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TASC and Financial Aid Eligibility

One way that you can demonstrate eligibility for New York State student financial aid is by earning a high school equivalency diploma.

You can earn a high school equivalency diploma from the New York State Education Department in one of two ways: (1) by taking and achieving passing scores on the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) formally known as the GED test* or (2) by completing 24 semester hour credits in specified subjects as a recognized candidate for a degree at an approved (accredited) institution. The 24 credits must include 6 credits in english, 3 credits in mathematics, 3 credits in the natural sciences, 3 credits in the social sciences, and 6 credits in any other courses that can apply to your degree or certificate program requirements. Your college counselor or advisor can assist you to assure that you are taking the appropriate courses to satisfy the 24-credit requirement.

For purposes of meeting TAP eligibility criteria, the 24 credits can include courses in which you earned D grades, providing the D was a passing grade and you earned credit for the course.

If you transfer from one institution to another, credits earned at both institutions can be used to determine whether you meet the 24-credit requirement, providing you earned the credits at an accredited college or university and the credits are listed on an official transcript. Even if the college to which you are transferring does not accept all the credits you earned at a previous institution, as long as the prior credits are documented on an official transcript from an accredited college they can be used to satisfy the 24-credit requirement for a high school equivalency diploma.


*The GED refers to the test of General Educational Development. Passing scores on the TASC test result in the State Education Department awarding a student a high school equivalency diploma.

Transcript

Section 52.2 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education defines standards for the registration of undergraduate and graduate curricula (criteria that the State Education Department uses to review and approve academic programs).

The subsection on “Administration,” Section 52.2(e)(6), specifies that: “The institution shall maintain for each student a permanent, complete, accurate, and up-to-date transcript of student achievement at the institution. This document will be the official cumulative record of the student’s cumulative achievement.”

As the regulation states, the academic transcript must be maintained permanently. To comply with the requirement that the transcript be “complete, accurate, and up-to-date,” all grades that a student earns must be recorded. For example, if a student repeats a course, the original grade must remain on the transcript in the term earned. An institution can choose how it wishes to identify an original grade that is subsequently changed—for whatever reason--but both the old and new grades must be recorded on the transcript.

Transfer Student

In the financial aid context, a transfer student is a student who is changing from one institution to another institution that the student has not attended previously. Students who change from one program to another or from one school to another within the same institution should not be considered transfer students. A student who is returning to an institution previously attended is a readmitted student.

If a student loses good academic standing for financial aid purposes, the student can transfer to another institution and regain eligibility for the initial term upon entry.

When an institution admits a transfer student and accepts credits in transfer toward a degree, that admissions assessment and information about the number of State financial aid awards the student may have received will determine placement at the appropriate point on the institution’s chart of satisfactory academic progress. 

A transfer student can be placed on the chart based either on the number of credits earned and accepted in transfer or on the number of award payments received—whichever is more beneficial to the student. If placed on the chart based on credits accepted, the student should be placed at the point closest to but not greater than the number of credits being transferred.

Uniterm

Section 145-2.1(a) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education defines full-time and part-time study in terms of three possible academic calendars: Semesters, quarters, and a full-year calendar not to exceed 12 months.

For semester calendars, full-time study is defined as enrollment, in credit-bearing courses applicable to the students' program of study, for at least 12 semester hours in a semester of not less than 15 weeks, inclusive of examination periods; part-time study, except for Veterans Tuition Awards and Aid for Part-Time Study, is defined for most programs as enrollment for at least six but fewer than 12 semester hours.

For quarter/trimester calendars, full-time study is defined as enrollment for at least eight semester hours (or 12 quarter credit hours); although not specified in regulation, to be comparable to the two-semester 30-week calendar, each term in a three quarter/trimester calendar must be at least ten weeks. Part-time study is defined as enrollment for at least four semester hours (six quarter credit hours) but fewer than eight semester hours.

The third calendar option, for programs not organized on a semester or quarter basis, is an academic year of twelve months, identified as “uniterm.” Full-time study is defined as 24 semester hours or the equivalent, as determined by the Commissioner. To be considered full time in a program organized on a 12-month basis, a student must file a plan of study for the entire academic year.

