Failure to Make Progress
To remain eligible for State student financial assistance, a student must remain in good academic standing. Good academic standing consists of two elements, defined in section 145-2.2 of theRegulations of the Commissioner of Education: (1) make satisfactory academic progress toward a degree and (2) pursue the program of study.
To make satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, a student must earn a minimum number of credits with a minimum grade point average each term an award is received. If the student fails to make progress toward a degree—either by failing to accrue sufficient credits or by failing to achieve a sufficient cumulative grade point average--the student loses eligibility for a subsequent award. The student can regain eligibility in one of four ways:
- make up the deficiency without benefit of State financial assistance;
- be eligible for and granted a one-time waiver;
- stay out of school for one calendar year; or
- transfer to and be accepted at another institution.
Failure to Pursue
Education Law requires a student to remain in good academic standing to continue to be eligible for State student financial assistance. Good academic standing consists of two elements: making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree and pursuing the program of study. Students must satisfy both elements to remain in good academic standing. Failure to satisfy either element results in a loss of good standing and loss of a subsequent award until eligibility is regained.
The “pursuit of program” requirement is based on the number of award payments a student has received and measures student effort. In each term an award is received, the student must receive a passing or failing grade in a minimum percentage of the full-time or part-time course load, as applicable, to remain eligible for a subsequent award. A student who fails to complete (get a grade in) the appropriate percentage of the minimum course load loses eligibility for a subsequent award.
The pursuit requirement is defined in section 145-2.2 (b)(3) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, as follows:
... a student shall be deemed to be pursuing the approved program of study in which he is enrolled if:
(i) during each term of study in the first year for which an award is being received, he receives a passing or failing grade in at least one half of the minimum amount of study required to constitute full-time study or part-time study, whichever is applicable, pursuant to section 145-2.1 of this Subpart; [section defines full-time and part-time study]
(ii) during each term of study in the second year for which an award is being received, he receives a passing or failing grade in at least three fourths of the minimum amount of study required to constitute full-time study or part-time study, whichever is applicable, pursuant to section 145-2.1 of this Subpart;
(iii) during each term of study in the third year for which an award is being received, he receives a passing or failing grade in no less than the minimum amount of study required to constitute full-time study or part-time study, whichever is applicable, pursuant to section 145-2.1 of this Subpart.
For example, a student who is receiving the first semester TAP award payment must get a grade—passing or failing—in a least six credits or 50 percent of the minimum full-time course load of 12 credits during that first semester to satisfy the pursuit of program requirement and be eligible for a second payment. If a student is enrolled for 15 credits in a semester, to satisfy the 50 percent pursuit requirement, the student needs to complete/get a grade in at least 6 credits (50 percent of the minimum full-time course load). The same percentage applies for the second semester TAP award. To be eligible for a third and fourth TAP award payment (second year of study), a student must get a grade in at least nine credits or 75 percent of the minimum full-time course load. In the fifth semester and thereafter, a TAP recipient must get a grade in at least 12 credits or 100 percent of the minimum full-time course load.
In the case of part-time awards, as for full-time awards, the student must get a grade in a percentage of the minimum part-time course load in each term an award is received to remain eligible. The application, however, may differ for the different types of part-time awards (Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS), Part-Time TAP, and Accelerated TAP (Half-Time). For example,
- For APTS, the minimum course load is three credits. If the student begins college study as an APTS recipient who has never received TAP, the student is at the 50 percent pursuit level and must get a grade in at least 50 percent of the minimum course load of 3 credits, or 1-1/2 credits, in each term in the first year of study. (If all courses are three credits, the student must complete at least one course to remain eligible.) The percentage increases to 75 percent of the minimum 3-credit course load for each term in the second year an award is received, and to 100 percent in each term in the third year and thereafter that an award is received.
- For Part-Time TAP, because of the prior study requirements (12 credits earned in each of previous two semesters), a student who has already received TAP for the first two semesters would be at the 75 percent pursuit level when receiving Part-Time TAP, in the third and fourth semesters. The student would have to get a grade in at least 75 percent of the minimum 6-credit Part-Time TAP course load, or 4.5 credits (round up to 5 credits if necessary). However, if a Part-Time TAP recipient has not received any State student aid but has met the prior earned credit requirement, this student would have to get a grade in only 50 percent of the minimum part-time course load, or three credits, in each semester in the first year a Part-Time TAP award is received. That is because the pursuit requirement is based on payments. If the Part-Time TAP payments are the first State awards the student is receiving, then the student begins at the 50 percent pursuit level.
- For accelerated half-time TAP, the student must have earned 24 semester hours (or 18 credits plus 6 remedial hours) in the prior two semesters and have been full time in the prior spring term to be eligible for an accelerated summer payment. If the student received TAP for the first two semesters of college study, the student who is eligible for an accelerated summer payment is at the 75 percent pursuit level in the accelerated term (the third award payment) and must get a grade in at least 4.5 credits for a half-time award (75 percent of the minimum 6-credit for an accelerated award). The percentage remains at 75 percent in the subsequent term (the fourth payment), and then is at the 100 percent level for the fifth payment and thereafter.
