Riley Announces Optional Pass/Withdrawal Grading Option for Spring 2020

UAFS Chancellor Terisa Riley released an update to UAFS' grading policy Wednesday, April 1. Her message is as follows:


"As a result of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith moved to an online/distance-learning-only form of educational delivery beginning March 30, 2020.  In an effort to prevent potentially negative, educational outcomes for students, and in consultation with Student Government Association, Faculty Senate, and University Staff Council, I have approved offering an emergency Pass/Withdrawal grade option for students enrolled this full semester and for the second 8-week spring semester courses.

How does it work?

Students will receive letter grades for all spring 2020 classes, and after final grades are posted students will have three choices:  1) Keep the letter grades in their classes, 2) Elect to have letter grades from courses they have passed changed from a letter grade to “Passing” (P), or 3) Withdraw (W) from the course.  Students may complete the Pass/Withdrawal Request Form after final grades are posted and all requests must be received by the Office of the Registrar by 5 p.m., June 5, 2020. 

Once the deadline for requesting a change has passed the student’s choice will become final. 


A student who earns a passing letter grade may request to have the letter grade replaced with a “Passing” or P.  The semester credit hours earned will count toward degree completion and graduation; however, they will not affect the student’s grade point average (GPA) calculation

*Some academic programs, licensing agencies, or accrediting agencies have different requirements for the scores needed to receive passing grades, so please contact your Academic Advisor if you have questions regarding the cut off for a “passing” grade.


Students who have not earned passing grades, or who are unhappy with the final letter grades in their courses, may request to withdraw from the courses. Courses from which students withdraw will not count in the GPA calculation, and they will not count toward degree completion.  Students may be required to retake and pay again for courses required for degree completion.

Who has the option of applying to have grades replaced with P/W?

All students enrolled in full spring 2020 classes and last 8-week classes of spring 2020 may request letter grades to be replaced with a P or W.  Students whose classes are online currently and students who are in concurrent enrollment also may request to replace letter grades with P/W.

Do I get to choose which classes change to P/W?

Yes, you may request to keep your letter grades or change to P or W on a course-by-course basis.

How can I request to change a course grade to P/W?

UAFS will create and send to students, faculty, and staff an Emergency Pass/Withdrawal Request Form no later than April 30 and it will be available on multiple university websites.

What is the impact on my financial aid package?

Please contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have concerns about how requesting a P/W may change your specific financial aid package; however, the CARE Act provides guidance which allows us to be very liberal with the calculation of Satisfactory Academic Progress as a direct result of implications from COVID-19.  There may be impacts on grant and scholarship qualifications, so please check with the organization providing the grant or scholarship if you have questions.

How will this affect my ability to get into graduate school?

Like UAFS, most institutions are aware of the challenges faced by university students who are applying for graduate and professional programs.  Please contact the institution to which you are applying to determine the potential impacts of changing letter grades to P or W before selecting that option.

What is the last day to drop a course with a “W”?

The last day to withdraw with a W from a class will be June 5, 2020.

How can I calculate my GPA?

UA-Fort Smith has a GPA calculator that can be accessed here:  Remember:  Classes with final grades of P or W will not count toward your grade point average.


I hope that this option will provide our students with the reassurance that the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith faculty, staff, and administration are empathetic toward your desire to do your very best work and not to feel penalized by this shift to remote, online learning.  My best advice is to stick with it, do your very best, and know that we are here for you in the event that you have questions, need resources, or need the flexibility that this type of option can provide for you.  


Stay healthy, Lions!


Terisa Riley"

Date Posted: 
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
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