Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading Scheme Preference


Penn College understands that COVID-19 related challenges in Spring 2020 have impacted students in a number of ways. With the intention of providing some relief to students who may be concerned about course grades and GPA impacts, the College is offering students the option to convert letter grades earned to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) for most courses offered.

Students may select which grading scheme they would like on a course-by-course basis. *Some programs and selective admissions majors do not allow for the use of S/U grades. Students should have received communication from Academic Affairs and academic school administration regarding limitations associated with choosing S/U grades.

Grades being converted to the S/U grading scheme will not impact a student’s GPA (positively or negatively). In courses where U grades are earned, no credit will be received.

Satisfactory (S) grades can be used to replace letter grades A, B, C, or D (for courses where D is an assigned grade). Unsatisfactory (U) grades can be used to replace the letter grade F.


Students will make grading preference selections directly through the “View Grades” option of SIS. This option will only be available to students once all grades for that student have been submitted by faculty. No action is required for students wishing to retain all letter grades.

The student may only make their preference selection one time, with the exception of those students receiving Incomplete (I) grades. Students with "I" grade(s) may make an initial preference selection via their SIS for courses with assigned letter grades in accordance with the deadlines below. At the completion of the course(s) with "I" grade(s), students will request a change through the Registrar's Office. Affected students will receive additional communication at the completion of the coursework.


  • June 8, 2020 - students petitioning to graduate (subject to change based on return to campus)
  • June 30, 2020 - returning students

Spring 2020 Transcript Notation

Due to COVID-19, students were given the option to convert some/all course letter grades to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grades in the Spring 2020 semester. Additionally, Dean's List distinction was not noted for the Spring 2020 semester.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) Grading Scheme FAQ

A Satisfactory (S) grade represents that a student passed the class. A Satisfactory (S) grade can be used to replace a grade of A, B, C, or D (for courses where a D is an assigned grade). However, there would be no conceivable situation where a student earning an A would want to opt for an S grade. An Unsatisfactory (U) grade represents that a student did NOT pass the class. An Unsatisfactory (U) grade can be used to replace a grade of F. Students are encouraged to discuss the implications of selecting S/U grades with their advisers.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grades are not weighted in GPA calculations. (S=Passing letter grade; credit received and U=Failing letter grade; no credit received)

Yes. Some programs, particularly within the School of Nursing & Health Sciences, are unable to issue Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grades due to compliance with accreditation standards and selective admissions requirements. You should consult with your adviser or program director for program specific information.

For the vast majority of students enrolled in the Spring 2020 semester, your financial aid impact will be the same regardless of which grading scheme you choose. We encourage you to review more specific information here

Satisfactory (S) grades will satisfy profile requirements.

Students considering transferring are encouraged to contact the institution they are considering to determine if Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grades will be accepted for credit. While many institutions are switching to an optional Pass/Fail grading schemes for the Spring 2020 semester, there may some exceptions for certain institutions and programs.

Transfer Guidelines for Pass/Fail Grading Schemes from Other Institutions

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many institutions across the country are going to some version of Pass/Fail (P/F) or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grades. In response to this change, Penn College is suspending Policy 4.34 which states that “the College does not accept transfer credit for any courses taken as “Pass/Fail” except fitness or developmental courses that are never offered with a letter grade.”  

Penn College will accept “pass" equivalent grades, assigned as a result of COVID-19, when the College determines a course may be accepted for transfer.

In doing so, the College acknowledges that it may be accepting courses for transfer credit for which a student earned a D grade.

In the School of Nursing & Health Sciences, this poses a challenge for students seeking to be ranked in one of the selective admission majors. Current Penn College students enrolled in a pre-program, awaiting selections, are NOT eligible to opt in for Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grades. Therefore, the Registrar’s Office, upon review of transcript for a transfer student seeking admission to a selective admission major, will reach out to the student requesting that they  provide a letter grade for the course(s) necessary for ranking. Program directors for each impacted major will provide necessary information to the Registrar’s Office.

If the transferring institution is not able to provide official documentation as to the original letter grade, the College will accept an email directly to the Registrar’s Office from a college email account of the instructor of record. The email must contain the full name of the student, the name of the institution, the full name of the instructor along with a phone number where he/she may be reached, the full course title and number, and the letter grade earned.

