Additional ETA Q&A

QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS RELATING TO THE ENHANCED TUITION PROGRAM

COLLEGE OPT-IN/OPT-OUT

What will be the process and deadline for institutions to opt-in/opt-out?
On June 2, 2017, instructions were sent to colleges and universities regarding participation for the 2017-18 academic year and provided a deadline date of June 19. On June 9, additional instructions were sent regarding the return of the required documentation. Consideration is being given to extending the 6/19 deadline.
If an institution has not opted in to ETA, but students are applying to HESC, how will the students know that the institution is not participating before they start to apply? For example, will HESC have a drop-down menu of participating institutions for students to select from?
HESC will identify participating colleges on its website so that students are aware of the participating colleges before they apply. In addition, the application will have a drop-down menu of participating institutions for students to select from.
At some large, private universities, the undergraduate populations (or schools) are distinct: traditional versus non-traditional and serve two distinct students. Is a school (within this university) permitted to opt out while the latter chooses to opt in?
If a university has distinct schools or colleges and wishes to limit its participation, it may do so. However, an institution may not limit participation to specific programs within the school. To be considered a distinct school or college within a university, such school or college must, at a minimum, have its own curriculum, faculty admissions standards, and graduation requirements as well as its own unique governing body. A determination as to whether an institution meets this requirement will be made by HESC.

APPLICATION/RECIPIENT SELECTION PROCESS

Year one
When will the student and institutions know who will be eligible?
Students will be informed of their eligibility after verification of income through the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, and verification of student credits by the college or university. Institutions will be notified of an ETA recipient once the student has signed a contract agreeing to reside in NYS for the length of time they receive the award and work in NYS, if employed.
Will the application form be clear regarding the possibility of lottery?
No. Information regarding the selection process will be found on the ETA website.
For 2017-18, is there a projected timeframe for when awards be finalized?
Awards will be determined after the close of the application deadline and (a) verification of income through the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, (b) verification of student credits by the college or university, and (c) receipt of a signed contract agreeing to reside in NYS for the length of time the award is received and work in NYS, if employed. The award is finalized upon certification by the institution, at the end of the term.
If there’s a lottery, is there a cutoff date? How long will institutions and students have to wait before we know and can safely include these funds (including our matching funds) in their next package?
The lottery process will be run after the application deadline. Institutions will receive an indicator on the weekly Student Status Listing which will identify students who have been selected for the ETA award – at which point, the award should be included as part of the recipients’ financial aid packages.
Year two and going forward
Will the application process take into consideration early FAFSA, early decision and early action deadlines?
Consideration will be given to many factors when determining the application period for year two and beyond. HESC will engage in discussions with cIcu for purposes of determining the timing of the application for the 2018-19 academic year.
What is the anticipated timing for award notification to students for the 2018-19 year? Will high school seniors be notified before May 1st, 2018?
The process for award notification for the 2018-19 year will be the same as that for 2017-18. Timing of the notifications will be based on the timing of the application, per Question 4 above.
When will the award be determined? By NYHESC once the student’s TAP award is on a roster? What will be the process if the student is not eligible for TAP?
The amount of the ETA Program award will be adjusted during a term if adjustments are made to a recipient’s TAP award. As with TAP, students will be informed that the award is an estimate and may be adjusted under specified circumstances. Students who are not eligible for TAP and who meet the ETA income eligibility threshold will simply receive their $6,000 awards through a combination of the ETA payment ($3,000) and payment by the institution ($3,000).
Does the student only list the school that they have decided upon to attend or can they list more than one school?
Students will only be allowed to select a single college or university on the application. However, students will be instructed to notify HESC before the application deadline if they decide to attend a different college than was selected when they completed the ETA application.
Will there be separate ETA codes or will the TAP codes be used for the institution?
No. HESC will be using the TAP codes for the institution.