There are advantages and disadvantages to a uniterm calendar. The advantages include the freedom to organize courses in a variety of ways and to offer courses of different durations. Students can select their courses to add up to 24 semester hours in whatever combinations the institution makes available.

However, the key disadvantage is that the student is not eligible for any State student assistance until beginning the term when the student reaches enrollment for the full 24 semester hours. That means that even if a student enrolls in and completes 12 semester hours in a term, the student is ineligible for any aid until the point when the student begins the term when enrollment in 24 semester hours is achieved. Because of this drawback, very few programs have ever been offered in a uniterm calendar format.

Veterans Tuition Award

In 1984, the New York State Legislature established the Vietnam Veterans Tuition Award program to provide tuition assistance for full-time or part-time undergraduate study for veterans who are residents of the state, who served in Indochina between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975, and who were discharged under honorable conditions including, but not limited to, honorable discharge, discharge under honorable conditions, and general discharge. 

Since 1984, the program has been expanded to include veterans who served in the Persian Gulf on or after August 2, 1990 and in Afghanistan on or after September 11, 2001, and to provide awards for graduate as well as undergraduate study. In addition to enrollment in approved programs leading to a degree or credit-bearing certificate, veterans may also receive awards for enrollment in an approved vocational training program of at least 320 clock hours.

In 2008, the legislature further amended the law to also include “other eligible combat veterans.” This group includes individuals who are New York State residents, who served in the armed forces of the United States in hostilities that occurred after February 28, 1961, as evidence by their receipt of an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, or Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, and who were discharged under honorable conditions, as noted above.

For full-time study, veterans are eligible for an award equal to the amount of undergraduate tuition for New York State residents charged by the State University of New York, or actual tuition charged, whichever is less.

For part-time study, awards are prorated by credit hour. Part-time study for Veterans Tuition Awards is defined as at least three but fewer than twelve semester hours (or the equivalent) at degree-granting institutions or six to twenty-three hours per week in a vocational training program. 

Awards are available for up to four years of undergraduate study, or five years for enrollment in an approved five-year program, and up to three years of graduate study at degree-granting institutions and for a maximum of two years of study in approved vocational training programs.

Waivers

In the context of State student financial assistance programs, there are two types of waivers: (1) good academic standing waivers and (2) C-average waivers.

1. Good Academic Standing Waiver

The Regulations of the Commissioner of Education permit a waiver of good academic standing requirements in certain circumstances.

When the New York State Education Department proposed amended financial aid regulations in 1980, there was no provision for waivers. However, during public hearings (part of the State regulatory process when major regulation changes are proposed), there were persuasive arguments made that students who were otherwise successful could experience one "bad" term due to circumstances beyond their control and that the regulations should make some provision for such situations. In response, the State agencies involved in the administration of student financial aid programs agreed to the inclusion of a waiver provision for students who failed to make satisfactory academic progress or pursue the program of study, or both in the same term.

Section 145-2.2 stipulates that the good academic standing requirements “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 interests 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; however, the institution must make its criteria and procedures for waivers available to students and the public, either in writing or on its website. The commissioner may review such criteria and procedures in use, and require an institution to revise those found to be not acceptable.”

State Education Department guidelines on the use of waivers recommend that institutions appoint a waiver officer who will be responsible for reviewing waiver applications, making waiver decisions, and maintaining the necessary case record. Institutions are cautioned that not all students who fail to satisfy the good academic standing requirements are necessarily candidates for a waiver. For example, “difficulty adjusting to college life” is not a reasonable basis for a waiver, since that circumstance might apply to many students. Situations that caused a student to lose good academic standing should be beyond the student’s control, not chronic circumstances that cannot be remedied. With the additional term that results from approval of the waiver, a student should be able to regain good standing.

2. C-Average Waiver



Section 661 (4)(b) of the Education Law was amended for the 1995-1996 academic year and thereafter to require that students achieve a cumulative C average or the equivalent after receiving four semester award payments. 

The Law also provides that “The President [of the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation] may waive the requirement that a student have a cumulative C average or its equivalent for undue hardship based on: (i) the death of a relative of the student; (ii) the personal injury or illness of the student; or (iii) other extenuating circumstances. . .”

Unlike the good academic standing waiver, it is possible, should circumstances warrant it, for a student to receive more than one C-average waiver.

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