Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

General Questions

Q: What are passing grades?

A: A passing grade is anything higher than an F. That includes all grades of A, B, C, and D (including D-). CR (Credit) is a passing grade as well.

Q: What are non-passing grades?

A: A non-passing grade is a grade of NC (No Credit), I (Incomplete), W (Withdrawal), WU (Withdrawal Unauthorized), or F (Unsatisfactory).

Remember that a student must have a Sacramento State GPA of at least 2.0 or greater to be in “good academic standing.”

Q: Can I repeat a course which I did not pass (meaning I got a grade of F, WU, or NC)?

A: Yes. Per the University Academic Repeat Policy, students may repeat courses they attempted but did not pass no more than two times. According to the Financial Aid Repeat Policy, the units associated with courses which have never been passed can be included in total units for financial aid.

Students should remember that failed coursework is calculated in the overall Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) review each year, and a student is required to meet SAP standards to remain eligible for financial aid.

Q: Can I repeat a course I passed with a C- or D, but for which I want a better grade?

Students may repeat a course in which they earned a C- or D to earn higher grades toward improving their overall GPA or to meet specific requirements of a prerequisite, major, minor, certificate, credential or other program. (For example, many majors require that undergraduate students pass all major courses with a C- or better). Course repeats for these reasons are allowed per the Academic Repeat Policy, but under the Financial Aid Repeat Policy, a student may only count the units associated with a previously passed class one additional time.

Q: Can I repeat any class I want? How many classes can I repeat?

A: Per the Academic Repeat Policy, undergraduate students are allowed to repeat courses in which they earned grades lower than a C no more than two times. Additionally, students may repeat a course if the major requires a grade higher than a C. Students may also repeat some courses and receive credit for multiple attempts if required for their major.

Students may repeat up to a total of 28 units worth of courses in in which they receive grades lower than C.* In addition, students who have received a grade of C- or lower for an individual course may repeat the course if the major requires a grade higher than a C.

*Note: only 16 of these 28 units are eligible for “grade forgiveness;” the additional 12 units will be “grade averaged.” See next question.

Q: When I repeat a course, what happens to the original grade?

A: For the first 16 units of courses that students repeat, the original grade is “forgiven,” which means it is excluded from the student’s GPA.

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Grade Forgiveness

When a course is repeated, the original grade is “forgiven” and excluded from the student’s GPA. This is referred to as Grade Forgiveness. Undergraduate students may repeat up to 16 units with grade forgiveness. Undergraduate students may repeat an individual course for grade forgiveness no more than one time. All subsequent attempts will be averaged. Students must complete a petition to repeat a course more than two times (for the petition, click here).

Note: Grade forgiveness is not applicable to courses for which the original grade was the result of a finding of academic dishonesty.

Grade Forgiveness Example: John takes Chem 1A in Spring 2013 and earns an F. In Fall 2013 he repeats Chem 1A for the first time and receives a C+. His F grade is forgiven and the C+ grade is the grade calculated in his GPA.

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Grade Averaging

In addition to 16 units allowed for grade forgiveness, each student is allowed an additional 12 units of repeat courses whose grades will be averaged in with the student’s other grades. This is called “Grade Averaging.” Grade averaging takes place when students repeat a course more than once, or if they have used up their 16 units of grade forgiveness.

Grade Averaging Example: John takes Chem 1A in Spring 2013 and earns an F. In Fall 2013 he retakes Chem 1A, stops attending class mid-semester, and earns a WU. His F grade is forgiven and his WU grade is included in his GPA. Finally, he retakes Chem 1A in Spring 2014 and earns a B. Both his WU and B grades are averaged together, and therefore both count toward his overall GPA.

Q: What if my grade in a repeated course is lower than my original grade?

A: The most recent attempt is always the grade that is counted even if the second attempt is lower than the original grade.

Example: John takes Chem 1A in Spring 2013 and earns a D. In Fall 2013 he retakes Chem 1A for the first time and stops attending class mid-semester without properly dropping the course; thus, he earns an WU (equivalent to an F). His new WU grade replaces the D and is included in his GPA.

