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S/SP/U Grading Policy for Spring 2020 Courses

Frequently Asked Questions for Students

 

What is the S/SP/U grading option? The S/SP/U option is an emergency grading system that permits students to receive a letter grade for their courses or to switch some or all of their Spring Semester 2020 courses to a pass (S/SP)/fail (U) grading system.

A. This emergency pass/fail grading system will apply the following grades to undergraduate courses:

  • S (Pass) Satisfactory or passing performance at the undergraduate level (letter grades A to C). Academic credit earned.
  • SP (Pass) Satisfactory or passing performance at the undergraduate level (letter grade D). Academic credit earned.
  • U (Fail) Unsatisfactory or failing performance (letter grade F). No academic credit earned.

B. This emergency pass/fail grading system will apply the following grades to graduate courses:

  • S (Pass) Satisfactory or passing performance at the graduate level (letter grades A to B). Academic credit earned.
  • SP (Pass) Satisfactory or passing performance at the graduate level (letter grade C). Academic credit earned.
  • U (Fail) Unsatisfactory or failing performance (letter grades D to F). No academic credit earned.

Academic credits successfully completed under the pass/fail grading system will count toward the total earned semester hours but will not be included in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average.

Courses that currently offer S/U grades as the only grading options will continue to offer that grade.

Why is this option available now?

Virginia State University recognizes that the transition to remote instruction to ensure the health and safety of the university community amidst the uncertainties of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has been particularly disruptive to the teaching and learning experience. Mindful of the extraordinary challenges and stresses that this disruption has created for students and faculty, the University is implementing these emergency measures to help mitigate related anxieties and enhance students’ academic success.

Which students are eligible to choose the S/SP/U grading option?

The S/SP/U option is available to all undergraduate and graduate students.

How can I determine if this is a good option for me?

Because decisions are final, students are strongly encouraged to consult with their academic advisors, program coordinators, or department chairs to consider carefully which courses are best suited for the pass/fail grading option. There may be programmatic restrictions that prevent the conversion of some course grades to an S/SP/U grade, or there may be other reasons why the conversion may not be advisable.   Ultimately, the decision to take the S/SP/U grading option and any responsibility associated with that decision reside with the individual student.

Do I have to change to the S/SP/U grading system?

No.  Students may choose not to switch any courses to this grading option and keep letter grades earned for all courses completed during Spring 2020.

How many courses can I change to S/SP/U?

The S/SP/U grading option may be selected for one, some, or all courses completed during Spring Semester 2020 only.

 

How will the S/SP/U grading system affect my GPA?

A passing grade (S, SP) will not be factored into the GPA; however, these courses will count towards earned semester hours. A failing grade (U) will not be factored into the GPA, and no semester hour credit will be earned.  If the S/SP/U option is selected for one or more courses, the GPA will be calculated based on any remaining letter grades earned for Spring Semester 2020.  If the S/SP/U grading option is selected for ALL course, then a student’s GPA will be the same as it was at the end of beginning of Spring Semester 2020. For example, if an undergraduate student is taking five classes and opts to change three of those classes to S/SP and maintains two B letter grades for the remaining classes, then the GPA for the semester will be calculated as a 3.0, and the student will have earned 15 semester hour credits. Because graduate students carry fewer hours each semester and are more likely to be part time students, graduate students are strongly encouraged to consult with their academic advisors and program coordinators before selecting this option.

What if I am currently on academic warning or probation?

Undergraduate students on academic warning or on academic probation should understand that switching all courses to S/SP/U will not change that status.  With no change in GPA, this academic status will continue for another semester.  Graduate students who are on academic probation should consult their academic advisor or program coordinator.

What if a course I am taking is a prerequisite for another course in my academic program?

The S/SP grade awarded for a course that is a prerequisite for another course in an academic program will be accepted for prerequisite credit in the sequence ONLY if the S/SP grade was earned during this emergency grade accommodation period. 

What if my major courses require that I earn a certain grade?

Students should consult with their academic advisors or program coordinators before making a decision about converting course grades to the S/SP/U grading system.

 

Can I select the S/U option for a course that I am repeating?

Students currently retaking a course in an attempt to replace a low grade should not consider selecting the S/SP/U option. However, students should consult with their academic advisors regarding all repeat courses in progress during Spring Semester 2020.

What if my course is related to an internship, practicum, or other field program?

Students enrolled in credit-bearing internships, practica, or other field programs during Spring Semester 2020 should consult with their academic advisors or program coordinators before making a decision about converting those course grades to the S/SP/U grading system.

I am a Student Athlete.  How will the S/SP/U option affect my NCAA eligibility?

Currently, subject to NCAA guidelines and requirements, student athletes would not be eligible to select the S/SP/U grade option, unless there is a waiver provided by the NCAA specific to academic eligibility.  Student Athletes should consult with  or direct questions about their academic eligibility to Peggy Davis, Associate VP of Intercollegiate Athletics, pdavis@vsu.edu  or (804)-524-5030 or Deborah C. Mallory, Associate Athletic Director for Compliance, dmallory@vsu.edu or (804)-524-5571.

 

How will taking the S/SP/U option affect my financial aid eligibility?

All SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) guidelines from the Department of Education will be followed. In addition, student recipients of University scholarships or graduate assistantships would be eligible to opt for S/SP/U grades where applicable. However, scholarship recipients should be reminded that the criteria to maintain scholarship eligibility will remain in effect.  For questions about undergraduate scholarship eligibility, please contact Dr. Daniel Roberts in the Honors Program at droberts@vsu.edu or (804)524-6459 or Ms. Sheila Allen in the Financial Aid Office at sallen@vsu.edu or (804)524-6854. For questions about graduate assistantship eligibility, please contact Dr. Isis Walton, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies at iwalton@vsu.edu or (804)-524-6864.

Please note that an institution may award a student financial aid only one time for retaking previously passed coursework. Department of Education considers a passing grade as any grade greater than a failing, or “F”, grade. The institution may award financial aid to retake previously failed coursework.

 

What if I change my mind after May 15th?

Once students select the S/SP/U grading option, that decision is final.  Therefore, students should consult their academic advisors and consider carefully whether taking the S/SP/U option is the best choice academically.

Can I still receive an incomplete in a course?

Yes. The incomplete (“I”) option will continue to be available to students who are passing the course but who, due to extenuating circumstances, are unable to complete course requirements by the end of the term.  Faculty will follow the existing academic procedures for assigning an “I” grade.

 

What if I prefer to withdraw from a course?

The withdrawal (“W”) option will continue to be available to all students.  The last date to withdraw from a course this semester (with a "W" appearing on your record) is extended to the last day of classes, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. A grade of “W” is not calculated into the GPA.   Students may visit the Registrar’s web page for forms and instructions for completing this process remotely.

Students should continue to be mindful of the need to maintain a fulltime course load to satisfy financial aid requirements.  International students should also be mindful of the need to maintain a fulltime course load to satisfy their F-1 visa requirements.

Will I be able to switch my letter grades to S/SP/U grades next academic year?

No.  The S/SP/U grading option is a temporary emergency grade accommodation in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and is currently applicable to Spring Semester 2020 courses only.

 

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