Appendix C: Commissioner's Guidelines on Good Academic Standing C-Average Requirement: Questions and Answers

 

University of the State of New York


THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

Albany, New York 12230

October 21, 1981


No. 81-12

MEMORANDUM TO CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTIONS IN NEW YORK STATE

SUBJECT: REVISED GUIDELINES CONCERNING PROGRAM PURSUIT AND SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . 

11. ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS FOR AWARD ELIGIBILITY

Chapter 724 of the Laws of 1981 provides that Commissioner's Regulation concerning program pursuit and satisfactory academic progress shall apply only to students receiving their first State award in school year 1981-82 or thereafter. Legislative leaders who sponsored Chapter 724 explained that students who received their first State award prior to the 1981-82 school year should continue to be governed by the former requirements of Attendance and Good Academic Standing. This element of Chapter 724 necessitated an immediate revision of Section 145-2.2, which is attached to this paper as Attachment A. When deciding which set of regulations a student must meet, institutional officials and students should be guided by the following explanation, which we understand is the correct interpretation of Chapter 724.

  1. All award recipients who received their first State award for a term during which the new higher TAP award schedule and STAP program were not in effect will continue to be subject to the former requirements of Attendance and Good Academic Standing. Throughout these guidelines this group of students will be referred to as "students who received their first State award prior to the 1981-82 school year"
  2. All award recipients who received their first State award for a term during which the new higher TAP award schedule and STAP program were in effect will be subject to the new requirements of Program Pursuit and Satisfactory Academic Progress. Throughout these guidelines this group of students will be referred to as "students receiving their first State award for the 1981-82 school year or thereafter."


If at any time institutional officials or students become confused over the interpretation and application of Chapter 724 and the academic requirements of Commissioner's Regulation 145-2.2, they should look to the above explanation for guidance. Additionally, we understand that, beginning in the Fall of 1981, the Higher Education Services Corporation will indicate on all payment rosters those students "receiving their first State award for the 1981-82 school year or thereafter" Requirements for the two groups of students addressed in Chapter 724 and the revised regulations are detailed below.

A. Students who received their first State award prior to the 1981-82 school year.
Students who received their first State award prior to the 1981-82 school year will continue to be subject to the requirements of Attendance and Good Academic Standing. The requirement for Attendance, as set forth in Section 145-2.2, is as follows: "Failure of the student to pursue the program of study will result in the loss of eligibility to receive an award. The institution, in recording and reporting student academic progress, shall take cognizance of attendance as it relates to progress." In advising students concerning the Attendance requirement, institutions should be guided by the following interpretation of this regulation which the Commissioner has made in response to an inquiry from the Office of the State Comptroller "... if a student signs up for 12 credits and then drops all those courses, he is not pursuing a program, and TAP eligibility is, therefore, lost for that semester." With this interpretation in mind, institutions should not certify as eligible a student who has already withdrawn from all coursework prior to the certification date. Students who have been properly certified but who withdraw from all of their work after the certification date have not, in terms of the Attendance regulation, maintained "eligibility to receive an award." Effective for terms beginning with Spring 1982, the Office of the State Comptroller may require that such students return their award for the term in question.

The second requirement that students who received awards prior to the 1981-82 school year must meet is the test of Good Academic Standing. The Regulation provides that Good Academic Standing "... means that (i) the institution maintains a formal, published statement of its requirements for the maintenance of good academic standing, (ii) the student is matriculated at the institution, and (iii) the institution has determined that the student meets its standards for good academic standing." In order to ensure compliance with this requirement, institutions must establish standards for Good Academic Standing for the purposes of maintaining eligibility for a State award. An institution is free to adopt a statement which it feels is reasonable. The statement, however, should be available in writing so that it may be reviewed by staff of the Office of the State Comptroller when conducting reviews of the Tuition Assistance Program. In order to safeguard against possible audit disallowance, institutions should formally adopt a standard of Good Academic Standing and ensure that all students receiving State support meet the established standard. The Office of the State Comptroller informs us that in future audits of TAP for 1981-82 and subsequent years, they "... will hold the schools to the published statements." The Comptroller has further indicated that failure to have or apply such statements when certifying student eligibility may result in a disallowance.
Institutions may establish definitions for purposes of State support which are different from their normal academic statements of Good Academic Standing. Keep in mind that these statements apply only to students who have received their first State award prior to the 1981-82 school year. A separate set of requirements exists for students who receive their first award for the 1981-82 school year or thereafter. Some institutions have expressed concern that the action of the Legislature will require two sets of standards. If they wish, institutions may avoid this problem by adopting as their standard of good academic standing for previous awardees the same provisions of the program pursuit and academic progress which will apply to students receiving their first award for the 1981-82 school year or thereafter.

