C Average Requirement for Financial Aid

TO: Chief Executive Officers of Postsecondary Institutions in New York State

FROM: Jeanine L. Grinage, Acting Deputy Commissioner

SUBJECT: C Average Requirement for Financial Aid

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance to postsecondary institutions for implementing the new statutory requirement that recipients of State student financial assistance have a C average after two academic years (24 payment points) in order to remain eligible for further awards.

As amended by Chapter 309 of the Laws of 1996, subparagraph (b) of subdivision (4) of section 661 of the Education Law requires that, to be eligible to receive payments, "a student having completed his or her second academic year, must have a cumulative C average or its equivalent. The president [of the Higher Education Services Corporation] may waive the requirement that the 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. . . ."

At a meeting of the staff of the Interagency Task Force on Financial Aid, representatives from the Division of the Budget, the Office of the State Comptroller, the Higher Education Services Corporation, and the State Education Department reached agreement on the following issues related to this requirement.

  1. The C average requirement applies to all general and academic performance awards included under Article 13 of the Education Law. (STAP is effectively excluded since the program is for non-credit remedial study only.)
  2. The C average equals a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale as determined by the institution. Institutions with alternative grading systems where conversion to the C average cannot readily be made should submit an explanation to the State Education Department to demonstrate the equivalence of the alternative grading.
  3. Two academic years is defined as 24 payment points exclusive of STAP points. The C average requirement applies after the student has used 24 payment points and is then seeking the fifth payment. A student who has never received TAP--e.g., out-of-state transfer students or students who initially did not meet the income criteria--have four semesters (or the equivalent) of payments to achieve the C average.
  4. To determine the eligibility of transfer students, an institution may elect to include--for financial aid purposes--the grades earned for courses accepted in transfer providing this policy is applied to all financial aid applicants.

    Since institutions generally accept only courses for which grades of C or better were earned, transfer students who have already used 24 payment points are assumed to meet the C average requirement and are eligible for the initial term at the new institution.
  5. In order to minimize administrative burden, the undergraduate standards of satisfactory academic progress now approved for each institution will automatically be amended to conform with the statute. From the fifth payment onward, the minimum cumulative grade point average will be a 2.0. The requirements for payments two through four can remain the same, or an institution can submit a proposed revision to the State Education Department for approval.

    If no change is proposed, the only action required for institutions with the standard chart of satisfactory academic progress showing minimum credits to be earned with a minimum grade point average will be to publish the revised chart with the new 2.0 cumulative grade point average requirement in the catalog or other documents concerning financial aid that are provided to students.

    Institutions with atypical standards should submit an explanation to the State Education Department showing how compliance with the C average requirement will be demonstrated. (Although the C average requirement also applies to graduate awards, no approved standard has a minimum grade point average lower than 2.25.)
  6. The C average waiver that may be granted by the President of the Higher Education Services Corporation is in addition to the waiver of good academic standing requirements permitted under section 145-2.2(b)(5) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. Regulations and further guidance about the C average waiver (more than one waiver may be possible) will be forthcoming from the Higher Education Services Corporation.

For additional information or clarification about academic issues related to the C average requirement, please contact Ms. Jeremy Weis at (518) 474-2593. Ms. Weis' E-mail address is JWEIS@HIGHER.NYSED.GOV. Information to be provided to the State Education Department as noted above should be sent to Assistant Commissioner Barbara W. Flynn, Office of Quality Assurance, State Education Department, Cultural Education Center, Albany, New York 12230.

cc: Financial Aid Officer

Last Updated: October 22, 2009