The number of non-traditional students continues to increase as working adults look to gain valuable educational experience and those who skipped college after high school seek to increase their ability to earn. Recent high school graduates also often need to put their education on the backburner as they have work and family obligations that prevent them from attending classes full-time. When AB19, The California College Promise, was approved by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 13, 2017, there was a provision allowing districts to decide how grant funds can be utilized to assist the largest number of students. At Las Positas and Chabot Colleges, it means giving more students - not just those who can take a full course load or are attending for the first time - a chance to be successful.
"Our colleges have decided to invest in all students, giving a broader range of students a place at the table," said Interim Chancellor Ronald P. Gerhard. "At both colleges, we are using the funds to invest in students, staffing and promoting financial aid options. This includes a number of initiatives that will assist the increasing number of students with financial need."
It's estimated that more than two-thirds of students enrolled at California community colleges attend part-time, and over one-third of high school graduates nationwide did not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) last year, which left $2.6 billion in need-based Pell Grants unused.
"Students can often be confused by the application forms or think they're not eligible for financial aid," said Chabot College President Dr. Susan Sperling. "Some students may have concerns about a family member’s or their own immigration status. We felt the best use of AB19 funds was to ramp up our ability to assist students in receiving all aid they're qualified to receive. Many of the programs available provide grants that will help students beyond their time at Chabot."
Chabot is using AB19 funding to provide students with assistance in finding, applying for and utilizing all available financial aid, including Federal Pell Grants and Student Success Completion Grants. AB19 funds will allow for improvements to processing and advisement, student follow-up and to develop and implement year-round Financial Aid campaigns with the primary goal of addressing the full financial aid cycle - application, verification, disbursement, maintaining eligibility, satisfactory academic progress, summer financial aid and transfer and graduation issues. Chabot is also leveraging these funds to provide more robust orientations for new students, equity initiatives designed to eliminate opportunity gaps for students who are disproportionately impacted, and professional development to increase educational effectiveness in the classroom and service areas.
Approximately 43 percent of Las Positas College (LPC) students receive financial assistance and with per unit fees of $46, students can expect to spend $552 per semester for a full-time course load. LPC has chosen to use AB19 funds to assist students with unmet financial need in the form of $500 college promise scholarship grants. These grants are provided each semester to students with limited or no access to direct financial aid grants and can be applied to the cost of textbooks, supplies and educational expenses.
To be eligible, LPC students must be enrolled in at least nine units, six of which must be at LPC; have applied for financial aid by filing a FAFSA or DREAM Application and have an expected family contribution of at least $3,100; qualify for the Promise Grant Fee Waiver Program, which waives enrollment fees for students who demonstrate financial need, and have a minimum of $500 in unmet financial need.
"We believe that over half of our students would be eligible for the Promise Grant Fee Waiver Program if they applied," said Las Positas College Interim President, Roanna Bennie. "With approximately 9,000 students enrolled in day, evening and online classes, it is imperative that we utilize AB19 funds to provide equitable access to more than first time, full-time students."
LPC will additionally use AB19 funds to increase financial aid outreach to students, staffing assistance and technical upgrades that will allow the college to meet the needs of even more students.
To learn more, visit www.laspositascollege.edu.