B. Students receiving their first State award for the 1981-82 school year or thereafter.
Students receiving their first award for the 1981-82 school year or thereafter have to meet the new requirements of program pursuit and satisfactory academic progress which became effective September 1, 1981. These requirements were first detailed in the guidelines distributed with Chief Executive Officer Memorandum #80-20, dated October 10, 1980. The guidelines concerning program pursuit and satisfactory academic progress in this paper replace those dated October 10, 1980. In implementing the requirements, institutions should be guided by the following information.

Statutory Provisions

Articles 13 and 14 of Education Law state that payments of State student financial assistance shall be suspended for any student who loses good academic standing. The statute also requires the Commissioner of Education to define loss of good academic standing. Section 145-2.2(b) addresses the issue by providing that to maintain good academic standing a student receiving a general or academic performance award must: (1) pursue the program of study in which he or she is enrolled, and (2) make satisfactory academic progress toward the completion of his or her program's requirements.The two elements of program pursuit and satisfactory academic progress must be met for each term of study in which a State award is received.

Periodic Review

The Regulations require that an institution review student compliance with program pursuit and satisfactory academic progress "... at the end of each academic year." The Office of the State Comptroller has informed us, however, that this provision is preempted by statutory requirements that require certification to occur on a term-by-term basis. Since good academic standing is one of the eligibility requirements which, by law, must be part of the certification process, the Comptroller advises that pursuit and progress be verified at the end of each term. Failure to do so could result in a subsequent audit disallowance.

Loss and Reinstatement of Student Eligibility

The penalty for loss of good academic standing, as set forth in statute, is suspension of a student's award. Commissioner's Regulations implement the statutory requirement by providing in Section 145-2.2(b) as follows:
1. Following a determination that the recipient of an award has lost good academic standing, further payments under the award shall be suspended until the student is restored to good academic standing by either:

(i) pursuing the program of study in which he is enrolled and making satisfactory progress toward the completion of his program's academic requirements for a period of one term; or

(ii) establishing in some other way, to the satisfaction of the Commissioner, evidence of his ability to successfully complete an approved program.

In general, students who lose good academic standing must seek reinstatement in accordance with subparagraph (i) above. Subparagraph (ii) exists to provide a way for students who have lost good academic standing and who either are transferring to another institution, or wish to return to college after an absence of at least a year, to regain good standing. For such students the detailed record of the student's readmission to the institution, or admission to another institution, will meet the statutory requirement that a TAP-eligible student show evidence of his ability to successfully complete an approved program. The admissions record should show that the institution has given due consideration to the student's prior loss of good academic standing and has determined, in accordance with Section 52.2(d)(2), that the student can benefit from study at the institution, and that the institution will provide the "instructional and other support the student needs to complete the program." Institutions which reinstate a student after a period of absence, or accept in transfer a student who has lost good academic standing at another school, must maintain a clear, accurate, and complete admissions record for each student. Failure to maintain a record indicating that the student's special circumstances (as known to the institution) were considered, and that the institution has planned a program of study to remedy academic weaknesses, may lead the Office of the State Comptroller to assess an audit disallowance against the institution.

