“Institutional credit” is the NAIA standard for determining whether accumulated credit hours apply toward a student’s eligibility. The purpose of creating this standard is to ensure that courses which are given similar weight by the offering institution are viewed equally, regardless of course title or how the course may be treated by subsequent institutions. Whether a course is considered remedial or developmental is technically irrelevant; what is important is whether the individual course meets the definition of institutional credit.
At the 2012 National NAIA Convention, NAIA membership voted to amend the definition of “institutional credit” in Article V, Section B, Item 9 (NAIA Official Policy Handbook, page 42). Credit hours only meet this new definition when the hours appear on the transcript as earned credit and the course has a grade (A-F, Pass/Fail, S/U, etc.). The credits must appear in a category titled “earned” to be considered institutional credit.
The definition of institutional credit is important for two purposes:
- When determining courses in progress for satisfaction of identification and the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule; and
- When determining a student-athlete’s eligibility under the 24/36-Hour Rule. Typically institutions do not recognize remedial courses taken at a previous institution, which may result in those courses not being considered if the definition of institutional credit is not fully understood by the student and academic advisors at the institution.
Identification (Article V, Section B, Item 8) and 12-Hour Enrollment Rule (Article V, Section C, Item 3)
Under the rules for identification and the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule, a student must be enrolled in at least 12 institutional credit hours (minimum of 9 hours at their NAIA institution) in the semester of their participation in athletics. A course in progress qualifies as institutional credit if the course would appear on the transcript with a grade and credit hours earned upon competition of the course.
Remember that for the purposes of identification and the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule, a student’s performance in the class is irrelevant. The student simply has to be enrolled in 12 institutional credit hours to meet both rules.
Case Example: A student is enrolled in 12 credit hours, but three of those hours will not appear on the transcript or will not be considered “earned credit hours” by the institution when completed. Is the student identified, and does the student satisfy the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule?
Ruling: No. The three credits that will not appear on the transcript as earned credit hours do not meet the definition of institutional credit. The student is viewed as being enrolled in only nine institutional credit hours, is not identified, and cannot compete for failure to meet the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule.
Case Example: A student enrolls in 15 credits. Prior to the institution’s official census date, the student withdraws from one three-credit course that is considered institutional credit. One course (three credits) the student is enrolled in will not appear on the transcript as earned hours when completed. Does the student satisfy the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule?
Ruling: No, beginning from the time when the student dropped the course. After dropping the course, the student was enrolled in only nine institutional credit hours.
However, initially the student was enrolled in 12 institutional credit hours, meaning at that time he satisfied the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule and could have competed. As soon as he dropped the course, he no longer met this rule and was required to cease competition immediately. In this case, the student is charged a season of competition and a term of attendance (student identified by representing the institution in competition).
If no competition occurred, the student is not considered to have identified with the institution since only nine institutional credit hours appeared on the institution’s transcript after the census date. The student would not be charged a term of attendance.
24/36-Hour Rule (Article V, Section C, Item 6)
Institutional credit hours come into play not only in determining if a student is identified and charged a term of attendance, but are then also used to determine eligibility under the 24/36-Hour Rule. The student must have passed 24 institutional credit hours in his or her previous two semester / three quarter terms of attendance. Institutional credits are accepted for this purpose only after the instructor submits the completed course grade in the normal manner to the institution’s registrar for posting on the transcript.
Case Example: A student enrolls in 15 credits. One course (three credits) the student is enrolled in will not appear on the transcript as earned hours when completed. Does the student satisfy the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule? How are the credits counted toward the 24/36-Hour Rule?
Ruling: The student is considered identified and satisfies the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule. However, only 12 credits meet the definition of institutional credit, meaning only these 12 hours count toward the 24/36-Hour Rule when calculating eligibility in future terms. The credits that do not appear on the transcript are not considered institutional credit since earned credit does not appear on the transcript.