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Course Repeats and Financial Aid

Q: Will financial aid cover courses I repeat?

A: Possibly, but there is a limit to which and how many units associated with repeated courses may be used to determine financial aid eligibility.

Once a student receives a passing grade for a course, that course can only be repeated once and be included in the total units the financial aid office uses to determine a student’s financial aid eligibility. In other words, students may only receive financial aid for one repetition per class, presuming they passed it the first time  (although perhaps with a grade lower than they would like). Remember, as far as financial aid eligibility is concerned, all that matters is whether a student received a passing grade or not (passing grades are A, B, C, D, and CR).

Financial aid may be applied to any number of courses that students have yet to pass (remember, non-passing grades are NC, I, W, WU, and F). However, it is very important to remember that non-passing grades impact students’ academic standing for the university and Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for financial aid.

Q: Can repeating courses affect how much financial aid I receive?

A: Yes. Per the Financial Aid Repeat Policy, only one repetition per class that a student previously passed counts toward the number of units used to determine financial aid eligibility. If a student receiving financial aid is repeating a course he or she passed on the first or second attempt, the units associated with the third or subsequent attempts do not count toward financial aid eligibility.

Example: Jane receives federal financial aid and is taking a total of 12 units in Spring 2013. One of her classes is English 20 (3 units) which she passes with a D. In Fall 2013, as part of another 12 unit load, she retakes Eng 20 hoping to get a better grade to fulfill a graduation requirement (students must earn a C- or higher to fulfill the Eng 20 requirement). However, she earns another D.

Finally, in Fall 2014, Jane retakes Eng 20 a third time as part of her usual 12 unit load. Although Jane is enrolled in 12 units, only 9 units count for financial aid, since Jane passed Eng 20 with a D and already retook Eng 20 once. Her overall financial aid package is now calculated on 9 units, which is considered three-quarter time. In this situation, her financial aid will be prorated and her awards may be reduced.

One way to counteract this effect is to take additional units which are eligible for financial aid during a semester when units for a repeated course will not count toward financial aid. In other words, students could enroll in 15 units for academic credit if they know that 3 of the units they are taking will not count towards financial aid eligibility. Students should talk with an academic advisor before pursuing this strategy.

Q: How do I know if the units associated with the course I am repeating are eligible for financial aid?

We hope that this webpage and the specific scenarios it contains help you answer this question. If you’re still not sure if a course you’re repeating is eligible for federal financial aid, contact the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office

Again, please note that the Financial Aid Office does not determine if a student may repeat a class per University policy, but only whether a student may be eligible for financial aid for a repeated class.

Q: Are there any other ways in which repeating courses can affect my financial aid eligibility?

A: Yes. Students should know that when calculating Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for Financial Aid eligibility, each time a student takes a course, it counts as a “course attempt” when measuring progress toward degree.

Additionally, if a student passes a course once and then repeats the course and fails the 2nd attempt, that failure counts as their final attempt in terms of the Financial Aid Repeat Policy, and the units associated with the third attempt will not count in the student’s total units for financial aid eligibility.  Having fewer than 12 financial aid eligible units could reduce certain types of awards (e.g., Pell Grant).

If a student passes a course once and repeats the course for a better grade, both attempts will count toward financial aid. If, however, he or she repeats the course a third time, the units associated with repeating the course for the third time will not count toward the student’s total units eligible for financial aid, even if the desired grade was not earned in the second attempt.

Q: I’m taking a course that might look like a repeat (e.g. Special Problems Courses, Independent Study Courses, or some Music Courses ), but actually has different content than my previous enrollment. What should I do then?

A: There are courses which departments require students to repeat (e.g. Musc 55A, Intermediate Violin, which must be repeated 4 times to meet Major requirements). If the repeat requirement is documented in the catalogue or on a Major requirement worksheet, the units may be considered for financial aid eligibility.