Program Pursuit and Passing or Failing Grades

The Regulations define program pursuit as receiving a passing or failing grade in a certain percentage of a full-time course load. The percentage increases from 50% of the minimum full-time load in each term of study in the first year for which an award is made, to 75% of the minimum full-time load in each term of study in the second year for which an award is made, to 100 % of the minimum full-time load in each term of study in the third and each succeeding year for which an award is made. Institutions should review their grading practices and bring to the Department's attention any grades which are not clearly passing or failing. Generally the Department will accept as a passing or failing grade the grade of A through F and any grade which indicates that the student: (1) attended the course for the entire semester, AND (2) completed all necessary assignments. (For example, a grade of R, indicating that a student completed all work but not in an acceptable fashion and therefore has to repeat the course, would be acceptable. An S Grade, indicating that a student has successfully completed a developmental non-credit course, would be acceptable.) Grades of Incomplete would only be acceptable if automatically changed to a standard passing or failing grade before the completion of the next term of study. Grades of W (Withdrawal) do not constitute grades which indicate that the student passed, failed, or completed all work in a course and cannot be counted toward meeting the program pursuit requirement.

Approval of Progress Standards

Subdivision (b) of Section 145-2.2 defines standards of satisfactory academic progress and requires that institutions use only standards that have been approved by the Commissioner. The standards are not required for general institutional purposes, but must be used to determine student eligibility for State awards. Of course, institutions may use these standards for general purposes if they wish.

While institutional calendars and academic terminology will differ, each institution's standard should be represented by an object measure which, according to the regulations:

"shall include, but need not be limited to:
(i) the minimum number of credits earned, or courses successfully completed, at each interval; and
(ii) the minimum cumulative grade point average or similar measure at each interval."

Institutional standards of satisfactory academic progress should generally take the form of a chart which displays for each payment sought how many credits a student must have accumulated - and with what grade point average - if he is to be eligible for a State award. (Note: Incomplete grades and non-credit remedial work should not be included in computing the number of credits accumulated or the grade point average.) Attachment B to this memorandum is a sample of a standard of satisfactory progress for students in a four-year baccalaureate program at an institution with a semester calendar. Please refer to this chart throughout the discussion of "Program Pursuit and Academic Progress." Also attached for your reference are sample charts for associate and graduate programs. Please note: The Attachments under B are only samples.

Failure to Make Progress

To be eligible for his first payment, a student is not expected to have earned any college credits. In the sample (Attachment B) a student who has received three semester payments of TAP must have accumulated 21 credits with a 1.30 GPA in order to be eligible for a fourth semester payment. If the student had accrued only 15 credits, he would not be making satisfactory progress and therefore would lose Good Academic Standing (see Section 145-2.2(b)(1). Normally, the student's State award would be suspended until he had accrued (through part-time study, proficiency exams, or some other means) six additional credits. Once he had accrued a total of 21 credits he would become eligible for a fourth semester payment. Alternatively, if an institution determines, in accordance with established procedures, that a one-time waiver of normal program pursuit and academic progress requirements would be in the best interests of the student, such waiver may be granted in accordance with paragraph (5) of subdivision (b) of Section 145-2.2 of the Regulations thereby enabling the student to become eligible for a fourth payment without delay. When the waiver has been granted for failure to make progress, the student is expected to use the term to advance to the level he could not achieve without the waiver. Thus, in this example the student would need to earn six credits during the term for which the waiver was granted, thereby reaching the threshold of 21 credits. This, of course, will result in the student's position on the schedule, and the actual number for payments received not lining up. After waiver of satisfactory academic progress has been received, the headings on the top row of a student's schedule of progress might best be read as "next payment" rather than fourth, fifth, etc. The total number of semesters of eligibility for a State award, however, is not changed by the waiver. Use of the waiver because of failure to maintain program pursuit will not change the alignment of a student's position on the schedule and the actual number of payments received.

