Spring 2020 Grading Options FAQs

What is the deadline for selecting the S/S-/U grade option for my Spring 2020 classes?

For graduating students in the Class of 2020, grades are due from faculty by Monday, May 11. Students will have until Monday, May 18 to submit the request to change their grades to the S/S-/U option.

For non-graduating students, grades are due on Sunday, May 17. With the Memorial Day Holiday on May 25, students will have until Tuesday, May 26 to submit the request to change their grades to the S/S-/U option.

Am I eligible for the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading mode?

Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to request the S/U grading mode, unless their specific program has a restriction. Note: All Nursing students, including DNP, and Social Work majors are not eligible for the alternate grading option.

Are my courses eligible for the S/U grading option?

Each division/department will review course requests for the S/U grade and determine which are eligible (exceptions may be, for example, for reasons of accreditation and licensure). If you are unsure if your course would be eligible, please reach out to your advisor/division.

How do I select the S/U grading mode?

Please use this GoogleForm link to submit a request for an S/S-/U grade for one or more of your Spring 2020 courses: https://forms.gle/rzrTzCznPwQeGML67

This link is also available on the Registrar's website, along with additional information about the S/S-/U Grade Policy.

If I prefer to continue with the A-F grading mode, do I have to do anything?

No, your classes will default to their current grading mode (A-F grading).

Are classes graded with the S/U grading mode eligible to fulfill degree requirements?

Classes graded with the S/U grading mode are only eligible to fulfill degree requirements if the grade of Satisfactory (S) or Marginal Satisfactory (S-) is received. For major requirements, please confirm with your advisor and/or division.

Are classes graded with the S/U grading mode eligible to fulfill prerequisites?

Classes that receive an S or S- grade are eligible to fulfill prerequisites, unless restricted by your specific program.

Do I have to change all of my classes to the S/U grading mode?

No, students can pick and choose among their classes to select the S/U grading mode on an individual class-by-class basis. Students may select the S/U grading mode for all of their classes, none of their classes, or some of their classes, at the student’s discretion.

Will there be a comment on my transcript associated with Spring 2020 indicating that there was a special grade option in place?

Yes, the language of that transcript notation is currently being reviewed by administration.

If I choose the S/U grading mode, how will my GPA be calculated?

Students who select the S/U grade mode for all of their classes will not have a GPA for spring 2020, and their cumulative GPA will be unaffected. Students who select the S/U grading mode for some classes will have their GPA calculated by the remaining A-F letter graded courses. If the student does not select the S/U grading mode for any courses, the GPA will be calculated normally.

Will choosing the S/U grading mode have any effect on my financial aid or scholarships?

It may. Contact the Financial Aid Office for additional guidance. State Grant programs (Mass Grant and Vermont State) require that a student have a 2.0 GPA to award. If a student’s GPA is below 2.0 now (based on previous terms), or they entered spring 2020 and elected all alternate grades, they would not qualify for state grants for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year if the GPA is below 2.0. If they were above 2.0 at the end of fall and elect alternate grades, their GPA from fall would carry over so they would still qualify. It is important to also recognize how choosing for some or all of your course to be S/U will affect outside scholarships. Because most organizations have a GPA threshold for applicants, it is important to consider how this may impact any renewable outside scholarships you may be receiving from outside organizations, or the impact it may have on your eligibility for any new applications.

How will Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) be calculated by the Office of Financial Aid for Spring 2020?

The U.S. Department of Education is still requiring that we run SAP at the end of spring semester, as of now. If students elect the standard grading system, SAP calculates as normal. Students who entered spring 2020 will have issues with GPA if they elect all S/U grades. Progress (attempted and earned credits) can be tracked correctly, but if spring 2020 entering students elect all S/U grades, they would have NO GPA, so while they would pass for Progress, they would fail for GPA since they would show no GPA, but earned credits. So we will need to review all students who entered spring 2020 and those on fall SAP. Those with all Satisfactory credits will be in good standing. We will review those with mixed grades. If students select all S/U grades and were at the Elms previously, their GPA will carry over from that point. So a student with a good cumulative GPA from Fall 2019 would keep that GPA, but a student with a low GPA could not improve if they select all S/U grades.

