EnterChapterTitle: State Grant Programs
SectionTitle: Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program
[[Purpose of program]]
The Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program is authorized under
Title IV, Part A, Subpart 6 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as
amended. Under this program, the Secretary of Education (the
Secretary) makes available, through grants to the states, scholarships
to exceptionally able students for study at postsecondary schools in
order to recognize and promote student excellence and achievement.
Student recipients under this program are known as Byrd Scholars.
SELECTION OF SCHOLARS
[[Definition of state]]
To apply for a scholarship, a student follows the application
procedures established by the State Educational Agency (SEA) in the
state in which he or she is a legal resident. A "state" is any of the 50
states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,
Guam, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands,
Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands,
and the Republic of Palau. The SEA is the state board of education
(or other agency in the state) that is primarily responsible for the
supervision of public elementary and secondary schools.
[[Procedures for selecting scholars established by the SEA]]
The SEA establishes procedures for selecting the scholars after
consulting with school administrators, school boards, teachers,
counselors, and parents. Before each state's selection criteria and
application procedures are implemented, they are reviewed and
approved by the Department.
[[Scholarship amount will be prorated]]
Under a provision of the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and
Appropriations Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134), each scholarship
must be prorated so that the number of new scholarship awards for
1997-98 is maintained at the same level as the new scholarships
awarded in 1996-97. The amount each Byrd Scholar may receive for
1997-98 will again be prorated, as it was for 1996-97. For the 1997-
98 award year, both first year and continuing scholars will receive a
prorated scholarship amount of up to $1,110 for full-time study.
A year of study under current Byrd regulations means the period of
time during which a full-time student at an institution of higher
education is expected to complete the equivalent of one year of
coursework (as defined by the school).
[[Renewability of awards]]
Awards can be renewed for up to three additional years, provided
that funds are appropriated and students remain eligible. This
continuing eligibility is discussed further on page 9-17 of this
[[Selection criteria designed for equitable representation]]
Each SEA designs its own selection criteria and procedures to ensure
that it selects scholars for each award period for which funds are
received according to the following allotments:
- For each state, no fewer than the number of scholars allotted to
that state by the Secretary under the statutory formula are selected.
- For the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,
Guam, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana
Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the
Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, no fewer than 10
scholarships from each of these jurisdiction's residents are
- For all participating states, enough scholars are selected to award
all funds allotted for scholarships for each award period.
In addition, the SEA
- selects scholars solely on the basis of demonstrated outstanding
academic achievement and promise of continued achievement;
- selects scholars in such a way that each part of the state, the
District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico is represented fairly; and
- selects scholars regardless of
- whether the secondary schools they attend are within or outside
the scholars' states of legal residence;
- whether the postsecondary schools they plan to attend are
public or private or are within or outside their states of legal
- the scholars' sex, race, color, national origin, religion, disability,
or economic background; and
- the scholars' education expenses or financial need, except that
the total amount of financial aid awarded to a scholar for a year
of study may not exceed the scholar's total cost of attendance.
[[Schools scholars may attend]]
A scholar may attend any public or private nonprofit institution of
higher education, proprietary institution of higher education, or
postsecondary vocational institution as defined in Chapter 3.
[[Students apply through their state of residency]]
Under current program regulations, a student who is attending a
secondary school outside of his or her state of residency must apply
for a Byrd Scholarship through the SEA of his or her state of
residency. This would include a student who was attending a U.S.
Department of Defense overseas school or an out-of-state boarding
ELIGIBILITY TO RECEIVE SCHOLARSHIP
To receive a Byrd Scholarship, each student must meet the criteria
listed below during the same secondary academic year in which the
student submits the scholarship application.
The student must
- graduate from a public or private secondary school or receive the
recognized equivalent of a high school diploma as recognized by
the state in which the student resides, and
- have applied or been accepted for enrollment at an institution of
higher education as a full-time student.
Note that the "recognized equivalent of a high school diploma"
- a General Education Development (GED) Certificate, or
- a state certificate received by a student after the student has passed
a state-authorized examination that the state recognizes as the
equivalent of a high school diploma.
A full-time student is one who is enrolled at an institution of higher
education and who is carrying a full-time academic workload as
determined by the school under standards applicable to all students
enrolled in the same program.
[[Additional eligibility requirements for selection]]
In addition to the two requirements listed on the previous page, a
student is eligible to be selected as a scholar if he or she
- is a legal resident of the state to which he or she is applying for a
- is a U.S. citizen or national, or provides evidence from the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that he or she is
- a permanent resident of the United States; or
- in the United States for other than a temporary purpose and has
the intention of becoming a citizen or permanent resident;
- is a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of
the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau;
- is not ineligible to receive assistance as a result of default on a
federal student loan or other obligation, in accordance with the
Education Department General Administrative Regulations
(34 CFR Part 75.60);
- is registered with the Selective Service if required in accordance
with the Student Assistance General Provisions regulations
(34 CFR Part 668); and
- is planning to pursue a course of study at an institution of higher
A scholar is deemed to be "pursuing a course of study" if he or she is
enrolled as a full-time student, as determined by the school he or she
is attending under standards applicable to all students enrolled in the
same course of study.
