|High School Diploma
To be eligible for State student financial assistance, Education Law section 661(4) states that a student first receiving aid in academic year 1996-97 to 2006-2007 must have a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the recognized equivalent of such certificate, or receive a passing score on an approved ability-to-benefit test. For students first receiving aid in academic year 2006-07 and thereafter, the certificate of graduation must be from a recognized school providing secondary education within the United States; or the recognized equivalent of such certificate; or received a passing score on a federally approved ability to benefit test that has been identified by the board of regents and has been independently administered and evaluated as defined by the commissioner.
Therefore, a student without a valid high school diploma must hold a high school equivalency diploma. A student can earn a high school equivalency diploma in New York State in one of three ways: (1) by taking and earning passing scores on a TASC test or (2) by completing 24 semester hour credits in specified subjects as a recognized candidate for a degree in an approved (accredited) institution or (3) through the National External Diploma Program. For more information on High School Equivalency Diploma visit nysed.gov.
|High School Equivalency Diploma
One way that a student can demonstrate eligibility for TAP is by earning a high school equivalency diploma. New York State has selected a new high school equivalency test called the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) to replace the GED as the primary pathway to a New York State High School Equivalency Diploma effective January 2, 2014. The TASC is a secure, reliable and valid instrument used to verify that examinees have knowledge in core content areas equivalent to a graduating high school seniors. For more information click here.
A student can earn a high school equivalency diploma in New York State in one of two ways: (1) by taking and earning passing scores on a test (TASC/GED) or (2) by completing 24 semester hour credits in specified subjects as a recognized candidate for a degree in an approved (accredited) institution. The 24 credits must include 6 credits in English language arts, 3 credits in mathematics, 3 credits in the natural sciences, 3 credits in the social sciences, 3 credits in Humanities, and 6 credits in any other courses within the student's registered ** degree or certificate program.
Note: A student who has earned the requisite 24 credits, is considered to have the "recognized equivalent" of a high school diploma, even before the State Education Department has issued a high school equivalency diploma.
For purposes of meeting TAP eligibility criteria, the 24 credits could include courses in which D grades were earned, providing the D was a passing grade and the student earned the credit.
If a student transfers from one institution to another, credits earned at both institutions can be used to determine whether the student satisfies the 24 credit requirements, providing the credits were earned at approved institutions and were listed on an official transcript. This procedure can apply even when the receiving institution does not accept all credits earned at a previous institution, as long as the prior credits are documented on an official transcript from an accredited institution.
Students who are homeschooled must meet the same criteria, high school diploma or the recognized equivalent, or a passing score on an approved ability-to-benefit test, to be eligible for State student financial assistance as do those students who attend public high schools.
More information on homeschooling can be obtained from SED:
New York State Education Department
High School Equivalency (HSE) Office
P.O. Box 7348
Albany, NY 12224-0348
New York State student financial assistance is provided for students attending institutions in the State. According to section 145-2.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, “to be considered in attendance at a school in New York State, the student must either be matriculated at that school, or must be registered at that school under permit from another school in New York State at which the student is regularly matriculated.”
If a student attends a New York State school but is matriculated at an out-of-state institution, that student is considered to be an out-of-state student.
However, a student who receives instruction from an out-of-state institution can be considered to be receiving instruction from an institution in the State providing all tuition and instructional fees for the foreign or out-of-state study are paid to the New York State institution. Conversely, a student who pays instructional fees and tuition directly to a foreign or out-of-state institution, notwithstanding the fact that the student may be maintaining registration in a New York State institution, or that the New York State institution may also be charging the student a fee for advisory or administrative services, is considered to be attending the foreign or out-of-state institution and is ineligible for New York State student aid.
Section 145-2.5 further provides that to be approved as eligible for NYS student financial assistance, “an off-campus study program must be an integral part of the curriculum of the New York State institution, and tuition must be payable to the school and received by the school in the same manner as tuition charged for any other school program.”
The importance of Incomplete grades in the context of financial aid eligibility relates to good academic standing requirements. Incomplete grades can be considered in certain circumstances when determining whether a student has met the pursuit of program requirement to remain in good academic standing.
Courses in which a student receives an Incomplete can also be used to satisfy the pursuit requirement providing that institutional policy requires the Incomplete grade to be changed to a standard passing or failing grade by end of the subsequent term of study. If institutional policy permits an Incomplete grade to remain on a student’s academic transcript indefinitely, then Incomplete grades cannot be used to meet the pursuit requirement.
Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, independent or individualized study can be considered in determining whether a student is full time or part time for financial aid purposes. To be acceptable as part of the student’s minimum full or part-time course load, the student effort for the independent study must be the same, on an hour-for-hour equivalent basis, as that required for a credit-bearing course and if required or approved by the institution in a prefiled plan of study as an integral part of the student’s program.
