life experience. Earned credits are credits the student successfully completed.
If a student transferred into Clarion, determining the 67% is more complicated since the 67% applies to all courses the student has taken at Clarion and the courses the student transferred into Clarion from all other universities and colleges attended.
Does every student with an AIP have to do a Financial Aid appeal?
Technically, no. But since advisors do not know if a student is on Financial Aid Probation, tell every student who has an AIP to talk to Student Financial Services about the need for an appeal. If the student must submit a financial aid appeal, the Office of Student Financial Services will review the appeal. If there are significant extenuating circumstances, Student Financial Services may approve the appeal. Not all Financial Aid appeals are approved.
Are faculty responsible if students lose their financial aid?
No. “It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of federal and state guidelines that affect her/his ability to receive and retain financial aid. Other offices and personnel on campus (including academic advisors, Academic Affairs, faculty; and staff in the Registrar’s Office) do not know which students are recipients of financial aid, do not monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress for financial aid purposes, and cannot make or override decisions regarding your eligibility for financial aid” (www.clarion.edu/sappolicy)
One of my advisees has an AIP. I have repeatedly tried to contact the student and have not been successful. What should I do?
Document those attempts using advisor notes in PeopleSoft. Also e-mail or call Student Success (1877) and let them know what you have done. Student Success, located in 312 Becht, supports student success, retention, and progression to graduation. It provides individualized student outreach to students who are identified as at risk including students with AIPs; they connect students to relevant campus resources, provide academic coaching and support for students on an ongoing basis, monitor and track progress of students, and maintain communication with faculty and staff in support of students.
One of my advisees has an AIP. He agreed to meet with me on a regular basis. He hasn’t done so. What should I do?
Reach out again to the student and remind him of the agreement. Document the attempts using advisor notes in PeopleSoft. Also e-mail or call student success (1877) and let them know.
Why should we ask students to have their study hours monitored? Who monitors study hours?
It’s easy for students to make excuses to themselves about why they didn’t study, but being accountable to others is often a powerful incentive to change behavior. Many students will study more when they know their study time is being monitored or reviewed by others.
On the AIP, some students agree to ask a friend or family member to document study hours. That’s okay; these friends and family may also provide additional support. The Student Success Center can also monitor study hours through its evening “study tables.” Staff document attendance and report it to the Student Success Center. Advisors can agree to monitor study hours and can use the advisor notes section in PeopleSoft to keep track of them.
How do I release an AIP hold?
To release an Academic Improvement Plan (AIP) hold for a student:
- Log into “MyClarion”
- Click on Faculty Center
- Click on “Advisor Center Tab”
- Click on student’s name. (If the student’s name is not listed, then click “view data for other students,” and type student’s last name or student ID).
- Click the “General Information” tab at the top of the page.
- Scroll to the Service Indicators section
- In the service indicator box, click on x Academic Improvement Plan
- Click Release button on upper right hand side of screen
- Select OK (at the bottom of the screen) to confirm
How do I view a student’s AIP once it has been submitted?
The AIPs are loaded into My Clarion so faculty and advisors can view them.
- Log into “MyClarion”
- Click on “Campus Solutions”
- Click on “Records and Enrollment”
- Click on “Custom SR”
- Click on “AIP Student Term Information”
- Type student’s last name or student ID.
- When the student’s name comes up, click on the current term
- Terms are coded by MYYT (Millennium, last 2 digits of year, Term)
- 1 = Spring, 8 = Fall
- Click on “AIP Attachments” tab near top of page