February 4, 2021
California’s private colleges and universities have won an important reprieve in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed state budget, gaining an extra year before facing possible financial sanctions for not admitting enough transfer students from a special program.
The move, if upheld by the state legislature, would help the 71 independent colleges at a time when some of their enrollments and finances are being slammed by the pandemic. It also could help keep low-income students at those schools since their financial aid might have been reduced by as much as $1,028 a year without Newsom’s proposed delay, officials say.
Kristen F. Soares, president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), said her organization and its members “are very appreciative” of the extra year before enforcement of the policy aimed at boosting numbers of transfers to these four-year colleges from community colleges.
Given all the pandemic-related problems and the shift to online classes, she said: “This is not the time for cutting awards for low-income students. We want to provide as much financial stability to students and families as possible.”
State policy and last year’s budget link the size of Cal Grants, the state-funded financial aid, to the number of students admitted at private colleges after earning the relatively new Associate Degree for Transfer. That degree was created to be an efficient and guaranteed pipeline from community colleges to four-year campuses at the California State University and to private colleges that joined the program. The state is pushing hard its expansion as a cost-efficient way for more students to take basic classes and then earn bachelor degrees in a more timely manner.