Transfer Student Eligibility

Transfer students (*), and students readmitted after a period of absence of at least one year from college, must be considered using slightly different procedures than for students in continuing status. For example, when a student transfers from a TAP-eligible program at one institution to another TAP-eligible program at a second institution, the receiving institution must evaluate that student's academic and, to the extent possible, financial aid record. The receiving institution will make a determination that the transfer student is able to benefit from, and is admissible to, the new program of study. In the course of that evaluation the institution assigns a certain number of credits it is willing to accept in transfer from the student's previous study. That assessment and information concerning the number for awards the student had previously received will be used to place the student at the appropriate point on the institution's schedule of academic progress. Placement may be either in accord with the number of payments received or number of credits earned-whichever is more beneficial to the student. The point at which the transfer student is placed, and the actual number of payments he has received, may not line up. For the transfer student, as for the student who has received a waiver of satisfactory progress, the headings in the top row of the schedule of progress might, in some cases, be read as "next payment" instead of first, second, etc. The following examples illustrate the point.

An institution using the sample schedule (Attachment B) accepts 33 credits from transfer student Mr. Jones-a student who has previously received six TAP awards. The school would place Mr. Jones at the point on the schedule which is "most beneficial." In this case, the most beneficial placement would be based on credits earned, not payments received. Mr. Jones would be placed at the point closest to, but not greater than, 33 credits. The school would do this regardless of the actual number of payments Mr. Jones had received. He would be certified for an initial TAP payment at the school. To receive a subsequent TAP payment at that institution, Mr. Jones must make progress in accordance with the institution's standards. To receive his "next payment," Mr. Jones would need a total of 45 credits.

*In this section "transfer student" means a student who is moving from one institution to another institution which he did not previously attend. Students moving from program to program or school to school within an institution should not be considered as transfer students. For purposes of these guidelines, students returning to a school they previously attended are readmitted students-not transfer students.

In another example, Ms. Brown transfers from a diploma school of nursing where she completed one year of study with TAP support. She is accepted without advanced standing in a liberal arts college where she is majoring in English. Applying the principle of "beneficial placement" Ms. Brown, having received no credit, would be placed on the first payment level of the schedule of progress.

In another case, Mr. Smith transfers to a different institution, bringing with him a record of 60 credits and three payments. He would be placed on the schedule of progress at the point of "fourth payment."

Mr. Jones, Ms. Brown and Mr. Smith have a financial aid record as well as an academic record. Mr. Jones received six TAP payments at his first college before transferring to the second institution. Because of his poor academic performance he would not be eligible for a seventh TAP payment on his first college's schedule of progress. By transferring, he has had his eligibility restored for at least one semester. Even though he will placed at the point entitled "fifth TAP payment" he will, fact, be receiving his seventh TAP payment as far as the State of New York is concerned. In order to receive a subsequent payment, he must make progress as defined by the institution he is currently attending. In any event, Mr. Jones is limited to four years of undergraduate TAP, and the records of the Higher Education Services Corporation will track Mr. Jones. State financial aid record through his academic career.

Ms. Brown received two TAP payments while attending the hospital school of nursing. Her transfer was, in effect, a change in her career goals. This has put her on the college's schedule at the first point; i.e., as an entering freshman receiving what the college would call her "first TAP payment". In fact, she will be receiving her third TAP payment from the State. As was the case with Mr. Jones, she is limited to a total of four years of undergraduate TAP payments.

Mr. Smith earned credits at a much faster pace than the minimum required for TAP. He has already met the progress requirement for his next four payments. However, during the next four terms for which he receives aid, he will still have to meet pursuit of program requirements.

In assessing the financial aid record of transfer students, the receiving institution should consider how many payments the student has previously received and whether or not the student has used his or her "waiver". The Higher Education Services Corporation will provide payment information and waiver information to institutions.

Minimum Standards

In developing standards of satisfactory academic progress, institutions should be guided by the knowledge that the Commissioner will not approve a standard which allows a student more than 10 semesters (or the equivalent in five academic years) to accumulate 120 credits, with a grade point average of 2.0, in a typical baccalaureate degree program. Similarly, the Commissioner will not approve a standard which allows a student more than 6 semesters (or equivalent in three academic years) to accumulate 60 credits, with a grade point average of 2.0, in a typical Associate degree program. Note, however, that only those opportunity/developmental students who are in State supported five-year programs (i.e., SEEK, EOP, and HEOP) are eligible for five years of undergraduate Tuition Assistance Program support. Students in other baccalaureate programs are usually not eligible for the fifth year of undergraduate TAP support.

