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Chapter 5: Certification Procedures



5.00 Definition of Certification

Certification refers to the institution's responsibility for determining and reporting to HESC information on students' fulfilling eligibility criteria for awards for which HESC has approved students. Institutions are also responsible for reporting students who have failed to satisfy eligibility criteria. The institution discharges this responsibility by either certifying or decertifying students on payment rosters.

5.01 Status of Student

HESC places all students approved for an award on a payment roster. The school must then determine their eligibility. Once the school decides whether a student is eligible, the student's award status for the term will be one of the following:

a. Certified
The school has determined that the student satisfies the eligibility criteria for the award for that term.

b. Decertified
The school has determined that the student does not satisfy the eligibility criteria for the award for that term.

c. Pending
The school is temporarily unable to determine the student's eligibility for an award for that term. The school will not certify that student until the eligibility uncertainty is resolved.

5.02 Certification Status Date

The school cannot certify a student for a particular term until the certification status date, the date the student would have incurred full tuition liability for the term.

When students are enrolled in a program of study that the State Education Department has formally approved to operate on a "simulated semester" basis, students must register for and incur tuition liability for enough credits for full-time study at the outset of the term. However, students cannot be certified for awards until they have begun study for the second module of the simulated term.

5.03 Certification Codes

The school uses a series of numeric codes, to be entered on the term payment roster, to certify or decertify students for awards for that term. Following is a list and explanation of each of the certification codes:
CodeExplanation
1
Eligible. The student satisfies all of the eligibility criteria for the award. A student who meets this criterion but then drops below full time is also certified using Code 1 as long as the student incurs tuition liability for each of the credits comprising full-time study.
2
TAP-No Scholarship. The student satisfies all eligibility criteria for a TAP award but does not meet the eligibility criteria for a scholarship for which he/she has also been approved. If an institution denies a scholarship because the scholarship holder would have received a concurrent benefit and the student is not eligible for TAP, use Code 9 to decertify the student for the scholarship.
3
Withdrawn with Tuition Liability. The student has withdrawn from all courses or has been terminated from school after the first day of classes but has incurred a tuition liability for the term. (Schools should also report reduced term tuition liability under tuition field.) NOTE: Schools should carefully review good academic standing before certifying a student for an award for a later term if the school used a Code 3 in the preceding term.
4
Not Registered. The student was not registered for the term, has withdrawn without incurring a tuition liability or chooses to refuse the award.
5
Not Full-time. The student is not registered for sufficient credit hours (or the equivalent) for the term to meet full-time study requirements; or for accelerated summer study, the student was not registered for sufficient credit hours for the term to meet the half-time study requirement or was not in full-time attendance during an adjacent term; or for part-time Veterans Tuition Award, the student was not registered for sufficient credits (three credits minimum) for the term to meet part-time study requirements.
6
Not Matriculated. The student is not a recognized candidate for a degree or for a diploma or certificate creditable towards a degree.
7
Does not meet the Accelerated Study requirements.
8
Not in Good Academic Standing. The student does not meet the Commissioner's Program Pursuit requirements or the institution's approved standards of satisfactory academic progress or does not have a C average (2.0 GPA) after having received two years of TAP. NOTE: For students who are not in good academic standing but are granted the one-time waiver, certify Code 1 and enter a "W" in the waiver column.
9
Miscellaneous. This code is used to decertify a student who is not eligible for an award for reasons other than those in Codes 4 through 8. Examples: Not an approved program, the student does not meet New York State residency or U.S. citizenship requirements, the high school graduation requirement, scholarship recipient accepts a concurrent benefit, or a graduate student is matriculated for a second graduate degree at the same level for which the student already received a graduate level TAP award.

5.04 When Students' Eligibility Is Assessed

Students must meet citizenship, residency, high school graduation and good academic standing requirements as of the first day of classes for a particular term to be certified as eligible for an award for that term.

Students must meet matriculation requirements, approved program requirements, full-time study requirements and tuition liability requirements some time between the first day of classes and the certification status date for a particular term to be certified for an award for that term.

Students enrolled in a "simulated semester" must register for sufficient credits for full-time study at the outset of the term.

5.05 Payment Points

a. Description
By law, students are limited as to the number of payments they can receive through each of the state's grant and scholarship programs. HESC uses a payment point system to monitor the number of payments students have received.
Points are charged to students' records for each term payment received as follows:


Term Types
Number of Points
Trimester
4
Semester
6

Students who have received state awards for an entire academic year will accrue a total of 12 payment points. At a semester-based institution, students would accrue six points per term for each of two terms - fall and spring. At a trimester-based institution students would accrue four points per term for each of three terms - fall, winter, and spring.

b. Reporting Point Consumption
Unless otherwise noted (see Chapter 1), students can normally receive state grants and scholarships for up to four years of study. Most undergraduate award programs allow students to receive payment for a fifth year of study if enrolled in an approved five-year baccalaureate program or an approved educational opportunity program.

