Spring 2020 Pass-Fail Grading and Withdrawal Changes

  • IUP made temporary modifications to grading, withdrawal deadlines, and related issues for the spring 2020 semester.

    This affected four current policies: Pass-Fail Grading, Course and Semester Withdrawal Deadlines, Incompletes, and Probation.

    Course and Semester Withdrawal Deadlines

    The deadline for individual course withdrawal was extended to April 20. The deadline for total semester withdrawal was extended to April 27.


    The deadline for faculty members to convert incomplete designations for fall 2020 coursework was extended to August 2020. This extension gave students extra time to complete their work associated with an incomplete designation.


    A liberal policy for students on academic probation will be applied, including allowing students an additional semester to increase their grade point average. See more on academic probation under Potential Impact of Pass-Fail Grading, below.

    Pass-Fail Grading

    All undergraduate and graduate students now have the option of converting any or all of their spring 2020 courses to pass-fail grading. 

    This decision supersedes the following restrictions in the existing pass-fail policy:

    •  The number of credits permitted to be taken pass-fail during a student’s academic career

    • The exclusion of freshman students in taking coursework pass-fail

    • The exclusion of courses in a student’s major or minor or of courses that fulfill the Liberal Studies requirements to be taken pass-fail

    • The number of credits that can be earned pass-fail in any one semester

    The pass-fail option is not required and will not be automatic. Here are more details on how the process works:

    • Students were given the opportunity to review their spring 2020 semester grades between May 13 and May 20.
    • Students were required to submit a request to change courses to the pass-fail option by May 20.
      • Instructions on how to request that courses be converted to pass-fail grading were posted on this page.
      • Once the request has been submitted, the pass-fail option may not be reversed.
    • Students may make this change to one or more of their courses or to all of their spring 2020 semester courses.
    • At the undergraduate level, grades of D or better in courses being taken pass-fail will convert to a P. However, in programs that require students to earn a C or better to progress, only grades of C or better will convert to a P. Grades of D and F will remain on the transcript.
    • At the graduate level, all grades of C or better in courses being taken pass-fail will convert to a P.
    • If a student fails a pass-fail course, the student will receive an F or N (non-participation failure) grade, which will be used in calculating the student’s grade point average.

    Potential Impact of Pass-Fail Grading

    It is critical that both undergraduate and graduate students talk about the option of pass-fail grading with their advisors and with the Office of Financial Aid before choosing this option.

    Pass-fail grading may affect grants, loans, scholarships, transfer credits, progression to next-level courses, application to graduate school or other advanced programs, accreditation standards, and/or academic standing.

    Financial Aid Eligibility

    Federal Aid

    Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Direct Student Loans, Parent PLUS Loans
    • “Pass” grades will have no positive or negative impact on your federal financial aid, because they do not impact your grade point average. “Fail” grades are treated as Fs and will negatively impact your cumulative GPA.
    • The federal government requires schools to monitor students’ federal satisfactory academic progress at least once a year. IUP performs this review at the end of the spring semester. At IUP, undergraduates are required to earn a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher, and graduate students must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. All students are required to pass/earn at least 67 percent of all previously attempted credits. Those who have earned in excess of 150 percent of the number of credits required for graduation within their degree program are subject to a loss of federal aid.
    • Students will receive a letter and email in early June if they do not make satisfactory academic progress. This notification will explain the SAP appeal process, an option that allows students to continue to receive federal grants/loans for the next term of enrollment, if approved.
    • Students who are currently receiving federal grants and/or loans because of a successful spring 2020 SAP appeal are encouraged to contact the Office of Financial Aid to request a personalized review of their situation to ensure that “pass” grades will not affect future aid eligibility.

    State Aid

    Pennsylvania State Grants and Ready to Succeed Scholarships
    • The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) just released new guidance indicating they will count ‘Pass’ grades as long as academic credits are attached to these courses in their state satisfactory academic progress calculation. Therefore, PA state grant and/or Ready to Succeed scholarship recipients will not be negatively affected by choosing to use a Pass grade in lieu of a letter grade.
    • Recipients of the Ready to Succeed Scholarship are required to earn a minimum cumulative GPA. Students who were not enrolled for the fall 2019 semester and who received an RTSS award for the spring 2020 semester need to earn a specific GPA in order to be considered for funding in future years. “Pass” grades will not allow a student to meet this requirement.
      • Please note: Students in this unusual situation can appeal their loss of eligibility to PHEAA.

    IUP/Foundation Scholarships

    • Most of the time, initial and renewal criteria for scholarships are based on a student’s cumulative GPA. “Pass” grades will have no impact—positive or negative—on cumulative GPA. “Fail” grades will have the same impact as F and N grades on cumulative GPA.
    • Please note: A few scholarship programs may require students to earn a particular term-based GPA each semester. “Pass” grades will not produce this GPA. If you believe your scholarship award requires a term-based GPA, please seek guidance from the scholarship organization that makes these awards.

    Availability by Major

    Some students may be advised against selecting the pass-fail option because of accreditation or other requirements of their college and/or major. Because the situation is still developing, please discuss with your advisor and department whether selecting pass-fail is a viable option for you.


    Before selecting the pass-fail option, please be aware of its impact on grades. A “pass” grade will not raise or lower your cumulative GPA. A “fail” grade would have a negative effect on GPA, just as an F would have before the temporary policy was initiated.

    Academic Probation

    Because a “pass” grade does not help or hurt GPA, students currently on academic probation should consult their dean’s office about their progress and options before making a decision.

    Graduate School, Law School, Medical School, and Other Programs

    Selecting the pass-fail option may have an impact on future attendance at these schools and programs. While many graduate programs look at a student’s overall record, we do not yet know how graduate schools and other postbaccalaureate programs will treat pass-fail grades from this semester. Students who are considering graduate education should carefully consider how pass-fail grades in their major and minor courses might reflect on their graduate school applications.

    Student-Athlete Eligibility

    Typically, the NCAA does not permit student-athletes to take courses pass-fail and retain their eligibility to participate in NCAA sports. Given the unusual circumstances of the spring 2020 semester, the NCAA is permitting student-athletes to switch to pass-fail grading and maintain their eligibility if they have a career GPA of 2.0 or higher. Students with a career GPA under 2.0 who want to be eligible for NCAA sports should continue with letter grades, so that they can raise their GPA to at least a 2.0.

    Transfer Credits

    In general, many colleges and universities do not accept credits from “pass” grades. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, institutions may loosen this rule. However, that is not guaranteed, even at other institutions that have modified their grading for the spring 2020 semester.