Administrative Code

Creating a Report: Check the sections you'd like to appear in the report, then use the "Create Report" button at the bottom of the page to generate your report. Once the report is generated you'll then have the option to download it as a pdf, print or email the report.

Virginia Administrative Code
Title 8. Education
Agency 40. State Council of Higher Education For Virginia
Chapter 71. Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant Program Regulations
2/23/2024

8VAC40-71-70. Administration of awards for students enrolled in online or distance learning programs.

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.

Statutory Authority

§ 23.1-629 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 25, eff. August 1, 2022.

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

As a service to the public, the Virginia Administrative Code is provided online by the Virginia General Assembly. We are unable to answer legal questions or respond to requests for legal advice, including application of law to specific fact. To understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.