Grades generally acceptable for satisfying the pursuit of program requirement include the grades of A through F and any grade that indicates a student (1) attended the course for the entire semester, and (2) completed all necessary assignments. Grades of Incomplete are acceptable only if institution policy specifies that the Incomplete must be resolved (result in a standard passing or failing grade) before the completion of the next term of study (or earlier). Grades of W (withdrawal), or any variation that signifies that the student has failed to complete the entire term, do not constitute grades that indicate the student passed, failed or completed all work in a course and cannot be counted toward meeting the program pursuit requirement.
When reviewing whether a student meets the pursuit requirement, it is important to keep in mind that the requirement is keyed to the number of award payments a student has received. The total number of payments is continuous, so that a graduate student who has received two or more years of undergraduate TAP begins graduate study at the 100 percent pursuit level. Conversely, an eligible graduate student who did not receive undergraduate TAP begins graduate study at the 50 percent pursuit level.
Fast Track Courses
“Fast track” courses meet for a different period of time than a full term. They may start and end before or after the regular semester and run for different lengths of time. Some colleges refer to such courses as “late start” courses.
To be full time for TAP purposes, a student who takes fast track courses must carry at least one course that meets for the full 15 weeks in a semester (inclusive of examination periods) to satisfy the durational requirement in section 145-2.1(a) on full-time and part-time study in theRegulations of the Commissioner of Education.
If the fast track courses all begin at the start of a semester, students can be certified as full time as soon as they have a full tuition liability. If the fast track courses begin later than the regular semester, certification cannot take place until the student achieves full-time status, that is, when the student’s course load is at least 12 credits.
The basic requirement for fast track courses is the demonstration of enrollment for a full-time course load, either by actually registering for at least 12 credits to be undertaken during the semester or prefiling a plan of study for enrollment in at least 12 credits. The student cannot add fast track courses at a later date during the semester to achieve a full-time course load.
For financial aid purposes, there are two types of five-year programs that can entitle an undergraduate student to an additional year of State financial assistance.
According to section 661 of the Education Law, an undergraduate student is eligible for up to four years of undergraduate assistance unless the student is enrolled in an approved five-year program, in which case the student is eligible for five years of undergraduate assistance.
This section of the Law is implemented by section 145-2.7 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education A student enrolled in an academic program that requires five years to complete and that the State Education Department has registered as a five-year program is eligible for a fifth year of undergraduate assistance. Examples are certain architecture or engineering programs. “Three Plus Two” programs that combine three years of liberal arts plus two years of a specialization are not considered five-year programs but rather a five-year pathway to a degree that normally takes four years to complete.
The second type of eligible five-year program is one that is an organized program of remedial study approved by the Commissioner. These include the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), the Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) program, and the College Discovery (CD) program. Students accepted in an opportunity program are considered matriculated on that basis and are eligible for TAP but, in accordance with statute, are not eligible for STAP. An opportunity program student who is enrolled in a second bachelor's degree program is not eligible for a fifth year of TAP.
Commissioner’s approval for the fifth year of payments applies to all academic performance and general purpose awards for which a fifth-year payment is authorized.
Note: A fifth year of undergraduate assistance reduces a student’s statutory eligibility for four years of graduate award eligibility to three years.
(Effective with the 2010-11 award year, graduate TAP funds have been eliminated. Graduate awards for the Veterans Tuition Award and the Senator Patricia K. McGee Nursing Faculty scholarship continue to be funded)
Legislation pertaining to eligibility for State student financial assistance was enacted in 2006 that affects students first receiving awards in academic year 2006-2007 and thereafter. According to amended section 661(4) of Education Law, an applicant for a State award must have a certificate of graduation from a high school in the United States or the equivalent of such certificate. Therefore, high school credentials from foreign countries are no longer acceptable. Students who completed their secondary education in another country must take an approved ability-to-benefit test to be eligible.
In the case of college-level study, institutions should evaluate foreign credentials, or have them evaluated by a commercial evaluation service, to assure that the study was, in fact, beyond secondary school. Schools should retain copies of foreign academic transcripts and the evaluation (in English translation, as applicable) in the student’s folder. To be acceptable, foreign study must have been completed at an institution approved by the country’s Ministry of Education.
Some institutions establish policies that permit students a “second chance” academically.
The policies vary in type and application but generally allow a student who has been dismissed for academic reasons to return to the institution and, after meeting certain specific criteria, have poor grades dropped from their cumulative grade point average.
An example of such a policy is as follows: a student receives several D’s and F’s and is dismissed for failing to achieve the minimum grade point average to continue as a matriculated student. After an absence of one year, the student is permitted to return and, if the student earns at least 12 credits with a minimum 2.0 grade point average in the initial semester, prior F grades are deleted from the cumulative grade point average.