Students can receive a total of eight years of TAP payment for undergraduate and graduate study. Normally students will accumulate 48 payment points for four years of undergraduate study. Students could then accumulate an additional 48 payment points for up to four years of TAP payment for graduate study. However, students who receive five years of TAP payment as an undergraduate (60 points) can receive a maximum of three years of TAP payment (36 points) for graduate study.

HESC reports payment point information on the payment roster. This information includes points associated with the current term. For example, a student being approved for a first award at a semester school will show six points for that term. Payment point information on the roster also includes any previously certified or pending terms. Pending terms for the same academic year are on the roster in the "Pend" field and are S=summer, F=fall and W=winter.

Additional information on payment point consumption is in item 5.08b, "Point Summaries."

c. Partial Consumption
When students have received less than a full term award (half-time award for accelerated study, an APTS award, etc.), HESC prorates payment points accordingly: three points-semester institution, two points-trimester institution.

d. $100 Statutory Reduction
By law, undergraduate students' TAP awards are subject to a $100 annual reduction after students have received the equivalent of two full years of TAP (or TAP & STAP) assistance. HESC reduces the award on a term basis. The reduction takes effect during the term the student will have accumulated more than 24 payment points. The amount of the reduction per term is as follows:

Term TypesAmount of Reduction Per Term
Trimester$33.33
Semester$50.00

e. Using Payment Points Additional information on using payment points is in item 5.08b under "Points Summaries."

5.06 Payment Roster

a. Description
The Payment Roster is produced periodically for each school code. It contains the names of all students who, at the time of production, have been approved for a state grant or scholarship for a particular term and have not previously appeared on a roster for that term.

b. Production Schedule
HESC produces payment rosters based on application processing volume and the school's term structure-trimester or semester. HESC generally produces rosters by the start of each term and periodically thereafter.

5.07 Payment Roster

HESC formats the Payment Roster with three distinct sections: a heading at the top of the page, a student data section on the left side of the page, and a certification data section on the right side of the page. A description of the items in each section follows:

a. Heading
This section contains basic school identification information.
b. Student Data Section
This section contains, for each student, information derived from the student's payment application and from HESC's master file. The specific items in this section are: TU- TAP Undergraduate

TG- TAP Graduate

ST- Supplemental Tuition Assistance Program

SC- Undergraduate or Graduate scholarship programs

FE- Veterans Tuition Award (Graduate)

CV- Regents Award for Children of Deceased or Disabled Veterans, or the Memorial Scholarships for Families of Deceased Firefighters, Volunteer Firefighters, Police Officers, Peace Officers and Emergency Medical Service Workers.

VA- Veteran Tuition Award (Undergraduate)

PT- Aid for Part-Time Study

Pend. This field indicates if a student is in pending status (on a roster but not yet certified or decertified) for a prior term of the same academic year. The following alpha codes designate which prior term: S=summer, F=fall, W=winter. No code in this field indicates the student is not in pending status for any prior term of the academic year.

Point Summaries. Directly beneath each of the award program codes on the roster will be a summary of the total payment points (including pending terms) the student has accumulated for that award program. Point totals for different programs may vary.

Note on Point Summaries
Before the 1989-90 academic year, students who received any state grant or scholarship payment accrued TAP eligibility. Accordingly, points would be accumulated under the TAP award program code even if the student only received a scholarship. However, as a result of legislative action effective for the 1989-90 academic year, students who received other state grants or scholarships (except for Aid for Part-Time Study) no longer accrued TAP eligibility. Accordingly, effective with the 1989-90 academic year, TAP points are only accumulated when the student receives or is pending receipt of a TAP award. Similarly, if the student receives a scholarship only, points will only be accumulated under the appropriate scholarship program code.

In reviewing point summaries to determine good academic standing, always use the highest point total regardless of to which program code it applies. In a relatively small number of instances, the school may have to add points accumulated under two or more award program codes to determine the number of payments a student has received. Primarily, this situation could occur if a student received TAP only for a particular term and received payment of a scholarship only for another term. Another instance when the school would have to add points is when scholarship points are equal to or greater than TAP points and there are points indicated under the part-time (APTS) program code. Since APTS points are not accumulated under the scholarship program codes, they would have to be added to the scholarship total to determine a student's total number of points. This should be relatively rare. However, schools that are uncertain about how many state awards a student has received should use one of the HESC inquiry services for specific payment information.

c. Certification Data Section
This section contains information used to certify each student's eligibility for an award. Schools may make changes to all fields in this section except to the student's Social Security number. The specific fields contained in this section are:
When applying for an award, students who have previously received eight semesters of payment and who either indicate enrollment in a five-year baccalaureate program or an approved remedial program will be placed on a roster if their institution has been approved for such a program. HESC will preprint a "5" in this field. NOTE: If the school has not been approved for a five-year baccalaureate program or a remedial program, HESC will deny the student an award, and the student will not appear on a roster.

