Student Outcome Tracking
For federal and state financial aid programs, students may only receive financial aid (including federal loans), for courses required for their program of study. Students that enroll in courses not required for their program may have their financial aid reduced or canceled. Student Outcome Tracking (SOT) is a computerized process which evaluates if the courses students register for are required for their degree program.
Why does Purchase College need to enforce the rules about required coursework?
Purchase College is required to follow all federal and state regulations in the administration of federal and state aid programs. Federal and state regulations both mandate that aid can only be given for required courses. With the implementation of SOT, Purchase College can fully enforce these regulations which reduces the College’s noncompliance risk.
Colleges that do not adhere to federal and state regulations can become ineligible to offer aid to its students and/or receive hefty fines. Since the vast majority of Purchase College students use federal and/or state financial aid, it is very important that the College remain compliant.
How does this benefit students?
When students only enroll in courses required for their degree, they can graduate faster, spend less money, and reduce loan debt. Additionally, there are lifetime limits to financial aid so graduating sooner will help ensure students do not run out of aid.
Which aid programs are impacted by SOT and how many credits are needed in each program?
The chart below displays how many required credits are needed for each type of aid program.
Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)*
Exception during final year of study, review Special Cases below.
SUNY Tuition Credit*
Excelsior Scholarship and Tuition Credit*
Exception during final year of study, review Special Cases below.
|NYS||Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS)|
The sum of a student’s required and non-required credits cannot exceed 11 credits for APTS.
All other HESC-administered funds*
12+ credits: Receive 100% of Pell.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
6+ Undergrad Students
5+ Grad Students
Direct PLUS and Grad PLUS Loans
6+ Undergrad Students
5+ Grad Students
* Students covered under the Americans with Disability Act may be able to receive these aid programs if they attend less than full-time
What types of courses are considered required?
Courses in the following areas are considered required:
- Core courses
- Major Courses
- Concentration areas required within a specific major
- Courses outside the major that are specified in the Degree Progress Report (DPR)
- Upper-level courses needed to achieve the 45-credit upper-level requirement
- Electives needed to earn enough credits for graduation (most bachelor’s degrees require 120 credits) after all major courses are considered.
Where can I see which courses are required?
Students should review their Degree Progress Report (DPR) to determine which courses to enroll in each semester. Once registered for courses, confirm that the courses display in the DPR as fulfilling requirements.
How will I be notified that some of my courses are not aid-eligible?
Students will be notified at their Purchase College email address that they are enrolled in courses that are not aid-eligible. Students should use caution when registering for classes during add/drop week because there may not be enough time for the student to be notified of issues with their registration before registration ends.
What are my options if I disagree that a course is not required?
Students that believe a course has been flagged as “not required” in error should first look at their DPR. If the DPR shows the course is in the “Not counted towards degree requirement”, “Not counted”, or “General electives” section at the bottom, that is an indication that the course is not needed.
Students should contact their advisor to review applicability. If the student and/or advisor cannot determine why the course is not counting and they believe it should, the advisor should contact the Registrar’s Office at email@example.com. The Registrar’s Office will work in conjunction with Student Financial Services to make a final determination if the course is required.
There is a course I really want to take but it’s not required for my program. What should I do if I need financial aid to pay for it?
As long as a student is enrolled in at least 12 credit hours of required coursework, they will qualify for the maximum in federal and state aid. If the student picks up the additional unrequired course, their bill will not go up (fall and spring semesters) and they remain eligible for full-time aid since their other classes are required. Any unrequired coursework will not count towards overall credits for the Excelsior Scholarship Program.
Students that prefer to attend part-time should refer to the chart above to determine how many required courses they need to take in addition to the unrequired course to still receive some aid.
Students may repeat a previously passed course once and receive federal financial aid, unless the course is repeatable towards the student’s degree. If a student failed or withdrew the first time they took the course this does not count as a previous attempt for the repeat policy. However, all failures and withdrawals are included in the student’s Federal Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) calculations.
If the grade received for a previously taken class was not accepted for credit toward the student’s degree, the student may repeat the class and credits for the repeated class may count toward both the full-time status and the 30-credit per year requirement.
If the grade received for a previously taken class was accepted for credit toward the student’s degree, the student may repeat the class (e.g., to earn a better grade); however, the credits for the repeated class will not count toward enrollment in 12 credits, unless the student is enrolled in his or her final term or second-to-last term of study. If the student is in the final term of study, the 30-credit requirement is waived.
Tuition Assistance Program & SUNY Tuition Credit
A student can repeat a course and have the course count as part of the minimum full-time or part-time course load for financial aid purposes when the student did not previously earn credit for the course. A student who receives an F or a W in a course does not earn credit; therefore, courses in which F or W grades have been earned can be repeated and count towards full-time or part-time study requirements.
There are certain other circumstances in which a student can repeat a course and have it count as part of the minimum course load:
- The grade earned is passing at the institution but not considered passing in a particular curriculum. For example, a student receives a D in a nursing course; D is a passing grade; however, any grade lower than a C in a nursing course is considered a failing grade. Thus, the nursing course in which the student earned the D can be repeated as part of the minimum full-time or part-time course load.
- The course can be repeated and credit earned each time, such as physical education courses or certain language courses.
A student who earned a passing grade in a course but wishes to repeat the course in the hopes of improving the grade and overall grade point average cannot count the repeated course as part of the minimum course load.
Minor courses are not required. However, students often need additional electives to earn enough credits to graduate. If these additional electives are also minor courses, the student can receive aid for them.
What is the impact if I am enrolled in a double major?
Courses for either major are considered required. However, the automatic SOT process does not always account for dual majors correctly. Staff in the Registrar’s office will work to identify these issues and correct them. Students in dual majors should pay close attention to ensure they are enrolling in required coursework.
When will my aid be adjusted if I’m taking courses not required?
Financial aid reductions will occur each morning after a student’s coursework is assessed for degree applicability.The student will receive an email notification if any coursework is not degree applicable.
Financial aid will appear on the student’s bill. Therefore, students should carefully and regularly review their Purchase College Ebill.
New York State TAP and/or Excelsior and a Student’s Final Year of Study:
New York State TAP and the Excelsior Scholarship are more flexible regarding required coursework during a student’s final year of study. In a student’s second to last semester, they must enroll in at least 6 credits of required coursework and be enrolled in 12+ credits overall (e.g., can take 6 credits of required and 6 credits of non-required courses). In a student’s final semester, they must enroll in at least one class of required coursework and 12 credits overall.
Students in their second to last or final semester of study taking non-required courses should notify Student Financial Services at firstname.lastname@example.org that they are in their final terms.
This rule in the student’s final year does not apply to federal aid.
I am enrolled in a minor and/or an undergraduate certificate.
Courses solely needed for a minor or an undergraduate certificate program are not eligible for federal or state aid. However, if these courses are used toward the minimum credits for graduation (typically 120 credits), then they can be used for aid.
I want to take courses to enhance my degree or to help get into graduate school or another program.
While we advocate for a well-rounded education and lifelong learning, the regulations for federal and state aid are strict and generally do not allow for this. Courses you would like to take that do not fulfill a graduation requirement are not eligible for aid. However, by taking a combination of required and non-required courses, students can still receive aid (refer to Credits Needed by Financial Aid Program chart above). Students are encouraged to plan ahead so they may still receive aid in semesters where they will take non-required courses.