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Academic Policies

Academic Policies

Commonwealth Guidelines

In general, Commonwealth Institute expects its students to conduct themselves in a manner that is socially acceptable and brings credit to themselves, the Institute and their chosen profession. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action or suspension in accordance with Institute policies. Detailed information regarding academic policy is supplied in the CIFS student handbook 2018-2019 and at orientation.

Commonwealth Institute provides academic programs that are rigorous and challenging, consistent with other institutions of higher learning. Commonwealth Institute has established the following criteria to measure good standing, academic recognition and satisfactory progress:

Attendance Policy

Developing and maintaining a good class attendance record is an important facet of each student’s professional development. The Executive Director of the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards has indicated that students having excellent class attendance will score better on the NBE. Each student is expected to attend all classes as scheduled, on time, and to remain in the classes for their full duration. The student also has the responsibility to complete assigned work and be present for examinations at the time they are administered to entire class.

Commonwealth Institute’s attendance policies are based on accumulated class hours of absence during any academic quarter of study. Instructors check and record attendance in each class. To be counted “present,” the student must be in attendance for the entire period. Absences are not classified as excused or un-excused. The daily attendance is transferred weekly to the Master Attendance Record.

Students enrolled in the Associate of Applied Science Program who are absent for more than 10% of their scheduled classes in a quarter will have their enrollment terminated.

Students in the Certificate of Funeral Directing program who are absent for more than 10% of the total clock hours in their program will have their enrollment terminated.

Students enrolled under various Veterans’ programs or other funding agencies will be required to meet the requirements for attendance as set forth by the sponsoring organization.

Appeal Policy

A student may appeal an attendance termination. Documentation supporting medical or family emergencies must be submitted to the Dean of Academics of Commonwealth Institute within three business days of termination notification.

Leave of Absence

Leaves of absences may be granted in emergency situations and for military service obligation. A leave of absence may not exceed three weeks, and only two leaves of absences are permitted during any consecutive twelve-month period.   No leave of absence may start after the completion of the 8th week of any academic quarter.  A student requesting a leave of absence must do so in writing. The request must contain the specific start and return times, dates and reason for the requested leave. If a student fails to return from a leave as scheduled, enrollment will be terminated and proper refund will be made in accordance with the refund policy of the Institute.


The following grading system is used in determining the student’s level of achievement. All courses carry a specific number of quarter hour credits. A quarter hour shall be considered as the equivalent of one clock hour of lecture, or two hours of laboratory per week for an eleven-week period of instruction. A clock hour consists of one fifty -minute period. Students receive grade points according to the following system:

Grade Credit Hour Numerical Range Point Value
A 93-100 4.0
B 84-92 3.0
C 75-83 2.0
D 66-74 1.0
F below 65 0.0
W Withdrawn
TR Transfer Credit
CR Credit by Exam
I Incomplete

All specialized courses will require a passing grade of “C” or 75% in order for successful academic course progression.  The letter grade of Incomplete (I) may be given at the discretion of the course instructor.  This temporary designation indicates the student completed all but a minor portion of the required work in the course.  The student must complete the work and have the Incomplete removed from his/her grade record by the end of the 10th day after the end of the quarter or the grade will be changed to “F”.

To calculate the student’s Grade Point Average (GPA), add the total number of grade points earned and divide by the total number of hours taken, excluding credit hours with a grade of W, TR or CR.

When a course is repeated, the Grade Point Average will be determined as if the course were taken only once. The higher of the grades earned will take precedence.

Grade Reports

Students are provided a report of academic progress at mid-term and on completion of each quarter. An official transcript is issued to students upon graduation. Additional official transcripts are available upon written request from the student, and payment of the required fee. A student with an outstanding financial obligation to the college, or in default in federal student aid programs, will have transcript(s) withheld until the debt is paid.

Academic Recognition

The Dean’s List is published each term to recognize full time students who have achieved a GPA of at least 3.0 in that quarter and have received no failing grades.

Degrees and Certificates will be awarded with Honors to graduating students having a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher will graduate with Honors and Distinction.

The recipient of the Chairman’s Award, the R.L. Waltrip Outstanding Achievement Award, is selected by the members of the graduating class whom they feel demonstrates the greatest professionalism and greatest promise for success.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service requires students to obtain a 2.0 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) to graduate. A student should be making satisfactory progress toward the completion of his/her program of study. The student must be proceeding through the program at a pace allowing for completion within the maximum time of 1 ½ times the normal program length. The following cumulative grade point average will be used to determine academic progress.

