Satisfactory Academic Progress

Q: I have heard that in order to maintain certain forms of financial aid, a student has to maintain “Satisfactory Academic Progress.” What does this mean exactly?

A: Each school has a satisfactory academic progress policy for financial aid purposes and there can be variation across institutions. Typically, there are three components: minimum GPA, the percentage of cumulative units attempted that must be successfully completed, and the requirement that students complete their educational program within a maximum time frame of 150% of the published program’s requirements.

GPA requirements are often set at a minimum of 2.0 but you should check your school’s policy to confirm. The percentage of units that must be successfully completed also varies and generally ranges between 65-80%. Each institution’s policy can typically be found on their website.

The final requirement depends on the type of program a student is enrolled in. For example, if the student is in an Associate Degree program that requires 60 units, the maximum number of units that could be taken before losing financial aid eligibility would be 150% of that or 90 units.

In some cases, a student may be able to appeal for a temporary waiver of the satisfactory academic progress rules. These circumstances include when the failure to make satisfactory academic progress was due to injury or illness of the student, death of a relative of the student or other special circumstances. Students in this circumstance should consult with the financial aid office or foster youth program.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status & sponsorship

Q: I am a social worker helping a young person apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Once she receives it and later becomes a U.S. citizen, she would like to sponsor her sister to immigrate to the U.S. Is that allowable under SIJS?

A: Yes, once she becomes a U.S. citizen (which generally she can apply for after 5 years with her green card), she will be able to sponsor her sister. SIJS does not allow her to ever sponsor her biological or prior adoptive parents.

Citation: 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J)(iii)(II).

For more information about immigration and child welfare, listen to a June 23, 2017 training conducted by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in partnership with John Burton Advocates for Youth.

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Married youth eligibility for Extended Foster Care

Q: It was my understanding that youth who are married are not eligible for Extended Foster Care, however I was informed that guidance was issued stating that marriage was not a factor of ineligibility. Can you clarify this for me?

A: You are probably referring to federal guidance issued stating that there is nothing in Title IV-E that prohibits a Title IV-E agency from providing Title IV-E Foster Care to an otherwise eligible youth if the youth is married. However, California has established a policy that youth who are married are not eligible for Extended Foster Care, as specified in All County Letter 11-69.

Citation:

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Child Welfare Policy Manual, 8.3A Title IV-E, Foster Care Maintenance Payments Program, Eligibility, Question 4. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cwpm/programs/cb/laws_policies/laws/cwpm/policy_dsp.jsp?citID=39 

California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 11-69 (2011). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/lettersnotices/entres/getinfo/acl/2011/11-69.pdf

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Career and Technical Education (CTE) Resources

Q: Is there any way to easily learn more about Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at the community colleges and find out what types of credentials are available at my local colleges?

 

A: There are a number of new online tools now available to help students research and understand CTE options at the community colleges. My Path walks users through the steps involved with community college matriculation and includes information on career options, choosing a college, applying for college and financial aid. The Career Coach offers links to career assessment tests, data on wages, employment and training for jobs in a range of sectors, and a searchable database of programs in different fields. The Salary Surfer uses the aggregated earnings of graduates from a five-year period to provide an estimate on the potential wages to be earned two years and five years after receiving a certificate or degree in certain disciplines. This tool also provides information on which colleges offer programs in each specific discipline.

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Placement with relative that is not a legal resident

Q: With all that I am reading about immigration federally, I am worried about this ability of children to be placed with relatives. What happens for children who need to be placed with a relative who is not a legal resident? Is this allowed?

A: Yes. When a court orders removal of a child, the child may be placed with a non-custodial parent or relative regardless of the immigration status of the parent or relative.

Citation: California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 361.2(e)

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Documentation of unearned income for youth in THP+FC applying for CalFresh

Q: I’m a non-minor dependent, and I recently went to apply for food stamps. As instructed by my case manager for the THP+FC program I live in, I put down $500 for my unearned monthly income because that is what the program provides to me monthly.

However, the eligibility worker was under the impression that the entire foster care payment the THP+FC provider receives from the county ($3,007) should be put down as my unearned income. What should I do?

A: You are correct. Your unearned income is the $500 you receive directly from the THP+FC program. The best thing to do is to bring a printed copy of the CalFresh Program Request for Policy/Regulation Interpretation (CF24) posted by the California Department of Social Services’ CalFresh Policy Unit on June 28, 2016, that describes how to count unearned income for youth participating in THP+FC.