To determine whether the student effort is the same as that required for a credit-bearing course, the institution’s faculty should establish a credit-equivalent value for the independent study based on the definition of a semester hour in section 50.1 (o) of Commissioner’s Regulations. Section 50.1(o) defines a semester hour as a unit of academic award that requires at least 15 fifty-minute hours of instruction and at least 30 hours of supplementary assignments. The institution should maintain documentation of the student’s work or other activity completed as a record of the student’s independent study effort.
In the context of student financial aid eligibility, the concept of “integral part” is important in determining whether a student is full time.
State student aid is provided to enable students to complete a program of postsecondary education. Academic programs must be registered (approved) by the State Education Department and designated as eligible for State student assistance. To approve a program, the Department reviews the specific program requirements to assure that the curriculum is in compliance with the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education for program registration.
To be considered an integral part of the student’s program, courses that make up the student’s minimum full-time course load must be applicable to the program’s requirements—as a general requirement, major requirement, or elective—as registered.
Students who wish to include in their program of study certain activities in addition to traditional courses may do so. Section 145-2.1(a) of regulations provides that activities such as independent study, practice teaching, thesis and dissertation research, and noncredit or remedial study can be included in the determination of full-time and part-time study, providing the activity is “required or approved by the school, in a plan of study prefiled by the student with the school, as an integral part of the student’s program.”
A student who is matriculated at a TAP-eligible New York State institution can take courses at another TAP-eligible institution in the State as all or part of the minimum full-time course load for financial aid purposes under the following conditions:
Some institutions offer a short term between regular semesters, such as a one-month winter session between the fall and spring semesters.
Free-standing intersessions are ineligible for State student aid unless the term is formally linked to either the fall or spring semester to form a “simulated semester” for financial aid purposes. Simulated semester calendar arrangements must be approved by the State Education Department.
|Inventory of Registered Programs
The State Education Department maintains an official Inventory of Registered Programs that is updated daily as new academic programs and existing program changes are approved.
For each institution the inventory lists all credit-bearing programs offered leading to postsecondary certificates or degrees, as well as certain noncredit programs leading to licensure in a profession (e.g., licensed practical nursing programs offered by a hospital school).
For each registered program, the Inventory indicates whether the program is eligible for three State student aid programs: the Tuition Assistance Program, Aid for Part-Time Study, and Veterans Tuition Awards.
The Inventory is available from the State Education Department.
|Limitation of Award Amount
Certain forms of federal, State, and institutional assistance are considered to duplicate the purposes of TAP awards, Aid for Part-Time Study awards, and Veterans Tuition Awards and therefore limit the amount of these awards.
The following forms of assistance are not duplicative:
|Loss of Good Academic Standing
Education Law requires that a student be in good academic standing to be eligible for State student financial assistance. Education Law also authorizes the Commissioner of Education to define “loss of good academic standing.”
(2) Good academic standing. Good academic standing, where required by law, 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.
(2) Following a determination that the recipient of an award has lost good academic standing, further payments of any award under article 13 or 14 of the Education Law 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 requirements; or (ii) establishing in some other way, to the satisfaction of the commissioner, evidence of his ability to successfully complete an approved program.
“Major” generally is used synonymously with “program of study.” To be eligible for State student financial aid, a student must be matriculated in an approved program of study, that is, a program reviewed and registered by the State Education Department and eligible for financial aid.
The Department publishes an official Inventory of Registered Programs that is the official record of all approved programs.
|Make up Deficiency
To be eligible for State student financial aid, a student must remain in good academic standing, defined as pursuing a program of study and making progress toward completing the program’s requirements.
If a student fails to remain in good academic standing, the student loses eligibility for a subsequent award.
One of the ways a student can regain eligibility is to make up the deficiency—failure to pursue or failure to make progress, or both—without benefit of State financial aid.
For example, if a student is at the 100 percent pursuit level—that is, must get a grade in at least 100 percent of the minimum full-time course load of 12 credits—and the student gets a grade in only nine credits, the student must make up the three-credit shortfall at his/her own expense. Thus, the student might take a three-credit course during a winter term or summer session to make up the deficiency without benefit of State student aid.
While matriculated status for academic purposes is a policy decision within the discretion of an institution’s faculty and administration, the definition of matriculated status for financial aid purposes is established in section 145-2.4 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, (italicized text); explanatory text follows:
Students who defer declaring a major may be considered matriculated in one or more of an institution’s approved programs; however, students must declare a major within 30 days of the end of their institution’s drop/add period—in the first term of the sophomore year for two-year programs or the first term of the junior year for four-year programs, so that the student is able to complete the requirements for the degree within the timeframe specified in the academic program as registered by the State Education Department and appears on the Inventory of Registered Programs as a program eligible for State student aid. While a declaration must be made at specific points as noted above, students are of course, free to change their choice of major during their program of study.
If a student has completed all requirements for one degree and is taking additional courses but has not formally matriculated in another degree program, that student is not eligible for further aid.