TAP Coach

Search for glossary terms (regular expression allowed)
Begin with Contains Exact termSounds like
Term Definition
Declaration of a Major (Deferred Major)

Education Law Section 661 requires a student to be matriculated in an approved program (major) to be eligible for State student financial aid (includes TAP and all grants and scholarships enumerated in Articles 13 and 14 of the Law). Although a strict interpretation would require students to be enrolled in an approved program from their first semester to be eligible for aid, the State agencies involved with student aid have agreed that students enrolled in two-year or four-year degree programs can defer declaring a major and still be eligible. This agreement was reached based on the understanding that in their first and second years, students generally take courses that are applicable to a number of approved programs at the institution.

Students enrolled in two-year academic programs leading to associate degrees must declare a major no later than within 30 days of the end of the institution’s add/drop period in the first term of their sophomore year. Students enrolled in four-year academic programs leading to baccalaureate degrees must declare a major no later than within 30 days of the institution’s add/drop period in the first term of their junior year.

For State financial aid purposes, a student must declare a major within 30 days of the end of the institution's add/drop period of the sophomore year in a 2-year program or within 30 days of the end of the add/drop period of the junior year of a baccalaureate program so that the student is able to complete the requirements for the degree within the timeframe specified in the academic program as registered with the commissioner. Please note that these requirements are meant to reflect the academic timeframes of the typical curriculum term lengths needed to earn a four-year degree. Students who reach their junior year status early because of credits earned prior to matriculation, may declare a major prior to their 4th term. However, such students must declare a major upon reaching their junior year status at the end of their fourth term as noted above.

In each case, the cumulative transcript for the student must designate the student's enrollment in a program that has been registered by the State Education Department and appears on the Inventory of Registered Programs as a program eligible for State student aid. These also must be consistent with all required deferral of degree approvals at the college, and while a declaration must be made at specified points as noted above, students are, of course, free to change their choice of major during their program of study.


One key to successful financial aid administration is the creation, collection, and maintenance of adequate documentation to substantiate certification of eligibility for awards. The agreement that institutions sign with HESC to participate in TAP and scholarship programs specifies that such records should be retained for five years. 

Institutions should review the various eligibility criteria for State awards and assure that they are maintaining records that demonstrate the student’s eligibility.

This practice should begin, for example, with admission. To be eligible for an award, a student must be:

  • US citizen or recognized noncitizen
  • A New York State resident
  • Have a certificate of graduation from a US school or the recognized equivalent or have achieved a passing score on an ability-to-benefit test approved by the NYS Board of Regents

Each of these eligibility criteria relating to the point of admission requires documentation. Where this documentation is maintained—in the admissions office or, upon the student’s entrance, moved to the financial aid office—is at the discretion of the institution.

The enrolled student’s academic transcript is a primary source of documentation of the student’s courses, grades, and program in which the student is matriculated. (As required by the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, the academic transcript must be retained permanently.)

Documentation is also important when an institution grants waivers. Maintaining a record of the process whereby justification for the waiver is reviewed--as well as the resulting decision--is necessary to substantiate that the granting of the waiver was appropriate.

In every instance where the financial aid decision depends on whether the student meets eligibility criteria, the importance of maintaining adequate documentation cannot be stressed enough. Clearly, if and when the institution’s administration of State student aid is audited, the more detailed and complete the documentation, the better the outcome is likely to be. 

Duplicative Benefits (Duplicate Award)

A duplicative benefit is an award that duplicates the purpose of another award. Duplicative benefits are those that duplicate the purpose of TAP, STAP, APTS, or Veterans Tuition Awards—i.e., tuition awards. (They have no effect on other State programs.) The total of TAP, STAP, APTS, and/or Veterans Tuition Awards and the duplicate benefit cannot exceed the student’s tuition liability. When other benefits are duplicative, the TAP, STAP, APTS, and/or Veterans Tuition Awards are reduced accordingly.

Examples of duplicative benefits:

  • Any federal educational grant or scholarship that provides tuition assistance such as ROTC scholarships is duplicative. When awarding tuition benefits, Chapter 31 Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation is considered duplicative.
  • Any state grant administered by other State agencies that provides assistance to cover tuition charges is duplicative. However, grants that are limited to the difference between tuition and TAP are not duplicative.
  • Institutional aid that is based on a general competition and that, when combined with other aid, would exceed the student’s cost of attendance is duplicative. Tuition remission or tuition waivers—such as waivers granted for status as a faculty dependent or service as a graduate assistant—that are not based on need are also duplicative.
  • Other private aid that, when combined with other forms of assistance would exceed the student’s cost of attendance, is duplicative.
Duration of Eligibility
According to Education Law, students are entitled to a total of four years of TAP. Students who enroll in approved five-year undergraduate programs, including opportunity programs, are eligible to receive five years of undergraduate TAP.

Aid for Part-time Study awards and Part-time TAP awards, which are for undergraduate study only, also count against a student’s total TAP eligibility.
Students may receive one STAP award for the summer term before the initial year of matriculated study and one award for the summer term following the initial year of matriculated study.  Either award may be full or half-time study.  A STAP award does not reduce a student's TAP eligibility.  The amount of a STAP award for full-time study during a summer term will equal one-forth the annual award the student would have been eligible to receive under the TAP program.  The STAP award for half-time summer study will equal one-eighth the annual award for which the student would have bee eligible under the TAP program.  
/* Smartling Language Switcher code */