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Topical Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

I-1: ACADEMIC DIFFICULTY and RECOVERY

These procedures are effective with the posting of Summer 2019 grades.

Context and Motivation

The Academic Difficulty and Recovery policies (54-00, 20, 40, 50, 90) are designed as interventions for students experiencing academic difficulties and aim to prevent these students from deepening their financial and academic difficulties. Academic Warning and Suspension are interventions intended to prompt students to identify and address the factor(s) that led to their significant academic difficulty. Through the procedures related to these policies, students who enter Academic Warning will receive meaningful interventions (see below) that encourage the student to improve their academic performance and move to Academic Good Standing. If a student reaches Academic Suspension, there is a continuing critical need to help them identify and address the factor(s) impeding their academic progress, with the overarching goal of successfully completing their Penn State degree. Academic recovery and success supported by early intervention and coordinated efforts is the driving force behind this policy and set of procedures.

Principles and Definitions

Guiding Principles:

With academic recovery and degree completion the intended outcomes of the various policies connected with 54-00, it is recognized that interventions need to start early in a student's academic career. The goal should be to prevent students from accumulating a significant deficiency in their grade point average. In order to help students recover, it is a priority to develop interventions that use the amount of recovery required to determine the appropriate form of intervention. Meaningful interventions along with student commitment should guide this approach to academic recovery and reenrollment.

Working with dedicated academic advisers and other staff in the academic success network at the local level, students facing academic difficulties should develop specific academic recovery plans that are not only viable, but also enable the student to identify the barriers to their academic success. As academic advisers and others work with students on academic recovery, clear documentation of outreach and expectations need to be entered in the University's official academic advising note system.

Definitions:

Academic Warning - academic status when cumulative grade point average (CGPA) falls below 2.00. Students are allowed to enroll as a degree student and take classes while in Academic Warning; student must earn a semester GPA (SGPA) of 2.00 or better to continue.

Academic Suspension - academic status when a student on Academic Warning earns a SGPA of less than 2.00. Academic Suspension is for two consecutive semesters; Summer counts as one semester. Students with 15 or fewer Recovery Points (51-70) after all grades are reported for the current semester may petition for a reduction in or stay of the Academic Suspension (see below for details governing this process).

Academic Dismissal - Students returning from Academic Suspension are required to earn a SGPA of 2.00 or better. If they do not, they are subject to Academic Dismissal, requiring them to be away from Penn State for a period of four calendar years. Students with 18 or fewer recovery points after all grades are reported for the current semester may petition to not be dismissed and instead be placed on Academic Suspension, requiring them to follow the procedures defined for that situation. See below for specific details on process.

Recovery Points - calculated by using GPA Units (credits completed at Penn State) x [2.00 – cumulative GPA].  Recovery points indicate the number of credits needed at a "B" or better in order to achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 2.00. Accordingly, indicating that a student needs 15 recovery points means that they need to earn a "B" or better in at least 15 graded credits (at Penn State) to reach a cumulative GPA of 2.00. Overall, these policies are aimed at keeping recovery points at a minimum to better ensure that it is realistic for students to recover and complete a Penn State degree.

Completed Credits (GPA Units)

Cumulative GPA

Recovery Points

40

1.8

8

40

1.7

12

40

1.6

16

40

1.5

20

 

Completed Credits (GPA Units)

Cumulative GPA

Recovery Points

20

1.6

8

40

1.6

16

60

1.6

24

80

1.6

32

Procedure

Academic Warning:

Identification—Office of the University Registrar
  • Once grades for a given academic semester are formally finalized, the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) will run a process to identify all undergraduate students (degree and non-degree) who have earned a cumulative GPA of less than 2.00. The OUR will update the academic status of these students to indicate that they are on Academic Warning. The OUR will send official notification to students of their Academic Warning status. It is expected that students enrolled at a Commonwealth Campuses will receive additional communication from the appropriate designee at their campus, students enrolled at University Park will receive additional communication from the appropriate College.
  • The OUR will place a registration hold on all students with an Academic Warning status; registration holds will be effective for the following semester's registration (i.e., these holds will not prevent students from making changes to their schedule for the immediate semester but will prevent registration actions for subsequent semesters).
Notification by Unit of Enrollment
  • To provide students in Academic Warning with a clear sense of expectations for how to develop an academic recovery plan, appropriate individuals will reach out to these students. At Commonwealth campuses, an appropriate campus designee will send an additional notification to all students enrolled at that campus with an academic status of Academic Warning. Similarly, an appropriate college designee will send additional notification to all students enrolled at University Park with an academic status of Academic Warning, and an appropriate World Campus designee will send additional notification to students in Academic Warning enrolled in a World Campus degree program. Ideally, this notification will be sent within the first two weeks of all respective terms of enrollment. This outreach will be documented in the University's official academic advising note system. 
  • Notification needs to provide detailed expectations for developing a recovery plan with the appropriate individual within that unit and underscore the requirements of the University's Academic Warning and Recovery policies. Details of recovery plans will be documented in the University's official academic advising note system.

