S/U Grading Options for Spring 2020

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Augustana is monitoring and responding to the outbreak of the respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. This is the Academic Dean's message.

Updated Friday, May 1

Dear Students:

Below, please find the policy for S/U Grading Options for Spring 2020. I am grateful to the faculty and staff for their important work on this timely issue, and I am likewise grateful to the members of ASA whose input is reflected in the final draft.

Thank you to each of you for your extraordinary resilience and patience during this first week of modified instruction, and thank you for the kindness and patience you have shown your classmates, faculty, and the AU staff and administration. Be well and be safe.

Very sincerely,
Dr. Colin Irvine


S/U Grading Options for Spring 2020

Students have the option of declaring one or more of their courses as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grades. The deadline for indicating that courses they want to designate S/U is Monday, April 20 (extended to May 1, 11:59 p.m. CDT). (Note: students may elect NOT to take any courses S/U.)

  • This S/U option applies to all courses in the students' major or minor, as well as to Civitas courses [with the exception of Nursing and some pre-professional health programs as noted below].
  • Pre-Professional (Pre-Med, Pre-PT, etc.) students must consider that some prerequisite courses should be taken for a letter grade. Students may consult Dr. Egland or their academic advisors.
  • S/U Grading is NOT allowed for any course with a NURS prefix, except for NURS 497 and 499. Supportive Nursing courses MAY be S/U.
  • As part of the modified S/U process, faculty will be able to see who in their courses declared S/U grading. As a reminder, S = C- or better and U = D+ or lower. Neither S or U will count toward the student GPA (importantly, please note that the spring 2020 S/U grades will not count toward the two S/U grades the student is allowed under current institutional policy.)

Timing: You have until Monday, April 20, (extended to May 1, 11:59 p.m. CDT) to declare your S/U classes, so keep working hard and give yourself time to adapt to the enormous number of changes and challenges. We recommend you wait at least until after Midterm grades are out (April 6) to submit your form. While we would like you to wait to declare your SU grading options, you may check out what the declaration site looks like on my.augie.edu (under the Academics tab; see the portlet on the top right). It would be helpful for ALL Undergraduate students to fill out the form on, or prior to April 20 indicating which (or none) of your classes to convert to S/U grading.

S/U Grading FAQ

Q. What is the difference between S/U and Pass/Fail?
A. Following are the options.

  • S = Satisfactory C- or better
  • U = Unsatisfactory D+ or lower
  • Pass would = D- or better
  • Fail would be a Failing or F grade

Augustana already has the S/U process in place. By choosing S/U versus Pass/Fail students will be able to count S courses toward their majors and minors, where normally a C- or higher grade would be required.

Q. Declarations are due by April 20. When should I declare S/U grading? (Deadline extended to May 1, 11:59 p.m. CDT)
A. It is recommended that you wait at least until you have your midterm grades, and have gotten into the rhythm of this new style of taking classes before you make a decision about letter vs. S/U grading. No conversion of Letter to S/U grading will be made in the system until after Monday, April 20 (extended to May 1, 11:59 p.m. CDT).  It is okay to wait and see a little. This will give you time to adapt, for graduate schools to weigh in on what they recommend you do, and for you to see how you are doing in each of your classes.

Q. I am a Civitas student am I allowed to SU my CIVT class?
A. Yes. Please contact Dr. Swart if you are currently completing your CIVT 395 Vocation project for details on how that would work.

Q. I am planning on applying for a professional program (Pre-Med, Pre-PT, Pre-PA, etc.), should I take my classes S/U or letter graded?
A. Students who are planning to apply to health professions programs such as medical school, must consider that some courses should be taken for a letter grade. Students may consult Dr. Egland or their academic advisors.

Q. I am on Financial Aid SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) Warning or Probation. Should I S/U my courses?
A. According to the recently passed stimulus bill, Augustana is allowed to exclude terms impacted by a qualifying emergency (COVID-19) in the calculation of a student’s SAP.  In other words, S/U will not negatively impact your SAP calculation if you’re currently meeting all the benchmarks. If you are currently on warning or suspension, choosing S/U will not help your cumulative GPA (it has no impact on your GPA). Earning an S will boost your completion rate and a U would hinder it.