STUDENT ELIGIBILITY

Can more than one student from the same family receive the Excelsior Scholarship and/or the ETA concurrently?
A student who is attending a private college can receive an ETA Program award at the same time that another family member attending a public university is receiving an Excelsior Scholarship. However, an individual student cannot be receiving both an ETA Program award and an Excelsior Scholarship concurrently.
If all funds are projected to be expended by a certain date, but then due to withdrawals etc. funds once again become available, will awarding be re-opened?
No. Awarding will not be reopened.
Define independent vs. dependent student since federal and state rules differ.
State rules for dependency will be applied.
Is ETA an option for eligible Title IV non-citizens?
The general eligibility rules for all State programs apply.
What does “shall not be employed in any other state” mean? For example, can a student reside in NYS but work for Google in California remotely?
The recipient’s work station must be in NYS, regardless of where the employer is located.
Please provide additional clarification on treatment of transfer credits, for example when a student transfers from a public institution to a private institution.
A private college or university must have accepted sufficient credits to enable a transfer student to remain on track for timely completion of his or her degree, regardless of whether a student is transferring from a public or private institution. In addition, the transfer credits must be applicable to the student’s program(s) of study.
What about mid-year TAP changes?
The amount of the ETA Program award will be adjusted during a term if adjustments are made to a recipient’s TAP award.
Define “Program of Study.”
The “Program of Study” is the degree program that the student is planning to pursue, even if the student has not yet declared his or her major.
Are first year students eligible? Per Part III, credit requirements (A) a private institution of higher education prior to application, has completed at least thirty combined credits per year following the student's start date, or its equivalent, applicable to his or her program or programs of study). But if they did not come into the institution with transfer credit, how can they meet the 30 credits to receive the funds in their first or 2nd term? How do AP, IB, or CLEP credits play into this?
Yes, first-year students are eligible; however, continuing students will receive priority for the ETA Program award.

College credits earned through an exam, prior to pursuing an undergraduate degree (such as AP, IB or CLEP), can be applied in any manner that results in 30 cumulative credits per year.

When the law states “at the time of application, has completed at least 30 combined credits per year following the student's start date"" are they referring to the application for the ETA or application to the school? If it is referring to the ETA application, it sounds like a continuing student would have had to have completed 30 credits each year?
A continuing student must have completed at least 30 combined credits per year at the time of application for the ETA. However, continuing students who first started college in 2015-16 and have earned a total of 54 credits can use the 2017-18 academic year to catch up by taking 36 credits (for a total of 90 credits) to be eligible to receive the award in the 2018-19 academic year, provided they meet all other eligibility requirements. Continuing students who first started college in 2016-17 and have earned a total of 24 credits can use the 2017-18 academic year to catch up by taking 36 credits (for a total of 60 credits) to be eligible to receive the award beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, provided they meet all other eligibility requirements.
Re the NYS aid requirement of the 30 credit completion per student per year - Is it only for credits that apply to a student's program and if it is impossible for a current student to complete those amount of credits at an institution w/in a year w/in their program (e.g. Appropriate program progression Courses not offered timely or not enough of courses offered for a student to take the full 30 credits in a year...) is the school penalized (e.g. required to provide the student the matching fund for the NYS grant ( up to 3K) or is the student dropped from the NYS award?
A student must complete 30 credits per year applicable to his or her program(s) of study to remain eligible for an ETA Program award. The institution is no longer obligated to provide a match or freeze tuition once a student loses eligibility.
If so can the student then appeal or will the school be held responsible in some way for not providing the needed courses? I haven't been able to get any clarification on this and it may pose a problem for our course offerings in some majors.
HESC will not hold schools responsible for their course offerings.
Must all the credits be within a student’s program (like the federal requirements)?
A minimum of 30 credits applicable to a student’s program(s) of study must be completed each year.
For the GPA requirement, please define “coursework.”
There are no GPA requirements. Students must achieve a passing grade, as defined by the college.
Will family size and/or number in college be used in any way to determine eligibility for the ETA? (Number in college impacts TAP eligibility).
No.
A student is required to complete at least 30 credits each “year.” If 30 credits are not complete, student is eligible for first semester payment and ineligible for future payments. For example, student completes 12 credits in each of his/her first two semesters; however, the student does not complete the remaining 6 credits – is the student no longer eligible for the second payment?
The student will receive an award for the first term, but will not receive any further award payments if he/she has not completed 30 credits within a 365-day period.
Question: Does the ETA $6,000 max include institutional aid? Our financial aid office reads the language to say that institutional aid would be added to TAP toward reaching the $6,000 max. If this is the case, then many of our students would not be eligible for ETA, since they have maximum TAP and at least $1,000 in institutional aid, which would put them at or over $6,000.
The ETA Program provides a $6,000 award to be applied towards the full tuition charged by the private college or university. If a recipient is eligible, the ETA award amount would be calculated by subtracting the recipient’s TAP award (if any) from the $6,000 award, with half of the remaining balance paid by ETA and half paid by the college.
Our school is unique in our setup. Our students take all of their nursing classes with us, a private non-profit, but all of their co-requirements are taken at the community college. If a student comes through our program taking just nursing classes, they do not qualify for the ETA because they are never in a full time status or able to complete 30 credits in one academic year. If they come in taking a semester of just co-requirements at the community college, they may or may not be full-time and eligible for Excelsior. They take their courses at both public and private at the same time for a total of 30 credits. How would our students be able to take advantage of either Excelsior or Enhanced Tuition Award?
A student should apply for ETA if he/she:
  • Is attending a private college or university (the home college);
  • Has co-requirements applicable to his/her program of study that are taken at a public college or university; and
  • Will have a degree conferred by the private college or university (the home college).

PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION/IMPLEMENTATION

For campuses that charge tuition at a different rate once a student exceeds a set number of credits (e.g., 18 per semester), how will that work under ETA? (Would the freeze be only on what is typically charged for 12-18 credits/semester?)
The tuition freeze is only on the tuition typically charged for 12-18 credits per semester, or the equivalent for trimester schools.
When will the school receive payment(s)?
Schools will receive payment at the end of the fall and either the spring or summer terms.
After defining GPA – define if evaluation of GPA is done on a semester or annual basis. If based on a semester and student is no longer eligible after 1st semester – does student receive 1st semester award?
The ETA does not require that a student achieve a certain GPA. A student must receive a passing grade, as determined by the college, sufficient to have completed 30 credits each year.
Since the institution is freezing tuition for years 2,3 and 4 – can this tuition credit, being given based on their eligibility for the program, be considered part of the institution match.
The tuition freeze is not, and cannot be considered part of the institution match.
On occasion a student’s TAP award is recalculated by HESC due to income verification or non-verification of siblings attending college and then at times when a student withdraws in a semester the institution is required to recalculate TAP based on changes in tuition liability. Based on these types of changes if the TAP award is adjusted would the Enhance award automatically be adjusted too? Will HESC insure that the potential for this type of adjustment be disclosed up front to award recipients?
The amount of the ETA Program award will be adjusted during a term if adjustments are made to a recipient’s TAP award. Both HESC and FAOs will be responsible for informing students about the Program features.
We meet full financial need at our institution. The matching language reads: "Participating Institutions shall credit each recipient's remaining tuition expenses in an amount equal to the recipient's award under this program. Such credit shall be applied after the recipient has received an institutional aid package, if any, to ensure that this program does not reduce institutional aid that would otherwise be granted.” Will schools need to reduce “self-help” such as work-study or loans in such cases?
TBD.
What if the student changes majors and therefore the student did not earn 30 credits that are applicable to their program of study?
A student who fails to earn 30 credits applicable towards his or her program of study will lose eligibility for future award payments.
How will a medical leave of absence or any other approved leave of absence going to be handled?
Students who have an approved leave of absence will retain eligibility for their ETA award upon returning to school. HESC will work with colleges to assess a student’s leave status.
What happens if a student receives an award but doesn’t graduate?
A student who fails to complete 30 credits applicable to his or her program of study each year will lose eligibility for future award payments. Upon receiving a final award payment, such student must fulfill the residency requirement equal to the length of time he/she received the award and, if employed, work in NYS during such time.
From the language: “If a student meets all other requirements but fails to obtain 30 credits, such student shall receive the award for the first semester of that year but shall be ineligible for future payments. What is the mechanism for backing out the spring semester? We might not know that the student will not earn that award until after the spring grades are submitted. This creates another burden for the student and school. The student would then owe the school the full amount of the unearned enhanced TAP for the spring semester.
If a student fails to obtain 30 credits within a 365-day period, the student will receive an award for the first term and the college will bill the student for the subsequent term(s). The school will determine the manner in which it bills its students.
In section 146 item #7 line 44-46: it states that students attending any non-participating college may still be eligible to receive an award… Is the award the TAP award?
Yes. The award is the TAP award.
If a student has their full tuition covered by a combination of their TAP award and other tuition specific institutional or other aid, can they still receive ETA thereby exceeding tuition cost?
A student whose full tuition is covered by other aid is ineligible to receive an ETA award.
Will students in the HEOP program be awarded this grant and if so how is the institutional match counted?
