The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Academic year" means the enrollment period that normally extends from late August to May or early June and that is normally comprised of two semesters 15 to 16 weeks in length or three quarters 10 to 11 weeks in length.
"Accredited" means approved to confer degrees pursuant to the provisions of Article 3 (§ 23.1-213 et seq.) of Chapter 2 of Title 23.1 of the Code of Virginia and requirements of the annual appropriation act, as the same are now constituted or hereafter amended. Unless otherwise provided by law, an institution must be accredited by a nationally recognized regional accrediting agency prior to participation in the program.
"Award" means a grant of Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant Program funds given during fall and spring terms at semester institutions and fall, winter, and spring terms at quarter institutions.
"Census date" means the time during a term when a count of enrolled students is made for reporting purposes. For all standard terms, the census date shall be the end of the program add/drop period. For nonstandard terms, the census date shall be determined by council on a program by program basis.
"Cost of attendance" means the sum of tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, and other education-related expenses, as determined by an eligible institution for purposes of calculating a student's financial need and awarding federal student aid funds.
"Council" or "SCHEV" means the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia or its designated staff.
"Domiciliary resident" means a student who is determined by the enrolling institution to be a domiciliary resident of Virginia
or deemed as domiciled as specified by § 23.1-502 of the Code of Virginia and the council's guidelines for domiciliary status determinations under § 23.1-502 of the Code of Virginia and augmented by the Domicile Guidelines or provided the equivalent educational benefits of the same under § 23.1-505 or 23.1-505.1 of the Code of Virginia. In cases where there are disputes between students and the enrolling institutions, the council shall make the final determinations (see 8VAC40-71-40 E).
"Eligible institution" means private nonprofit institutions of collegiate education in the Commonwealth whose primary purpose is to provide collegiate, graduate, or professional education and not to provide religious training or theological education. Eligible institutions not admitted to this program before January 1, 2011, shall also:
1. Be formed, chartered, established, or incorporated within the Commonwealth;
2. Have their principal place of business within the Commonwealth;
3. Conduct their primary educational activity within the Commonwealth;
4. Be accredited by a nationally recognized regional accrediting agency; and
5. Comply with applicable reporting requirements as:
a. Found in the Code of Virginia or supporting administrative code for institutions operating in Virginia or participating in state financial aid programs; or
b. Identified by the council as necessary for the administration of the program.
"Eligible program" means a curriculum of courses at the undergraduate, graduate, or first professional level for those institutions eligible under the definition of eligible institution. For those institutions chartered under an act of Congress and admitted to this program prior to January 1, 2011, only a curriculum of courses offered at a campus located in the Commonwealth are eligible programs.
1. Undergraduate programs are those programs that lead to an associate's or baccalaureate degree and that require at least two academic years (minimum 60 semester hours or its equivalent in quarter hours) to complete or an undergraduate teacher certification program.
2. Graduate programs are those programs leading to a degree higher in level than the baccalaureate degree and that require at least one academic year (minimum 30 semester hours or its equivalent in quarter hours) to complete. Only graduate programs in a health-related professional program classified in the National Center for Education Statistics' Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Code 51-series programs are eligible graduate programs.
3. First-professional programs are those post-undergraduate programs leading to a degree in dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, or pharmacy. Only professional programs in a health-related professional program classified as CIP Code 51-series programs are eligible first-professional programs.
4. Programs that provide religious training or theological education, classified as CIP Code 39-series programs, are not eligible programs.
5. Students enrolled in a declared double-major that includes an ineligible degree program may receive an award only for those terms in which the student's enrollment includes an equal or greater number of courses required for an eligible major or concentration than the number of courses enrolled for an ineligible major or concentration (excludes general education or elective courses). Exceptions may be made by council based on circumstances beyond the control of the student.
"First-professional student" means a student enrolled and program placed in any of the following post-undergraduate programs: dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, or pharmacy.
"Fiscal year" means the period extending from July 1 to June 30.
"Formed, chartered, established, or incorporated within the Commonwealth" means the institution is, and continues to be, recognized as a domestic or in-state institution under the council's certification to operate in Virginia and under state law.