Academic Recovery Interventions by Unit of Enrollment:

  • To promote academic recovery, it is expected that students in Academic Warning will have the opportunity for meaningful interactions with the appropriate individual or office to develop an academic recovery plan. Students in Academic Warning enrolled at a Commonwealth Campus must work with the appropriate person or office at that campus to develop a recovery plan, students in Academic Warning enrolled at University Park must work with the appropriate person or office in their college to develop a recovery plan, and students in Academic Warning enrolled in a World Campus degree program must work with the appropriate person or office from the World Campus to develop a recovery plan. Registration holds related to Academic Warning are removed by the Unit of Enrollment once a student has initiated substantive conversation about their recovery plan. Discussions about recovery plans must be documented in the University's official academic advising note system. A lifting of the Academic Warning hold without an academic recovery conversation may be appropriate in some situations, but a new registration hold should then be applied by the campus/college until the student has initiated substantive conversation about their recovery plan.
  • In anticipation of a potential appeal, a student must have documented engagement with their academic recovery plan for a stay of Academic Suspension to be considered in the future; and is a major factor for considering a reduction in the length of an Academic Suspension.
  • Students in Academic Warning may continue to enroll for classes if their semester GPA (SGPA) continues at a 2.00 or higher.
  • Students must achieve a cumulative GPA (CGPA) of 2.00 or higher to remove Academic Warning status.
  • Students who do not earn a semester GPA (SGPA) of at least 2.00 while in Academic Warning will be placed on Academic Suspension.
  • Academic Suspension will be deferred at the end of the student's second semester at Penn State if they completed seven or fewer credits in at least one of the semesters.
Students who have NOT previously been Suspended

Status at Beginning of Semester

Cumulative GPA at End of Semester

Semester GPA

Status at End of Semester

Good Standing

2.00 or higher

2.00 or higher

Good Standing

Good Standing

2.00 or higher

Less than 2.00

Good Standing

Good Standing

Less than 2.00

Less than 2.00

Academic Warning 1

Academic Warning 1

2.00 or higher

2.00 or higher

Good Standing

Academic Warning 1

Less than 2.00

2.00 or higher

Academic Warning 1

Academic Warning 1

Less than 2.00

Less than 2.00

Academic Suspension

Academic Suspension:

