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Case Study: 12-Hour Enrollment Rule

The 12-hour enrollment rule appears easy and straightforward at first glance, but like everything it has its wrinkles that can take time to understand. This spring we have received several interesting questions regarding this rule and felt it was a great time to draft a brief in our casebook style for the 12-hour enrollment rule. Since this is a major component of our eligibility rules, we have discussed it several times in the past.

  • The first brief comes from this past September and we really dove into exceptions to the 12-hour enrollment rule. The two exceptions we discussed were the senior exception and the graduate student exception. This brief does an excellent job of answering the most common questions we get regarding these two exception.
  • The second brief comes from way back in August of 2013, but it does a nice job of explaining institutional credit hours and the resulting impact on the 12-hour enrollment rule. It also discusses the 24/36-hour rule as well.

Case Studies

*Assume all schools are NAIA institutions unless otherwise noted.

Scenario 1:

Andre is a baseball player utilizing the senior exception to the 12-hour enrollment rule by taking a Japanese language class as his last requirement for graduation. Andre is fluent in the language and wants to CLEP out of the class. If he scores an appropriate grade, his school will give him a “P” in the class with three hours earned on the official transcript. Will Andre be eligible for the spring semester? 

Answer 1:

Yes! This would meet the definition of institutional credit hour per Article V, Section B, Part 9, which states to be considered institutional credit; it must be recorded on the transcript, with a grade, and hours earned. Andre’s CLEP credit would meet this definition and would allow him to meet the exception to the 12-hour enrollment rule.  

Scenario 2:

Mohammed is enrolled in 12-institutional credits for the fall term. However, two of the classes are classes he has taken previously. Prior to this semester he earned a “D” in class 1 and an “F” in class 2. Does Mohammed satisfy the 12-hour enrollment rule?

Answer 2:

Yes! Mohammed would satisfy the 12-hour enrollment rule because he is only taking one repeat class per the definition found in Article V, Section C, Part 12. A repeat course is one in which a student previously received a grade of “D” or better in any prior term. Therefore, class 1 would be a repeat class. However, class 2 would not be a repeat course, because he failed the class. The rule prohibits a student from using more than one repeat class to satisfy the 12-hour enrollment rule. Since Mohammed only has one true repeat class, he would meet the 12-hour enrollment rule.

Scenario 3:

Stella is a softball player and is enrolled in 12-institutional credit hours in the spring of 2018. Stella realizes one of her classes is going to be too difficult and elects to drop the class and enrolls in a three hour online class at a non-NAIA institution. Her NAIA institution will not accept these outside credits and they will not show up on her NAIA school’s official transcript. Is she eligible for the spring?

Answer 3:

Yes! The 12-hour enrollment rule does not require the NAIA institution to accept credits earned outside the institution. In this case, Stella would be identified because she took nine-institution credit hours at her NAIA school and three somewhere else. Therefore, she was identified with her institution and is eligible to compete.  

Applicable Bylaws:

The bylaws/policies that mention or discuss the 12-hour enrollment rule are listed below. Please note that there are could be more bylaws relevant to specific situations, but they are not listed here. Please refer to our Official Handbook for a complete listing of all NAIA Bylaws and Policies.

Article V, Section B, Item 9

Institutional Credit Hour: Any credit hour attributed to a course that is recorded on the transcript with a grade and credit hours earned. Institutional credit hours shall be accepted for eligibility certification purposes only after the instructor submits the completed course grade in the normal manner to the institutional registrar for posting on the transcript.

EXCEPTION: Coursework awarded earned credit hours with a grade of F (or the equivalent) shall not be considered institutional credit hours for purposes of the Nine-Hour Rule (Article V, Section C, Item 9), 24/36-Hour Rule (Article V, Section C, Item 6) and the Progress Rule (Article V, Section C, Item 9).

The grade assigned to a course may include, but is not limited to, a letter grade, credit/no credit, pass/fail, and satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

Institutional credit hours shall be accepted for eligibility certification purposes only after the instructor submits the completed course grade in the normal manner to the institutional registrar and are posted on the transcript.

Article V, Section C, Item 3

The student must be identified and enrolled in a minimum of 12 institutional credit hours at the time of participation.

EXCEPTION: A student who will complete requirements for graduation for a baccalaureate degree within 10 semesters, 15 quarters, 12 trimesters or less may retain eligibility during the last term of attendance of the senior year by enrolling in fewer than 12 institutional credit hours. Official verification must be provided by the registrar that the student has completed all other academic requirements for graduation except for the currently enrolled credits. Such verification must be provided to the eligibility chair. A student invoking the above exception who completes all academic requirements for graduation and who subsequently enrolls in and seeks a second baccalaureate or equivalent degree at the same institution, who enrolls in and pursues a second major area of study at the same institution, who enrolls in a graduate or professional school, who is enrolled in a fifth-year, postbaccalaureate degree teacher education program is eligible to participate provided the student has athletic eligibility remaining and meets the criteria of the exception to Article V, Section D, Item 5.

The term in which the student invokes this exception shall be counted as a term of attendance. However, this term will not count in the calculation of the 24/36-Hour Rule. For a semester school to calculate the 24 credit hours, the institution should consider the two terms immediately preceding the term the student completes the requirements for graduation. A student who invokes the above exception and does not graduate forfeits any remaining eligibility in all sports sponsored by the NAIA.

Article V, Section C, Item 12

A repeat course previously passed with a grade of “D” or better in any term, summer or non-term, and subsequently retaken. For the purposes of this rule, the NAIA does not recognize a +/- attached to a letter grade. Consequently, a C+, C, and C- shall count as a C and D+, D, and D- shall count as a D...

A maximum of one repeat course per term previously passed with a grade of “D” (or the equivalent) may be counted toward satisfying the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule.
Repeat courses previously passed with a grade of “C” or better cannot be applied to meet either the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule or the 24/36-Hour Rule.

Please tune in at noon central time on Tuesday, as Lendsey Thomson and Kiko Thomson will dive into these scenarios even further.