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Student Financial Aid Programs

PublicationDate: 7/1/95
ChapterNumber: 1
ChapterTitle: Student Financial Aid Programs
SectionNumber: 6
SectionTitle: The Fiscal Activity Calendar
PageNumbers: 14-20


1.6 The Fiscal Activity Calendar

Fiscal activities managed by postsecondary institutions occur at
various points during the academic year, the award year, and the
fiscal year. At some institutions, the academic year, the award year,
and the fiscal year may be the same, while they may differ at other
schools.*2*

The 1992 reauthorization of the HEA established a definition of an
academic year as part of the statute. In 1994, ED issued regulations
to guide schools in interpreting that definition.

1.6.1 The Academic Year

((Definition of an academic year))
Section 481(d)(2) of the HEA states that an academic year must
contain at least 30 weeks of instructional time over which a full-time
undergraduate student is expected to complete 24 semester or
trimester hours, 36 quarter hours, or 900 clock hours. The 30-week
minimum may be reduced to less than 30 weeks, but not less than 26
weeks, if an institution can show good cause. ED may grant waivers
of the 30-week requirement on a case-by-case basis and only to
postsecondary institutions that offer two-year or four-year programs
of study for which they award associate or baccalaureate degrees.

1.6.1.1 Term-Based Institutions

((Credit hours))
At a term-based institution that measures education program length
in credit hours, a full-time undergraduate student must complete at
least 24 semester hours or trimester hours or 36 quarter hours in an
academic year.

((Clock hours))
At a term-based institution that measures education program length
in clock hours, a full-time undergraduate student must complete at
least 900 clock hours in an academic year.

((Term-based week))
For a term-based institution, a week of instructional time is defined
as any consecutive seven-day period in which at least one day of
regularly scheduled instruction, examinations, or preparation for
examinations occurs.

1.6.1.2 Nonterm Institutions

A nonterm institution is one that does not divide the academic year
into semesters, trimesters or quarters.

((Clock hours))
At a nonterm institution that measures educational program length in
clock hours, a full-time undergraduate student is expected to
complete at least 900 clock hours in an academic year.

((Credit hours))
At a nonterm institution that measures educational program length in
credit hours, a full-time undergraduate student is expected to
complete the equivalent of 24 semester or trimester hours or 36
quarter hours in an academic year.

((Nonterm week))
Effective July 1, 1995, for a nonterm institution using either credit or
clock hours, a week of instructional time is defined as any week in
which at least 12 hours of regularly scheduled instruction,
examinations, or preparation for examinations occurs. This new "12-
hour rule" replaces the "5-day rule" that, for the 1994-95 award year,
required that a week contain at least five days of instruction,
examinations, or preparation for examinations.

1.6.2 The Award Year

The financial aid award year is the 12-month period during which
postsecondary institutions award Title IV and other federal financial
aid funds to students. The award year runs from July 1 of one
calendar year to June 30 of the next calendar year. For example, the
1995-96 award year begins on July 1, 1995 and ends on June 30,
1996.

((Payment and processing cycles))
For any award year, financial aid application processing begins on
January 1 of the calendar year in which the award year begins;
financial aid payment processing ends on September 30 of the
calendar year in which the award year ends. For example, for the
1995-96 award year, processing began on January 1, 1995 and ends
on September 30, 1996. Immediately following the end of an award
year, schools must file reports on that award year's activities.

1.6.3 The Fiscal Year

The fiscal year is defined by the institution. Examples of commonly
used fiscal year periods are--

- January 1 to December 31 (the calendar year),

- July 1 to June 30 (the traditional financial aid fiscal year), and

- October 1 to September 30 (the federal fiscal year).

For many institutions, the school fiscal year differs from the federal
fiscal year.

1.6.4 The Federal Master Calendar

To ensure timely delivery of Title IV funds to students, federal law
requires that ED adhere to a master calendar (Section 482 of the
HEA) when developing required publications, communicating with
postsecondary institutions, issuing regulations, and performing other
activities necessary to both ED's and institutions' administration of
Title IV programs.

((Master calendar dates and deadlines))
For allocations of campus-based and Federal Pell Grant funds, the
law mandates that ED adhere to the following master calendar dates
in the year preceding the award year.

- August 1--distribution of application for campus-based funds
(Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate or
FISAP) to institutions

- October 1--final date for institutions to submit FISAP to ED

- November 15--institutions receive edited FISAPs and computer
printouts

- December 1--institutions receive procedures for appealing
campus-based award levels

- December 15--institutions return any needed FISAP edits to ED

- February 1--institutions receive tentative ED award levels for
campus-based programs; institutions also receive final Federal Pell
Grant Program Payment and Disbursement Schedule

- February 15--closing date for ED to receive institutional appeals

- March 1--appeals process completed

- April 1--final award notifications sent to institutions by ED for
campus-based programs

- June 1--Federal Pell Grant Program authorization levels sent to
institutions by ED

((Publication of regulations))
The master calendar also requires that regulations affecting a given
award year be published no later than December 1 of the preceding
calendar year. For example, for the 1995-96 award year, all final
regulations were required to have been issued on or before December
1, 1994. However, these regulations take effect no earlier than July 1
of that award year.

1.6.5 Sample Calendars

The sample calendars on pages 19 and 20 illustrate financial aid and
fiscal activities that typically occur during a school year. Note that
there may be an overlap of a given award year, academic year, or
fiscal year.

[[The charts on pages 18 (1995-96 Federal Application Processing
System), 19 (Sample Financial Aid Calendar at a Term-Based
Institution) and 20 (Sample Financial Aid Calendar at a Nonterm
Institution) are currently unavailable for viewing. Please
reference your paper copy for additional information.]]


*2* See sections 1.6.1 for academic year definition, 1.6.2 for award
year definition, and 1.6.3 for fiscal year definition.

Last Modified: 06/30/1995