Although such academic policies are permissible, the institution must nevertheless maintain all original grades on the academic transcript to be in compliance with the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. Section 52.2(e)(6) requires that the institution maintain an accurate, complete, and up-to-date academic transcript of the student’s performance at the institution.
Additionally, if the student also failed to meet good academic standing requirements for financial aid purposes, the forgiveness policy for academic purposes does not necessarily restore the student’s aid eligibility. In the example above, however, if the student did fail to maintain good academic standing, was out of school for a calendar year, and did not receive State student financial assistance at any other institution, this student would regain eligibility upon readmission as a matriculated candidate for a degree.
A full-time program is one that is capable of completion in the “normal” time. For example, section 52.2(c)(7) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education specifies that a four-year degree must be capable of completion in four academic years of full-time study. Thus, a baccalaureate degree that requires 120 semester hours should be capable of completion at the rate of 15 semester hours per semester to be completed in the normal time of four academic years.
The State Education Department reviews proposed academic programs and, if they can be completed in the normal time for the particular degree level, registers the programs as being offered on a full-time basis. Only programs registered as full time are eligible for TAP.
“Full-time program” differs from a student’s full-time course load or full-time study requirements. While a full-time program must be capable of completion in the normal time to be registered as a full-time program, students need not complete the program at the rate of 15 semester hours a semester. The full-time study requirement, pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulations
section 145-2.1 (a), is a minimum course load of at least 12 semester hours.
Section 145-2.1 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education defines full-time study:
- In degree-granting institutions, full-time study requires 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 or 100 calendar days, inclusive of examination periods; or 8 semester hours (12 quarter hours) in a quarter (or trimester) of not less than 10 weeks; or 24 semester hours for an academic year of not more than 12 months.
- In nondegree/noncollegiate programs which measure study in instructional hours (clock hours), such as nondegree two-year business programs and nondegree nursing programs, full-time study requires at least 24 instructional hours per week.
Up to the equivalent of 6 semester hours in remedial, noncredit study can be included as part of the minimum semester full-time course load, except that in the first semester of postsecondary study, a student’s minimum full-time course load need include only three semester hours of credit-bearing course work.
Additionally, providing the student effort required for such activities is the same, on an hour-for-hour equivalent basis, as the effort required for a credit-bearing course, other educational activities can also be considered in the determination of full-time status, including:
- Independent or individualized study
- Practice teaching
- Graduate assistantships
- Thesis or dissertation research
- Preparation for language or qualifying examinations
An institution’s faculty determines the equivalent hours, using the definition of a semester hour of credit in Commissioner’s Regulations: one semester hour requires (15) 50-minute hours of classroom instruction and 30 hours of outside assignments. When there is no classroom instruction involved, the expected equivalent is two or three supplementary hours for one class hour. A student’s noncredit, noncourse activity must be approved by the institution in a prefiled plan of study as an integral part of the student’s program.
A student’s full-time status must be determined each term no later than the end of the institution’s drop/add period. Full-time study is required during the final term in the same manner as for any other term, even if not necessary in order to complete graduation requirements. If a student needs fewer than 12 semester hours in a final semester (or 8 semester hours/12 quarter hours in a final trimester/quarter), additional courses beyond those applicable to the degree or certificate program can be included in the determination of full-time status. A student will be deemed to meet the full-time (or part-time study) requirement in their last semester of eligibility if the student takes at least one course needed to meet their graduation requirements and the student enrolls in and completes at least 12 semester hours or its equivalent.
In determining full-time (or part-time) status, credit-bearing courses must be applicable to the student’s program of study as a general education requirement, major requirement, or specified or free elective. Credit-bearing courses not integral to the student’s program of study cannot be included as part of the minimum full-time (or part-time) study requirement (12 semester hours or 8 semester hours/12 quarter hours).
A student matriculated at one institution can take courses in a term at another TAP-eligible institution and the courses can be included as part of the student’s minimum full-time load providing the home institution gives prior approval and providing the courses are applicable to the student’s degree requirements. The courses and program of study at the attending institution must be consistent with the matriculation institution's approved program at the time of enrollment and attendance. The home institution certifies the student’s eligibility. In order to certify eligibility for State financial aid, the matriculating institution must receive all grades and tuition costs from the school attended.
Student full-time status is separate and distinct from the requirement that a program be offered on a full-time basis. The former determines student eligibility; the latter determines whether the program is TAP eligible. Program TAP eligibility is determined by the State Education Department (SED).
A student’s minimum full-time course load can include repeated courses under certain conditions: if the student is repeating a failed course; repeating a course in which the grade earned would ordinarily be passing but is a failure in a particular curriculum; or repeating a course where credit will be earned each time.
Restrictions and limitations on courses that can be used to establish full-time status apply only to the minimum 12-credit (or 8-credit/12 quarter credit) course load. There are no restrictions on courses taken over and above the minimum full-time course load.