As described in the CF24 and in a previous Q of the W blog post, “The actual amount of THP monies made available to the youth whether spent, held or put into personal savings shall be considered unearned income in the month received for the CalFresh budget whether disbursed as part of THP+FC or THP-Plus programs.”

Additionally, I would suggest bringing a letter on letterhead from your THP+FC program stating how much your monthly stipend, is as you will likely be asked for verification of the amount.

Citation: CalFresh Program Request for Policy/Regulation Interpretation (June 28, 2016)

 

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BOG Fee Waiver Disqualification from failure to maintain SAP

Q: I’m working with a foster youth in community college who is receiving the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver. His Grade Point Average has been below a 2.0 for two consecutive semesters now. I understand that the BOG Fee Waiver now has Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements. Will this youth lose his fee waiver?

A: No, if he is a foster youth, he will not lose his BOG Fee Waiver for failure to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). While there is a requirement that BOG Fee Waiver recipients must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA and greater than a 50% Completion Rate, current and former foster youth under age 25 are exempt from BOG Fee Waiver Disqualification.

Citation: Senate Bill 1456 (2012); Board of Governors Fee Waiver Program and Special Programs Manual (2015)

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Pell Grant time limits

Q: I’ve been receiving the Pell Grant for six years – I spent several years attending community college part-time, then transferred to a 4-year where I have one year left before getting my degree.
 
I was told that a student can only receive the Pell Grant for 6 years / 12 semesters. Does this mean I cannot receive the Pell for my 7th year in college?

A: No, this does not mean you will lose your Pell Grant in your 7th year. A student can receive the Pell Grant for 6 full-time-equivalent years (12 full-time-equivalent semesters) as an undergraduate. Since you were not attending college full-time for each of your 6 years, you should still be eligible for some Pell in your 7th year.

For example, if you attended half-time (6 units each semester) for your first 2 years of college, you would have used only 1 full-time-equivalent year of Pell during those 2 years. That would leave you with 1 more full-time-equivalent year of eligibility—enough for your final 7th year.

How can you know for sure how much Pell eligibility you have left?

  • When you file a FAFSA, you receive a Student Aid Report that will give you a general idea of how many of your 6 full-time-equivalent years of eligibility you have already used.
  • For more specific information, you can log in to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/ (click on “Financial Aid Review” and set up an account, if you haven’t already). It will show you the percentage of Pell eligibility that you have already used. The cut-off point is 600% (that is equivalent to 6 full-time-equivalent years). Example:  If it shows you have used 400% of your Pell eligibility, you would have 200% (or 2 full-time equivalent years) left.

For the most up-to-date information, you can contact your college’s financial aid office.

Citation: Federal Student Aid Handbook (2016-2017)

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Transgender youth – placement rights

Q: I’m working with a transgender young person who identifies as female, but has been placed in a group home for male youth. Does she have the right to be placed in a group home according to her gender identity?

A: Yes, she does have the right to be placed in a group home according to her gender identity. Senate Bill 731 (2015) amended Welfare and Institutions Code to provide transgender children the right to be placed in out-of-home care according to their gender identity, regardless of the gender or sex listed in the court or child welfare records.

What also may be helpful to review, is a question and answer document developed by a group of organizations which provides helpful information and resources for California child welfare professionals to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of transgender and gender non-conforming children in foster care.

Citation:

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Expanded exemptions for student restrictions on CalFresh eligibility

 Q: I’m participating in extended foster care and attending college full-time. I heard that youth in extended foster care are now exempt from the food stamp eligibility restrictions on college students. However when I went to apply for CalFresh, the eligibility worker said I did not qualify. What can I do?

A: You are correct. College students participating in Extended Foster Care are exempt from the CalFresh eligibility restrictions on college students.

College students who do not qualify for an exemption must work at least 20 hours per week to be eligible to participate in CalFresh. However as of February 14, 2017, the student eligibility exemptions were expanded as described in All County Letter 17-05. As a college student participating in extended foster care,  you are exempt from these work requirements.

These expanded exemptions are still very new, and it is likely that the eligibility worker you spoke with is not aware of these new exemptions. The best thing to do is to bring a printed copy of All County Letter 17-05 when you go to meet with the eligibility worker.

Citation: All County Letter 17-05 (February 14, 2017)

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