Declaration of a Major (Deferred Major)

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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.

How Colleges Award Financial Aid

Eligibility for financial aid is based on an analysis of student and family financial need, supplied by information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – the FAFSA. Financial Need is the college’s Cost of Attendance, less the Expected Family Income Contribution.

Financial Need = COA - EFC