13B.08.10.15

.15 Appeals of Eligibility Decisions.

A. An EA or GA Grant applicant or recipient may appeal an award eligibility decision, and OSFA may grant or deny an appeal of eligibility, pursuant to this regulation.

B. Appeals of Full-time Status.

(1) The applicant or recipient may appeal a determination that the applicant or recipient is not enrolled full-time.

(2) To be considered full-time, the actual time spent in the classroom, lab, supervised activity, or clinic shall equal at least 180 clock hours in a regular semester.

(3) An applicant or recipient enrolled for at least 6 credit hours, but fewer than 12 credit hours, may appeal on the basis that the individual is participating in a specific course or activity (such as an internship or a practicum) that is required by the institution to complete the academic program.

C. Appeals to Receive Fifth or Third Year Awards. A student may appeal to hold an award for an additional year on the basis that:

(1) In the case of baccalaureate programs, the institution confirms that the student is enrolled in an academic program that requires 5 years to complete; or

(2) The student provides to OSFA evidence of extenuating financial, academic, or other circumstances that prevent the student from completing the academic program in 4 years for a baccalaureate program, or 2 years for an associate degree program.

D. Appeals Based Upon Special Financial Circumstances. Subject to the availability of funds, OSFA shall make adjustments, as follows, based upon adequate documentation, that the student has experienced special financial circumstances that directly reduce the family contribution:

(1) If the student's parent or spouse dies on or after January 1 of the of the corresponding award year, OSFA shall adjust the FAFSA income information to exclude the income of the parent(s) or spouse affected;

(2) If the student or the student's parents divorce or separate on or after January 1 of the corresponding award year, OSFA shall adjust the FAFSA income information to exclude the income of the parent or spouse affected;

(3) If the student, student's parent, if dependent, or student's spouse, if the student is married and independent, becomes completely or involuntarily unemployed for at least 10 consecutive weeks in the prior or current year, OSFA shall calculate the student's family contribution and total family income using an estimated income for the current calendar year; and

(4) If the student or the student's parent loses, as a result of the student reaching the age of majority, benefits from Social Security, TANF, or child support, OSFA shall calculate the student's family contribution and total family income using an estimated income for the current calendar year.

E. Appeals of GA Grant Eligibility. A GA applicant or recipient may appeal an eligibility determination, in addition to the other grounds set forth in this regulation, on the grounds that the applicant or recipient:

(1) Did not complete high school or did not attain an unweighted grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale or its equivalent at the end of the first semester of the senior year in high school due to evidence of extenuating circumstances satisfactory to the Office;

(2) Did not begin college within 1 year of high school graduation or GED attainment due to evidence satisfactory to the Office of extenuating circumstances; or

(3) Is a renewal student who no longer is eligible for the GA Grant program because the applicantís annual family income rises above the 150 percent poverty level.

F. Appeals of Credit Completion Requirement. A student who has received an EEA grant for at least 2 academic years and fails to complete at least 24 credits in the prior academic year may appeal an eligibility decision on the basis that:

(1) The student completed at least 18 credit hours in the prior academic year and participated in a specific course or activity, such as an internship, practicum, or study abroad program, that is required by the institution to complete the studentís academic program and that, when combined with the 18 credit hours, is the equivalent of 24 credit hours in OSFAís determination; or

(2) The student is an individual with disabilities who completed fewer than 24 credit hours due to a disability.

G. Appeal Procedures.

(1) An individual shall file an appeal under this regulation by submitting to OSFA a completed appeal form prescribed by OSFA.

(2) In addition to the appeal form, the individual shall submit to OSFA the following documentation:

(a) If the appeal is of an ineligibility decision due to the studentís lack of full-time status, documentation from the studentís department chair describing:

(i) The program requirements for that semester;

(ii) The catalog summary of the program and classes; and

(iii) The number of clock hours required for the studentís activity;

(b) If the appeal is based upon requiring a fifth year to complete a baccalaureate program, or a third year to complete an associate degree program, documentation, as applicable, consisting of a death certificate, or statement from an attending physician, psychologist, mental health professional, guidance counselor, social worker, or the Dean of Students or other officer at the student's institution confirming the:

(i) Serious illness or injury of the student;

(ii) Serious illness of a member of the student's immediate family;

(iii) Serious emotional difficulties of the student;

(iv) Death of a member of the student's immediate family;

(v) Existence of other serious personal circumstances; or

(vi) The institutionís confirmation that the studentís baccalaureate program requires a fifth year to complete;

(c) If the appeal is based upon special financial circumstances, copies, as applicable, of a death certificate, separation agreement or divorce decree, notice of job termination or layoff, federal tax returns and W-2 forms, termination notices, or unemployment benefits from relevant agencies;

(d) If the appeal is based upon the student not meeting the required GPA in his or her senior year of high school:

(i) A letter from the student explaining the extenuating circumstances that caused the student not to obtain the required GPA;

(ii) An unofficial transcript to verify the studentís GPA;

(iii) Supporting documentation describing the circumstances that prohibited the student from obtaining the required GPA; and

(iv) A letter of recommendation from the studentís high school principal;

(e) If the appeal is from an applicant who was deemed ineligible for not beginning college within 1 year of high school graduation or GED attainment:

(i) A letter from the student explaining the extenuating circumstances that caused the student to not begin college within 1 year of high school graduation or GED attainment; and

(ii) A letter of reference from an employer, teacher, or organization that the applicant is affiliated with describing the applicantís commitment to attending college and earning a degree;

(f) If the appeal is from a student who was found to be no longer eligible for the GA program because the studentís annual family income rises above 150 percent of the poverty level, supporting documentation identifying the change in income level that resulted in the family income exceeding the 150 percent poverty threshold and extenuating circumstances demonstrating why the income should be omitted from the award calculation;

(g) If the appeal is of a determination that the student failed to complete 24 credit hours in the prior academic year:

(i) A letter from the studentís department chair that describes and confirms the program requirements for the applicable semester and describes the number of clock hours required for each activity, along with a catalog description of the program and classes involved; or

(ii) Documentation from the studentís medical doctor that confirms that the student is an individual with disabilities, and that the student completed fewer than 24 credits due to disability; and

(h) If the individual appeals a determination that an individual failed to complete high school:

(i) A letter to OSFA documenting the extenuating circumstance that prevented the student from graduating high school;

(ii) A copy of the studentís high school transcript;

(iii) If applicable, a copy of the studentís GED; and

(iv) A letter of recommendation from the recipientís high school principal.

(3) Adjustment of Awards. Subject to the availability of funds, the following adjustment of awards shall be made for appeals that are granted:

(a) If an appeal is granted prior to awards being made for the upcoming year, the student's amount of an award shall be based upon the information provided in connection with the appeal;

(b) If the student has not been awarded an award and submits the appeal after awards has been made for the upcoming year and the appeal is granted, the student shall be placed on the waiting list for an award;

(c) If the student already has been awarded an award and submits an appeal and the appeal is granted, the student shall be placed on a waiting list for any additional funds for which the student may be eligible; and

(d) If a studentís appeal based upon 12-credit-hour equivalency is granted, the student shall receive 75 percent of the original award if enrolled in 9 to 11 credits, and 50 percent of the original award if enrolled for 6 to 9 credits.

(4) Upon receipt of a completed appeal, the documentation shall be reviewed and a decision rendered by OSFA within 45 days, and the student shall be notified in writing of the outcome.

H. OSFAís grant or denial of an appeal under this regulation is final and not subject to further administrative or judicial review.