March, 2018

In This Issue:

  • CSAC Considers a More Equitable Approach to Financial Aid
  • Join the Next League Webinar
  • 2018 Legislative Session Update
  • Discussion Regarding Federal Higher Education Policy but no Action
  • Federal Grant Opportunities - Presented by Downs Government Affairs
  • Upcoming Events

CSAC Considers a More Equitable Approach to Financial Aid 

On March 8, the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) conducted an informational hearing on a draft report intended to inform recommendations on the simplification and consolidation of the State’s current financial aid system.  The report was required by the 2018 Budget Act trailer bill language to reexamine how the State delivers financial with a focus on the total cost of attendance.  By focusing on the total cost of attendance, the recommendations in the report would result in significant financial aid increases for community college students.

More Equitable Approach to Financial Aid – Total Cost of Attendance

The current Cal Grant system is structured around tuition and thus largely does not serve community college students.  This has resulted in a greater amount of Cal Grant funds going to UC and CSU students – a situation that has made it more expensive for economically disadvantaged students to attend a community college than a UC or CSU. 

The report proposes to reform this by restructuring Cal Grants to focus on the total cost of attendance, which in addition to tuition includes living expenses while attending school.  It suggests that the State merge the existing Cal Grant A, B and C programs and rather than offering different tuition awards for students at each system, Cal Grants cover a low-income student’s expected family contribution (EFC). 

By focusing a student’s EFC, regardless of what tuition they pay, the proposal would provide similar financial aid packages across each system.  For low-income community college students, this would substantially increase the total amount of financial aid provided by the State.  It should be noted, however, that the state would need to appropriate additional funding to fully meet the EFC of low-income community college and CSU students. Additionally, the report proposes changing the eligibility requirements for the Cal Grant entitlement to benefit low-income students by extending eligibility to when a student is ready to transfer, removing age requirements, and proposing grants for programs as short as one semester.

Steps to Consolidate and Simplifying the Cal Grant System

The report highlights three steps the State would need to take to reform the Cal Grant system.  If fully implemented the Cal Grant system would be significantly simplified, students across each system would be treated more equitably and the State would need to appropriate substantially more funding for Cal Grants.  Below is a summary of those steps. For more details, see Page 6 of the report.

1. Consolidate Cal Grant Programs and Connect Award Level to Expected Family Contribution (EFC)      

  • Consolidate Cal Grant A, B, and C programs.
  • Decouple award level from tuition and instead fund EFC.
  • Will result in substantial increase in financial aid for community college students.
  • UC students financial aid packages wouldn’t change, but without additional funding CSU students would see an overall cut in their awards.

2. Update Expected Family Contribution (EFC) 

  • Current methodology used to calculate EFC does not reflect California’s high housing costs.
  • Suggests using standardize cost of attendance estimates that take into differences among regions. Currently it is up to each college to come up with their cost of attendance, resulting in variance among institutions and within regions.

3. Increase State Appropriations to Cal Grant System

    • Under current funding levels, if the state connects funding with a student’s EFC, an additional appropriation of state funds will be needed to ensure adequate funding.

    Join the Next League Webinar

    Every year the League's Government Relations team engages in advocacy efforts at the state capitol on bills and budget proposals that are of critical importance to colleges. Our advocacy efforts are multifaceted and include committee testimony, capitol visits, and in-district legislative meetings. Active participation and engagement from college leaders is the most effective approach we can take.  To ensure that at every step of the legislative process college leaders are aware of the most pressing issues, the League offers a series of legislative update webinars held at key junctures of the process.

    Save the dates and join us for one of our next monthly League Legislative Webinars: March 28, April 30, May 22, and June 19 at 10:00 a.m. Below are details for next week's webinar:

    March League Legislative Webinar:
    Wednesday, March 28, 2018
    10:00 – 10:45 AM
    2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act Summary & Implementing Legislation (AB 195)
    Impacting Facilities Financing for California Community Colleges
    with guest presenters from Stifel

    Webinar Details
    Dial your telephone conference line: 1-913-312-3202
    Participant Passcode: 134186

    For more information, please contact Lizette Navarette at

    2018 Legislative Session Update

    With bill introduction deadline passed, we now have a more accurate picture of legislation that will impact your institution or your students.  In two months, legislators introduced over 2,000 bills, of which about 90 effect community colleges.  The issues these address range from collective bargaining, pensions student success to financial aid.  For a full list of legislation, please go to the League’s home page and scroll down to our bill search function.  Below are a few of the more important pieces of legislation.