0-20 quarter hours 1.6 cumulative GPA
21-40 quarter hours 1.7 cumulative GPA
41-60 quarter hours 1.8 cumulative GPA
61-80 quarter hours 1.9 cumulative GPA
81-97 quarter hours 2.0 cumulative GPA

Academic Probation

At the end of each quarter, student progress is evaluated. Academic probation is intended to warn a student that his or her performance is below the level of good standing. Students are placed on academic probation for the subsequent quarter by failing to maintain the 2.0 cumulative grade point average.

Remedy of Academic Probation

A student placed on probation for failing to maintain the 2.0 cumulative GPA may be allowed to progress to the next quarter of studies. However, students who fail to achieve a cumulative 2.0 or higher GPA at the end of their second consecutive probationary quarter will have enrollment terminated. Tuition is charged to repeat failed courses.

Academic Warning

At the end of each quarter, student progress is evaluated.  Academic warning is intended to warn a student that their performance is below the level of good standing.  Students are placed on academic warning for the subsequent quarter by failing to maintain a 2.0 cumulative grade point average or by failing any course.  A student must repeat any course in which a passing grade was not achieved.  CIFS has set a passing grade for all specialized courses as 75% or a letter grade of “C”.

Academic Dismissal

Academic dismissal may occur when it becomes unlikely that a student will achieve satisfactory academic progress.  At the end of ANY given quarter, students with three or more “D”, “F’ or “W” course grades in any combination, or who earn a GPA of 1.0 will be dismissed for academic reasons.  Students on academic warning for two quarters who fail to raise their GPA to a 2.0 will be dismissed for academic reasons.

Students dismissed for academic reasons may apply for readmission into the first quarter in which grades of less than “C” were earned and after one quarter has passed since their termination for academic reasons.  After readmission, if the student fails to raise his/her grade point average to 2.0 within that quarter, he/she will be dismissed and is not eligible for readmission.

Students who have unsuccessfully attempted any single course three times will be permanently dismissed from CIFS without consideration for re-admission.

Make-Up Examinations

Students are expected to submit all assignments and take all examinations as scheduled.  Due to the timely nature of our profession and the duration of instruction, CIFS does not allow any make-up examinations or assignments.  If a student misses a significant amount of academic work, then they may be advised to withdraw so that their academic record is not adversely affected.

Certification Examination

The CIFS Certification Exam is the most recent in a long line of successive exit exam assessments utilized by Commonwealth Institute.  The CIFS Certification Exam is developed and administered by Commonwealth Institute, and it is similar in length and format to both the National Board Exam (NBE) and the State Board Exam (SBE).  The Certification Exam may be computer-based or written.  It is solely up to the discretion of Commonwealth Institute as to how it is administered and by which format.  Passing the Certification Exam proves that a student has mastered the funeral service curriculum and is therefore ready to be CERTIFIED to sit for the NBE or SBE.

Like the NBE and SBE, the Certification Exam has two sections – Arts and Sciences.  AAS Degree students will take both sections; just like the NBE. Certificate in Funeral Directing students will take only the Arts section; just like the SBE. Students must achieve a score of 80% or higher on EACH section of the Certification Exam (Arts & Sciences for AAS Degree students and Arts only for Certificate students).  Section scores are not averaged.  The Certification Exam is the final exam for MSCI 1020 Board Review, and a passing score is required to pass the course, to graduate, and to be certified to take either the NBE or SBE.

Scheduling Audit

A course may be dropped for credit and added for audit or dropped for audit and added for credit only with permission of the instructor and Dean of Academics, and if all requirements for admission as a student are met.

A non-student auditor may audit courses for a period not to exceed two academic quarters.

Impact of an Audit on the Student’s Record and Enrollment Status

A course scheduled for audit will appear on the auditor’s record with the symbol “AU” if attendance was regular or “W” if the attendance was unsatisfactory.

Commonwealth Institute may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. Please consult the Dean of Academics for more detailed information.

Grievance Procedure

The Institute has established a grievance procedure to be used by students of Commonwealth to ensure their right to due process. This right to due process is administered without regard to race, creed, national origin, or sex.

The grievance must be submitted in writing to Commonwealth Institute within 30 days of the event. Failure to file any grievance within the specified time periods shall be deemed a waiver thereof.

The Dean or designee shall investigate the alleged grievance, and an attempt will be made to resolve the matter informally with the parties involved.

