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Guidelines to Select Aid-Eligible Coursework

Printable version of Guidelines (PDF file size 151Kb)

Undergraduate New York State (NYS) financial aid programs include the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), SUNY Tuition Credit, and other miscellaneous programs administered by the Higher Education Services Corporation. Undergraduate Federal Aid Programs include Work-Study, Pell Grants, TEACH Grants, Supplemental Grants (SEOG), Perkins Loan, Nursing Loans, Subsidized Loan, Unsubsidized Loans, and Parent PLUS Loans.  Visit the corresponding links for a comprehensive description of eligibility requirements and additional information.

Not every course that you register for in a semester may be eligible for financial aid. There are specific New York State and federal rules that determine whether a course is eligible for financial aid. Effective fall 2017 semester, SUNY Plattsburgh will start to base your financial aid package upon the number of aid-eligible credit hours, and not total credit hours. The purpose of this document is to help students and advisors identify courses that are aid-eligible, and in doing so prevent financial aid cancellations and reductions.

In general, undergraduate coursework is aid-eligible if it satisfies the degree requirements for a student’s first major. Degree requirements include a total of 120 credits of general education (GE) courses, major courses, elective credits, and additional requirements. Degree requirements are summarized in the Undergraduate Catalog for a student’s catalog year and also on Degree Works Audits. We encourage students and advisors to use two online tools to help identify aid-eligible courses: Degree Works Audits and Compliance Results for Financial Aid (the latter is a relatively new link on MyPlattsburgh). Ultimately, maintaining aid-eligibility is the student’s responsibility.

In addition, here are some guidelines to help select aid-eligible courses:

  • If you have a major, enroll in non-repeat courses that satisfy the degree requirements for your first major.  For a full-time aid package, enroll in at least 12 credits of non-repeat courses that satisfy the degree requirements for your first major.
  • Students with optional second majors and optional minors should use electives to satisfy coursework for the second major or minor, or take these optional courses beyond 12 aid-eligible credits.
  • If you plan to repeat a course, take the repeat course above 12 aid-eligible credits or contact the Financial Aid Office in order to determine whether the repeat is aid-eligible.
  • If you are undeclared, all non-repeat coursework is aid-eligible during freshmen and sophomore years (i.e. before earning 57 credits). Remember to declare a major before earning 57 credits.
  • If you change majors or declare a major before the end of the add/drop period for a semester, ensure your coursework satisfies the degree requirements for the new major.
  • If you are considering withdrawing from some or all your courses, contact the Financial Aid Office and ask how this would impact your financial aid in both the current and next semester.

There are exceptions to these guidelines and additional rules. Below please find additional information and explanations regarding:

 

Eligible Degree Programs

Only degree programs approved by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) are eligible for NYS and federal financial aid programs. At SUNY Plattsburgh, NYSED has recognized all undergraduate majors as being aid-eligible degree programs, as well as an undergraduate Certificate in Communication Disorders and Sciences. Unfortunately, minors are not recognized as being eligible for NYS or federal aid programs. Minors are only aid-eligible when included as a degree requirement for a major, when satisfying other requirements, or when taken beyond 12 credits of degree requirements (see Minors). Visit the NYS Inventory of Registered Programs for a list of approved degree programs.

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Degree Requirements

The college catalog defines the degree requirements to graduate in each major at SUNY Plattsburgh.  Degree requirements include a total of 120 credits of general education (GE) courses, major courses, elective credits, and additional requirements.  The number of required elective credits for each major is equivalent to the 120 credits less the number of GE and major credits.  For example, in order to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Biology, students can complete 33 credits of GE courses, 68 credits of major courses, and 19 credits of electives for a total of 120 credits.  The college catalog defines the specific courses in these areas.

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Eligible Coursework

NYS:   A course is eligible for NYS aid programs if the course satisfies a degree requirement in a student’s first major.  For double majors, the first major on file with the Registrar is used to establish a student’s degree requirements (see Double Majors). There are exceptions for undeclared students and students in their final term of study (see Undeclared Students and Final Term of Study).

Federal: A course is eligible for federal aid programs if the course satisfies a degree requirement in a first or second major. While for federal aid there are no restrictions on the number of majors, double majors should sequence courses in order to avoid loss of the following three federal aid programs: Pell, TEACH, and SEOG (see Double Majors).

