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Credits That Count

When you register for each semester, SUNY Potsdam will track whether your credits count toward your degree program using Student Outcome Tracking (SOT), an application that integrates with BearDeN (DegreeWorks). Federal and state regulations stipulate that you are eligible for financial aid only if you are registered for aid-eligible credits; aid-eligible credits are credits that count towards your primary major degree requirements.

Do you need to be full-time in aid-eligible credits?
No. Students may be eligible to receive financial aid based on fewer credits, but the amount of aid or eligibility for aid may vary. To be eligible for full-time aid, you must be enrolled in 12 or more aid-eligible credits. If you choose to register full time in courses that are not aid eligible, your financial aid would be part time, but your student bill (tuition and fee charges) would be based on full time.

Required Credits for aid programs:

  • Federal Pell grant: 1-12 or more credits
  • Federal SEOG: 1-12 or more credits
  • New York State TAP: 12 or more credits
  • New York State Part-Time TAP: 6-11 credits
  • New York State Aid for Part Time Study: 1 -11 credits
  • New York State Excelsior Scholarship: 12 or more credits
  • Federal Direct Loans (Student and Parent): 6 or more credits

Student Outcome Tracking FAQs

The Federal and State regulations mandate that all financial aid that students receive must be for courses that apply to their primary major degree requirements.  In other words, only credits that satisfy degree requirements (including those required for the major, general education, physical education, electives, as well as liberal arts and upper division requirements and 120 credit requirement) are eligible for financial aid funding. This regulation is in place to help you graduate within your degree program length and decrease your student loan debt.

You will only receive financial aid for courses in your program and your financial aid award package may be adjusted to reflect the number of courses you are taking that do apply to your primary major degree requirements, if you are taking fewer than 12 aid-eligible credits. Remember, your financial aid would be adjusted to part time, but your student bill (tuition and fees) would still be charged full time. If you are in at least 12 aid eligible credits, there would not be an impact on your financial aid or bill if you choose to enroll in additional credits not aid eligible (such as classes for a second major or for a minor).

If your course registration has an impact on your financial aid, you will be notified via email of the impact before the semester begins by One Stop. At that time, you may choose to meet with a financial aid counselor to see how your aid and bill are impacted and/or meet with your advisor to adjust your schedule so you are in the desired amount of aid eligible credits for the semester.

They may. Only courses that are required in your primary major degree requirements are eligible for financial aid. Courses you previously took for your old major may now be counted as electives for your new major and degree program.  You need to continue to plan for your remaining electives as you progress toward your degree completion.

Any student who starts the semester with 57 or more earned college credits must declare a major in order to be eligible for New York State financial aid.  If for any reason a student is ineligible to enroll in their desired major and chooses an alternate major, be aware that credits will only be eligible for financial aid if they apply to their alternate major.  Advisors will need to work with these students to identify courses that count for both their current and proposed programs.

Because credits must apply to major/degree requirements, changing a major during a semester may cause financial aid issues for students.  For this reason, all changes to a student’s major requested before the end of the semester’s add/drop period are processed in the current term.  However, any changes to a major after add/drop will be processed effective the next semester.

  • Both Federal and State Aid will pay for you to retake any course that was not successfully completed.  These include courses from which you withdrew, received a failing grade (‘0’ or ‘U’), or received a grade that did not fulfill the degree requirements (some degrees require a 2.0+ grade for coursework in your major). 
  • If you successfully completed a course with a grade that met degree requirements:
    • Federal Aid will pay for you to repeat a course once. Third attempts will not count for aid eligibility.
    • State Aid will not pay for you to repeat any successfully completed course.

These are courses that prepare you to complete a required course successfully. They may or may not be required as part of your degree program.

No. Part time students must adhere to the same requirements.

You may need to adjust your registered courses and select courses that do count for financial aid. Otherwise you will be responsible for payment for all courses that do not meet degree program requirements.  Keep in mind that you may be eligible to receive all of your aid if you are taking at least 12 aid-eligible credits, or part of your aid if you are taking fewer than 12 aid-eligible credits.

Your financial aid for full time status will not be affected if you are enrolled in a minimum of 12 eligible credits towards your primary degree program.  Full-time or Not?  Students can take credits that do not count towards their degree requirements, but only credits that count will be considered eligible for financial aid.  In other words – to be eligible for full-time aid, a student must have 12 or more eligible credits. Students taking fewer than 12 eligible credits should contact One Stop to discuss the implications for their financial aid with a counselor.

Yes, you may drop classes until the end of add/drop week.  After add/drop week you will be charged according to the SUNY Potsdam Refund Schedule. Students are encouraged to contact One Stop to discuss how dropping a course would impact their financial aid and student bill with a financial aid counselor.

These regulations only affect students receiving federal (including federal loans) and state aid. If you pay for courses on your own, you are free to take whatever courses you choose. However, taking courses outside of what is required for your degree program may extend your time at Potsdam and increase your overall cost to earn your degree. We encourage you to perform a Degree Audit through BearDeN periodically to ensure you are on your way to completing your degree.