Initial Identification and Notification—by Unit of Enrollment
  • Given the limited time between grade submission and the beginning of the next semester and need for timely notification, responsibility for the identification and communication to students who are subject to Academic Suspension must be a shared effort between the Campus of Enrollment, the Academic Unit of Enrollment, and the Office of the University Registrar.
  • After the last day of Final Exams for any term, there must be a review of students in Academic Warning for that semester. The goal is to determine if current semester grades will allow them to continue or will place them in Academic Suspension. For students enrolled at University Park, the student's college will take responsibility for this initial review. For students enrolled at a Commonwealth Campus, the campus will take responsibility for this initial review. And for students enrolled in a World Campus degree program, the World Campus will take responsibility for this initial review.
  • These units must then provide proactive communication to these students about their suspension. This needs to include clear details on eligibility for the appeal process of an Academic Suspension, which is tied to documented engagement with their academic recovery plan. This outreach will be documented in the University's official academic advising note system. 
Official Notification—Office of the University Registrar
  • Once Final Grade reporting is completed by the Office of the University Registrar, academic standing will be processed by the OUR. Appropriate Academic Standing will be applied to individual students and recorded within the student information system.
  • Students who are placed on Academic Suspension will receive a formal communication from the OUR, which will be documented in the student information system.
  • OUR will cancel classes of students in Academic Suspension prior to first day of classes.
Outreach from Unit of Enrollment with Students in Academic Suspension
  • Unit of Enrollment communicates with suspended students, detailing options and expectations for next steps.
  • Unit of Enrollment needs to review adviser assignment ensuring students have clear sense of who to work with during their period of Academic Suspension.
Faculty Senate Petition Process and Alignment with Academic Standing Process
  • Ability to petition for an immediate stay of Academic Suspension requires: 1) engagement with an academic recovery plan while in Academic Warning, documented in the official University advising system; and 2) having 15 or fewer recovery points after all grades are reported for the current semester.
  • Students without documented involvement with an academic recovery plan may petition for shortened period of Academic Suspension but not for an immediate stay of suspension.
  • Adherence to a recovery plan, with active, timely discussion of the petition process while in Academic Warning will inform how students are instructed to approach the petition process.
  • Petitions for an immediate stay of Academic Suspension must be submitted to the Faculty Senate by the end of the business day after the last day of final exams. Units of enrollment will set earlier deadlines to receive student material for review and submission to the Faculty Senate. Students should check with their enrollment unit to verify appropriate deadline.       
  • Senate decisions regarding an immediate stay of Academic Suspension are needed prior to the running of the academic standing process by the OUR (in order to ensure that students allowed to continue do not lose their course registration; and to avoid University housing charges).
  • Only students with Faculty Senate approval for an immediate stay of Academic Suspension will be allowed to continue in their prior Academic Warning status in the following term.
  • Students who are unable to meet the deadlines will need to petition for a reduction in length of Academic Suspension (as opposed to immediate stay of Academic Suspension).
  • Petitions for reduction in length of Academic Suspension must be submitted, with review by the appropriate unit of enrollment, no later than the late-drop deadline of a regular session course of their first semester of Academic Suspension. (Dates for these deadlines are published on the University's academic calendar). 
  • Petitions for reduction in length of Academic Suspension must include documented support from the unit to which the student will reenroll upon return from suspension.  Decisions on whether to shorten the length of an Academic Suspension will be rendered by the Faculty Senate.
Supporting Academic Recovery during Academic Suspension
  • For students placed on Academic Suspension, the academic college must communicate options and expectations for academic recovery and eventual reenrollment to these students in a timely manner. This communication should include campus and college points of contact for the academic recovery process and be documented in the University's official advising system.
  • Support for students in Academic Suspension should come from resources that the student reaches out to during their suspension. Students are encouraged to engage with meaningful resources across Penn State that will support their recovery and return.
  • Expectations for students while on Academic Suspension will vary by the circumstances surrounding past difficulty and identified actions to aid in future academic recovery. Expectations for recovery will be documented in the University's official advising system.
  • Student may need to move to a different academic college/campus in order to create successful academic plans.
  • Given that academic recovery and return to Penn State is the expectation, allowing students to engage with resources across the University is acceptable. Conversations and interventions while students are on Academic Suspension need to be documented in the University's formal advising system to ensure a broad understanding of the student's efforts towards academic recovery.
Return from Academic Suspension

A student returning from Academic Suspension must apply for reenrollment following the procedures in AAPP K-1 and returns to the University in Academic Warning 2 status, with their former cumulative grade-point average (CGPA), and with a registration hold placed on the record by the Office of the University Registrar. The student must follow the requirements and procedures of the college for which reenrollment as a degree candidate is sought. Articulating realistic plans is an important component of the reenrollment process. Conversations that include appropriateness of goals, including fit of major and ability to meet entrance requirements, are important considerations in reenrollment decisions. Discussion of these pieces can help students select and formulate realistic academic plans.

Returning from Academic Suspension as a non-degree student (as a means to bypass the reenrollment process for degree students) is not permitted. 

Procedure:

  • Colleges will reenroll students returning from Academic Suspension with realistic goals in that college. It is expected that students may request to enter a college or campus different from their previous enrollment. Enrollment in DUS would be appropriate if student is exploring across multiple colleges. Students unsure of intended major, can work with DUS to identify a realistic goal upon their return.
  • If realistic goals in the original college or campus are not possible:
    • Original college or campus works with student to identify alternative goal and refers student to appropriate office based on intended goals.
    • If student needs additional support around exploring majors, student can work with DUS to develop a new direction and develop a viable plan with a unit.