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Full-Time and Part-Time Status

NYS: Students must enroll in at least 12 credits of degree requirements in their first major in order to be eligible for most NYS aid programs. If a student enrolls in at least 12 credits of degree requirements, then he or she is considered full-time for NYS aid programs. Students who enroll in 11 or fewer required credits are not eligible for most NYS aid programs.  Repeat coursework only counts as being eligible for NYS aid under certain conditions (see Repeat Coursework). Note that courses taken beyond 12 credits of degree requirements would not impact full-time status, and could be required or not.

Federal: If a student enrolls in at least 12 credits of degree requirements in any major then he or she is considered full-time for federal aid programs. Note that while students must be full-time to remain eligible for most NYS aid programs, students may be part-time and remain eligible for most federal aid programs. However, if a student moves from full-time to part-time status, some federal aid programs may need to be reduced or cancelled. Repeat coursework only counts as required under certain conditions (see Repeat Coursework).

Example:Student A is a declared biology major. Per the undergraduate course catalog, in order to graduate biology majors can complete 33 credits of GE requirements, 68 credits of major requirements, and 19 credits of electives for a total of 120 credits. For the fall semester, Student A enrolls in 6 credits of GE requirements, 3 credits of biology requirements, and 3 credits of electives. Before the fall, Student A had completed 6 of 19 credits of electives, leaving 13 more to satisfy. Student A is eligible for a full-time aid package for both NYS and federal aid programs because he or she is enrolled in 12 credits degree requirements in the first major.

Note that Student A would not have been eligible for TAP, and also considered part-time for federal aid (i.e. ¾ time), if he or she entered the fall semester with 19 or more credits of electives. If this would have been the case, his or her elective block would have already been satisfied; the 3 elective credits would not have satisfied any degree requirement and therefore would not have been eligible for NYS and federal aid. In this scenario, to regain TAP eligibility and full-time status for federal aid, he or she could elect to register for 3 more credits of degree requirements. This would result in a total of 15 credits for the semester, of which 12 are degree requirements and eligible for TAP and federal aid.

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Undeclared Students

NYS and Federal: At SUNY Plattsburgh students move from sophomore to junior status upon earning 57 credits.  NYS regulations state that in order to remain eligible for financial aid, students must declare a major within 30 days of the first term of their junior year (i.e., earning 57 credits). All non-repeat coursework taken by undeclared majors before this, during their freshmen and sophomore years, is considered eligible for both NYS and federal aid programs. Any repeat coursework taken by undeclared majors during these years would have to meet standard conditions (see Repeat Coursework).

Example: Student B is an undeclared sophomore who has earned 30 credits. If Student B registers for 12 credits in the upcoming spring semester, all 12 credits are aid-eligible for both NYS and federal aid programs.  Student B must remember to declare a major before earning 57 credits and becoming a junior.

Note that if Student B decides to declare an education major before end of the add/drop period for the spring semester, than the exception for undeclared majors no longer applies. The 12 credits would have to satisfy the degree requirements for an education major in order for Student B to remain eligible for a full-time aid package for both NYS and federal aid programs. If not, NYS and federal aid programs would have to be cancelled or reduced (see Change of Major).

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Double Majors

NYS: Students are allowed to declare more than one major at SUNY Plattsburgh. However, only courses that satisfy a degree requirement for the first major are considered eligible for NYS aid programs.  A course that only satisfies a degree requirement for a second major is not eligible for NYS aid programs and does not count toward full-time status. The only exception is when the degree requirements for the first major include a second major.  For example, some majors allow students to satisfy a Cognate requirement by completing a second major. There are only a few majors at SUNY Plattsburgh that allow students to satisfy degree requirements with a second major.

A course that simultaneously satisfies a degree requirement for a first and second major is eligible for NYS aid programs. Any course beyond 12 required credits could apply solely to a second major and not impact eligibly for NYS aid.

Federal: The federal rules for double majors are specific to three grant programs: Pell, TEACH, and the SEOG grants. For these three programs, the federal government considers an undergraduate student to have graduated once the student completes all of the degree requirements for one major, whether the student has been conferred a Bachelor’s degree or not. A student is no longer eligible for Pell, TEACH, and SEOG once this occurs, but will remain eligible for other federal aid programs (ex. federal student loans). Double majors can avoid losing these three aid programs by arranging courses to enter their final semester with degree requirements in both majors.

Example: Student C is a double major in marketing and psychology. Marketing is the first major and psychology is the second major. Student C has not completed the degree requirements for either major. Student C registers for 12 credits in the upcoming fall semester: 3 credits of GE requirements, 3 credits of major requirements for marketing, 3 credits satisfy major requirements for both marketing and psychology, and 3 credits of major requirements for only psychology. Before the fall, Student C had completed 10 of 20 credits in the electives block for marketing, leaving 10 more credits of electives to satisfy.

