Bog waiver raises GPA standards, expectation

By Christian Urrutia, Web Editor

For many students receiving the Board of Governors Fee Waiver, this simple application removes the added pressure of having to pay for classes on time.

Health and human services major Fidelia Onyejekwe said the BOG waiver lessens the anxiousness from the start of the semester by taking care of enrollment fees.

“It helps me by alleviating the stress I have to deal with from my classes and eliminates the worry about paying for them or the anticipation of having to pay by the end of the semester.”

Now all future recipients will have to satisfy additional requirements when applying and qualifying for the BOG waiver.

The newly implemented change requires eligible students to sustain an overall GPA of 2.0 or higher and must maintain it for two consecutive semesters, including the summer semester.

The requirements are part of the Student Success Act of 2012. The part of the legislation involving the BOG waiver was enacted at the beginning of this fall semester.

Financial Aid Supervisor Monica Rodriguez said, “Prior to this new legislation, there was no requirements in order to receive the BOG waiver. The only penalty was tied to financial aid grants. The closest requirement used to be depended on the California income reported.”

The other requirement includes completing more than 50 percent of a student’s course load in addition to keeping the cumulative GPA above 2.0.

Rodriguez said originally students could be eligible for the BOG waiver for consecutive terms despite poor academic performance and could only lose other forms of financial aid, such as a loan or grant, as a consequence.

The BOG waives all tuition fees for the semester for eligible students throughout the state of California.

There is an appeal process where students can submit forms to explain their circumstances that were at fault for failing to meet the requirements.

Rodriguez said, “The hope is to incentivize (students), one year prior to the start of the requirements. We started to notify by email about the changes from the financial aid department. Students who listed below the 2.0 (GPA requirement) were warned before the semester started.

“We don’t want to inhibit our students (intentionally).”

There were 88 students who once used their BOG waiver who are no longer eligible for this current academic year because of their performance, she said.

Rodriguez said 54 students were ineligible for the fall 2016 semester due to their grades from last spring. And 34 students are no longer eligible for spring 2017 because of their summer 2016 grades.

The caveat is that students already enrolled for the fall semester, who had enrolled during the previous spring 2016 semester, were still eligible for the waiver. Those who enrolled during early June period didn’t lose the waiver for the fall semester, she said.

Because 54 students were ineligible for the waiver this fall, which is less than 1 percent of the college population, Rodriguez said impact was minimum.

She said from a fiscal perspective, the community college system undoubtedly wants revenue in return on a fiscal investment by enacting these requirements.

“If there are consequences then students feel more incentivized to complete their studies,” Rodriguez said.

As of Aug. 30, she said 2,286 students were awarded the BOG waiver.

Rodriguez said, “ For students who feel they are slipping (academically), there is an appeal process. The financial aid department always reviews the circumstances.”

The enacted requirement of a 2.0 GPA currently applied to the BOG waiver does not seem to be demanding for some, including nursing major Miguel Alvardo.

Alvardo said, “I don’t think it’s hard (to meet), pretty easy and overall I think it could be higher. We’re supposed to be passing classes (based off a C average) anyway.”