In the context of State student financial assistance programs, there are two types of waivers: (1) good academic standing waivers and (2) C-average waivers.
1. Good Academic Standing Waiver
The Regulations of the Commissioner of Education permit a waiver of good academic standing requirements in certain circumstances.
When the New York State Education Department proposed amended financial aid regulations in 1980, there was no provision for waivers. However, during public hearings (part of the State regulatory process when major regulation changes are proposed), there were persuasive arguments made that students who were otherwise successful could experience one "bad" term due to circumstances beyond their control and that the regulations should make some provision for such situations. In response, the State agencies involved in the administration of student financial aid programs agreed to the inclusion of a waiver provision for students who failed to make satisfactory academic progress or pursue the program of study, or both in the same term.
Section 145-2.2 stipulates that the good academic standing requirements “may be waived once for an undergraduate student and once for a graduate student if an institution certifies, and maintains documentation, that such waiver is in the best interests of the student. Prior approval by the commissioner of the criteria and procedures used by an institution to consider and grant waivers shall not be required; however, the institution must make its criteria and procedures for waivers available to students and the public, either in writing or on its website. The commissioner may review such criteria and procedures in use, and require an institution to revise those found to be not acceptable.”
State Education Department guidelines on the use of waivers recommend that institutions appoint a waiver officer who will be responsible for reviewing waiver applications, making waiver decisions, and maintaining the necessary case record. Institutions are cautioned that not all students who fail to satisfy the good academic standing requirements are necessarily candidates for a waiver. For example, “difficulty adjusting to college life” is not a reasonable basis for a waiver, since that circumstance might apply to many students. Situations that caused a student to lose good academic standing should be beyond the student’s control, not chronic circumstances that cannot be remedied. With the additional term that results from approval of the waiver, a student should be able to regain good standing.
2. C-Average Waiver
Section 661 (4)(b) of the Education Law was amended for the 1995-1996 academic year and thereafter to require that students achieve a cumulative C average or the equivalent after receiving four semester award payments.
The Law also provides that “The President [of the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation] may waive the requirement that a student have a cumulative C average or its equivalent for undue hardship based on: (i) the death of a relative of the student; (ii) the personal injury or illness of the student; or (iii) other extenuating circumstances. . .”
Unlike the good academic standing waiver, it is possible, should circumstances warrant it, for a student to receive more than one C-average waiver.
Appendix C: Commissioner's Guidelines on Good Academic Standing C-Average Requirement: Questions and Answers