Waiver Procedures (see also Attachment C)

When institutions are developing their standards of satisfactory academic progress, they should note that the Commissioner has provided the only way in which an exception to the approved standard may be made. A standard of satisfactory academic progress should be absolute except when waived in accordance with paragraph (5) of subdivision (b) of Section 145-2.2 as follows:

The provisions of paragraphs (3) and (4) of this subdivision may be waived once for an undergraduate student and once for a graduate student if an institution certifies, and maintains documentation, that such waiver is in the best interest of the student. Prior approval by the Commissioner of the criteria and procedures used by an institution to consider and grant waivers shall not be required. The Commissioner may review such criteria and procedures in use, and require an institution to revise those found to be not acceptable.

This provision allows a student no more than one waiver as an undergraduate, and one as a graduate student. (The single waiver may be used if the student fails to pursue, fails to make progress, or fails to meet both of these elements of good standing. Pursuit and progress may not be waived separately for different terms.) When granting waivers pursuant to this provision, institutions should exercise careful judgment. Each institution should establish clear, published criteria concerning the granting of waivers. For each waiver granted, a clear, accurate and complete record should be maintained. If an institution grants waivers without regard to its published policy, if it does not have such a policy, if it does not maintain a case record, or if it grants a waiver to a student who has already received one waiver at his current level, the Office of the State Comptroller may assess an audit disallowance against the institution.

Appropriate institutional officials must discuss with the student the granting of a waiver before any waiver is actually granted. Each student is only allowed one waiver as an undergraduate, and one waiver as a graduate student. As described on page 6, use of the waiver may have the effect of extending a student's schedule of progress by one term. Use of the waiver is an important option to the student, and should only occur in the student's best interest and with the student's concurrence. For example, a student who is one credit short of the required number of credits for her next payment may not want to use the waiver, but instead may take a summer course at her own cost to regain eligibility.

In light of concerns about the waiver which have been expressed by both institutions and State agencies, additional detailed guidelines have been prepared. These guidelines, which are appended to this paper as Attachment C, were reviewed and approved by the Commissioner's Advisory Council on Postsecondary Education. They should serve institutions as a point of departure in exercising the waiver responsibility.

SAMPLE -
*Standard of Satisfactory Academic Progress
for Purposes of Determining Eligibility
for State Student Aid

 

Calendar: Semester

Program: Baccalaureate Program
Before Being Certified for This Payment
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th
7th
8th
9th**
10th**
A Student Must Have Accrued at Least This Many Credits
3
9
21
33
45
60
75
90
105
With At Least This Grade Point Average
1.1
1.2
1.3
2.0
2.0
2.0
2.0
2.0
2.0

*NOTE: This sample standard of satisfactory progress is referred to throughout the preceding guidelines. Generally it would be used to determine continuing eligibility for State support of students who have no "special circumstances." The progress of students with special circumstances, such as those who have transferred from another institution or have used their waiver, must be monitored on an adjusted schedule. See pages 5, 6, and 7 of the text of the report for examples.

**NOTE: Only students in five-year programs, approved pursuant to Section 145-2.7 of the Regulations, are eligible for more than eight semesters of undergraduate awards (exclusive of STAP).


- SAMPLE -
Standard of Satisfactory Academic Progress
for Purpose of Determining Eligibility
for State Student Aid

 

Calendar: Semester

Programs: Assoc. Degrees & Certificate Programs
Before Being Certified for This Payment
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th
A Student Must Have Accrued at Least This Many Credits
3
9
18
30
45
With at Least This Grade Point Average
.0
.5
.75
1.3
2.0
2.0

- SAMPLE -
Standard of Satisfactory Academic Progress
for Purpose of Determining Eligibility
for State Student Aid

 

Calendar: Semester

Programs: All Graduate Level Programs
Before Being Certified for This Payment
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th
7th
8th
A Student Must Have Accrued at Least This Many Credits*
6
12
21
30
45
60
75
With at Least This Grade Point Average
2.0
2.5
2.75
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0


*This includes successful completion of credit-equivalent work as set forth in 145-2.1 of the Commissioner's Regulations.

