34 CFR § 691.15 - Eligibility to receive a grant.

§ 691.15 Eligibility to receive a grant.

(a) General. A student who meets the requirements of 34 CFR part 668, Subpart C, is eligible to receive an ACG or a National SMART Grant if the student is receiving a Federal Pell Grant disbursement in the same award year.

(b) ACG Program.

(1) A student is eligible to receive an ACG if the student -

(i) Meets the eligibility requirements in paragraph (a) of this section;

(ii) For the first year of his or her eligible program -

(A) Has received a high school diploma or, for a home-schooled student, a high school diploma or the certification of completion of a secondary school education by the cognizant authority;

(B) Has successfully completed, after January 1, 2006, a rigorous secondary school program of study under § 691.16;

(C) Has not been previously enrolled as a regular student in an eligible program of undergraduate education except as part of a secondary school program of study. A transfer student who is a first-year student is not considered to have been previously enrolled; and

(iii) For the second year of his or her eligible program -

(A) Has received a high school diploma or, for a home-schooled student, a high school diploma or the certification of completion of a secondary school education by the cognizant authority;

(B) Has successfully completed, after January 1, 2005, a rigorous secondary school program of study under § 691.16;

(C) For the first year of his or her eligible program, obtained a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale, or the numeric equivalent, consistent with other institutional measures for academic and title IV, HEA program purposes.

(2)

(i) An institution must document a student's successful completion of a rigorous secondary school program of study under paragraphs (b)(1)(ii)(A), (b)(1)(ii)(B), (b)(1)(iii)(A) and (b)(1)(iii)(B) of this section using -

(A) Documentation provided directly to the institution by the cognizant authority; or

(B) Documentation from the cognizant authority provided by the student.

(ii) If an institution has reason to believe that the documentation provided by the student under paragraph (b)(2)(i)(B) of this section is inaccurate or incomplete, the institution must confirm the student's successful completion of a rigorous secondary school program of study by using documentation provided directly to the institution by the cognizant authority.

(3) For purposes of paragraph (b) of this section -

(i) A cognizant authority includes, but is not limited to -

(A) An LEA;

(B) An SEA or other State agency;

(C) A public or private high school; or

(D) A testing organization such as the College Board or State agency; or

(ii) A home-schooled student's parent or guardian is the cognizant authority for purposes of providing the documentation required under paragraph (b) of this section. This documentation must show that the home-schooled student successfully completed a rigorous secondary school program under § 691.16. This documentation may include a transcript or the equivalent or a detailed course description listing the secondary school courses completed by the student.

(4) For a student who transfers from an eligible program at one institution to an eligible program at another institution, the institution to which the student transfers may rely upon the prior institution's determination that the student successfully completed a rigorous secondary school program of study in accordance with paragraphs (b)(1)(ii)(A), (b)(1)(ii)(B), (b)(1)(iii)(A), and (b)(1)(iii)(B) of this section based on documentation that the prior institution may provide, or based on documentation of the receipt of an ACG disbursement at the prior institution.

(5)

(i) If a student self-certifies on an application under § 691.12, or otherwise self-identifies to the institution, that he or she completed a rigorous secondary school program of study under § 691.16, an institution must attempt to collect the documentation described under paragraph (b)(2) of this section.

(ii) Notwithstanding 34 CFR 668.16(f), an institution is not required to determine the ACG eligibility of a student if the student does not self-certify on his or her application, or otherwise self-identify to the institution, the completion of a rigorous secondary school program of study.

(c) National SMART Grant Program. A student is eligible to receive a National SMART Grant for the third, fourth, or fifth year of his or her eligible program if the student -

(1) Meets the eligibility requirements in paragraph (a) of this section;

(2)

(i) In accordance with the institution's academic requirements, formally declares an eligible major;

(ii) Is at an institution where the academic requirements do not allow a student to declare an eligible major in time to qualify for a National SMART Grant on that basis and the student demonstrates his or her intent to declare an eligible major in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section; or

(iii) Is at an institution that offers as an eligible major a qualifying liberal arts curriculum identified under § 691.17(b); and

(3) Has a cumulative GPA through the most recently completed payment period of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale, or the numeric equivalent measure, consistent with other institutional measures for academic and title IV, HEA program purposes, in the student's eligible program.

(d) Intent to declare a major.

