OHE

Office of Higher Education

Update on new requirements related to college admissions and Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) awards

CEO: 07-02
To:

Chief Executive Officers of Postsecondary Institutions in New York State and Recipients of the Inventory of Registered Programs

From: Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Office of Higher Education and Office of the Professions
Date:

January 19, 2007

Subject:

Update on new requirements related to college admissions and Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) awards

  Update on new requirements related to college admissions and Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) awards PDF Image Icon (68KB)

I am writing to update you on a recently enacted State law that impacts State student financial aid for New York State students.

On April 9, 2007, the Legislature and the Governor enacted Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2007, which went into effect immediately.  It requires that students seeking Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) awards and other State student financial aid for the first time in the 2007-08 academic year, who do not possess a U.S. high school diploma or the recognized equivalent, achieve a score on a federally approved Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) test identified by the Board of Regents and independently administered as defined by the Commissioner.  Therefore, students without a high school diploma or its equivalent and students educated in other countries that apply for State student financial aid are impacted by this new law.  To assist in the development of regulations to implement these new provisions in Chapter 57, the Department convened representatives from all four sectors of higher education and a representative from the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation.  With the assistance and recommendations from this workgroup, the Department drafted regulations to implement the new requirements concerning ATB testing.

I am pleased to inform you that, on June 26, 2007, the Board of Regents approved the addition of Section 145-2.15 to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education regarding the use of Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) tests for eligibility for Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) awards and other State student financial aid.  The newly enacted Section 145-2.15 of the Commissioner’s Regulations is attached.  As an emergency action, the regulation is subject to approval as a permanent rule at the Board's September meeting.

For the fall of 2007, all federally approved ATB tests may be used.  For terms subsequent to the fall of 2007, the Department intends to identify a subset of tests that are suitable for use by higher education institutions and present it to the Board of Regents for their consideration at its September 2007 meeting. Once the Regents have approved the list of ATB tests, the Department will immediately notify all institutions of the tests which were selected for use subsequent to the fall 2007 term.

The new regulation also requires each eligible institution to seek approval of the passing score it proposes to use, which may not be lower than the federally approved score.  For the fall 2007 term, and until the Department approves a new pass point for your institution, institutions may use any score that is not lower than the federally approved score. 

In determining whether to approve a score requested by an institution, the Department will take into consideration the:

  • The levels of curricula the institution offers.

  • The admission criteria and procedures the institution uses in evaluating the capacity of a student to undertake a course of study and the capacity of the institution to provide instructional and other support that the student needs to complete the program.  The evidence that those criteria and procedures are effective in admitting only persons who have such a capacity and who can be provided that support.
  • The adequacy of the academic support services it provides, as evidenced by the institution’s record in promoting successful student outcomes, as evidenced by the percentage of first-time students enrolling in noncredit remedial courses; the percentage of first-time students returning at the beginning of the next academic year; the percentage of first-time students earning an associate degree within three years, or a baccalaureate degree within six years, of the date they entered the institution; and such other information as the Commissioner shall specify.
  • The evidence that the institution engages in evaluating the success of its academic and other support services in providing the instructional and other support that the student needs to complete the program and uses that evaluation to improve those services and to modify its admission criteria and procedures.

In enacting this approach, the Regents were looking for alignment of college admission requirements with the level of the academic program and the academic support being provided to the student. Additional guidance on how the process of identifying a college’s pass point on the ATB tests is being developed and will be shared with you this fall.

The regulation also provides that assessment centers, where ATB tests are administered and that are not located on or affiliated with the institution, are deemed to be independent.  It also provides that ATB tests administered on campus may be deemed independently administered if the institution’s chief executive officer annually certifies to the Department that the administration of the tests meets the requirements identified in the regulation.  For the fall of 2007, separate certification will not be required; the test will be deemed independently administered if its administration meets the criteria in federal regulations.  For terms subsequent to the fall of 2007, an institution wanting to administer ATB tests on campus will be required to certify to the Department that it meets the criteria set forth in the regulation.  If the Department finds that an institution has violated the certification procedure or the federal ability-to-benefit procedures, it may require the institution to use an assessment center external to the institution.

I appreciate the tremendous effort of all colleges in providing the necessary academic programs and support to ensure that all out students can be successful in their collegiate programs.

For further information on these regulations, please feel free to contact Associate Commissioner Joseph P. Frey at (518) 486-3633 or via E-mail at jfrey@mail.nysed.gov.

Attachment

cc:       Chief Academic Officers
Dr. James Ross, Higher Education Services Corporation

Last Updated: April 19, 2012