 

Detailed Guidelines Concerning Use of the Waiver

 

Introduction

This Attachment comments on the use of the waiver as provided for in Section 145-2.2(b) (5) of the new regulations. The regulation states that requirements for program pursuit and satisfactory academic progress "... may be waived once for an undergraduate student and once for a graduate student if an institution certifies, and maintains documentation, that such waiver is in the best interest of the student." While the regulation does not mandate prior approval of an institution's waiver criteria and procedures, it does provide that the Commissioner may require schools to revise criteria and procedures that are "found to be not acceptable." The following discussion should guide institutions in the development and use of waiver procedures. Staff of the Office of the State Comptroller will review adherence to these guidelines when conducting audits of State student financial aid programs.

 

Origin of the Waiver Provision

In developing and applying waiver procedures, institutions should be guided by an understanding of the origin of Section 145-2.2(b) (5). The initial draft of the revised regulation did not include a provision for waiving program pursuit or satisfactory academic progress requirements. The point most frequently made in testimony concerning the draft regulations was that some allowance should be made for "exceptional or extraordinary cases." It was argued that due to circumstances beyond his control, an otherwise serious and successful student could have one "bad term." Requests were made for a means of handling these "special cases." The Department was convinced by this testimony to include a one-time waiver in the revised regulations.

 

Using the Waiver

The waiver provision does not exist to provide one additional term of eligibility for all students who fail to meet pursuit of progress requirements. It is expected that most students who fail to meet pursuit of progress requirements will not be granted the waiver and hence will not receive any further State awards until they have regained good academic standing. The waiver is to be used only if principles are kept in mind:

  • The waiver is not automatic.
  • The waiver is intended only to accommodate extraordinary or unusual cases.
  • The waiver process should include an assessment of the reasons for a student's failure to meet requirements.
  • The waiver should be granted only when there is a reasonable expectation that the student will meet future requirements.
  • The waiver can be used only in accordance with clearly established procedures.
  • A written record of the findings and determination of each case must be maintained.


CEO 81-12 states, "When granting waivers pursuant to this provision, institutions should exercise careful judgment. Each institution should establish clear, published criteria concerning the granting of waivers. For each waiver granted, a clear, accurate, and complete record should be maintained." To assure that these objectives are met, institutions should limit the authority to grant waivers to specifically designated officials. The person, or persons, authorized to confer the waiver will be responsible for assuring adherence to the requirements in the regulations and the principles in these guidelines. Such officials should consult, as needed, with the student, his advisor, his teachers, and other parties. However, the final decision to confer- or not confer,- the waiver rests with the designated official.

The regulations state that the waiver may be granted if the institution "... certifies and maintains documentation that such waiver is in the best interest of the student." It may not be assumed that staying in school is always in the student's best interest. Not only a student's financial need, but an assessment of his academic situation and special needs, if any, must be part of the waiver process. Several examples will help to demonstrate the point.

Examples of Use of the Waiver

Ms. S has completed five terms of study. She has accrued 75 credits with a GPA of 2.5. However, during her fifth term, Ms. S changed her major and dropped a course. As a result, she received passing and failing grades in only 10 semester hours of study and failed to meet the requirement for pursuit of program. However, Ms. S has a sound academic record; her continuation at the institution is clearly justified. The reasons for her failure to meet the pursuit requirement are understandable. Assuming that it has not already been used, the waiver may be granted so that Ms. S may continue to receive State support while completing her degree program.