HEOP students are eligible for an ETA Program award. The institution must match awards for HEOP students and non-HEOP students in the same manner.
If a student is unable to secure the full 30 credits during the course of the year, due to the absence of an offered or limited offering of a course, (in other words – outside of the student’s control) – and they lose the award – can that be appealed? If so, to whom? Is the institution liable for not being able to offer the required amount of courses within a year?
HESC will not hold schools responsible for their course offerings.
The combination of TAP, institutional match, and the Enhanced Tuition Award program is causing confusion. Can HESC provide examples outlining common scenarios for awarding ETA?
The $6,000 ETA Program award is calculated by subtracting the TAP award, if any. Half of the remaining balance is paid by the ETA Program award and the other half is paid by the participating college. For example, a student receiving no TAP award ($6,000-$0=$6,000) will receive a $3,000 ETA award and a $3,000 match by the college. A student receiving a $2,000 Tap award ($6,000-$2,000=$4,000) will receive a $2,000 ETA Program award and a $2,000 college match.
If a student transfers from one ETA college to another and maintains ETA eligibility, please confirm that the student’s tuition at the college to which she is transferring to will be frozen at the rate at the time of the student’s start date at that institution.
ETA eligibility does not transfer with a student to a new college. An ETA recipient who transfers to another college must apply for an ETA Program award for the new college. Tuition would be frozen at the rate charged when the first receiving an award at the new college.
What is the base year for the tuition freeze? Is it first year of award (which could be, for example, a year other than the student’s first year), or the first year the student begins at the college?
The base year for the tuition freeze is the first year of the award.
If a student leaves the program and returns for good cause, the private college's frozen tuition kicks in at whatever rate the student had when s/he left the program?
A student who is granted an allowable leave of absence (as determined by HESC, in consultation with the college) will continue to be charged the rate that the student had when he/she began his/her leave of absence.
If only receiving the benefit for one semester – tuition would only have to be frozen for one semester?
Tuition would remain frozen for the entire year.
Will schools have to perform a certification process separate from TAP just for the ETA each semester?
Yes. A separate certification will be required for the ETA Program.
Define – If a student meets all requirements but fails to obtain 30 credits – such student shall receive the award for the first semester of that year – WHAT about the second semester? And if no payment from the state for 2nd semester – then no match from the institution and no tuition freeze?
The student will not receive an award payment for the second semester. A college must continue the tuition freeze for the entire year; however, the college is not required to pay the match for the second semester.
Re: residency requirement: Who enforces this provision? How is this tracked? What validation will be necessary? Who is monitoring if they stay in NY and are not employed in another state? Would institutions have any participation, obligation, or penalty either in making this aspect clear to students, or in enforcement?
The residency requirement is applied in the same manner as other general award programs.
What kind of reporting or certification requirements will there be? Will we have to certify the student with their CIP code or program information? What will be the reporting requirements for the institution? Will there be a template schools must follow?
A template will be provided for certification.
Can students who have been selected for the award decline the ETA at some point? What is an institution’s responsibility once as student declines or fails to re-apply for the ETA.
Schools will receive a roster of ETA Program recipients each term, informing them of students who are eligible for an award.
If a student loses eligibility due to a low GPA does the institution have the authority to remove the tuition freeze provision from this student? If the student later raises her GPA to acceptable standards is the Enhanced Tuition Award reinstated? If so, at what rate is the tuition freeze reinstated?
There is no GPA requirement for the ETA Program. Students must earn 30 credits each year, through successful completion of their coursework. A student who fails to complete 30 credits within a 365-day period will permanently lose eligibility for the ETA Program award.