To certify a student for a fifth year of payment, use certification Code 1, and enter a "5" in the five-year field. If the student is otherwise eligible for an award but is not enrolled in an approved five-year baccalaureate or remedial program, use certification Code 1, and enter the letter "N" in the five-year field. If the student is ineligible for an award for other reasons, ignore this field and use the appropriate code (Code 4 through Code 9) to decertify the student.

STAP Certification
The school uses the five-year field to certify a student for an award through the Supplemental Tuition Assistance Program. If a student is eligible to receive a STAP award for a summer term, use certification Code 1, and enter the letter "R" in this field. NOTE: The school can only certify students for a STAP award during the summer terms preceding and following the initial year of college study. The school also uses this field to certify certain students in two-year programs.
Benefits that HESC determines to be duplicative in nature affect only the TAP, STAP and VTA programs. They have no effect on any other state programs.

Examples of duplicative benefits:

Federal
Any educational grant or scholarship that provides assistance to cover tuition charges. ROTC scholarships are a fairly common type of duplicative federal benefit. When awarding tuition benefits, Chapter 31 Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation is considered duplicative. The Chapter 33 Post 9-11 tuition portion of the award is duplicative, but the Montgomery GI Bill is not considered duplicative as it is not tuition specific.


State
Grants administered by other state agencies, such as the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, that provide assistance to cover tuition charges are duplicative. However, grants that are limited to the difference between tuition and the TAP award are not duplicative.


Institutional Aid
Any college-awarded grant or scholarship that is based on a general competition and that, when combined with other aid, would exceed the student's cost of attendance is duplicative. Tuition remission or tuition waivers that are not based on need are also duplicative. Typically this could include remission or waivers granted for status as a faculty dependent or service as a graduate assistant.

Other Private Aid
Any grant or scholarship awarded through other or private sources that, when combined with other aid, would exceed the student's cost of attendance is duplicative.

The above list includes the types of other benefits that are duplicative. It is not a definitive list. The institution should contact HESC's Office of Field Services with questions on the duplicative nature of other benefits students receive.


Benefits HESC determines to be concurrent do not affect TAP and other general awards.

Examples of concurrent benefits:

Federal
Generally educational grants or scholarships from the armed forces or other federal agencies that provide tuition support are held to be concurrent benefits. Those providing only subsistence or maintenance are not concurrent.

State
Students cannot hold two academic performance awards concurrently.

Institutional/Private Aid
Generally HESC does not consider aid from institutional or private sources to be a concurrent benefit.

The above list includes the types of assistance that may be concurrent. It is not a definitive list. The institution should contact HESC's Office of Field Services with questions on the concurrent nature of other benefits students receive.

Benefits With No Effect
The following types of assistance are not considered to be either duplicative or concurrent:
If the student will receive duplicative benefits, the school should enter the amount of these benefits in this field when certifying the roster. This will result in an award recalculation when HESC processes the roster and may adjust the amount of a student's award.

5.08 Certifying Students in Two-year Programs

As of the 1995-96 academic year, students enrolled in two-year programs are limited to receiving no more than three years of state-funded student aid, such as TAP, scholarships, etc.

a. Students Attending Two-year Schools
HESC will not approve an award for students who have accumulated three years of payment, or 36 payment points, and have not indicated enrollment in an approved opportunity program (EOP, HEOP, SEEK, and CD) on their application. Accordingly, no certification action will be necessary.

Students who have accumulated three years of payment and have indicated enrollment in an approved opportunity program on their application will appear on a roster with a "5" preprinted in the five-year field. If the student is enrolled in an opportunity program, enter a "5" in the five-year field. This will permit the student to be certified, since opportunity students can receive more than three years of payment in a two-year program. If the student is not enrolled in an opportunity program, enter an "N" in the five-year field. This will, in effect, decertify the student for an award.

b. Students Enrolled in Two-year Programs at Four-year Schools
Students who have accumulated three years of payment, and have not indicated enrollment in an opportunity program on their application will appear on a roster with no entries preprinted in the five-year field. Certify these students using the appropriate certification code, and enter a "2" in the five-year field. This, in effect, will decertify the student for an award.

Students who have accumulated three years of payment and have indicated enrollment in an opportunity program on their application will appear on the roster with a "5" preprinted in the five-year field. When certifying these students, use the appropriate certification code. If the student is not enrolled in an opportunity program, enter a "2" in the five-year field. This will, in effect, decertify the student for an award. If the student is enrolled in an opportunity program, enter a "5" in the five-year field. This will permit the student to be certified for an award.