Student C is eligible for a full-time federal aid package because he or she is enrolled in 12 credits of degree requirements and upon entering the fall semester he or she still had degree requirements left to satisfy in both majors. Student C is also eligible for a full-time NYS aid package because he or she is enrolled in 12 credits of degree requirements in the first major (i.e. marketing); the 3 credits of psychology also count as electives for marketing.

Note that if Student C would have entered the fall semester with 20 or more credits of electives for marketing, his or her elective block would have already been full and the 3 psychology credits would not have satisfied any degree requirements in the first major, and would not be eligible for NYS aid programs. Under this scenario, the student would have had 9 credits of NYS aid-eligible credits and been ineligible for TAP. To regain TAP eligibility, he or she could elect to register for another 3 credits of GE or marketing requirements for a total of 15 credits, of which 12 of them would be eligible for TAP.

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Minors

NYS and Federal: Coursework that solely satisfies a minor is not considered eligible for NYS and federal aid programs. The only exception is when the degree requirements for the first major include a minor. For example, some majors allow students to satisfy a Cognate requirement by completing a minor. There are only a few majors at SUNY Plattsburgh that allow students to satisfy degree requirements with a minor.

A course that simultaneously satisfies a degree requirement for a first major and minor is eligible for NYS and federal aid programs. A course beyond 12 credits of degree requirements has no restrictions and could apply solely to a minor.

Example: Student D is an education major with a minor in computer science. This is an optional minor, not one that satisfies any education degree requirements. Student D registers for 9 credits in the spring that are degree requirements for both NYS and federal aid. Student D is deciding whether to enroll in a course that only applies toward the computer science minor or one that satisfies both the minor and an education degree requirement.  Student D would not be eligible for a full-time aid package if he or she selects the course that solely applies to the minor, but would if the other course is chosen. Student D would also be eligible for a full-time aid package if he or she elected to enroll in both courses.

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Change of Major

NYS and Federal Aid: A course is eligible for NYS aid programs if the course satisfies a degree requirement in a student’s first major. A course is eligible for federal aid programs if the course satisfies a degree requirement in a first or second major. The major in place at the end of the add/drop period is used to determine aid-eligibility. If a student changes their major before the end of the add/drop period, then the degree requirements for the new major would be used to determine aid-eligibility instead of the previous major. If a student is no longer considered full-time under the new major, then NYS and federal aid programs would cancelled or reduced in the term of the major change. Avoid this by making any major changes effective after the end of the add/drop period, or ensuring all coursework in the semester satisfies the degree requirements for the new major.

Example: Student E is an accounting major and this fall is enrolled in 15 credits of degree requirements for NYS and federal aid programs. Student E changes their major to philosophy before the add/drop period ends. After this change, only 6 of 15 credits are considered degree requirements under the new major. Student E would no longer be eligible for a full-time aid package in the fall for both NYS and federal aid programs. Fall aid programs may have to be reduced or cancelled. Student E could avoid all aid losses by delaying the major change or effective date until after the add/drop period is over.

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Repeat Coursework

NYS: A repeat course is eligible for NYS aid programs when both the following conditions are satisfied: a) the course is a degree requirement in the first major; b) the initial grade was not acceptable for graduation as defined in the college catalog.  A repeat course is not eligible for NYS aid programs if the original grade would allow for graduation. A student who wishes to repeat an originally “passed” course in the hopes of improving the grade and his or her overall grade point average cannot count the repeat toward full-time status for NYS aid programs. Repeat courses are also eligible for NYS aid programs for certain physical education, music, independent study, and other courses in which credit is earned each time. Any repeat course beyond 12 required credits does not impact full-time status.

Federal: A repeat course is eligible for federal aid programs depending upon whether the course was previously passed or not. Federal regulations define passing as any grade higher than an “E” regardless of any graduation requirements or college policy that establish a minimum higher grade. A course that was previously passed (i.e. grade >"E") may only be repeated once for federal aid programs. A c ourse that was previously failed is eligible for federal aid until the course is passed with a grade higher than “E”. There are no restrictions on the number of repeats for a previously failed course (i.e. grade = “E”).

Example: Student F registers for 9 credits of degree requirements for both NYS and federal aid in the fall. Student F also registers for 3 credits of repeat coursework for a total of 12 credits. Student F originally earned a “D” grade in the course. The college catalog indicates that a) the repeat course is a degree requirement; and b) that a “C” or higher is required in this specific course for graduation. The student is eligible for a full-time aid package for both NYS and federal aid programs. If the student happened to earn another “D” in the repeat course and needed to repeat it for a second time, it would not be allowed for federal aid since the “D” grade would have been considered passing according to federal rules.

