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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

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 degree.

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.

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

Why is it important to take courses that meet my degree program requirements if I receive financial aid?
The Federal and State regulations mandate that all financial aid that students receive must be for courses that apply to their degree programs.  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) are eligible for financial aid funding.

What will happen to my financial aid if I choose to take courses that are not within my degree program?
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 degree program, if you are taking fewer than 12 aid-eligible credits.

How will I know if I'm not taking the right courses to satisfy the financial aid requirements? How will I be notified?
You will receive a notification when you register for courses in BearPAWS indicating if a course does not meet the financial aid eligibility requirements and an explanation as to why it doesn’t. Follow the links on the BearPAWS Registration Compliance page for further explanation.

I recently changed my major and certain courses are not required for my new degree program. Will these courses still affect my financial aid eligibility?
They may. Only courses that are required in your degree program 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.

Declaring a Major:
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.

When you can change your Major:
Because credits must apply to major/degree requirements, changing a major after 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.

If I repeat a course will I still receive financial aid for that course?

  • 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.

What are prerequisite courses?
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.

Will this only affect full time students?
No. Part time students must adhere to the same requirements.

What do I do if I find out my courses are not going to be paid for by financial aid?
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.

How will my financial Aid be affected if a course(s) is not counted in my degree program but my other courses add up to be full time?
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.

Can I drop classes once school has begun if I find out that I'm not going to receive financial aid for them?
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.

I do not receive any federal or state aid.  Does this apply to me?
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.