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Pass/Fail FAQs

Spring 2020 Extended Access to Pass Fail Option Policy for Undergraduates 

In light of Loyola’s decision to transition temporarily to an online delivery model and in recognition of the challenges this may pose to students and the gravity of the national situation, the University Courses and Curriculum Committee and university leadership have decided to provide students with expanded access to the Pass/Fail grading option for the Spring 2020 semester.

In early April, undergraduate students, with the exception of RN-BSN students, may elect to switch some or all of their Spring 2020 courses to P/F. This includes students in programs that were fully online before the COVID-19-related move to online instruction. The deadline to switch is April 26th. We strongly recommend students consult the frequently asked questions below and talk over their options with an advisor.

Moving to Pass/Fail does not change the course requirements but a Pass/Fail grade allows a student to focus on successfully completing a class without worrying about how a grade of A-D would impact GPA (grades of F impact GPA regardless of whether a student chooses to remain in standard grading or P/F grading) . Expanded access to the P/F grade mode aims to fulfill our mission of cura personalis “care for the whole person”, while still providing a pathway to fulfill program and degree requirements. Students may decide to continue to pursue a letter grade (A-F) as we continue to offer a high quality online experience and work to ensure students have the resources they need to be successful. In addition, there are circumstances that Loyola cannot control including the future admissions requirements of graduate and professional programs, the information requested by employers, and the documentation needed to maintain good academic standing for certain scholarships. 

  • Switching courses to P/F may not be in all students’ best interest. Students should consult with their academic advisor as part of making an informed choice.
  • The decision to switch to P/F is irreversible. A student cannot opt back into an A-F letter grade after grades are posted.
  • Some courses in your declared major may not qualify for a Pass/Fail grade. You should speak with your major advisor about whether there are special considerations in your program of study.
  • If the P/F option is selected, students earning the equivalent of a “D” or better will be awarded a grade of “P” (pass). The “P” carries no grade points and is NOT computed into a student’s semester or cumulative grade point averages (GPAs.) It does, however, confer earned hours.
  • A grade of “F” (failing) is recorded normally and computed into a student’s GPAs.
  • Students currently on probation hoping to improve their GPA should note that courses in P/F grading mode do not count positively toward GPA. A student earning Ps may appeal and use grades of P to highlight successful progress. Students should consult with a financial aid counsellor and your academic advisor to ensure you are making good choices.
  • Students who started Spring 2020 and do not yet have a GPA will need to have some letter grades to ensure they remain eligible for programs like TOPS. You should consult with a financial aid counsellor before you make this decision if this situation applies to you.
  • The grading scale set forth by an individual faculty member as detailed in the course syllabus remains the basis for grading and the determination of the passing grade.
  • This policy does not apply to consortium courses offered by other institutions.

Faculty should continue to grade their courses as normal in Blackboard as classes will contain some students electing for P/F and others needing letter grades. Please keep your Blackboard Gradebook up to date so students understand how they are doing in your courses. Please stand by for additional details as we build the system out in LORA.

If you also advise students, please refer to the FAQs below and look for resources shared by Dr. Paul Buehler, Director of Academic Advising. 

 

Students will be presented with the option to enter into P/F grading in early April and must make the decision to do so by April 26th. You should speak with your advisor about your program of study and options. 

Please stand by for further details about how to elect into this option.

 

Is this an automatic change?

No. You must opt in on LORA starting in April. Watch your email for more details.

Are online program students eligible?

Online undergraduates except for those in the RN-BSN program are eligible.

Are graduate and law students eligible?

These programs are governed by more complex accreditation and licensure considerations but are weighing whether this might be possible. Please talk to your Dean if you have questions about your program.

Is there a limit to the number of courses I can take Pass/Fail this semester?

There is no limit on the numbers of Spring 2020 courses/credits allowed to be taken Pass/Fail but a limited number of courses may be ineligible for grades of P/F.

What happens to my GPA if I elect to take all of my courses Pass/Fail?

If you pass all your courses your cumulative GPA will remain what it had been at the end of the Fall 2019 semester. If you fail one or more courses the F grades will calculate into your cumulative GPA. 