"Full-time student" means a student who is enrolled for at least 12 credit hours per semester or its equivalent in quarter hours at the undergraduate level or nine credit hours per semester or its equivalent in quarter hours at the graduate or first-professional level. The total hours counted do not include courses taken for audit, but may include required developmental, remedial, or prerequisite courses and other elective for-credit courses that normally are not counted toward a degree at the institution. For students enrolled in:
1. Nonstandard terms: the full-time enrollment requirement, as approved by council, will be proportionate based on the length of the terms, the number of contact hours, or other measures of comparability with the institution's normal academic year.
2. Concurrent undergraduate, graduate, or first-professional courses: the full-time enrollment requirement may be met by a combination of the total credit hours, providing that the combination totals at least the minimum credit hours for full-time status, as described above, for the student's institutionally recognized student level.
3. Programs leading to a doctoral degree: the full-time enrollment requirement may be met by enrollment in nine credit hours per semester or its equivalent in quarter hours or the minimum full-time enrollment as defined by the institution, whichever is less.
"Graduate student" means a student enrolled and program-placed in a master's or doctoral program.
"Nonprofit institution" means an educational institution operated by one or more nonprofit corporations, and said institution's earnings are applied solely to the support of said institution and its educational programs and activities.
"Nonstandard degree program" means a degree program where the terms of the program do not conform to the standard terms of the institution's academic year. Nonstandard programs must be approved by council before students enrolled in the programs can receive awards.
"Participating eligible institution" means an eligible institution that has been approved to participate in the program by council.
"Principle place of business" means the single state in which the natural persons who establish policy for the direction, control, and coordination of the operations of the institution as a whole primarily exercise that function considering the following factors:
1. The state in which the primary executive and administrative offices of the institution are located. The primary executive and administrative offices are those most often physically used in the performance of the executive and administrative functions of the institution;
2. The state in which the principal office of the chief executive officer of the institution is located. The principal office of the chief executive officer is the location that is most often physically occupied by the chief executive officer when in performance of official institution duties;
3. The state in which the board of trustees or similar governing person or persons of the institution conducts a majority of its meetings; and
4. The state from which the overall operations of the institution are directed in that the institution is not subject to control or directives from an office, agency, or board located within another state.
"Program" means the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant Program.
"Term" means the fall semester or quarter, winter quarter, or the spring semester or quarter.
"Undergraduate student" means a student in a program leading to an associate's or baccalaureate degree or a student enrolled in an undergraduate teacher certification program.
"VTAG" means the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant.
In order to participate in the program, eligible institutions not previously approved by the council to participate must file formal application with the council no later than January 31 of the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which fall term awards would first be available to students.
Applications shall be addressed to the council and shall include:
1. Estimates of the number of students who would be eligible to receive awards in the first and second years of participation;
2. A copy of the Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate in Federal Student Financial Aid Programs (FISAP) if participating in federal Title IV programs; and
3. Certifications from the institution's chief executive officer that the institution:
a. Meets each aspect of the definition of an eligible institution as defined in this chapter;
b. Offers academic programs that meet the definition of an eligible program and provides a list of such programs, including the officially recognized CIP codes for each program;
c. Will furnish whatever data the council may request in order to verify its institutional eligibility claims;
d. Will promptly notify the council within 30 days following any change in governance or mission that may affect the institution's status as an eligible institution;
e. By its governing body, has authorized its adherence to the requirements of this chapter, as the same are now constituted or hereafter amended, until such time as the institution may withdraw from participation in the program;
f. Will comply with the council's reports requirements and deadlines; and
g. Follows the guidance available in the SCHEV Financial Aid Award Letters Policies and Guidance by providing a sample of an undergraduate award notification for SCHEV review.
Applications must be approved and all documents must be on file before any funds are disbursed.
Council retains the prerogative to issue conditional approval to participate in the program if deemed necessary and provide a timeframe in which a follow-up review will be conducted before issuing final approval.
All subsequent new programs or site locations must be reported to the council by no later than August 1 of the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which fall term awards would first be available to students in the program or at the new site location.