CONTINUING ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
A scholar continues to be eligible for scholarship funds as long as he
or she continues to
- meet the citizenship/permanent resident requirements listed on the
- be enrolled as a full-time student at an institution of higher
- maintain the satisfactory academic progress standards of the
school in accordance with the Student Assistance General
[[Part-time enrollment allowed after first year]]
Byrd Scholars must be enrolled full time for the first year of study.
If, after the first year of study, the SEA determines that unusual
circumstances justify waiving the full-time attendance requirement,
the scholar may enroll part time and continue to receive a scholarship
The SEA must prorate any payment for a scholar enrolled part time
according to the scholar's enrollment status for the academic period
during which he or she
- continues to be enrolled part time, and
- remains otherwise eligible for the award.
The example below shows how a Byrd Scholarship is paid when full-
time attendance is waived.
During the 1997-98 year, Michelle S. enrolls full time for the fall
semester and enrolls half time for the spring semester. During the
spring semester, Michelle's full-time enrollment requirement has
been waived. Michelle would then be eligible for half of her full
scholarship for the fall:
$1,110 x 1/2 = $555
Because Michelle will be attending half time in the spring and her
full-time attendance requirement has been waived, she will be
eligible to receive half of the remaining $555, or $277.50.
A scholar who fails to meet any of the eligibility requirements within
an award year will have his or her scholarship suspended by the
SEA. The scholar's eligibility remains suspended until the scholar is
able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the SEA that he or she
meets these requirements. Once the suspension period reaches 12
months, the scholar's eligibility for that scholarship is terminated.
In exceptional circumstances (defined by the SEA) the scholar's 12-
month suspension period may be extended without terminating the
[[Postponement of enrollment]]
A state agency may permit a scholar to postpone or interrupt his or
her enrollment at a postsecondary school for up to 12 months,
beginning on the date the scholar otherwise would have enrolled in
the school after the state agency awarded him or her the scholarship
or on the date the scholar interrupts enrollment.
Each state agency establishes standards to determine when it will
approve a period of postponement or interruption for a scholar. If the
state does approve the postponement or interruption, it must
document the scholar's subsequent enrollment.
A scholar who postpones or interrupts his or her enrollment is not
eligible to receive scholarship funds during the period of
postponement or interruption. Upon enrollment or reenrollment at an
institution of higher education, the scholar resumes eligibility to
receive scholarship payments. Note that these periods of
postponement or interruption are not considered in calculating the
scholar's period of suspension. Thus, any period of postponement or
interruption will not be counted against the scholar in calculating the
12 months of suspension.
Byrd Scholarships are awarded for a period of not more than four
years for the first four years of study. If the Byrd Scholar completes
his or her undergraduate course of study in three years, that scholar is
eligible to receive scholarship funds for only those three years of
[[Scholarship funds cannot be used to attend foreign school]]
Note that a Byrd Scholar may not use his or her scholarship to attend
a foreign school. The scholar must attend an eligible postsecondary
education institution that is located in one of the 50 states, the
District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the
Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, the Federated States of
Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic
However, a scholar who is studying abroad through an institution
(home school) that meets the definition of higher education and is
located in a state (as described in the previous paragraph) is
considered to be eligible to receive funds as long as he or she is
- enrolled at the home school; and
- receives credit from the home school.
The Secretary uses the formula illustrated below to assign Byrd
Scholarships to each participating state:
[[The allocation formula on page 9-19 is currently unavailable for
viewing on the SFA BBS. Please reference your paper document or
download the pdf files for additional information.]]
The population figures used in this formula are determined from the
most recently available data from the Bureau of the Census.
PACKAGING OF BYRD SCHOLARSHIP WITH OTHER SFA
[[Byrd scholarship must be reduced prior to reducing a Pell Grant]]
Under Byrd regulations that took effect in September 1993, the SEA
must ensure that the total amount of federal financial aid awarded to
the Byrd Scholar does not exceed the scholar's total cost of
attendance. If any federal loans are part of the scholar's financial aid
package, they must be reduced prior to reducing the Byrd
Scholarship. If the scholar is receiving a Pell Grant, though, the Byrd
Scholarship must be reduced prior to reducing the Pell Grant. Section
419 J of the Higher Education Act, as amended, states that a Federal
Pell Grant must not be reduced on the basis of the receipt of a Byrd