150 unit maximum for financial aid makes it fair for all students

PRO

Sugeir Godoy
Contributor

Changes to CSUN’s Satisfactory Academic Progress policy were made effective this academic year preventing undergraduate students from receiving financial aid when attempting more than 150 units.
I support these changes, as it was about time the university did something to encourage students to focus on finishing their majors as soon as possible rather than adding or changing a major or taking extra classes to try to raise their GPA while receiving financial aid.
Until the Spring semester of 2010, students could be awarded financial aid up to 180 units. The changes to the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy reduced the maximum number of units that were eligible from 180 to 150. Nearly 2,000 students have been affected by these changes.
Some students disagree with the change saying some college students  were not serious about their studies when they started at CSUN. They argue some people decide to change majors, thus accruing many units.
But whatever the excuse, they need to accept that they had their opportunity and now it’s time to focus on funding students who fall under the 150 unit cap.
The notion that students could dip into financial aid for 60 units more than needed to graduate is absurd. The CSUN undergraduate policies and procedures state that students can add or change a major only if they can complete either major within 140 units. Therefore, if students are able to complete two majors within 140 units, then completing one degree within 150 units shouldn’t be an issue.
“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,” said Mary Ann Cummings, associate vice president for student access and support services in an interview with this newspaper last year.
It is not fair for applicants to be denied admission and financial aid because students already enrolled can’t decide what to be when they grow up. If students would graduate in a timely manner, CSUN would be able to more efficiently serve the long line of college hopefuls.
Without this change in policy, many students taking over 150 units would continue receiving financial aid when they should be filing for graduation, not FAFSA.  In the Federal Student Aid regulatory update guide for 2011, the Department of Education reiterates that students not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress standards are not eligible for financial aid.
The current policy will make students think twice before adding or changing majors and repeating any coursework in order to improve their GPA, as well as help them graduate on time.

Sugier Godoy is a student in the COMS 225 class.

 

CON

By Vanessa A. Williams

Contributor

As we go through life things may not always go as planned. We may start college on the four-year plan and slowly end up on the five-year-or-more plan because of a change of major.
CSUN students are told they need to have a minimum of 120 units in order to graduate.  What many of us did not know is that after you have taken 150 units, you no longer qualify for financial aid.
If I had known this, I would have never changed my major or entered school as an undecided major.
This policy is unfair and CSUN needs to allow students taking more than 150 units to qualify for financial aid.
According to an article published last year in this newspaper called, “New Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy to Reduce Financial Aid,” the limit before the policy changed was 180 attempted units.  School officials reduced it to 150 to help students graduate faster.
However, school administrators should not be rashly pushing students to graduate.  They should be more concerned that we are retaining and understanding what we are being taught and if it takes more than 120 units to do that then so be it. Not everyone was built for the four-year plan.
College is where students come to figure out what they want to do in life and they should not be rushed into picking a major and graduating. We should be able to take our time and explore different professional possibilities.
When I first came to CSUN, I was a music education major. After two semesters I realized teaching music was not what I really want to do and is not a high paying job, so I changed my major to finance.
Because tuition fees are so high, a 150 unit limit on financial aid prevents students from experimenting with what they want for their future.
Many would argue you are suppose to come to college already knowing what you want to do professionally. In high school, we were taught many different subjects that gave us a preview of what a college education would prepare us to be in life, but it’s just not that easy.  There are so many subjects in school; it’s hard to just pick one and stick with it for the rest of your life.
Students should not be punished because they did not know what to major in their first two years at university.
The policy should be changed back to allow students financial aid up to 180 units. They will then not feel pressured to graduate, because they are going to lose their financial aid.

Vanessa A. Williams, 20, is a junior majoring in finance and a student in the COMS 225 class.

 

**Debate Disclaimer:
Participants in this debate are students in Communication Studies 225, an argumentation class.  The headline is the resolution being debated and each student has taken a side, either for or against that resolution.  The position taken by each student may or may not reflect their personal views.