Can I use a course graded Pass/Fail to apply for Academic Amnesty?

You may use a P in a P/F course to replace a previous F but this P will not improve your GPA and you may still be subject to minimum requirements set forth by your major.

I’m on Academic Probation and need to earn a certain GPA to continue at Loyola. Will taking my courses Pass/Fail help or hinder my progress? 

As long as you pass every course, electing to take your classes Pass/Fail will grant you, in effect, another semester to improve your GPA and return to good academic standing. Failing some courses will impact your GPA negatively as it would in A-F grading. Earning grades of A or B could pull up your GPA.

Will taking some or all of my classes Pass/Fail affect my eligibility for Financial Aid?

Grades of F will continue to impact Satisfactory Academic Progress. Grades of P will not hurt your GPA or your ability to get financial aid unless you currently have a Loyola GPA of 0. If you are on financial aid probation and opt in to P/F courses you may need to appeal because your GPA will look low in spite of successful “P”s.

What is the deadline to decide whether to take my course P/F?

The deadline is April 26th

Can I change my mind about taking my classes P/F?

You should not complete the form indicating your preferences until you are sure of what you want to do. You have until April 26th to make this decision.  

Should I switch to P/F if I’m already doing well in a class?

If you are likely to do well you would be best served by having that grade appear in your GPA. 

Do any course requirements change if I switch to P/F?

No. Your professor will determine whether your work in a class merits a pass and this includes making a good-faith effort to complete all required components of the course.

Can I change to P/F for a completed first session class?

No. A posted grade cannot be changed. This expanded access to P/F is meant as a time-limited option that recognizes the new challenges that have emerged since the move to full online instruction..

My major requires a minimum grade in certain courses (and/or overall); does a P grade satisfy these requirements?

There are certain major courses that are not included in this P/F policy please contact your advisors.

I think it is unfair that my major courses are excluded from this policy. Why aren’t all courses included?

All Loyola faculty and administrators want students to succeed and work with this as their core objective. There are, in some cases, external accreditation and licensure requirements set by other entities that require us to have letter grades. This is particularly true in professional fields.

Can I still graduate with Honors if I choose P/F?

As long as your cumulative GPA stays at 3.5 or above the latin distinction will stand.

What does an F in P/F mean?

An F is the same in regular grading and P/F grading. Fs count as 0.0 in your GPA in both systems. 

How will I know which students are to be graded P/F?

Please standby for details on this as we work with IT to build out the system in LORA. Our goal is to make this as easy as possible.

Should faculty encourage students to go P/F or let students initiate?

Students may have questions for you as an instructor or as an advisor as they make this decision. This decision involves weighing current ability to continue making good progress in the course (which might be dependent on internet quality, whether a family member is ill, etc.), future plans in terms of graduate and professional school, and need to maintain a GPA for a scholarship like TOPS. Hopefully these FAQs have given you a starting place for your conversations with students but in some instances a student needs to consult with Student Financial Services and Financial Aid as well. Dr Paul Buehler will be sharing additional guidance in the lead up to registration advising. In the case of a course you are teaching, please keep students up to date on their progression in the course via your Blackboard gradebook. This is the single best way to help students make an informed choice. Ultimately, if a student is doing well in the course and they have reason to believe they will be able to continue as planned there is no reason they need to opt into P/F.

Why did the administration decide to do this? Will students lose all motivation to succeed?

Midterm grades tell us that the vast majority of our students were on target to earn a passing grade before this crisis and we hope that all of your efforts to provide an outstanding online education and our efforts to provide ongoing student support result in the vast majority of students continuing on to excellent grades in these new circumstances. We have confidence that our students will make the right choices for themselves and that our thoughtful and caring academic advisors will help them evaluate all of their options. That said, we believe giving students this option is consistent with our institutional mission to care for the whole person. We must recognize the ways in which these current events are shaping students' lives outside of the classroom. We also know that digital equity is an issue in this country and while we are doing all we can to loan laptops some of our students are going to have unequal access. These are among the reasons that many other institutions have also made this decision and why students across the country are writing change.org petitions asking their universities to do the same.