    AB 1936 (Low) – Office of Higher Education Accountability 
    Would create a higher education coordinating agency with an executive director appointed by the Governor and an advisory body made up of appointees by the Governor and State Legislature.  The advisory body would not be required to have segmental representation. Among other items the office would be empowered to:

    • Review and make recommendations regarding cross-segmental and interagency initiatives.
    • Advise the legislature and Governor the need for and location of new institutions of campuses of higher education.
    • Serve as a clearinghouse for postsecondary education information and data that will track students across segments.
    • Review all proposals for changes in eligibility pools for admission to public institutions and make recommendations regarding those proposals.
    • The office would be able to require the governing boards of each higher education institution to submit data to the office on plans and programs, costs, selection and retention of students, enrollments, plant capacities and other matters.

    AB 2012 (Medina) – Parental Leave 
    Would require school districts and community college districts to provide at least 50% of his or her regular salary for their 12 work week period of parental leave.

    AB 2248 (McCarty) – Cal Grants: Full Time Definition 
    Would increase the number of units needed to qualify as full time in order to receive a Cal Grant from 12 to 15 units.

    AB 2306 (Santiago) – Increased Access to Cal Grants for Community College Students
    Would increase the length of time a community college student could utilize a Cal Grant from five years to six.

    AB 2891 (Holden) – Dual Enrollment 
    Would authorize community college districts to enter into a dual enrollment partnership with a charter school.

    SB 940 (Beall) – Cal Grants and Foster Youth 
    Would permit former foster youth to qualify for the Cal Grant entitlement awards as long as they are under the age of 26 and to utilize their awards for up to eight years.

    SB 1406 (Hill) – BA Degree Pilot Program Expansion 
    Would extend the current baccalaureate degree pilot program at California's community colleges by permitting students to enroll in the existing 15 programs through 2022.

    Discussion Regarding Federal Higher Education Policy but no Action

    While there has been significant interest in Washington on issues that could affect community colleges or the students they serve, there is still little clarity regarding changes to federal higher education policy.  This article will include updates on:

    • Lawsuit regarding California immigration policy.
    • Reauthorization of Higher Education Act
    • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival.

    United States Government Sues California Over Immigration Policies

    On Wednesday, March 7th Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the United States Department of Justice was suing California over a series of bills that were passed that would limit the ability of law enforcement, private business owners and other government workers to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

    Proponents of the lawsuit believe that such legislation is unconstitutional as applied to private business owners and impinges on federal prerogatives regarding immigration policy.   State officials who support these policies believe that they provide additional protections for unauthorized immigrants while permitting the federal government to enforce federal immigration policy.

    Politically, this lawsuit will likely be welcomed by both President Trump and California elected officials.  President Trump will be strongly supported by his base while California state officials will be able to demonstrate that they are fighting a deeply unpopular administration in Washington.                                                  

    It should be noted that AB 21 (Kalra), legislation which restricts higher education institutions in the state of California to cooperate with immigration officials is not subject to the suit. The legislation in question is below:

    SB 54 (de Leon) California Values Act: Prohibits local law enforcement from entering into data sharing agreements with immigration officials, telling immigration officials when an immigrant will be released from jail or prison or transfer immigrants directly into federal custody without a warrant. 

    AB 103 (Committee on Public Safety) Immigration Detention Centers:  Requires the California Department of Justice to conduct reviews of any facility that holds detained immigrants waiting for deportation proceedings and report any mistreatment of detainees to the Governor’s Office and state legislature.

    AB 450 (Chiu) Immigration Worksite Enforcement Actions: Prohibits employers from permitting immigration officials from entering nonpublic areas of a worksite and sharing access to employee records without employee records.  Additionally, AB 450 (Chiu) requires employers to notify employees if immigration officials have requested an employer’s I-9 files to determine the employee’s ability to work in the U.S. legally.

    Reauthorization of Higher Education Act Update

    It is clear that the House’s version of the Higher Education Act, the PROSPER Act, has significant obstacles in both passing off the House floor and in the Senate.  A highly partisan bill, PROSPER is having trouble obtaining enough Congressional Republican votes in the House and is considered dead on arrival in the Senate.

    Meanwhile, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has begun to release details on accountability measures it would want to see out of a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The Majority Party has drafted a white paper on the issue and the Minority Party has drafted a response, both of which are attached to this agenda item.  In response, the League sent a letter to the committee that asked Senators to consider a college’s loan participation rates and a simplified appeals process in any accountability measure regarding student loan defaults.  The letter from the League is attached to the agenda item, it asked the committee to consider:

    • Providing protections for institutions with low loan participation rates that have significant fluctuations from year to year due to the small number of students taking out loans.
    • Creating an automatic appeals process for colleges that can demonstrate they have a high cohort default rate due to their low number of student borrowers. 

