|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.
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.
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.
|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.
|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.