How will academic standing be calculated for Spring 2020?

Academic standing is calculated based on the student’s GPA. If you select the S/U grade mode for all of your spring 2020 classes, you will not have a term GPA calculated for spring 2020 and your cumulative GPA will remain the same as it was in Fall 2019. Academic standing would then be based on your Fall 2019 GPA.

If I am on a merit scholarship, how might the S/U grading mode affect me?

For students receiving merit scholarships, a 2.0 GPA must be obtained to keep the merit scholarship. So if students had less than a 2.0 in the fall and elect S/U grades, they cannot bring up that GPA and that would disqualify them for scholarship renewal. Alternately, if they had a fall GPA of 2.0 or higher and elected S/U grades, their scholarship renewal would calculate off their fall GPA. Students will need to determine what the GPA requirement is for their individual scholarships and act accordingly in terms of their overall GPA. Students with less than a 2.0 GPA will be able to write a letter of appeal to the Financial Aid office.

If I am receiving benefits from the Veteran’s Administration, how might the S/U grading mode affect me?

For students who decide to use S/U grading and receive Satisfactory grades, there will be no change or effect on your Education Benefits. For those who receive Unsatisfactory grades, the School Certifying Official will report this to the VA as an adjustment or termination (depending on number of credits this applies to) with Non-Punitive Grade Assigned. The effective date will be the end of term. Please keep in mind, the VA will determine if a debt is warranted, NOT Elms College.

If I am repeating a course in Spring 2020 (that I took in a previous semester and did poorly) and I select the S/U grade mode, how will my GPA be affected by the repeated course?

ElmsConnect will use the “best attempt” of the course (not necessarily the most recent) as the grade that counts, including if the first attempt was better than a second attempt. Because there are no quality points associated with the S/U grade mode, the best attempt will factor into the GPA, therefore if the best attempt was an 'S', instead of a C- or below, the lesser grade will be replaced and not factored into the GPA.

Is there someone I can speak with about deciding between A-F letter grading and the S/U grade mode for Spring 2020 classes?

Yes – please speak with your advisor and/or division chair about the academic impact of selecting S/U grades, and to the Office of Financial Aid about the financial impact of selecting S/U grades.

What should I consider before requesting a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grade mode?

Consult with your advisor if you are considering requesting the S/U grade mode for a course, and keep the following in mind:

Major/Minor Requirements: Each division/department will review course requests for the S/U grade and determine which are eligible to fulfill requirements (reasons for exceptions may include accreditation and licensure).

Accreditation/Licensure: Students should be mindful that courses graded S/U may not count towards accreditation or licensure in certain areas. This decision should be discussed with your advisor.

Dean’s List: Note that in order to be eligible to earn the Dean’s List recognition, students must still have at least 12 letter graded credits and earn a semester GPA of at least 3.5.

Repeated Courses: If you are repeating a course this semester, be mindful of how this will impact your GPA. ElmsConnect will use the best attempt of the course (not necessarily the most recent) as the grade that counts, including if the first attempt was better than a second attempt. Because there are no quality points associated with the S/U grade mode, the best attempt will factor into the GPA, therefore if the best attempt was an 'S', instead of a C- or below, the lesser grade will be replaced and not factored into the GPA.

Deadline: Students may choose to move a class to the S/U grading format through seven (7) days after the official grade submission date for their term.

My employer currently pays for the classes I am enrolled in. What effect might changing to the S/U grading mode have on me?

It depends. You should contact your employer and seek clarity on the requirements for continued tuition remission. If there is a term-by-term GPA requirement, you should consider remaining in A-F letter grading. If the requirement is the successful completion of coursework, the S/U grading mode would be fine. Each situation is unique and you should seek guidance from your employer prior to making your decision.

Will choosing the S/U grade mode affect my I-20 (F1 and J1 students)?

F-1 and J-1 students do not need permission to choose an alternative grading option as long as they maintain full-time enrollment.

If a grant pays for part of my education, should I stay with the traditional letter grade option?

Please contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss the options under your grant.

I was not be able to attend the Student Forum, how can I additional information?

The Student Forum was recorded, the link can be viewed HERE