2018 Legislative Changes Impacting California Institutions

January 8, 2019 Chris Jordan

The only constant in Financial Aid is change, right? New developments are heading your way, California. The state legislative cycle wrapped up at the end of September and new laws impacting California higher education institutions will soon come into effect.

These new laws address a range of issues from student poverty to ensuring financial aid info is provided in a clear, easy-to understand manner. These laws are definitely noteworthy in terms of putting student needs and outcomes at the center of the financial aid discussion—but will require a large undertaking from your office.

The legislation changes tackle student hunger prevention, help for former foster youth, and requiring K-12 institutions to provide information on how to properly complete the FAFSA and Dream application. Others impact Student Financial Services operations. Here’s a round-up of what California Financial Aid offices should be planning for:

AB-2248: Cal Grant program

Created to ensure students receive the information they need to graduate on time, and with less debt, AB-2248 will require that:

  • New and renewal Cal A and B recipients be notified that they must take 15 semester units (or equivalent) to graduate in four years, and that the Cal Grant is only available for four years except as allowed under 69433.6.
  • Students must receive this notification during both orientation and for students receiving state financial aid annually during registration; disclosures can be sent by physical mail or email.
  • If a student’s registration occurs online and is for less than 15 semester units, or the equivalent of, institutions must provide the same disclosure. Additionally, the institution must actively confirm acknowledgement of receipt of the disclosures through a check box, which students will mark.

What it means for you: Notifications, Reporting, Cross Department Collaboration

  • Approximately 329,000 students received the Cal Grant in 16-17 totaling $1.9 billion in aid. Supporting that many students will mean a heavy workload for your office—heavier if the work is to be done manually.
  • You’ll likely need to report on outreach, which is easier to do if you have digital communications rather than paper letters.
  • According to CASFAA, AB-2248 is going to require coordination between the Financial Aid, Registrar and orientation teams.
  • Financial Aid offices will have to ensure that checkbox is available in their online registration systems for students; this may require IT development.

AB-1858: Financial Aid Shopping Sheet

Financial Aid Shopping Sheets offer a simplified and standardized template to communicate cost and funding options to students. About 3,000 colleges nationwide are already using them voluntarily. AB-1858 makes providing a shopping sheet mandatory at all California institutions participating in the Title IV program, effective January 2020. This law requires:

  • Schools to provide students with the U.S. Department of Education’s Financial Aid Shopping Sheet when Financial Aid award packages are sent out, whether they’re provided in print or electronically.

What It Means for You: Strategy, Creation, Reporting

  • If you aren’t already sending one, ensuring a Financial Aid Shopping Sheet is part of your award packages by 2020.
  • This requires extra work for your office to create the shopping sheet and distribute to your students.
  • You’ll likely need to report on outreach and success, which is easier to do if you utilize digital delivery rather than paper.

New Legislation is Coming: Get Ahead of It with CampusLogic

Financial Aid is a heavily-regulated, always-evolving realm, and it’s challenging for your office to stay ahead of legislative changes. We can help. With AwardLetter, you can provide students the easy-to-understand, dynamic, mobile-friendly info they need to make responsible decisions. It’s more than just a letter: it’s a student engagement engine that can be used throughout the Financial Aid cycle to send out personalized, dynamic communications.

Here’s how it can help you with California legislation:

  • Send completely personalized initial welcomes to Financial Aid applicants. Content can be tailored to recipients, and can include explanations about Cal Grant duration and the definition of full-time registration.
  • Send out mobile-friendly Financial Aid Shopping Sheets.
  • Provide school-branded communications with intuitive design that includes features like hover explanations and embedded videos that can be viewed on any device. AwardLetter can make confusing Financial Aid information – including changes in loan and repayment policies – easy to understand.

Here are a few examples of our mobile and personalized communications that you can send through AwardLetter:

Learn more about how AwardLetter helps you engage students and streamline efficiencies – no matter what changes are thrown your way.

About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan has worked in the higher education sector for the better part of a quarter century. He’s held roles within commercial student services and finance organizations—notably at Sallie Mae and USA Funds—before joining CampusLogic in 2015. Today, he serves as the company’s Regional Director in California, helping campuses embrace digital, mobile, personalized student financial services via the CampusLogic platform. Born in New York and raised in Miami, he also spent time in Northern California before moving to Arizona. Chris earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida International University. When not traveling for business, he enjoys leisure travel, a good volleyball game, and home cooking.

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