Mr. G, on the other hand, has faced substantial academic difficulty. After two terms of study he has accrued only six semester hours of credit with a GPA of .50. He has fallen below his institution's requirement for satisfactory academic progress. Additionally, he failed to meet program pursuit requirements in his second term. Unless the waiver is employed, he cannot be certified for a third State award. On further review, it is found that Mr. G was admitted provisionally to the institution and has failed to attend and complete a number of non-credit remedial courses which were thought essential for his successful completion of a collegiate curriculum. Barring any evidence which would weigh heavily in his favor, Mr. G should not be granted a waiver and should not receive a State award for his next term of study.

A third student, Mrs. L, has just completed her fourth term of study. It was "disastrous." In that term she either received an incomplete or withdrew from every course in which she was enrolled. Mrs. L failed to meet both program pursuit and academic progress requirements during this term. In considering use of the waiver, it is learned that Mrs. L's husband recently passed away and she has faced serious family and financial problems. A review of her records shows that, with the exception of the "disastrous" fourth term, she had been meeting minimum standards. While her progress has been marginal, the institution determines that Mrs. L has an excellent chance of resuming normal pursuit and progress requirements in her fifth term. Her prospects for earning a degree are good, and the institution, therefore, grants her a waiver.

We realize that many cases will be more complex than the above examples. The Department does not intend to substitute its judgment concerning a student's best interest for that of the institution. We do expect, however, that institutions will exercise this authority judiciously.

 

Summary

Institutions should develop and publish policies which include clearly stated criteria and procedures for the granting of waivers. Waivers should only be granted after an investigation of the facts concerning a student's failure to meet pursuit of progress requirements. A complete case record should be maintained for students who receive the waiver. Failure on the part of an institution to adhere to published policies, criteria, and procedures for the granting of waivers, or to maintain necessary documentation may result in an audit disallowance. Although waivers may only be granted with the concurrence of the student, institutions have the right and responsibility to deny the waiver when such denial is consistent with their published policy.

TO: TAP Certifying Officers

FROM: Brian G. Matthews
Director, Grants and Scholarships Payments

SUBJECT: Good Academic Standing - Pursuit of Program Requirement

DATE: November 20, 1992

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide clarification of the good academic standing pursuit of program requirement as it applies to students who have received a State award for part-time accelerated study in a summer term.

Section 145-2.2 of the Commissioner of Education's Regulations requires that ". . . good academic standing, for full or part-time study, whichever is applicable, shall be determined at the end of each term of the academic year . . ."

This Regulation was amended in 1987 in order to apply the good academic standing requirements to the Aid for Part-Time Study program. The regulation, as amended, also requires that pursuit of program requirements be met in situations where the student has received payment of a part-time TAP or scholarship award for accelerated study in a summer term. Accordingly, schools must determine whether a student met the pursuit of program requirement in the accelerated term (i.e., 50%, 75%, or 100% of the minimum half-time requirement of 6 semester hours) before certifying a student for a subsequent TAP or scholarship award. This requirement is applicable whether the accelerated study was undertaken at the home institution or at a visited institution for transfer to the home institution.

If you have any questions regarding this memo or the good academic standing regulations in general, please contact the Office of Field Services at (518) 474-3552.


New York State Higher Education Services Corporation
99 Washington Ave · Albany, New York 12255 · 1(888)NYSHESC
www.hesc.org

C-Average Requirement
Question And Answer
December 3, 1996

The following questions and answers regarding the C-average requirement were developed jointly with the State Education Department and are intended to provide schools with guidance in the implementation of this newly enacted statutory provision.

Q. Which students are affected by the C-average requirement?

A. Beginning with the 1996-97 Fall term students who, in prior terms, have received the equivalent of two or more full years of State-funded student financial aid payments must have a cumulative C (2.0) GPA to be eligible for continued State-funded assistance. These students will have accumulated 24 or more payment points in prior terms. State-funded programs subject to this requirement include all general and academic performance awards except STAP.

Q. In determining graduate eligibility, do you consider undergraduate payment points or only graduate level points?

A. The student's total points, undergraduate and graduate, must be considered.

Q. Will schools be allowed to round up the cumulative GPA of students who have close to a 2.0 cumulative GPA?

A. If the school has a policy of rounding up the GPA, this would be acceptable for purposes of the C-average requirement. Whatever is reflected on the student's transcript should be used. For example, a 1.97 rounded up to a 2.0 which would appear on the transcript would be acceptable. A 1.93 would be rounded to a 1.9, which would appear on the transcript and would not meet the C-average requirement.