    In addition, HELP has held a series of committee hearings on access, innovation and FASFA completion.  While both the Chair and Vice-Chair of the committee have pledged to introduce a bipartisan bill, details of such a bill have not been released. The window for passage of a reauthorization of the higher education act is increasingly narrowing as the 2016 midterm elections approach.

    Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA)

    With the failure of policymakers to reach an agreement on the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the future of the program is in doubt.  Two federal judges have issued temporary injunctions requiring the federal government to maintain the current program while court cases move through the appeals process regarding the validity of canceling the program. While new applicants cannot apply for protections under DACA, those whose work permits have expired can apply for renewal.

    In February the Senate attempted to pass four separate pieces of legislation that would have codified certain elements of DACA into law, increased funding for border security and changed federal immigration policy.  While both sides agreed that DACA recipients should be able to retain their protections, Republicans wanted to link codifying DACA protections into federal law to significant cuts in legal immigration.  A deal was not reached and all bills failed.  A summary of the two main bills are below:

    President Trump’s Proposal:

    • Provide path to citizenship and protections for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children.
    • $25 billion for a southern border wall.
    • Substantially cut family immigration.
    • Eliminate diversity visa lottery.

    Bipartisan Senate Proposal:

    • Provide path to citizenship and protections for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children.
    • $25 billion for a southern border wall.
    • Prevent DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents to obtain legal status.

    With the failure of both proposals, the future of the DACA program is in doubt. While President Trump has proposed to eliminate the program on March 5th, court orders to keep it open have allowed DACA recipients to apply for renewal of their work permits. It is unknown when either an appeals court or the Supreme Court will make a ruling regarding the legality of the cancelation of the program.  Additionally, much narrower proposals regarding codifying DACA without a path to citizenship have been discussed in the Senate, but none have received a committee hearing or a floor vote.

    Federal Grant Opportunities 

    The League in partnership with Downs Government Affairs present the following federal grant opportunities for districts and colleges:

    Agency: National Science Foundation
    Program: Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier: Advancing Cognitive and Physical Capabilities
    Estimated Total Program Funding: $27,000,000
    Closing Date for Applications: June 4, 2018

    Program Description:  The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF) is one of 10 new and far-sighted Big Ideas for Future Investments announced by NSF in 2016. NSF aims to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the changing landscape of jobs and work by supporting convergent research to: understand and develop the human-technology partnership; design new technologies to augment human performance; illuminate the emerging socio-technological landscape and understand the risks and benefits of new technologies; and foster lifelong and pervasive learning with technology. In order to be nimble and responsive to new opportunities and challenges as they are recognized, focus areas for the FW-HTF solicitation, the centerpiece of the FW-HTF Big Idea, may change from year to year. This solicitation focuses on advancing cognitive and physical capabilities in the context of human-technology interactions. For more information click on the link below.

    Agency:  National Science Foundation
    Program:  Cybersecurity Innovation for Cyberinfrastructure Grants
    Estimated Total Program Funding:  $12,000,000
    Closing Date for Applications:  June 4, 2018

    Program Description:  The objective of the Cybersecurity Innovation for Cyberinfrastructure (CICI) program is to develop, deploy and integrate security solutions that benefit the scientific community by ensuring the integrity, resilience and reliability of the end-to-end scientific workflow. CICI seeks three categories of projects: 1. Secure Scientific Cyberinfrastructure: These awards seek to secure the scientific workflow by encouraging novel and trustworthy architectural and design approaches, models and frameworks for the creation of a holistic, integrated security environment that spans the entire scientific CI ecosystem; 2. Collaborative Security Response Center: This single award targets the development of a community resource to provide security monitoring, analysis, expertise, and resources research and education cyberinfrastructure staff, regardless of physical location or organization; and 3. Research Data Protection: These awards provide solutions that both ensure the provenance of research data and reduce the complexity of protecting research data sets regardless of funding source.

    Upcoming Events

    • League Government Relations Webinars
    • Phi Theta Kappa Luncheon, April 2, 2018, Sacramento Convention Center, Sacramento,CA
    • Annual Trustees Conference, May 4-6, 2018, Valencia, CA

    For more information, contact the League's Government Relations and Communications staff:

    Lizette Navarette, Vice President
    Ryan McElhinney, Legislative Advocate
    Laura Murrell, Communications Manager
    Gerson Light-Sanchez, Legislative Fellow