The current situation with COVID-19 has brought to light that there has been confusion about the approvability and certifiability of Pass/Fail courses, as well as how they are treated by VA so the SAA and I felt we needed to put out clarified information regarding Pass/Fail courses. As this also relates to our co-requisite remedial/deficiency courses they have been addressed as well.
Non-punitive or Punitive…that is the question. As you know, VA regulations do not permit payment for courses for which non-punitive grades are assigned. VACO has updated the handbook with clarified definitions of punitive and non-punitive grades that are very useful in the discussion of Pass/Fail courses:
Examples of non-punitive grades are an “X” (no basis for grade), “NP” (no pass), or “U” (unsatisfactory) that doesn’t count as earned credit and isn’t calculated progress standards. Grades such as P (Pass) or S (Satisfactory) aren’t calculated into an eligible individual’s grade point average, but they are counted as earned credit for graduation requirements. Since these grades count as earned credit towards graduation, they aren’t non-punitive.”
ELECTIVES: For this reason, If you have a program that has electives that allow a student to choose to take the elective P/F or as a graded course, the VA Student must take the graded option. Otherwise, if the student receives a Fail he/she could just opt to take a different elective and thus that course did not affect the student’s overall progress toward completing graduation requirements.
CO-REQUISITES: This is also the same basis for not certifying a co-requisite remedial/deficiency course when there is no consequence if the student does not pass the course. If the student can progress without having to repeat the failed co-req then that course does not affect the student’s overall progress toward completing graduation requirements and thus is not certifiable.