Students who HAVE previously been Suspended

Status at Beginning of Semester

Cumulative GPA at End of Semester

Semester GPA

Status at End of Semester

Good Standing

2.00 or higher

2.00 or higher

Good Standing

Good Standing

2.00 or higher

Less than 2.00

Good Standing

Good Standing

Less than 2.00

Less than 2.00

Academic Warning 2

Academic Warning 2

2.00 or higher

2.00 or higher

Good Standing

Academic Warning 2

Less than 2.00

2.00 or higher

Academic Warning 2

Academic Warning 2

Less than 2.00

Less than 2.00

Academic Dismissal

Academic Dismissal

  • After returning from Academic Suspension, students will be placed in Academic Warning 2. If they subsequently return to Good Standing and then earn a cumulative GPA (CGPA) below 2.0, they will be placed into Academic Warning 2 (i.e., they will return to Academic Warning 2).
  • While in Academic Warning 2, if a student earns a semester GPA (SGPA) below 2.0, they will be Dismissed and will no longer be permitted to take courses at the University for a period of four calendar years from the date of dismissal. A student with 18 or fewer recovery points after all grades are reported for the current semester may petition the dismissal. Petitions will not be automatically granted. Documented engagement with a recovery plan is a necessary precondition for a Faculty Senate petition in these situations. If a petition is approved by the Faculty Senate committee, the student will be placed in Academic Suspension.
  • A student who has been academically dismissed from the University may seek reenrollment to the University by requesting Academic Renewal. If this renewal is granted, students return to the university in Good Standing.

Initial Identification and Notification—by Unit of Enrollment:

  • Given the limited time between grade submission and the beginning of the next semester and need for timely notification, responsibility for the identification and communication to students who are subject to Academic Dismissal must be a shared effort between the Campus of Enrollment, the Academic Unit of Enrollment, and the Office of the University Registrar.
  • After the last day of Final Exams for any term, there must be a review of students in Academic Warning 2 for that semester. The goal would be to determine if current semester grades will allow them to continue or will place them in Academic Dismissal.  For students enrolled at University Park, the student's college will take responsibility for this initial review. For students enrolled at a Commonwealth Campus, the campus will take responsibility for this initial review. And for students enrolled in a World Campus degree program, the World Campus will take responsibility for this initial review.
  • These units must then provide proactive communication to these students about being dismissed. This needs to include clear details on eligibility for the appeal process of an Academic Dismissal, which is tied to documented engagement with their academic recovery plan and being within the required recovery point range. This outreach will be documented in the University's official academic advising note system. 
    Official Notification—Office of the University Registrar
    • Once Final Grade reporting is completed by the Office of the University Registrar, academic standing will be processed by the OUR. Appropriate Academic Standing will be applied to individual students and recorded within the student information system.
    • Students who are placed on Academic Dismissal will receive a formal communication from the OUR, which will be documented in the student information system.
    • OUR will cancel classes of students in academic dismissal prior to first-day of classes.
    Outreach from Unit of Enrollment with Students in Academic Dismissal
    • Unit of Enrollment communicates with dismissed students, detailing options and expectations for next steps.
    • Unit of Enrollment needs to clearly convey who the primary point of contact is for students during their period of academic dismissal.
    Petition Process and Alignment with Academic Standing Process
    • Ability to petition for an exception to the dismissal action requires: 1) documented engagement with an academic recovery plan, and 2) being within the appropriate recovery point range. 
    • In petitioning for an exception to the Academic Dismissal action, students can request that they be placed on Academic Suspension instead. 
    • Petitions for an exception to Academic Dismissal must be submitted, with review by the appropriate unit of enrollment, no later than the late-drop deadline of a regular session course of their first semester of academic dismissal (dates for these deadlines are published on the University's academic calendar). After this point, students wanting to return earlier (from Academic Dismissal) would petition the Faculty Senate for early consideration of Academic Renewal. 
    • Petitions for an exception to Academic Dismissal must include documented support from the unit to which the student will reenroll upon return from Academic Suspension.
    Return from Academic Dismissal via Academic Renewal
    • Students return in Good Standing without any lasting consequences from the previous Academic Suspension and Dismissal. (All rules of the Academic Renewal process apply.)

(Ref: Senate Policies 54-00, and 58-50)

Senate Policy:  54-00, Academic Progress

Approved: Senate (6-5-78)
Approved: ACUI (7-13-78)
Effective: Summer Term 1978
Revised: Senate (2-1-83)
Revised: ACAS (12-2-88)
Revised: ACUE (6-4-15); Effective Fall 2016
Revised: Editorial (9-30-16)
Revised:  ACUE (4-4-2019); Effective with the posting of Summer 2019 grades.

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