5.09 Special Certification Procedures

a. Certification of Medical-Health Waivers
Students who are precluded from meeting the full-time study requirement for TAP and other state awards because of health or medical reasons can be certified for work completed over two or more terms of part-time study. The following procedures are applicable when certifying students on this basis:

b. Students with Disabilities
Students who are disabled as defined by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are attending part-time (at least three credits per semester or the equivalent) can be certified for a part-time TAP award for any approved term.

Part-time Credits

Semester Schools
ADA payment will be made for students taking 3-11 credits as shown below:

Points Accrual for Part-time ADA Payments - Semester Schools
Credits
Percent of Full Award
Points Accrued
3
25.00%
1.5
4
33.34%
2
5
41.67%
2.5
6
50.00%
3
7
58.34%
3.5
8
66.67%
4
9
75.00%
4.5
10
83.34%
5
11
91.67%
5.5

Trimester Schools

ADA payment will be made for students taking 3-7 credits as shown below:

Points Accrual for Part-time ADA Payments - Trimester Schools
Credits
Percent of Full Award
Points Accrued
3
37-50%
1.5
4
50.00%
2
5
62.50%
2.5
6
75.00%
3
7
87.50%
3.5

Note: ADA recipients who meet all other certification requirements, but are taking only two credits in a term at a trimester-based school, will require special processing.

Contact HESC at (888) 697-4372 option 2 or e-mailScholarships@hesc.ny.gov for instructions regarding the certification of these students.

5.10 Certification Deadlines

a. Payment Rosters
Schools must certify no later than 60 days from the date the roster was issued or 30 days from the end of the term, whichever is later.

b. Student Certification Changes
HESC will accept at any time changes that will result in a student being decertified or in an award being reduced. Schools must submit to HESC other changes being made on this form within 90 days of the issuance of the Remittance Advice on which the student appears or by May 1 of the academic year, whichever is later.

5.11 Certification Post-audit Reports

HESC has modified its payment programs to identify various types of extraordinary certification activity that the school must review. HESC has developed the following reports to assist schools in reviewing these certifications.

a. TAP Recipients for PT Summer Study with No Prior Spring Full-time Certification-HE8263
This report identifies students who are certified for a TAP award for half-time summer study, who were not certified for a full-time award for the prior spring term at your school, and must meet additional accelerated study requirements (see Chapter 2.07d) to receive payment. The report, which is informational and does not have to be returned to HESC, will be included with the Remittance Advice. It is intended to help schools identify students who may not be eligible for a TAP award for part-time summer study and may have to be decertified.

b. Eligibility Confirmation List-TAP Recipients for PT Summer Study with No Prior SpringFull-time Certification-HE8261
This report, forwarded to the school at the end of the school year, identifies students certified for a TAP award for part-time summer study who were not certified for an award for the prior spring term. This report is a certification document and, as such, the Certifying Officer must sign the affirmation at the bottom. The report allows the school to certify that, although students did not receive TAP, they were enrolled full-time and were matriculated in an approved program in New York State in the prior spring term and meet the additional accelerated study requirements (see Chapter 2.07d) and are therefore eligible for the summer part-time award. Schools should decertify students who are ineligible using this form.

c. Student Previously Certified as Withdrawn with Tuition Liability-HE8258
The Commissioner of Education has established regulations on good academic standing for state student financial aid purposes. The Certifying Officer at the institution is responsible for the reporting of good academic standing as it applies to TAP eligibility. However, there is one situation in which HESC can make a reliable determination on a student's eligibility. If a student withdrew from all courses and was certified as such, (certification Code 3) the student would be ineligible for later financial aid until good academic standing was restored. A student can regain eligibility for TAP by making up past academic deficiencies by successfully completing one or more terms of study without TAP or other state awards; being readmitted to school after an absence of at least one year; or transferring to another institution.

HESC will no longer process a term award certified without a waiver after a term in which the student was certified as "withdrawn with tuition liability," as indicated by a certification Code 3. HESC will list the certification data and information concerning the term in which the student withdrew on form HE8258, "Students Previously Certified as Withdrawn with Tuition Liability." HESC will forward the list to the school with the Remittance Advice. This form will allow the school to decertify the student; certify the student using a waiver; or change the certification for the term in which the student withdrew. The report is a certification document, and as such, the certifying officer must sign the affirmation at the bottom.

NOTE: Although HESC produces these reports on a routine basis, schools will receive these reports infrequently, if at all. Schools can gauge the number of reports they will receive in the future by the number of post-audit reports received in the past.

HESC will include transmittal memos with detailed explanations and instructions with the reports when they are issued.