Revised: June 30, 1997

I. Background

This policy statement establishes the eligibility of Extended Degree Program students for student financial aid and provides guidelines for the administration of these programs on behalf of Extended Degree students. Particular attention is given to Extended Degree Programs as separate and distinct from courses of correspondence instruction.

Students who are enrolled in eligible programs of study at eligible institutions may qualify for student aid benefits from federally-funded programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and its amendments. The State of Wisconsin has adopted as its general eligibility criteria the same regulations applying to the federal aid programs. In addition, both federal and state financial aid programs may have specific guidelines that will affect student eligibility.

II. Constraints

Current federal and state rules and regulations governing financial aid eligibility.

III. Definitions: Extended Degree Programs vs. Correspondence Courses

In determining the eligibility of Extended Degree Program students for various types of government-sponsored student financial aid, it is important to distinguish Extended Degree Programs from correspondence courses.

In the University of Wisconsin System, correspondence courses are delimited within the mission of University of Wisconsin-Extension. In its correspondence study catalog, Extension currently lists approximately 600 credit and noncredit courses. Each of these courses is developed as a series of lesson plans. As the student completes work on a lesson plan, he or she submits it for review and grading to a correspondence tutor employed by University of Wisconsin-Extension. No group learning experiences or consultation between student and tutor are required; communication between tutor and student is ordinarily accomplished entirely via correspondence.

Institutions other than University of Wisconsin-Extension within the University of Wisconsin System are not authorized to offer courses of correspondence instruction. Extension correspondence courses may, however, be accepted for credit as part of campus-based degree programs and Extended Degree Programs.

In contrast to correspondence study, Extended Degree Programs in the University of Wisconsin System are not “courses” but are comprehensive and structured academic programs offered only through and by degree-granting institutions. The Extended Degree offered by each authorized university is in every instance exactly the same degree that is offered to students attending regularly scheduled classes on campus. The only difference is in the mode of delivery of instruction which takes account of the life situation of adult students.

Extended Degree Programs in the University of Wisconsin System must, by definition, include ongoing interaction between student and professor. Such interaction will ordinarily include on-campus or off-campus group learning experiences (weekend or evening sessions) and frequent individual conferences and tutoring sessions. It may also involve individual or group telephone conferences, use of cassette audio and video tapes, and traditional interaction via mail. The supplemental learning modes are selected for and with the students, depending upon their preferences and degree of access to resources within the state.

Unlike correspondence study, Extended Degree Programs incorporate a written annual academic program contract between the university and the student. This requires direct student and faculty negotiation in determining the content, mode and sequence of learning plans defined in the academic program contract.

Traditional campus classes, as well as University of Wisconsin-Extension correspondence instruction, may be part of an Extended Degree academic program contract.

IV. Policy

1. Eligibility for Student Financial Aid

Eligibility for financial aid for Extended Degree students will follow current federal and state regulations on financial aid eligibility. As students enrolled in baccalaureate degree programs at University of Wisconsin System institutions, Extended Degree students are eligible for the same programs of student financial aid as students who attend regularly scheduled classes on a campus. The determination of full/part time status can be affected by the number of correspondence courses taken in an enrollment period.

2. Administrative Guidelines for Student Financial Aids

Students enrolled in the University of Wisconsin Extended Degree Programs are eligible for financial aid under the following administrative procedures:

1. Semester

Extended Degree Program students are enrolled for contract terms rather than on a semester basis. For financial aid purposes, an Extended Degree student will be considered to be enrolled for the equivalent of only one semester until a new contract is signed. If the student, therefore, takes a full twelve months to complete twelve semester credits, the student will have received the equivalent of only one semester of aid. In this manner, the Extended Degree Program student will be treated in exactly the same way as any other student.

2. Determination of Number of Credits

The number of credits for which a student is enrolled is determined by the number of credits for which he or she signs a contract during any given term. For example, if during the November enrollment period a student signs a contract for at least twelve semester credits in an Extended Degree Program, that student would be considered a full-time student for a semester. That student, therefore, would be eligible for financial aid funds for one semester at the rate applying to any other full-time matriculated student. A student who enrolls for nine through eleven semester credits in an Extended Degree Program would be considered a three-fourths-time student. A student enrolled for six through eight semester credits would be a half-time student.

3. Duration of Term

A student will be eligible for assistance on the basis of being enrolled for one semester. A new term begins only after the student has completed the academic credit work in one Extended Degree contract and develops and signs a new contract. A new institutional financial aid application for financial aid support may be required.

4. Disbursement of Funds

Except in the case of Work-Study students where payments must correspond with the payroll period involved, student aid funds will be distributed according to federal regulations and institution policies similar to on-campus financial aid recipients.

5. Determining Costs of Education

An Extended Degree Program student at any University of Wisconsin System institution is enrolled in exactly the same degree program as any student registered in the same program at the university.

The amount of financial aid to be awarded to Extended Degree students should be calculated from the same needs analysis procedures as financial need for any other student. Maintenance costs may be awarded as for any other student who enrolls for a comparable number of credits for one term.

6. Recordkeeping

A complete file, accessible upon request by the institution’s financial aid officer, must be kept on each student by the Extended Degree Programs office. Such files must include a copy of the annual academic program contract, individualized learning contracts and records of meetings or conferences required.

7. Credit by Examination and Assessment of Prior Learning

In some instances, Extended Degree Program students may acquire credit by examination or credit for prior learning under faculty-approved procedures for assessment of such learning. Federal regulations prohibit the counting of such credits in determining a student’s enrollment status.