Cumulative Passing Average

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Cumulative Passing Average

“Cumulative passing average,” when used in the context of an eligibility criterion for State student financial assistance, applies only to the Aid for Part-Time Study Program (APTS). In addition to maintaining good academic standing, students who receive an APTS award must also achieve a cumulative passing average in order to be eligible for a subsequent award.

Institutions should note the distinction between these two requirements: good academic standing relates to student eligibility. The cumulative passing average requirement is separate and is used to determine whether an institution will be reimbursed for tuition waived for APTS recipients. It is possible for a student to satisfy good academic standing requirements yet fail to achieve a cumulative passing average for a given semester. The reverse may also occur.

Note: the one-time undergraduate waiver of good academic standing has no application to the cumulative passing average requirement.

In establishing what is meant by cumulative passing average, the Commissioner of Education took into account the variety of grading systems and practices in effect at the diverse postsecondary institutions in New York State. In recognition of the need to allow as much flexibility as possible, the Commissioner determined that a cumulative passing average for the course work undertaken for the term an APTS award is received can be no lower than the minimum passing course grade at an institution. For example, if the minimum passing course grade is a D, or 1.0 on a 4.0 scale, 1.0 would be the minimum passing average.

Treatment of W grades for financial aid purposes should also be consistent with the treatment of these grades for general academic purposes. For example, if a W is a nonpunitive grade that does not count in a student’s average, it would not count for financial aid purposes. Thus, the average of two C’s and a W would be a C. A student who has received all W’s would not have achieved a cumulative passing average. Such a student would have no average.

In the case of incomplete (I) grades, institutions can consider a student with an otherwise passing average that includes an I grade to have an overall passing average. The I grade does not affect the average positively or negatively. On the other hand, a student with an incomplete who has not achieved a cumulative passing average may be able to do so with the resolution of the incomplete grade. As in the case of W grades, a student receiving all I grades would not have achieved a cumulative passing average.

P (Pass), S (Satisfactory), or U (Unsatisfactory) grades may present problems for some institutions if these grades are not ordinarily assigned a quality point or numerical equivalent for calculation in the student’s cumulative average. If that is the case, institutions may wish to consider establishing equivalents for financial aid purposes. If such equivalents are established, a written policy should be developed to explain this grading policy.