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Moreno Valley College Herald

Moreno Valley College Herald

New Financial Aid Reform Bill Removes Academic Standards Barrier

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Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill 789 (AB 789) into law to ensure more California students can keep their financial aid and achieve their higher education goals. The bill, which was signed Oct. 8th will ensure that students with a prior Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) disqualification can apply to regain access to financial assistance upon reentry. Students will begin to see the bill’s benefits at the start of the 2024 school year.

“Too many California students are losing their financial aid and are having their higher education dreams dashed due to inflated and confusing restrictions,” said Assembly Member Marc Berman, who authored the bill.

Echoing Berman’s thoughts, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies at Moreno Valley College Jose Oceguera said, “I see students struggling to maintain satisfactory academic progress for various reasons, whether it’s work, family issues, homelessness, or food security.” He continued, “I also see students who have received financial aid and got it taken away for not meeting satisfactory academic progress and struggle to get it back. The reason students struggle with re-applying and getting back financial aid is because the reasons for their unsatisfactory academic progress are not acceptable (like work), or they can’t seem to provide the evidence that supports their case.”

A report released in July 2021 by lead sponsor of AB 789, John Burton, titled “The Overlooked Obstacle – How Satisfactory Academic Progress Policies Impede Student Success and Equity,” found that 24 percent of first-year California community college students receiving a federal Pell Grant did not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards during their first two consecutive academic terms.

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“Based on existing research, an estimated 15 percent of California’s 800,000 recipients of state and federal financial aid do not meet SAP, which equates to 120,000 students annually,” said State Assemblyman Marc Berman’s Communication Director, Isabelle LaSalle.

LaSalle also added, “It’s difficult to predict how many students would keep or regain their financial aid since a legislative proposal like AB 789 has never been adopted before at a state level. The evidence that does exist stems from Glendale Community College, which, in 2020, modified its SAP and appeals policies to align with the minimum federal requirements and leverage existing flexibilities, much like AB 789 would do. The changes resulted in a 30 percent decrease in the number of students ineligible for financial aid due to SAP and an astounding 83 percent increase in degree completion among students who did not meet SAP.”

Peaches Amdor, a first year business major at MVC on financial aid said, “I use financial aid so it (AB789) would at least help me in the sense that there are not so many limitations, like oh I have to follow these requirements because I think lots of students do need help with financial aid.”

Cindy Rodriguez, a second-year Liberal Arts major at MVC, believes community college should be available to all who wish to attend and receive a higher education. “I don’t know why college isn’t just free for everyone. I’m glad getting financial aid will be easier, because jumping through hoops to try and better your life is ridiculous.”

Many community college students believe that when they’re faced with challenges such as balancing work, covering childcare expenses, and the financial pressures of today’s economy, their chances of succeeding academically diminish. Riverside Community College District (RCCD), students are required to maintain a minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0.

“It’s easier said than done,” said Riverside Community College student Derrick N. “I work full-time, go to school, pay for my apartment, and raise my daughter with my girlfriend. We’re struggling, and sometimes I can’t even think about my schoolwork.”

For more information on Assembly Bill 789, you can contact the office of Assemblymember Marc Berman at (916) 319-2023, or for more information on financial aid assistance, you can contact Moreno Valley College Student Financial Services at (951) 571-6139.

 

 

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Agustin Coria, Staff Writer
Agustin is a Communications Media and Languages Major with a heavy interest in journalism. Agustin is a gamer, a nerd, and a dad above all else. He aims to have a platform to discuss and report on video game news and entertainment news.
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