New Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy to reduce financial aid

Juana Esquivel

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CSUN President Jolene Koester has approved a change in a financial policy that will prevent students with more than 150 attempted units from receiving financial aid in the fall semester.
In an e-mail sent to students last month, Dr. Terry Piper, vice president for Student Affairs said that beginning in the 2010-11 academic year, the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy will not allow undergraduate students to receive financial aid if they have yet to graduate and attempted 150 units.

Post-baccalaureate students will not receive financial aid if they have attempted 125 percent of units toward their academic program, he added.

“The big change is that we are decreasing the amount of units you can take and be eligible for aid,” said Mary Ann Cummins, associate vice president for Student Access and Support Services.
The changed Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy decreases the number of maximum units eligible for financial aid from 180 to 150, Cummins said.

“The main goal is to help students understand that we are trying to get them to graduate in a timely manner and along with that is to use our financial aid allocation wisely so that it is spread across freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Cummins said.
Christina Nguyna, a psychology mayor said the new policy will affect her future.

“I won’t be able to go school,” said Nguyna, 18. “I won’t have the money to go to school.”

Lily Vidal, director of Financial Aid and Scholarship department, sat on the committee that passed the new policy, and said that out of the  21,000 students who receive financial aid, 2,000 of them will be affected by the new policy.

The new policy does not mean a student will be expelled from the university,  Cummins said.

“I want to emphasize that a student will not be booted from school or anything like that, it just means that they won’t be eligible for financial aid after 150 units,” she said.
The previous policy allowed 180 maximum units to be eligible for financial aid, and it was changed to 150 units, giving students 30 extra units for degree programs that require 120 units to graduate, Cummins said.

The policy was not changed because of funding, she added.

“It is a policy that has been considered for some time and the reason is because we want students to graduate,” Cummins said.

The revised policy has students worried. CSUN student, Sarah Ung receives financial aid and said she does not like new policy.
“I think it is bad because a lot of people do need the money,” said Ung. “Without financial, it’s harder for a lot of people to go to school because we are not able to pay for it.”

She added she is not the only one from her family attending and her mother would have to pay more for tuition.

Both Vidal and Piper  stated it was important for students to take the right courses towards their desired degrees and to pass them to increase their financial aid eligibility.
In the e-mail, Piper also said attempted units include units passed and failed, units with no credit, withdraws, incomplete, units in progress, developmental course units, units that have been appealed and those that have been taken at another institution of higher education.

Vidal said in the past, 300 financial aid students had between 150 and 180 units and that the number is expected to decrease with the new policy. She added that there should be fewer students with less units in June 2010.

Vidal and Cummins said the policy offers an appeals process.

“We know something extraordinary can occur in a student’s life and we want to be sympathetic to that,” Cummins said.

However, Vidal warns that it is very difficult to appeal a student’s eligibility for financial aid.

“Very few will be successful,” she said. “It really has to be an urgent condition.”