Q. Do HEOP students have to meet the 2.0 GPA after 4 semester payments?

A. HEOP students have to meet the 2.0 GPA after having received 4 semester payments of TAP in order to continue to be eligible for TAP. For students to remain eligible for HEOP support, the institution needs to submit to the Bureau of Higher Education Opportunity Programs (State Education Department, Albany, NY 12230) a new standard of satisfactory academic progress for the purpose of determining HEOP eligibility. Students must have a 2.0 GPA in order to receive their seventh semester of HEOP support.

Q. Must transfer students who have previously received two or more years of payment of State funded student aid meet the C-average requirement in their initial term of study at the new institution?

A. Yes. However, since only credits in which the student has earned a grade of C or better are normally accepted in transfer, the student may be presumed to have met the C-average requirement for the initial term of study at the new institution. The institution also has the option of considering actual grades for credits accepted in transfer in determining the student's cumulative GPA. However, should the school adopt this latter approach, it must be a general policy applied to all transfer students for financial aid purposes.

Q. If a readmitted or returning student has earned transfer credits in the interim, how is the cumulative GPA determined for financial aid purposes?

A. In determining a cumulative GPA for financial aid purposes, the institution may combine prior grades earned at the institution with a presumed grade of C for transfer credits. Or the institution may combine prior grades earned at the institution with actual grades for transfer credits. Whichever alternative the institution selects must be a general policy, applicable to all returning students with transfer credits who are seeking State financial aid.

Q. If a student returns or is readmitted to an institution and has no transfer credits, how is the cumulative GPA determined?

A. The student's cumulative GPA would be determined based on prior grades earned at the institution. If the student's prior GPA is less than a 2.0, the student is ineligible for the initial term upon return and must achieve a cumulative 2.0 in order to regain eligibility.

Q. After a student with transfer credits completes a term of study, how is the cumulative GPA determined in subsequent terms for financial aid purposes?

A. The institution must continue to treat transfer credits in the same manner as they were initially treated for financial aid purposes for the first semester, with grades for subsequently earned credits factored in.

Q. If an institution allows students returning after an absence to petition to have certain grades deleted from their record, based on demonstrated improvement in academic performance, how is the cumulative GPA determined?

A. If an institution has an established policy that was in effect prior to the 1996-97 academic year which allows returning students who have demonstrated improvement in academic performance to petition to have certain grades deleted from their official academic record, these grades do not have to be considered in calculating the cumulative GPA for financial aid eligibility.

Q. If a student changes a program of study and the institution has a policy of not including grades earned in courses that are not applicable to the new program of study in determining the student's GPA, can these grades also be excluded in determining the student's GPA for financial aid purposes?

A. The C-average requirement cannot be circumvented by a change of program. If the student did not have a 2.0 in the prior program of study, the student cannot regain eligibility and meet the 2.0 requirement by changing to a new program and deleting certain courses/grades that are not applicable to the new program. If the student does not have a 2.0 when changing programs, he or she is not eligible for the first term in the new program. After that first term only the courses applicable to the new program need be considered in the same way as a transfer student. A student with a GPA of 2.0 or better who changes programs is eligible. 

Q. If a student-in good standing with 24 payment points who meets the C-average requirement-changes programs and is thereby repositioned on the chart because fewer credits apply to the new program, must the student meet the corresponding grade point average on the chart or must the student meet the 2.0 GPA?

A. If a student has a total of 24 payment points, the student must meet the 2.0 GPA.

Q. Can a student regain eligibility for continued State funded student aid by remaining out of school for a period of time (i.e., a year or more)?

A. No. The statute does not permit this interpretation.

Q. How do we record a waiver granted for the C-average requirement?

A. The institution should maintain a record of the waiver but, at present, need not report the waiver to HESC.