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System Status: 

Commencement of Academic Activity

Information on how to verify students academic activity in courses

Beginning in Summer Session 1 2022, UC San Diego will implement a new tracking process to monitor commencement of academic activity for all undergraduate level, graduate level, and professional level students. The Department of Education requires us to track that a student has commenced academic activity for a class to be counted towards eligibility for Title IV federal financial aid.  

Because we are not an institution that requires instructors to take attendance, we have implemented a process for instructors to document that their students have commenced academic activity in their classes. Commencement of academic activity must be documented during each academic term, for each student, in each class. Our goal in designing this process has been to make it as easy and non-intrusive as possible. We expect that it will take about 5 to 10 minutes per term for an instructor.  

Important!
Please assign a qualifying Canvas activity or certify whether the students have commenced academic activity (Yes or No) by the end of week two (week one for summer terms) in the courses you instruct.

Student records are defaulted to Yes, and can be changed to No where appropriate.

Manual certification through CAA Application

The application can be found here: https://aats.ucsd.edu

Student records are defaulted to Yes, and can be changed to No where appropriate.

For one on one or group training please email kkeziah@ucsd.edu

Certification through Canvas

Instructors using the main campus Canvas instance can have certain surveys automatically track and record a student's commencement of academic activity. The relevant surveys contain a "FinAid" hash tag, and can be downloaded from the Canvas Commons. Please note that the Canvas Commons is only available to individuals with the Teacher role in our main campus Canvas instance. Step-by-step instructions and additional details can be found at:

 

FAQs

How do I certify that a student has commenced academic activity in my class? 

You can certify activity in your classes using either of two methods. The first method is through the Academic Activity Tracking System (https://aats.ucsd.edu). Using this system you may easily certify the commencement of academic activity for students in all of your classes. The second method is to assign a #FinAid activity in Canvas. When a student completes a #FinAid assignment the requirement will be automatically satisfied for the class. You do not need to do both methods 

What counts as “academic activity” for this requirement? 

Per the Department of Education, academic activity includes: 

  • Attending class  
  • Submitting an assignment  
  • Taking a quiz or an exam  
  • Participating on a discussion board, or  
  • Talking with the instructor about the class or subject matter 

What students are included in this requirement?

Students at the undergraduate level, graduate level, and professional level are included in this requirement, since students in all of those groups may receive Federal Title IV Aid. Students attending via the Division of Extended Studies (DES) are not currently included since Federal Title IV Aid is not currently awarded for DES programs.

When do I need to do this during the term? 

We ask that instructors certify the commencement of academic activity by the end of business on Friday of the second week of instruction in the fall, winter, and spring terms (and by the end of business on Friday of the first week of instruction in summer sessions). After the certification period, the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office will follow up with students and instructors as needed. 

What happens if the commencement of academic activity is not certified for a student? 

If the commencement of academic activity is not certified, the student’s financial aid package will be adjusted, leading to a partial or complete loss of funds and the student being billed. 

If I am late in certifying the commencement of academic activity for one or more of my classes, should I still certify?

Yes. While certifying the commencement of academic activity in a timely manner is critical for our compliance-related administrative processes and for awarding financial aid, it is still critical that you certify the commencement of academic activity in your classes even if you are late in doing so.

I do not presently teach a class, I only supervise independent study and/or internships. Do I need to certify academic activity for these students?

Yes. Independent study courses and internships where students are enrolled for credit also require certification.

I do not usually assign anything in my class until after the second week. Can I take attendance and use that to populate the Academic Activity Tracking System? 

Yes, you may take attendance and use that information to populate the Academic Activity Tracking System (https://aats.ucsd.edu). The Department of Education considers attending a class to constitute academic activity for the purposes of this requirement.

I have opted to certify academic activity via a #FinAid assignment in Canvas. Can I also use the Academic Activity Tracking System (https://aats.ucsd.edu)? 

Yes, you may use both methods for the same class. However, we recommend using one or the other (the tool or Canvas). While you can use both for the same class, doing so could get confusing. Canvas activity does not currently update the AATS and so students certified via a Canvas assignment are not indicated in the tool. This will be addressed in a future enhancement. 

Do I need to grade a #FinAid activity or incorporate a #FinAid activity into my grading for the class? 

No. A #FinAid activity does not need to be graded to count for this requirement. All that is required for a #FinaAid assignment to document the commencement of academic activity for a student, is for the student to complete the assignment. 

Can my teaching assistant or departmental support staff certify this for me? 

The commencement of academic activity can only be certified by the instructor of the course. We are exploring the policy implications and system requirements for allowing TAs to do this certification, but it would be a future enhancement. 

Does the student work need to be of passing quality for this requirement? 

No. The quality of the student work does not matter for this requirement as long as the student is participating. The work used to satisfy this requirement does not even need to be graded. As far as the regulation is concerned, participation counts, even if it is ungraded or at a failing level. 

If a student stops participating in my class, do I need to go back and de-certify them? 

No. A student only needs to be certified once per course, per term. This requirement only requires we document that academic activity has commenced. If a student participates one time and then does not participate again, the requirement has been met. 

What if a student enrolls in my course late in the term? 

If a student enrolls after week two and the course is required to be certified for the student’s financial aid package, the student may contact you. If you are manually certifying activity using the Academic Activity Tracking System (https://aats.ucsd.edu) you can look them up in that system and certify them. If you have assigned a #FinAid activity in Canvas and that assignment is still open, you may direct them to complete that activity. 

I oversee students doing research or other non-classroom unit-bearing activity that is not easily captured or documented. How do I certify them? 

Conducting research, speaking with the instructor about the content of the activity, or writing a thesis or dissertation may all count towards this requirement. Such activity can be certified in the Academic Activity Tracking System (https://aats.ucsd.edu). 

I am a new instructor and not yet assigned to the class because my personnel record is not yet in the system. How do I certify my classes?

Personnel records should load on the first of the month, which is still within the first two weeks of instruction. Please have your department assign you to your class as soon as your record is ready and certify at that time.

My class is large and it takes a long time to load the student roster in the Academic Activity Tracking System. Is there something wrong?

We are aware of slowness that can occur for large classes are working to enhance the tool and speed it up for large classes. 

Do I need to certify the commencement of academic activity for independent study courses?

Yes, you should certify the commencement of academic activity for independent study courses since participation in these classes can be required for Federal Title IV Aid eligibility.