A member of Commonwealth’s Institute’s administration (president or dean of academics) shall serve as the hearing officer and may resolve the matter of alleged violation through an informal hearing. The legal rules of evidence do not apply at the informal hearing. Evidence that possesses probative value and is commonly accepted by reasonable people in the conduct of the affairs may be admitted. The student is presumed innocent of the alleged violation until the hearing officer is convinced by the evidence that the student is guilty of the violation. The hearing officer may impose one of more of the following penalties, if the student is found guilty of the of the violation: suspension of eligibility for extracurricular activities, letter of warning, suspension for up to the remainder of the current quarter, restitution for damages, denial of degree, or permanent severance from Commonwealth Institute.

A student is entitled to appeal the decision of the Dean or hearing officer of the informal hearing to the President of Commonwealth Institute. The President shall review the matter and render the final decision in a timely manner.

No reprisal of any kind will be taken by the Board, an administrator, or an employee of Commonwealth Institute against any person bringing a grievance under this procedure.

Grievances unresolved by Commonwealth Institute may be forwarded to the Texas Workforce commission, Proprietary Schools, 101 East 15th Street , Austin , TX 78778-0001 , (512) 936-3100

Student Complaint Policy

This school has a Certificate of Approval from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

The TWC-assigned school number is: S0477

The school’s programs are approved by TWC, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Funeral Service Commission, American Board of Funeral Service Education, and the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards.

Students must address their concerns about this school or any of its educational programs by following the grievance process outlined in the school’s catalog.

Students dissatisfied with this school’s response to their complaint or who are not able to file a complaint with the school, can file a formal complaint with TWC, as well as with other relevant agencies or accreditors, if applicable.

Information on filing a complaint with TWC can be found on TWC’s Career Schools and Colleges Website at http://csc.twc.state.tx.us/.

Download Student Complaint Policy

Policy Against Harrassment and Discrimination

It is the policy of the Institute to maintain learning and working environments that are free from religious, racial or sexual harassment and age discrimination. The Institute prohibits any form of religious, racial or sexual harassment and age discrimination.

It shall be a violation of this policy for any student, teacher, administrator, third party (present on the premises) or other Institute personnel to harass a student, teacher, administrator or other Institute personnel through conduct or communication of a sexual nature or regarding religion, race or age discrimination as defined by this policy.

It shall be a violation of this policy for any student, teacher, administrator, third party (present on the premises) or other Institute personnel to inflict, or attempt to inflict, religious, racial or sexual harassment or age discrimination upon any student, teacher, administrator or other college personnel.

The Institute will act to investigate all complaints, formal or informal, verbal or written, of religious, racial or sexual harassment, or age discrimination, and to discipline or take appropriate action against any student, teacher, administrator or other Institute personnel who is found to have violated this policy.

Telephone Calls

The office will not disturb scheduled classes unless the telephone call for the student is an emergency. Messages of an important nature will be posted on the door of the classroom.

Refund Policy

In the event of withdrawal by the student or termination by Commonwealth Institute during an academic quarter of study, refund computation will be based on scheduled clock hours of class attendance through the last date of attendance. Leaves of absence, suspension, and school holidays will not be counted as part of the scheduled class attendance.

  1. Prepaid tuition for any period beyond the current quarter will be refunded, federal student aid money is refunded according to agency/lender regulations.
  2. Refunds are made within the prescribed time period after the effective date of termination. The effective date of the termination for refund purposes will the earliest of the following: (a) the last day of attendance, if the student is terminated by Commonwealth Institute, (b) the date of receipt of written notice of withdrawal from the student, (c) Ten school days following the last date of attendance.
  3. Each academic quarter is 11 weeks in duration. The calculation of refunds is based on the last day of attendance within a quarter.
  4. In the event a student discontinues, there is a $100.00 cancellation fee, and Commonwealth Institute will retain earned tuition as follows: week 1 = 10% of quarter’s tuition; weeks 2-3 = 50% of quarter’s tuition; weeks 4-6 = 75% tuition; after week 6 = 100% of quarter’s tuition. A student is not required to purchase instructional supplies or books until the quarter in which these materials are required. Once these materials are purchased no refund will be made.
  5. In the event of a fully documented extreme illness or personal emergency that makes it impractical for the student to complete the program Commonwealth Institute may modify the tuition refund policy.
  6. All refunds made meet or exceed the requirements of the Texas Proprietary School Act.
  7. For veterans and veteran’s dependents, the amount charged to the student for tuition fees and other charges for a portion of the course shall not exceed the approximate prorata portion of the total charges for tuition, fees and other charges that the length of the completed portion of the course bears to its total length.
  8. With respect to students for whom more than one refund method applies, the refund method used will always be the method which is of most benefit to the student.

Main Campus

Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service
415 Barren Springs Drive
Houston, Texas 77090
Office Telephone: (281) 873-0262
Toll Free: (800) 628-1580
Fax: (281) 873-5232