Students on Track

It's important that Federal and New York State aid recipients stay on track with their coursework because they may only receive aid for courses that count toward their primary bachelor's degree program. A primary bachelor's degree program is defined as a student's first major, general education requirements, and elective requirements.

Students will be notified when course selections are not applicable to their degree. “Compliance results” will be visible in DegreeWorks. Courses that are not applicable to the student's degree (and therefore not eligible for federal and/or state aid) will be flagged, and students may either select a new course that is eligible or remain in the course and have aid recalculated.

For financial aid applicants and non-applicants who are considered less than full-time for aid purposes (11 credits or less) notification of their compliance results will happen during their registration time. However, they will receive different messaging. We do not know if or when a student is going to file the FAFSA, so it is important for us to inform students of their eligibility.


Impacted Financial Aid

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal SEOG Grant
  • Federal Direct Student (Subsidized/Unsubsidized) Loans
  • Federal Parent PLUS Loan
  • NYS TAP and SUNY Tuition Credit
  • NYS Excelsior Scholarship
  • NYS AIMS Scholarship
  • NYS Merit Scholarship
  • NYS STEM Scholarship

While academic considerations differ for each individual student, there are several advantages of knowing which courses apply to a primary degree program:

  • Enables students to be proactive and knowledgeable about how academic decisions impact financial aid eligibility.
  • Provides an early alert to issues that may affect financial aid and degree completion.
  • Empowers students to manage their academic plans and ensure on time or early graduation.
  • Offers transparency of requirements necessary for graduation.

Please review the topics below for additional details of how Students on Track (SOT) evaluates degree applicable coursework. Click on each section to expand the content.

Definition of Full-time Status

For state financial aid, students must be enrolled in 12 credits of degree applicable coursework.

Degree-applicable coursework consists of general education, major and elective requirements. Further, the program of study is defined as the primary program in which you are enrolled. For example, if you are a Applied Mathematics major pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science, this is considered your primary degree program. To graduate with a BS in Applied Mathematics, you must complete 120 credits which include your general education, major, outside the major, upper division requirements, and any elective credits that are needed to get to the 120 minimum credit hour requirement.

Since your outside the major and upper division requirements often “double-dip” with general education and related to major requirements, these are considered part of the primary program. Electives are courses that do not fit in any other category. Some majors offer an opportunity to take several electives, but others only leave a few electives available.

It is important to note that as long as you are taking at least 12 credits of “degree-applicable” coursework, you are considered full-time. You may take any courses above and beyond the 12 to complete any additional credentials that you desire, like a second major or minor. The key is academic planning.

The only exception is in the student’s final term of study: if the student needs fewer than 12 credits to complete the program, other courses may be included to determine full- time status even if not required to complete graduation requirements.”

Federal Student Aid allows for less than full-time enrollment. Federal Pell Grant may be prorated based on enrollment. Federal Direct Student Loans (Subsidized/Unsubsidized) and Direct Parent PLUS Loans are available to students who are enrolled for 6 credits or more.

Adding a Second Major

SOT does not prohibit students from pursuing a second major or a minor. The coursework would be considered “elective” for financial aid purposes. Therefore, many students, with the help of their academic advisor, may need to be strategic in their academic plans. Exception: Adolescence Education programs are approved as a dual major by NYS.

If a student has met all of their degree requirements, general education, major requirements and electives, and has earned 120 credits, we must consider this student eligible to graduate and unable to receive additional state and/or federal funds. If the student has only a couple classes to complete their second major or minor, they may decide to do that; however, the student will be ineligible for state and federal financial aid.

Changing Majors

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.

Declaring a Minor vs. Choosing a Concentration

Coursework that solely satisfies a minor is not considered eligible for NYS and federal aid programs. Minor courses are considered elective. The only exception is when the degree requirements for the first major include a minor (ie. Physics).

A course that simultaneously satisfies a degree and minor requirement is eligible for NYS and federal aid programs. Also, courses taken beyond 12 credits of degree requirements have no restrictions and could apply solely to a minor.

A concentration or track is allowable, as long as it is required by your primary major and has been approved by the NYS Department of Education (NYSED), for example International Relations.

Repeating Coursework

NYS and federal guidelines vary on repeated coursework. A repeated course counts toward full-time attendance for state aid only when the course is required for the primary major and a higher grade is required. A student wishing to retake a previously passed course for a better grade cannot use the course to fulfill full-time status if the grade is acceptable for graduation. Likewise, courses accepted as transfer credit (AP or other college credit) are considered passing and would not be acceptable as required coursework, if repeated.

Federal regulations allow for repeats whether or not a course was passed. A course that was previously failed will count towards full-time status until the course is passed with a grade higher than “E.” A student may repeat any previously passed course once and still have it count for federal aid purposes. Please note that while the federal regulations allow this type of repeat, SUNY Geneseo’s academic policy does not.

Being a Pre-Major or Undeclared Student

According to state guidelines, “To be eligible for any state-sponsored scholarship or award, the student must be enrolled in an approved program of study.” The regulation continues to outline that an approved program of study is one that has been approved by the State Education Department. As stated in the regulation, a student must declare a major by the “beginning of the… junior year” which “is interpreted to be within 30 days of the end of the drop/add period.” This is consistent with Geneseo’s policy on declaring majors as well.

Going on Study Abroad or Study Away

Courses that are taken abroad must satisfy degree requirements, to maintain eligibility for state and federal aid. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that the courses taken abroad or through a study-away trip are degree applicable and will transfer back to Geneseo. Course Approvals must be submitted and approved prior to the student’s departure. Transcripts will be evaluated upon return, as usual, but with a heightened review of degree applicability. If coursework is not degree applicable, state and/or federal aid may be adjusted.

Taking a Directed Study Course or Internship

Directed Study and Internships courses are a popular way for students to fulfill requirements within their major and/or electives. It will be critical for financial aid recipients to be registered for these courses before the end of drop/add, at the latest. If the course is being waived/substituted for a major requirement, Financial Aid will need to know this information as well. Directed study being used as minor or second major requirements is allowable, if it fits within the available elective credit.

Course Deviations, Substitutions, or Waivers

NYS and Federal Aid: Approved course deviations (substitutions/waivers) 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.

Prerequisite Coursework

A prerequisite course is eligible for NYS aid programs if the course satisfies a degree requirement in a student’s first major. A prerequisite course is eligible for federal aid programs if the course satisfies a degree requirement in a first or second major. Prerequisites that are not listed as degree requirements in the Bulletin are ineligible for both NYS and federal aid programs.