TELS Appeals and Exception Process

A college student must meet both academic requirements and non-academic requirements in order to maintain continued TELS eligibility.  Although a student cannot appeal TELS eligibility based on academic reasons, he or she may appeal TELS eligibility based on non-academic reasons.  A student enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution or an out-of-state regionally accredited postsecondary institution must remain continuously enrolled in the fall semester and spring semester of a single academic year, or the equivalent, if the institution is on a system other than a semester system. If the student begins the semester as full time, the student must remain full time for the semester.  If the student drops below full time, he or she may lose TELS eligibility and no longer receive the award.

If a student is not able to maintain continuous enrollment or full-time enrollment within a semester, he or she may seek an appeal to restore eligibility due to a leave of absence from a postsecondary institution or for a drop in credit hours from full-time enrollment within a semester at a postsecondary institution. 

IMPORTANT:

  • Neither the Institution Review Panel (IRP) located at an eligible postsecondary institution nor the TSAC Review Panel have the authority to rule on an appeal from students due to a final high school GPA below the minimum required for initial eligibility or a lottery scholarship college GPA below the minimum required for continuation. 
  • Students who begin enrollment at an eligible postsecondary institution after high school graduation must maintain continuous enrollment at an eligible postsecondary institution for the fall and spring semesters.  Enrollment in the summer semester is not required.
  • Students should understand that their appeal may not be granted.  Therefore, they must take the necessary actions to secure funds to pay their tuition and fees during the time the appeal is being reviewed.  If the appeal is granted, the scholarship funds may be awarded retroactively; however, TSAC does not guarantee that a decision will be rendered prior to any institutional deadlines for tuition and fee payment. In these cases, students have the responsibility to ensure that any financial obligation to the institution is fulfilled. If the appeal is granted, the scholarship funds may be awarded retroactively.

 

Reasons for an Appeal

A student may be granted a medical or personal leave of absence from attendance at an eligible postsecondary institution or an out-of-state regionally accredited postsecondary institution and resume receiving an award upon resumption of the student’s attendance at an eligible postsecondary institution so long as all other applicable eligibility criteria are met.

Allowable medical or personal reasons shall include, but not be limited to, illness of the student, illness or death of an immediate family member, extreme financial hardship of the student or student’s immediate family, to fulfill a religious commitment expected of all students of that faith, or other extraordinary circumstances beyond the student’s control where continued attendance by the student creates a substantial hardship. Acceptable reasons shall also include a student’s participation in an internship or co-op program that is required or encouraged as part the academic program in which he or she is enrolled.

An IRP located at an eligible postsecondary institution or TSAC Review Panel may grant leaves of absence or approve a drop from full-time enrollment within a semester only for documented medical or personal reasons.  In the event an IRP denies a student’s request for a medical or personal leave of absence, the student may appeal to TSAC within forty-five (45) calendar days from the date the decision was delivered to the student by the eligible postsecondary institution.

A student who is granted a medical or personal leave of absence and resumes his or her education at an eligible postsecondary institution may retain TELS award eligibility until a terminating event occurs (see Tennessee HOPE Scholarship Termination Criteria on the Lottery Scholarships link).

 

Submitting an Appeal to an Eligible Postsecondary Institution

  • A student who enrolls at an eligible postsecondary institution and plans to return to the eligible postsecondary institution shall seek an appeal for a withdrawal or a drop from full-time enrollment based on medical or personal reasons.  The student should contact the financial aid office at the eligible postsecondary institution for more details regarding the TELS appeal process.

 

Submitting an Appeal to TSAC

  • A student who is denied an appeal by the IRP located at an eligible postsecondary institution may appeal to TSAC. The student shall submit an appeal to TSAC within forty-five (45) calendar days from the date on the decision letter from the IRP. A copy of the decision letter from the IRP is required by TSAC.
  • A student who is enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution and plans to transfer to another eligible postsecondary institution shall seek an appeal for a withdrawal or a drop from full-time enrollment based on medical or personal reasons; or
  • A high school student who has delayed his or her college enrollment in any postsecondary institution beyond 16 months after graduating from high school may seek an appeal for medical or personal reasons; or
  • A student who is transferring to an eligible postsecondary institution from an out-of-state regionally accredited postsecondary institution may seek an appeal for a withdrawal or a drop from full-time enrollment at the out-of-state regionally accredited postsecondary institution based on medical or personal reasons; or
  • An adult student age 25 or older who discontinued enrollment within the first 12 attempted credit hours after returning to school and enrolling at an eligible postsecondary institution; or
  • A student who enrolled part time and is seeking an extension to the five-year terminating event due to a documented medical disability as certified by a licensed physician


How do I begin the appeal review process at TSAC?

Please follow the steps for Option 1 or Option 2, but not both.

Option 1:

  1. The student shall submit a TELS Appeal Form;
  2. Email a letter of appeal to TSAC.Appeals@tn.gov; and
  3. Attach the college transcript(s), TELS Appeals form, copies of medical documentation or documentation to support personal reasons and a copy of the denial letter from the IRP (if applicable) to your email;

    Please be aware of the risk associated with delivering sensitive information as an email attachment.

Option 2:

  1. Complete and print the TELS Appeal Form; and
  2. Mail it along with a written appeal letter, official college transcript(s), copies of medical documentation or documentation to support personal reasons and a copy of the denial letter from the IRP (if applicable) to the address below.

    Lottery Scholarship Appeals Panel
    c/o Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation
    Parkway Towers, Suite 1510
    404 James Robertson Parkway
    Nashville, TN 37243-0820