A. Definitions. The following words and terms shall have the following meanings in this section unless context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Distance learning program" means a program of study with degree completion requirements that are unique to students intending to receive instruction primarily or solely through distance learning. Distance learning programs occasionally require an on-campus or other in-person course. If an institution does not differentiate between the two modes of degree requirements, "distance learning program" refers to any term in which the student is enrolled entirely in distance learning courses.
"Distance learning student" means any student placed into a distance learning program. Students enrolling into a course that is required by their distance learning program of study to be on-campus or in-person are still considered a distance learning student.
"Enrolled exclusively" means the student's participation in a distance learning program by declaring the intent to complete a degree through this mode of delivery. A place-based student taking online courses as a supplement to their education is not "enrolled exclusively" in a distance learning or online education program.
"Online education" or "distance learning" means an option for earning course credit at off-campus locations via cable television, Internet, (telecommunication) satellite classes, videotapes, correspondence courses, or other means. "Online education" or "distance learning" includes online education and does not include instruction that is covered under the definition of "place-based instruction".
"Place-based instruction" means instruction that the institution has determined to be delivered at a specific physical location under the control of the institution. "Place-based instruction" includes instruction that takes place in a standard in-class setting though remote participation may be available and on-campus residential learning, satellite locations specified by the institution, internships, and residencies.
"Place-based student" means a student pursuing a degree predominantly by place-based instruction. "Place-based student" includes students whose course selections in a given term include, though not exclusively, distance learning courses.
"VTAG-eligible" means a student who is eligible to receive a VTAG award as long as all VTAG criteria are met, subject to VTAG application deadlines and available funding.
B. Exempt distance learning students.
1. Exempt distance learning students are returning students who were enrolled as a distance learning student in 2019-2020 at a VTAG-eligible institution. These students are exempt from the requirement that VTAG awards for distance program be limited to up to $2,000.
2. Exempt students may receive a VTAG award of up to the 2019-2020 award amounts as long as the student is VTAG-eligible.
a. Exempt undergraduate students may receive a VTAG award at the 2019-2020 maximum annual award amount for undergraduate students, which was $3,400, split into $1,700 awards each for fall and spring terms.
b. Exempt graduate students may receive a VTAG award at the 2019-2020 maximum annual award amount for graduate students, which was $1,700, split into $850 awards each for fall and spring terms.
c. If funding levels are insufficient to provide full awards for all priority VTAG-eligible students, these award levels may be reduced at the same rate of reduction used for all other priority VTAG awards for the same term.
3. Exempt distance learning students remain eligible for the 2019-2020 award levels under the following conditions:
a. The student maintains enrollment in each successive fiscal year, unless granted an exception for cause by SCHEV.
(1) To maintains enrollment, the student must enroll into at least one course in any term per fiscal year (fall/winter/spring, if applicable) at a VTAG-eligible institution, whether as a continuing student or as a transfer student.
(a) Students maintaining enrollment retain current and future eligibility at the 2019-2020 award levels as long as the student is VTAG-eligible.
(b) Non-enrollment in a summer term does not disqualify the student.
(2) Students failing to maintain continuous enrollment due to circumstances beyond their control may appeal to SCHEV. SCHEV authorizes the institutions to grant exceptions for breaks in enrollment specifically due to a military-related move or a verified health-related circumstance.
b. The student is eligible until current degree completion.
(1) Eligibility at the 2019-2020 award levels continues until completion of the degree level at which the student was last enrolled in 2019-2020.
(a) If the student's 2019-2020 enrollment includes multiple degree levels, eligibility tracks with the last degree level officially recognized in 2019-2020.
(b) Eligibility at the 2019-2020 award levels is not impacted by a change in major as long as the student remains enrolled within the same degree level.
(2) Eligibility at the 2019-2020 award levels does not extend to a subsequent second degree at the same level, even if continuous enrollment is maintained.
(3) Eligibility at the 2019-2020 award levels does not extend to an advanced degree, even if continuous enrollment is maintained.
c. The student is eligible until current degree program eligibility limits have otherwise expired.
(1) Students pursuing an associate degree in 2019-2020 may receive a maximum lifetime total of two years of VTAG toward an associate degree, regardless of whether the degree program has been completed after two years.