When a Pass/Fail or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading scheme has been implemented by a transferring institution, students seeking to be ranked in one of the selective admission majors within the School of Nursing & Health Sciences are asked to provide a letter grade for coursework as outlined in communication sent by the Registrar’s Office.  In cases where students are unable to secure a letter grade from their transferring institution, those course(s) will not be included in Math/Science GPA calculations or other grade-related criteria associated with selection.  It is important to note that a lack of math and science course grades will likely impact a student’s competitiveness/and or eligibility for selection.  Where applicable, students will receive point(s) for course completion. Students who are not able to provide letter grades are directed to reach out to the program director to discuss how this will impact their eligibility or ranking. 

Academic Review

The Academic Review process at Penn College occurs at the conclusion of each semester and is designed to identify at-risk students and apply necessary remediation, warning or suspension measures.

This process, currently scheduled for the week of July 6, 2020, will be modified to acknowledge student challenges associated with COVID-19 in the Spring 2020 semester. No suspensions will be processed as a result of this review. All previously utilized communication will be converted to warning notices (e.g., low GPA, maximum course attempt, academic probation, etc.).

Renewable Penn College Scholarship GPA Review

Students who met the minimum cumulative GPA requirement at the end of Fall 2019 Semester will have their scholarships renewed for the 2020-21 academic year, provided they meet other scholarship eligibility criteria. The Financial Aid Office will only use a cumulative GPA at the end of Spring 2020 Semester if a student fell below the minimum GPA requirement at the end of Fall 2019. Additionally, the College will consider the impact the COVID-19 disruption had on students on an individual basis, if needed.

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Review

The Financial Aid Office’s timeline for reviewing SAP for federal programs and private alternative loans will be altered. The review process typically begins in mid-May after all grades have been submitted. This year, the review process will begin after the June 30 deadline for students to submit requests for Pass/Fail (or S/U) grades. Exception: The SAP review process for a student enrolled in summer course(s) will happen on an individualized timeline based on the student’s course(s) and the aid types awarded.

PHEAA’s Pennsylvania State Grant (PSG) SAP is based on credits attempted and new credits earned, not GPA. Therefore, conversions to Pass/Fail grades (or S/U) will not impact PSG SAP. Assuming no delay from PHEAA in determining ‘conditional’ awards for the coming academic year and no change in SAP policy, the Financial Aid Office expects to begin the PSG SAP review as soon as all final grades for spring courses are submitted.

Dean’s List

The Dean’s List designation will be suppressed for all students in Spring 2020. Given students have the option to convert grades to Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) it would be impossible to determine students that would have achieved a semester GPA of 3.5 or higher.

At the conclusion of grade calculations for the semester, Academic Affairs will work with ITS to run a query of students that did not opt-in to any S/U grades to determine those who would have been eligible for Dean’s List. While the transcript will not reflect the designation, standard Dean’s List letters will be issued to qualifying students.

Spring 2020 Transcript Notation

Due to COVID-19, students were given the option to convert some/all course letter grades to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactorily (S/U) grades in the Spring 2020 semester. Additionally, Dean's List distinction was not noted for the Spring 2020 semester.

Course Repeat Voucher Process & Communication

Process for Requesting a Course Repeat Voucher

As a result of COVID-19’s impact on the Spring 2020 semester, some students may have no other option but to take a course over again. This option should only be considered as a last resort given its effects on student progression.

Petitioning for a voucher should be considered in cases where:

  • A student is unable to complete a course(s) because of extreme circumstances related to COVID-19 and an incomplete contract is not advisable (e.g., technology needs, sudden illness, care for a family member, etc.).
  • A student has an inability to complete coursework because of another obligation during the semester extension that is unchangeable, and the student’s faculty are NOT supportive of incomplete contracts based on the student’s progression through the course.
  • Vouchers should be considered a last resort as they may affect the student’s progression in the major, anticipated graduation date, etc.

Voucher process:

  • Students who feel they meet the above criteria should petition for a voucher(s) by emailing a rationale to Academic Operations at Requests should include which course(s) the student is making a request for.
  • Academic Operations will review the request and provide a response to the student.
  • Deadline: June 1, 2020 (Requests from students completing Spring 2020 coursework after this date will be reviewed on a case by case basis)