Authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Federal Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program is intended to promote student excellence and achievement. The program offers scholarships of up to $1,500 a year to eligible applicants who have demonstrated such achievement and who show promise of continued excellence. Eligibility is restricted to New York State residents who will receive their high school or GED diploma during the academic year in which the competition occurs and who are citizens, nationals of the United States, permanent residents of Palau, or eligible non-citizens under the Immigration Reform Act of 1986. Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarships, which may be used at any approved postsecondary institution in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Island, Palau, the Federal States of Micronesia, or the Marshall Islands, may be renewed for an additional three years if the student is making satisfactory academic progress in an approved baccalaureate program. Acceptance of the scholarship entails no service obligation. Application process on hold until Federal Budget is approved.
To apply for a scholarship, a student follows the application procedures established by the New York State Education Department. The state board of education is primarily responsible for the supervision of public elementary and secondary schools. Under current program regulations, a student who is attending a secondary school outside of his or her state of residency must apply for a Byrd Scholarship through the SEA of his or her state of residency. This would include a student who was attending a U.S. Department of Defense overseas school or an out-of-state boarding school.
A scholar is deemed to be "pursuing a course of study" if he or she is enrolled as a full-time student, as determined by the school he or she is attending under standards applicable to all students enrolled in the same course of study. A scholar may attend any public or private nonprofit institution of higher education, proprietary institution of higher education, or postsecondary vocational institution.
Byrd Scholarships are awarded for a period of not more than four years for the first four years of study. If the Byrd Scholar completes his or her undergraduate course of study in three years, that scholar is eligible to receive scholarship funds for only those three years of undergraduate study.
Byrd Scholars must be enrolled full time for the first year of study. A full-time student is one who is enrolled at an institution of higher education and who is carrying a full-time academic workload as determined by the school under standards applicable to all students enrolled in the same program. If, after the first year of study, the NYS Education Department determines that unusual circumstances justify waiving the full-time attendance requirement, the scholar may enroll part time and continue to receive a scholarship payment. The NYS Education Department must prorate any payment for a scholar enrolled part time according to the scholar's enrollment status for the academic period during which he or she continues to be enrolled part time, and remains otherwise eligible for the award.
To receive a Byrd Scholarship, each student must meet the criteria listed below during the same secondary academic year in which the student submits the scholarship application. The student must
- graduate from a public or private secondary school or receive the recognized equivalent of a high school diploma as recognized by the state in which the student resides, and
- have applied or been accepted for enrollment at an institution of higher education as a full-time student.
Note that the "recognized equivalent of a high school diploma" means
- a General Education Development (GED) Certificate, or
- a state certificate received by a student after the student has passed a state-authorized examination that the state recognizes as the equivalent of a high school diploma.
In addition, a student is eligible to be selected as a scholar if he or she
- is a legal resident of the state to which he or she is applying for a scholarship;
- is a U.S. citizen or national or provides evidence from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that he or a permanent resident of the United States; or
- in the United States for other than a temporary purpose and has the intention of becoming a citizen or permanent resident;
- is a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau;
- is not ineligible to receive assistance as a result of default on a federal student loan or other obligation, in accordance with the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (34 CFR Part 75.60);
- is registered with the Selective Service if required in accordance with the Student Assistance General Provisions regulations (34 CFR Part 668); and
- is planning to pursue a course of study at an institution of higher education.
A scholar continues to be eligible for scholarship funds as long as he or she continues to
- meet the citizenship/permanent resident requirements listed on the previous page,
- be enrolled as a full-time student at an institution of higher education, and
- maintain the satisfactory academic progress standards of the school in accordance with the Student Assistance General Provisions.
The NYS Educaiton Department may permit a scholar to postpone or interrupt his or her enrollment at a postsecondary school for up to 12 months, beginning on the date the scholar otherwise would have enrolled in the school after the NYS Education Department awarded him or her the scholarship or on the date the scholar interrupts enrollment.
The NYS Education Department establishes standards to determine when it will approve a period of postponement or interruption for a scholar. If the NYS Education Department does approve the postponement or interruption, it must document the scholar's subsequent enrollment. A scholar who postpones or interrupts his or her enrollment is not eligible to receive scholarship funds during the period of postponement or interruption. Upon enrollment or re-enrollment at an institution of higher education, the scholar resumes eligibility to receive scholarship payments. Note that these periods of postponement or interruption are not considered in calculating the scholar's period of suspension. Thus, any period of postponement or interruption will not be counted against the scholar in calculating the 12 months of suspension.
Note that a Byrd Scholar may not use his or her scholarship to attend a foreign school. However, a scholar who is studying abroad through an institution (home school) that meets the definition of higher education and is located in a state (as described in the previous paragraph) is considered to be eligible to receive funds as long as he or she is enrolled at the home school; and receives credit from the home school.
Under Byrd regulations that took effect in September 1993, the SEA must ensure that the total amount of federal financial aid awarded to the Byrd Scholar does not exceed the scholar's total cost of attendance. If any federal loans are part of the scholar's financial aid package, they must be reduced prior to reducing the Byrd Scholarship. If the scholar is receiving a Pell Grant, though, the Byrd Scholarship must be reduced prior to reducing the Pell Grant.
New York Contact
Douglas P. Mercado, Chief
Bureau of Higher Education Opportunity Programs
Scholarship Unit, Room 1071 EBA
State Education Department
111 Education Building
Albany, New York 12234
- New York State Education Website, Higher Education Section
- SFA Handbooks, Award Year: 1998-1999 (Chapter: 9 - State Grant Programs Pages 13-20; Section: 2 - Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program)