College Students: Here's Your Guide To Keeping The Financial Aid Tap Flowing

The library at California State University, Northridge. (Andrew Cullen for LAist)

Nearly 60% of California college students receive some sort of state aid — and with the financial upheaval brought on by the coronavirus, those funds have become even more vital.

The California Student Aid Commission, the stage agency that manages and disburses $2.1 billion financial aid, says it's working with colleges and universities to keep that money flowing to help students whose education is continuing online. About $330 million of those funds are used by students to pay for food, rent, and transportation.

"We at the Student Aid Commission are doing everything in our power to ensure there is no disruption to their financial aid," said Marlene Garcia, executive director of the commission.

Garcia is urging students who are currently enrolled to remain eligible for aid next fall by keeping up with their eligibility requirements, including:

  • Staying enrolled, even as schools continue with online classes
  • Maintaining a C average
  • Taking at least six units
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Garcia is also urging current high school seniors to keep focused on their grades and college financial aid packages.

"Please pay attention to all of your emails from the Student Aid Commission or your institution that you're hoping to attend in the fall, and follow any instructions," she said.

The massive shift to online instruction at most California colleges and universities will be a challenge for students and instructors. Some students will be affected by the financial slowdown and by health issues. How many college students end up dropping out is a source of concern for college officials.

"We're watching that carefully," Garcia said. "We'll probably be working very closely in the next several weeks with our higher education institutional partners to get a better handle on what kinds of issues anticipate could be coming up."

Los Angeles Angeles City College, for its part, is helping students by creating online counseling help. It's also distributing 123 laptops that were part of this year's College Promise program that helps first-year students who graduated from Los Angeles Unified high schools.

"We will provide as much support as we can to ensure their success," said Los Angeles City College Dean of Students Jeremy Villar, "because in order for a student to continue receiving aid in the following year, they have to be successful this year."