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.