4.3 Publication of Policies

The institution makes available to students and the public current academic calendars, grading policies, and refund policies.

Judgment of Compliance

PVAMU SACS Accreditation - Judgement Compliance

Narrative of Compliance

Prairie View A&M University makes available to students and the public current academic calendars, grading and refund policies through a variety of publications. The publications are made available in multiple formats, including print and on the College website. Policies also are distributed by university faculty, advisors, and other institutional representatives to help make students fully aware of important procedures affecting their academic records and finances.

Academic Calendars
Academic calendars are available in two primary places online for ready access by both students and the general public. The University Catalogs, listed in the pull-down Quick Links menu on the homepage and linked from multiple points in the website, are available from 2002 through 2010 [1], and each one lists appropriate academic calendars [2]. Because the catalog comes with the disclaimer "Prairie View A&M University and The Texas A&M University System reserve the right to withdraw courses at any time and to change fees, calendars, curricula, graduation procedures, or other requirements affecting students," additional, easily updated calendars are available from the homepage of the Office of the Registrar [3] [4]. The webpage also includes archived calendars going back several semesters [5], and hard-copy catalogs through 2008-2010 were available for purchase in the University bookstore prior to the institution's "go green" initiative.

Course syllabi specify certain elements of the academic calendar, such as the last day to withdraw without record, deadlines for installment payments of tuition and fees, deadlines to apply for graduation, the last day to drop a class, and/or the final day to withdraw from the university; an undergraduate English course [6] and graduate course in counseling [7] are presented here as examples. Inclusion of a brief calendar has been considered part of the standard syllabus for several years [8] and helps reinforce important dates.

Grading Policies
The Undergraduate Catalog gives a general grading scale for all departments and colleges except Nursing, including the types of course withdrawal, the circumstances under which an "I" or Incomplete may be granted, and grade policies for repeated courses [9]. In upper-division clinical studies, the College of Nursing applies a stricter grading scale that restricts the range for a "C" [10]. The Graduate Catalog describes a grading scale—different and more demanding than that for undergraduates—as well as the procedure for receiving an "I" or Incomplete [11]. Each instructor is charged with placing grading criteria on his/her syllabi, as the included sample from a physics lab shows [12].

Students must receive a grade of "C" or higher in any courses in their majors or their minors for the class to count towards graduation. Certain colleges and departments have additional minimum grade expectations, such as for prerequisite courses [13], major support area requirements [14], and definitions of good academic standing, including grades that will result in dismissal from a program [15].

Furthermore, Prairie View A&M University has an official class attendance policy, located in both catalogs, that can affect grading: "Excessive absenteeism, whether excused or unexcused, may result in a student’s course grade being reduced or in assignment of a grade of 'F'. Absences are accumulated beginning with the first day of class during regular semesters and summer terms. Each faculty member will include the University’s attendance policy in each course syllabus" [16]. Course syllabi referenced previously serve as examples for disseminating this grading policy [6] [7].

Grading policies also include the University Policy on Academic Dishonesty, which appears in both catalogs [17], on all course syllabi, and in the Student Handbook [18]. Most materials are available in hard copy as well as online; some instructors distribute course syllabi only through the eCourses class management system, where the information is available for the duration of the semester. Redundant statements about Academic Dishonesty and Student Rights and Responsibilities in Academic Dishonesty Cases are available under the Student Affairs section of the university website. [19]

Finally, catalogs [20], course syllabi, and the university website [21] include the first steps or the entire procedure for appealing grades.

Refund Policies
Catalogs and the university website clearly convey refund policies. Before students can proceed to online registration in the secure Panthertracks system, they are presented with a Payment Agreement. It explains that refunds first will be applied to any balances or short-term loans before any funds are disbursed to the student; it also specifies that any refunds must be returned to the university if any other financial aid must be repaid, in accordance with Title IV. This statement is reproduced on the Treasury Services Web site for the convenience of all visitors [22].

Identical statements about the schedule and percentage of tuition and fees refunded based on the time at which a student withdraws are included in both the undergraduate and graduate catalogs [23]. Guidelines for prorated refunds for the housing board plan, laundry fees, and parking services [24] also are included. Furthermore, catalogs also contain cautions and explanations about obligations under Title IV policy regarding refunds and federal financial aid in the case that students withdraw from the university [25]. Exceptions for students called to active military duty are included [26].

The homepage for Treasury Services includes the Student Refund Schedule [27] and the Student Withdrawal Refund Policy [28] as primary links. The Manual of Financial Aid Policies and Procedures, available in the online Policy Library, covers refunds as well [29]. Special policies for military students can be found on the website for the Office of Academic and Student Affairs [30].

Students have the option of receiving any refunds through PVPAY, a direct deposit program, or through regular U.S. mail. Directions for setting up PVPAY, including contact information for eight area banks, are linked from the homepage of the Office of Student Financial Aid [31]. Memoranda sent through campus e-mail announcements explain the process of getting a refund [32].

Further discussion of policy publication can be found in the responses for Comprehensive Standards 3.4.5, 3.5.3, and 3.6.4.

Supporting Documentation and Links

Federal Requirements 4.3

© 2009 Prairie View A&M University