(2) Students pursuing a baccalaureate degree in 2019-2020 may receive a maximum lifetime total of four years of VTAG toward an undergraduate degree (associate and baccalaureate combined), regardless of whether the degree program has been completed after four years.
(3) Students pursuing a graduate degree in health professions in 2019-2020 may receive a maximum lifetime total of four years of VTAG toward a graduate or professional level degree, regardless of whether the degree program has been completed after four years.
(4) Such usage restrictions are lifetime cumulative receipt of VTAG regardless of mode of learning or award differentials.
d. Students are disqualified from retaining future eligibility at the 2019-2020 award levels once any one or more of the disqualifiers in this section occurs.
e. Such students enrolled in 2019-2020 retain eligibility for the 2019-2020 award amounts regardless of whether VTAG was actually received. As long as the student meets the requirements in this section, the student does not lose future eligibility at the 2019-2020 award level if VTAG is removed:
(1) Due to less than full-time enrollment or
(2) To avoid a financial aid over award.
4. Exempt distance learning students transitioning to a place-based or residential degree program.
a. Nothing in the restriction prohibits such student from receiving VTAG at the prevailing rate for place-based students upon transitioning to place-based instruction.
b. Exempt students moving from distance learning to place-based instruction and then back to distance learning retain eligibility at the 2019-2020 award rate as long as the eligibility requirements listed in this section continue to be met.
5. Exempt distance learning students failing to meet the eligibility criteria listed in this section.
a. If moving to place-based instruction are eligible at the prevailing place-based award amount.
b. If remain enrolled in distance learning are eligible at the reduced distance learning award amount.
C. Distance learning nonexempt students.
1. New students enrolled into a distance-learning program of study are eligible for VTAG at the reduced distance learning award amount as long as the student is VTAG-eligible.
2. Distance learning nonexempt student status includes:
a. Students who were previously place-based who subsequently enroll into a distance learning program of study but were not in a distance learning program in 2019-2020.
b. Place-based students whose enrollment within a single term consists entirely of distance learning courses. Exceptions may be applicable if the institution differentiates between a place-based (residential) degree program and a distance learning program and the student is charged the place-based tuition rate.
c. Former distance learning students who were not enrolled in 2019-2020 into a VTAG participating institution who then return to distance learning instruction.
d. All new incoming students enrolled into a distance learning program. A new incoming student enrolled exclusively in an online education or distance learning program is any student who was not enrolled as a distance learning student into a VTAG-eligible institution in the 2019-2020 academic year, which includes (i) incoming first-year students beginning as of fall 2020, (ii) students previously enrolled at the institution, and (iii) transfer students who were not enrolled at a VTAG-eligible institution in 2019-2020 in a distance learning program, regardless of class level.
e. All distance learning students will fall under either exempt or nonexempt categories of distance learning students.
D. Place-based students.
1. Place-based students are eligible for VTAG at the prevailing award amount as long as the student is VTAG-eligible.
2. Being VTAG-eligible includes:
a. Place-based students partially enrolled into distance learning courses. Partial enrollment into distance learning courses does not disqualify the student and these courses may count toward the full-time enrollment requirement.
b. Former distance learning students who subsequently enroll into place-based instruction.
c. Place-based students whose enrollment within a single term consists entirely of distance learning courses are eligible at the reduced distance learning award amount. Exceptions may be made for special circumstances, including medical, if the student continues to be enrolled into a place-based program and charged at the place-based tuition rates.
E. Special rules during a declared pandemic:
1. The special rules in this subsection are effective for any term in which the institution opts to provide only distance learning education for fall 2020 or thereafter as long as a pandemic is declared.
2. New students and returning students enrolled into place-based instruction retain VTAG eligibility at the prevailing award amount if the student is enrolled entirely in distance learning courses as required by the institution due to ongoing COVID-19 related concerns or for validated individual student COVID-19 health concerns. Eligibility shall continue for such students provided that the student returns to place-based instruction as soon as it is available.
3. New incoming students enrolled into a distance learning program shall be eligible for the reduced distance learning award amount regardless of whether distance learning is the only option available due to on-going COVID-19 related concerns.