24/36-Hour Rule Exception Junior College Transfers

Article V, Section C, Item 6, Exception 2 states:

EXCEPTION 2: A transfer student who has met the graduation requirements for an associate degree from a junior college will be exempt from meeting the 24/36-Hour Rule for the first term upon transferring to an NAIA institution provided:

a. The transferring student passed all hours required for graduation in the term in which graduation occurs;

 and

b. Less than 24/36 hours were required for graduation during the last two semesters/three quarters terms.

Students receiving this exception must pass at least 12 hours in their first term of attendance at the four-year school to retain eligibility for a second term.

The last semester/trimester/quarter at the junior college shall count as a term of attendance.

Note: This rule applies to all student-athletes’ certification beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year, regardless of when the student’s graduation or terms of attendance occurred.

Important Pieces of Note:

  • Note when looking at the student’s previous terms at the junior college for the 24/36-Hour rule window, the student must have earned their AA degree in one of the last two semester terms or one of the last three quarter terms at the junior college. If the AA degree was earned prior to the last two semesters or three quarter terms, then the 24/36-Hour Rule exception cannot be applied.
  • The AA degree must be earned in a term of attendance. Summer is considered a non-term under NAIA rules. Therefore, if the degree is earned during the summer, then the exception cannot be applied.
  • The exception can be applied if a student did not need a total of 24 credits or 36 credits in the last two semesters/ three quarters. For example, a student attempts a total of 24 credits in the last two semesters at the junior college. The student attempted and passed 12 credits in the fall term. Then in the spring term, the student attempted 12 credits but passed zero credits due to F’s and withdraws. The student was awarded the AA degree in the spring term. The student enrolled full time due to needing financial assistance but did not need the hours for the AA degree. If the junior college can confirm, via a letter from the registrars office, that the student only needed 12 credits in the last two terms to receive the AA degree, then the exception can be applied.
  • “…will be exempt from meeting the 24/36-Hour Rule for the first term upon transferring to an NAIA…”. Note the language of first term of attendance. This exception cannot be applied in any subsequent terms after the first term of attendance at the NAIA institution.
  • The last semester/trimester/quarter at the junior college shall count as a term of attendance.” The National Eligibility Committee has determined that the term in which the student earns their AA degree will be the “last term of attendance” at the junior college if not otherwise identified through full-time enrollment or intercollegiate competition. All other terms of attendance shall be assessed as normal. For example, the student continues at the junior college and is considered identified through full time enrollment or intercollegiate competition. In which case the latter terms would be considered the last terms of attendance.

NJCAA Continued Competition After Graduation

The NAIA has observed that the NJCAA has allowed for student-athletes to return to compete for a third season of competition under their COVID-related exceptions. Students who chose to return under this exception were not required to enroll in a full-time credit load (12 institutional credit hours) in order to compete.

The NAIA maintains its definition of a term of attendance as any term in which a student becomes identified either through full-time enrollment (12 institutional credit hours) or through participation in an intercollegiate sport.

The NJCAA exception has provided ramifications for continuing eligibility in the NAIA. Namely, if a student chooses to return to their NJCAA to compete in the third season and NOT enroll in 12-institutional credit hours, the student is still charged a term of attendance if they participate in that term.

Understand that if a student continues to identify at the junior college for two or more terms after the student has earned their AA degree, the junior college exception to the 24/36-Hour Rule cannot be applied. The exception can only be applied if, in the last two semesters or three quarter terms of attendance, the student has earned their AA degree and less than 24 (semester) or 36 (quarter) hours were required for graduation.