If, however, the repeat is not required, but the actual content differs from the previous attempt, students may submit documentation (e.g. a contract with the professor) to the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office for consideration. If you are unsure whether this situation applies to you, contact the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office.

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Specific Financial Aid Scenarios Involving Course Repeats

Q: I am a transfer student who is enrolling in a course that I have repeated twice at a community college. Is this course eligible for federal financial aid at Sacramento State?

A: Yes. Per the Financial Aid Repeat Policy, a course repeated at a community college is not considered a repeat for financial aid. However, once a student begins taking that particular class at Sacramento State, he or she is subject to both the Academic and Financial Aid Repeat Policies.

Q: If I receive an F in my first attempt of a course and I repeat the course and earn a D, can I retake the course a third time to improve the D grade and still receive federal financial aid?

A: Yes, but you may only attempt the course once more and have the units associated with that attempt be included in your total units for financial aid. Remember, a student may only use the units associated with a previously passed course one more time for financial aid. A passing grade for federal aid purposes is considered to be a D- or higher. 

Q: I received a D in my first attempt to complete a course. I retake the course a second time and earn an F. Can I take the course a third time and count the associated units toward financial aid?

A: No. The D is treated as your first attempt with a passing grade and the F counts as your second attempt. Passing grades for aid purposes are grades “D-“or higher, as well as a “CR”.

Q: My major requires a grade of C or better for major coursework. In my first attempt, I earn a C-. I retake the course a second time and receive an F. Can I take the course a third time and have those units count toward my financial aid?

A: No. Regardless of any school or program policy requiring a higher grade, a grade of C- is considered passing grade for federal aid purposes and is counted as your first attempt.

Q: I have taken a course and earned a passing grade of C-. I retake the course for a higher grade but I had to withdraw and earned a grade of W. Can I take the course a third time and have the units associated with that repeat count toward total units for financial aid?

A: Yes. In this case, the W does not count as your first repeat. Because you have already passed the course once, you would still be eligible to repeat the course once and have the units associated with that that repeated course count toward financial aid.

Q: As a Music major I am required to enroll in the same course each semester until I have taken it the required number of times for my degree requirements (that means I may have to take a course with the same course name and designation 4-8 times). Can I continue to receive federal financial aid for this course?

A: Yes. In this situation, since there is different course content being taught in each subsequent class—even though it has the same course name and designation—you may take this course as many times as required by the major, and the units for the course will count for financial aid each time.

Q: Will repeating a 3 unit course I already passed still impact my financial aid if I am taking 15 units or more?

A: Probably not. Full-time status for financial aid is 12 units. So, if you are repeating a 3 unit course you’ve already passed, you have enrolled in 15 units and the course you are repeating is 3 units, you will still have 12 units in play; presuming all the units in play are eligible for financial aid, your financial aid should not be impacted.

Q: When does the Financial Aid Office determine if the course I am repeating counts toward my total semester units for financial aid eligibility?

A: The Financial Aid Office will notify students who are enrolled in repeated coursework during early registration. Students will be sent a message through My Sac State to give them time to adjust their class schedule if necessary. If unable to adjust their class schedule during early registration, students can adjust their schedules during Open Registration prior to the beginning of the semester, during Late Registration once classes begin through the second week of the semester, and by working with their academic department through the fourth week of the semester.

Because students’ schedules fluctuate throughout the first four weeks of class, financial aid awards are reviewed after the end of the 4th week of the semester. If students do not have enough financial aid eligible units for the awards they have received, the financial aid staff will adjust those awards. In some cases, a student may owe financial aid funds back to the University.

Q: I received a Sac State Message about repaying aid for a repeated course that I was paid federal aid for. Can I appeal this decision?

A: No. Federal aid eligibility for repeated coursework is a federal regulation established by the U.S. Department of Education.  In accordance with this regulation, each institution who receives federal aid is required to monitor repeated coursework and determine federal aid eligibility. If you think there was an error calculating your eligible financial aid units, please see a financial aid counselor.

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