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Final Term of Study

NYS: Students must enroll in 12 credits or more of degree requirements in the first major in order to be eligible for a full-time aid package for NYS aid programs. The only exception is in a student's final term of study. If a student has less than 12 credits of degree requirements to graduate in their final term, optional elective courses are considered eligible for NYS aid and may be included to determine full-time status. However, if the student does not graduate at the end of this term, all optional courses would no longer be considered NYS aid-eligible and be removed from the calculation of full-time status. Any reductions or cancellations to NYS aid programs would be applied retroactively.

Federal: For Pell, TEACH, and the SEOG grants, the federal government considers an undergraduate student to have graduated once the student completes all of the degree requirements for one major, whether the student has been conferred a Bachelor’s degree or not. Once this occurs a student is no longer eligible for Pell, TEACH, and SEOG, but he or she will remain eligible for other federal aid programs (ex. student loans).

Example: Student G is in her final term of study and only has 6 degree requirements remaining to graduate. Student G registers for these 6 credits in the spring as well as 6 optional credits. Student G is eligible for a full-time aid package for NYS aid programs because this is her final term of study. Student G is eligible for a half-time aid package for Pell, TEACH, and SEOG. Note that if Student G passes all of these classes but is not conferred a degree at the end of the spring term, her spring TAP would be retroactively cancelled even though the semester had already ended. If she enrolled in classes in the next fall term, she would be ineligible for Pell, TEACH, and SEOG because all degree requirements would have been satisfied.

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Experiential Learning

NYS and Federal Aid: Experiential learning includes internships, and both study-away and study-abroad programs. There are no specific exceptions for these experiential learning opportunities. Students who plan to use NYS and federal aid to help fund these opportunities should ensure that coursework satisfies degree requirements and is aid-eligible. Sometimes students must change courses in study-away or study abroad programs upon arrival at the host location, and students should ensure that any course schedule revisions would also satisfy degree requirements and also be aid-eligible. Transcripts may be evaluated upon return to campus and aid may be retroactively impacted by optional coursework.

Example: Student H is participating in a study-abroad program in Italy in the fall. He submits his Permission to Attend Form to the Registrar and it includes 12 credits of degree requirements in Italy. However, upon arriving at the campus in Italy, one of the original 3 credit classes is full and he substitutes it with a different course. When he returns to SUNY Plattsburgh, his official transcript indicates that the substitute class does not satisfy a degree requirement. His fall package would be retroactively adjusted to reflect 9 credits instead of 12 credits, and he would be responsible for any account balance resulting from this.

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Pre-Requisite Coursework

NYS and Federal Aid: A pre-requisite course is eligible for NYS aid programs if the course satisfies a degree requirement in a student’s first major. A pre-requisite course is eligible for federal aid programs if the course satisfies a degree requirement in a first or second major. Pre-requisites that are not listed as degree requirements in the Catalog are ineligible for both NYS and federal aid programs.

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Course Deviations

NYS and Federal Aid: Approved course deviations that satisfy degree requirements are eligible for NYS and federal aid programs as long as the deviation is an appropriate substitution and there is no other path that would allow the student to graduate. The lack of class availability does not result in optional classes becoming aid-eligible except for students in their final term of study with NYS aid programs (see Final Term of Study).

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Withdrawals

NYS and Federal: Withdrawing from some or all of your classes can impact semester charges (ex. tuition, fees, etc.) and financial aid, leaving students with an unexpected account balance for a semester. There are two questions that students want to answer before making the final decision to withdraw:

  • How will this affect my charges and financial aid this semester?
  • How will this affect my financial aid next semester?

If a student is considering withdrawing from some or all their courses, we encourage the student to contact the Financial Aid Office and ask these two questions. It can impact either this semester or next, both, or neither. The impact depends upon the following factors: the timing of the withdrawal (i.e. the effective date of the withdrawal); the length of the course; the different aid programs in the aid package; and the number of credits retained after withdrawing.

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Contact Information

For more information about Financial Aid at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:

Financial Aid Office
Location: Kehoe Administration Building, Suite 401-410
Phone: (518) 564-2072
Toll-Free Phone: (877) 768-5976
Fax: (518)564-4079
Email: finaid@plattsburgh.edu

Our mailing address:

Financial Aid Office
SUNY Plattsburgh
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901-12681