Will institutions be required to certify eligibility under similar procedures that are currently used for TAP certification? i.e. certification rosters, payment rosters etc.
Yes.
What responsibilities, if any, will institutions have once a student has graduated?
Institutions will have no ETA Program responsibilities once a student has graduated.
If a student receives the ETA at another school and transfers to a non-participating school, would the non-participating school be obligated to continue to award the ETA if the student remains eligible?
No.
Does the medical interruption exception have to be approved by HESC?
Yes. However, HESC will consult with the college during the approval process.
Is ETA a campus based program? If not, will NYS pre-pay funds to the institution based upon NYS IVR review of 2016-17 institution’s population similar to TAP?
There will be no pre-payments of the ETA Program awards.
At what point in the calendar year will HESC require certification from institutions with respect to the credit requirement?
HESC will require certification from institutions at the end of the fall and either the spring or summer terms.
When will the ETA funds be transferred to an institution?
Payments will be made at the end the fall and either the spring or summer terms.
Students are deciding now where to attend next year and all of our students have already been packaged so campuses have spent all of the financial aid dollars they have budgeted. Can certain provisions be waived for a year?
Provisions of the law cannot be waived. However, colleges that do not opt-in for the 2017-18 academic year may opt in for the 2018-19 academic year or any year(s) thereafter.
If the Enhanced Tuition Award is converted to a student loan (because the student decides not to live or work in NY after graduation) is the loan Subsidized or Unsubsidized? We believe it will be Unsubsidized. Either way, this could result in a student exceeding his/her federal aggregate student loan limit
The student loan will be a zero-interest loan.
Federal guidance prohibits differential treatment in tuition costs within a program of study. Please comment.
HESC has received guidance from officials at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that ED does not find any aspect of the New York Enhanced Tuition Award (ETA) to be in conflict with provisions governing administration of the Title IV programs. Therefore, a tuition freeze may be imposed as required by the ETA Program.
Will the state ensure that federal and state aid requirements are aligned?
Financial aid award recipients must both be aware of and meet the program requirements for each student financial aid award they receive, whether federal or state.
Since eligibility for this program may not be determined nor the award amount until HESC verifies all information and notifies student at what point will schools be able to make financial aid offers to these students?
The timing of a school’s financial aid offering should not be modified due to the ETA Program.
Describe the terms of the loan.
Failure to reside in NYS for the length of time for which the ETA Program award was received, or to work in NYS during such time (if employed) will result in the conversion of the award to a 10-year zero-interest loan. In addition, the amount converted to a loan will be pro-rated proportionate to the length of time the recipient was in compliance with the residency requirement. For example, a recipient who resided in NYS for two of the four years required will have 50 percent of his/her award converted to a 10-year zero-interest loan.
Please comment on the potential for overpackaging/overawarding.
An ETA Program award may not exceed the actual tuition rate charged.
Since income eligibility is tied to the FAFSA (federal) AGI and an institution does federal verification and a student’s eligibility changes (either making the student who was eligible, ineligible for vice versa) is ETA eligibility gained or lost for the award year? Likewise would tuition rates change for that student at the time of correction? (i.e. we foresee potential administrative, customer service, public relations and accounting challenges to change students' tuition amounts mid-year.)
HESC will verify 2015 federal AGI in determining an applicant’s eligibility for an ETA Program award. Income eligibility will be maintained for the award year.
If a student fails to meet the residency obligation and is required repay the ETA award as a loan, does the student repay only New York State’s portion of the ETA, or the full amount (including the institution’s contribution)?
The statute requires that the student repay New York State’s portion of the ETA.