Category Archives: Post-Secondary Education

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.

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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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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Community colleges offering housing

Q: Which community colleges offer housing? I work with transition-aged foster youth who are often interested in attending community college, but struggle to identify housing nearby. Is there a statewide list of community colleges that offer housing?

A: Yes. Eleven of the 113 community colleges provide dorms or other housing assistance. The California Community College Chancellor’s Office maintains a list of community colleges that provide dorms or other housing assistance here: http://www.cccco.edu/CommunityColleges/CollegeHousing.aspx

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Financial aid-eligible majors

Q: I’m a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), helping my youth fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Chafee application, and want to make sure he selects a major that is financial aid-eligible. I don’t see this information on the FAFSA website anywhere. Where can I find this?

A: You are correct, it is not listed on FAFSA website. There are three ways a student can learn whether a major is financial aid-eligible.

  1. Before applying, a student can look on the college website where they are planning on attending. Financial aid-eligible majors should be located on college websites or district websites. For example, for the Peralta Community Colleges, it is located here: http://web.peralta.edu/financial-aid/sample-page/financial-aid-approved-academic-programs/.
  1. When the student applies for community college through CCCapply and selects his/her major, next to the major it will state ‘financial aid eligible’ or ‘financial aid ineligible’.
  1. After the college has received the student’s financial aid package, the college will contact the student to let them know that their major is financial aid-eligible, or financial aid-ineligible.
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Cal Grant GPA requirements & more

Q: I know the Cal Grant deadline is less than a month away, and I need some guidance to help my foster child. She is a high school senior, and is hoping to attend our local Cal State University.

Her Grade Point Average (GPA) is 2.8, but I understand that the GPA requirements for the Cal Grant A are 3.0. Should my child still apply?

A: Yes, your foster child should absolutely still apply. The minimum GPA requirement for Cal Grant A is 3.0 for high school students and 2.4 for transfer students, however for Cal Grant B, the minimum GPA requirement is 2.0.

Your foster child should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) along with the GPA verification by the priority deadline of March 2nd. If she is undocumented, she should submit the California Dream Act application instead of the FAFSA (by March 2nd).

For a youth who applies by March 2nd, Cal Grants A and B are entitlements, meaning a youth is guaranteed a Cal Grant if they meet the following requirements:

  • meets the income eligibility requirements (foster youth automatically do if they were in foster care after their 13th birthday because they qualify for “independent” status on the FAFSA)
  • is a high school senior, is within one year after graduating from high school/GED, or is a California Community College transfer student
  • meets the minimum GPA requirements (Cal Grant A: 3.0 GPA for high school students and 2.4 GPA for transfer students; Cal Grant B: 2.0 GPA)
  • submits their FAFSA and GPA verification by the March 2nd priority deadline

Once the March 2nd deadline passes, Cal Grants A and B become competitive grants for community college students only, to those who submit the FAFSA and GPA verification by September 2nd, subject to remaining funds. However, Dream Act students MUST submit by March 2nd. If they miss the March 2nd deadline, they will not be eligible for the Cal Grant A and B competitive grant.

If your foster child qualifies for the Cal Grant B, for her first year, it will provide the living allowance of up to $1,656, but not the tuition assistance that the Cal Grant A will. However, when the Cal Grant B is renewed or awarded beyond the first year, the student will receive the living allowance as well as the tuition and fee award. The tuition and fee award is up to $5,472 at a CSU and up to $12,240 at a UC campus.

A note about where Cal Grants A and B can be used:

Cal Grant A cannot be used at California Community Colleges, but can be used at UCs, CSUs, and private colleges. However, if a student is awarded a Cal Grant A who attends a community college, their award is held on reserve status for up to 3 years, then activated if the student meets all renewal requirements at the time of transfer.

Cal Grant B can be used at California Community Colleges, along with UCs, CSUs and private institutions.

Citation: California Student Aid Commission – http://www.csac.ca.gov/; Cal Grant Handbook – http://www.csac.ca.gov/CGM/calgrant_handbook.pdf

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Financial aid eligibility for reunified youth

Q: I am working with a young woman who has turned 21 and was previously in foster care. She was reunified with her mother approximately 7 weeks before she turned 18. Does this preclude her from educational financial aid that is tied to her foster youth status? Can she access Chafee and the other types of financial aid?

A: No, reunifying at age 17 does not preclude this young woman from any financial aid that she may be eligible for as a foster youth. Yes, she is categorically eligible for the Chafee Education & Training Voucher, the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver, the Cal Grant, and the Pell Grant. Provided below is more information about foster care status and eligibility for these types of financial aid.

For the Chafee Grant, a youth must have been a dependent or ward of the court living in foster care on or after their 16th birthday. However, it is important to note in this case because she is 21 years old, that if she turns 22 before July 1st of the award year she would not be eligible for Chafee.

For the BOG Fee Waiver, the Cal Grant and the Pell Grant, eligibility is linked to the student’s “independent” status on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Being “independent” means the student does not need to report parental income (but if their own income exceeds the income standards, they will not get aid). In order to qualify for independent status, a youth needs to have been in care at least one day after their 13th birthday.

Citation: California Student Aid Commission (Chafee eligibility: https://www.chafee.csac.ca.gov/), U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (https://fafsa.ed.gov/)

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Eligibility for BOG Fee Waiver

Q: I know that income eligibility for Pell grants for students who were in foster care after their 13th birthday is based on the student’s income and does not take into consideration the income of parents or guardians. Is the same true for the BOG Fee Waiver at community colleges or do schools consider the income of a young person’s parents?

A: The BOG fee waiver application can be found HERE.  The application uses the same standards as the FAFSA to determine if a student is independent and therefore not required to provide parental income. As with the FAFSA, if a student was in foster care or was a dependent or ward of the court any time after the age of 13, they do not need to provide parental information. Students are strongly encouraged however to apply not only for the BOG fee waiver, but also to submit a FAFSA which is necessary to obtain a Pell Grant or CalGrant. For maximum financial aid, the FAFSA must be submitted no later than March 2.

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Criminal Convictions And Financial Aid

Q: If I have been convicted of a crime, does this impact whether I am eligible for financial aid?

A: For the most part, a student with a criminal conviction, including one who is on probation or parole, is eligible for federal and state financial aid, however there are some exceptions. If you are currently incarcerated, you are ineligible for a federal Pell grant. Your eligibility may also be suspended if you were convicted of a drug-related offense and the offense occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (grants, loans, or work-study). Note that the suspension can be lifted however by successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or by passing two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved drug rehabilitation program.

If you are convicted of a drug-related offense after you submit the FAFSA, you might lose eligibility for federal student aid, and you might be liable for returning any financial aid you received during a period of ineligibility.

Finally, if you have been convicted of a forcible or non-forcible sexual offense, and you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for that offense, you cannot receive a Federal Pell Grant.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

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