Q. I am a student-athlete. Will there be any issues with declaring S/U for my classes?
A. Your successful completion (S grade) of a minimum of 9 credit hours is still required for this semester, as well as successful completion of a minimum of 24 credit hours for the 2019-20 academic year.  If your cumulative GPA is near the eligibility line, you should consider keeping some letter-graded coursework to raise your GPA.

Q. I receive Veteran Education benefits. Am I allowed to declare S/U for my courses?
A. Generally it is important for students receiving Veteran Education benefits electing to S/U a class to receive an S. The VA considers a U grade the same as a withdrawal, which can change your benefit status. If you are currently receiving Veteran Education benefits and considering choosing an S/U grade please contact emily.studenski@augie.edu. The VA is issuing new guidance regarding Veteran Education benefits and COVID-19 daily. At this time there has been no new or revised guidance on this subject.


A number of questions have come in since releasing the announcement regarding S/U grading. Find more information and answers to those questions here:

Q. Does the new SU Policy apply to Graduate courses?
A. No. The intent of the policy was for Undergraduate courses only. Students may not declare S/U grading for 500- and 600-level courses.

Q. Does the new S/U date of April 20 also apply to dropping classes with a W?
A. Yes, students will also have until Monday, April 20, to drop a class with a W grade. Please remember that this does not change the financial date for dropping classes and no tuition proration will occur after Thursday, April 9, which is the last date for any refund. Monday, April 20 was the last day to drop a class with a W grade.

Q. Does the new S/U Policy apply to block courses (1st half or 2nd half term)?
A. Yes. Students may declare those courses as S/U grading. There is an awareness that the last few weeks of the first half classes were very disrupted.

Q. Are all Nursing classes exempt from S/U grading even the elective classes?
A. There are 1-3 Nursing classes that might have an allowable S/U grading option and the Nursing department is working on that and communicating with the students in those classes. The Registrar’s Office will be notified of the allowable S/U Nursing classes once it is decided and students will be allowed to S/U those select courses.

Q. Does the new S/U Policy apply to study abroad courses that are now being taken remotely?
A. If the student wants to declare SU grading for those classes prior to April 20 (extended to May 1, 11:59 p.m. CDT), they will get the “unlimited” option of taking all of the classes S/U. If they want to use the standing Study Away policy of seeing the grade first, then only two may be switched from Letter to SU grading using the regular policy.

Q. Why do faculty see who has declared S/U grading and how will that work?
A. There is only one way to accurately and effectively manage the volume of S/U grading requests, and that is to change the grading type in the system. Faculty will only see who is taking the class S/U if they go look for it or when they are entering final grades.

Explanation in greater detail.

  • The anticipated volume of S/U grading requests is approximately 4,000 classes — or roughly half of the classes students are taking. This is based on evidence from conversations with students and how they would use this new policy.
  • Under regular S/U policy, students submit SU forms to the Registrar’s Office. After grades are submitted, Registrar’s Office staff manually go into each student record and convert the grades to S or U and document the changes to the student record per FERPA requirements. The past four regular semesters (FA/SP) had an average of 108 S/U Declarations. It takes 1-2 hours typically to process these at the end of grading.
  • If we do not put this grading choice into the system, the students will not be able to see their final grades for at least a week after they are due, based on the anticipated volume and the time it will take to document and change each grade. Degrees will not be posted for two weeks after grades are due. Transcripts cannot be mailed until the second week after grades are due. There is also an increased risk of error with this method, and the Registrar’s Office prides itself on accuracy of student records, and would prefer a method with less risk.
  • How do faculty see who has declared S/U grading? The only way faculty see this is if they go to where they enter grades for the class. The S/U grading option will not be altered until AFTER SU grades are entered, so most faculty will not even see who is S/U or LR grading until they go to enter final grades.
    • If faculty person wants to use this knowledge to assist them on the time it takes them to grade papers and other assignments (there is a difference in grading to see if someone has an S vs. the determination if they should have a B+, B, or B-), they would be able to look up who is taking the class S/U and grade accordingly.

Finally, please keep in mind that this spring 2020 S/U grading policy is intended to help both students AND faculty by easing the burden this transition to modified instruction has created for all of us at Augustana. Your faculty are doing their very best under stressful circumstances to support and accommodate your needs as well as those of their own families because of these sudden and unexpected changes and challenges.