Starting July 1, the UCSB Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will no longer provide a Satisfactory Academic Progress warning before suspending students’ aid as part of a new federal policy aimed at improving students’ academic performance.
The change is a consequence of a U.S. Department of Education initiative that strives to decrease the time students take to graduate. The S.A.P. standards involve taking a minimum of 12 units per quarter and having a GPA of at least 2.0.
According to UCSB Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Mike Miller, the effort is an attempt to make sure national aid subsidies do not go to waste.
“The issues that prompted this new law are not as prevalent at the University of California as they are at other higher education institutions across the country,” Miller said. “The government is spending billions of dollars in student aid programs and they want to ensure students are progressing accordingly.”
However, Miller said students can appeal their status, and those who experience extenuating circumstances that contribute to their inability to meet S.A.P. standards may submit a written appeal to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.
This will place greater accountability upon students to keep track of their status, Miller said.
“This new federal policy will result in students needing to plan ahead if they do not meet the S.A.P. standards, file an appeal and are approved because their aid eligibility will need to be evaluated quarter-by-quarter,” Miller said. “My best advice to students is to make sure they are taking the appropriate number of units and that they are consulting with their college and academic advisors on a regular basis.”
Diana Herrera, a psychology transfer student, said the lack of warning presents her with a difficult dilemma in terms of getting the classes she needs to complete her major.
“As a transfer student, the vast majority [of students] enter as pre-majors, and in my case, I needed one class to enter my desired major,” Herrera said. “The ultimatum given is to either receive the grade needed or purposely fail in order to re-take the class. By deciding to fail this can put you in a position where your GPA is no longer higher than the required 2.0. So where does that leave the student?”
Third-year math major Claudia Hernandez said asking the school to notify students who may be going through a difficult time does not seem too large a burden.
“Sometimes things happen in your personal life that affect your grades, or the classes you need are not available which leaves the student ineligible,” Hernandez said. “For them to no longer warn you — it’s just not fair. I mean, it’s not as if it’s hard to send out a simple email forewarning you.”