(1) For a student whose institution's academic policies do not allow the student to declare an eligible major in time to qualify for a National SMART Grant disbursement, the institution must obtain and keep on file a recent self-certification of intent to declare an eligible major that is signed by the student.

(2) The student described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section must formally declare an eligible major when he or she is able to do so under the institution's academic requirements.

(3) If the student is enrolled in a qualifying liberal arts curriculum as a major, there is no requirement to declare a major.

(e) Documentation of progression in the major. The institution must document a student's progress in taking the courses necessary to complete the program in the intended or declared major that establishes eligibility for a National SMART Grant. Documentation of coursework progression in the eligible program may include, but is not limited to:

(1) Written counselor or advisor tracking of coursework progress toward a degree in the intended or declared eligible major.

(2) Written confirmation from an academic department within the institution that the student is progressing in coursework leading to a degree in the intended or declared eligible major. This confirmation must be signed by a departmental representative for the intended eligible major.

(3) Other written documentation of coursework that satisfies the ongoing nature of monitoring student coursework progression in the intended or declared eligible major.

(f) Transfer students. (1)(i) Under the ACG Program, if a student transfers to an institution that accepts for enrollment at least the credit or clock hours to be considered a second-year student from all prior postsecondary institutions attended by the student, the GPA to determine second-year eligibility for an ACG is calculated using the grades from all coursework accepted by the current institution into the student's eligible program.

(ii) Under the ACG Program, if a student transfers to an institution that accepts for enrollment less than the credit or clock hours to be considered a second-year student from all prior postsecondary institutions attended by the student, the GPA to determine second-year eligibility for an ACG is calculated using the grades from -

(A) All coursework accepted from all prior postsecondary institutions by the current institution into the student's eligible program; and

(B) The coursework earned at the current institution through the payment period in which the student completes the credit or clock hours of the student's first year in an eligible program based on the total of the credit or clock hours accepted on transfer and the credit or clock hours earned at the current institution.

(2) Under the National SMART Grant Program, if a student transfers from one institution to the current institution, the current institution must determine that student's eligibility for a National SMART Grant for the first payment period using either the method described in paragraph (f)(2)(i) of this section or the method described in paragraph (f)(2)(ii) of this section, whichever method coincides with the current institution's academic policy. For an eligible student who transfers to an institution that -

(i) Does not incorporate grades from coursework that it accepts on transfer into the student's GPA at the current institution, the current institution, for the courses accepted in the eligible program upon transfer -

(A) Must calculate the student's GPA for the first payment period of enrollment using the grades earned by the student in the coursework from any prior postsecondary institution that it accepts toward the student's eligible program; and

(B) Must, for all subsequent payment periods, apply its academic policy and not incorporate the grades from the coursework that it accepts on transfer into the GPA at the current institution; or

(ii) Incorporates grades from the coursework that it accepts on transfer into the student's GPA at the current institution, an institution must use the grades assigned to the coursework accepted by the current institution into the eligible program as the student's cumulative GPA to determine eligibility for the first payment period of enrollment and all subsequent payment periods in accordance with its academic policy.

(g) Numeric equivalent.

(1) If an otherwise eligible program measures academic performance using an alternative to standard numeric grading procedures, the institution must develop and apply an equivalency policy with a numeric scale for purposes of establishing ACG or National SMART Grant eligibility. That institution's equivalency policy must be in writing and available to students upon request and must include clear differentiations of student performance to support a determination that a student has performed at a level commensurate with at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale in that program.

(2) A grading policy that includes only “satisfactory/unsatisfactory”, “pass/fail”, or other similar nonnumeric assessments qualifies as a numeric equivalent only if -

(i) The institution demonstrates that the “pass” or “satisfactory” standard has the numeric equivalent of at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale awarded in that program, or that a student's performance for tests and assignments yielded a numeric equivalent of a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale; and

(ii) The institution's equivalency policy is consistent with any other standards the institution may have developed for academic and other title IV, HEA program purposes, such as graduate school applications, scholarship eligibility, and insurance certifications, to the extent such standards distinguish among various levels of a student's academic performance.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control numbers 1845-0001 and 1845-0039)
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1070a-1)
[71 FR 38004, July 3, 2006, as amended at 71 FR 64419, Nov. 1, 2006; 72 FR 61265, Oct. 29, 2007; 74 FR 20222, May 1, 2009]

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