OCC College Center and Student Union

OCC's newly constructed College Center (left) and Student Union (right)

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed multiple bills on Oct. 6 that will streamline the transfer process to University of California and California State University system schools and make more community college students eligible for Cal Grants. While Orange Coast College staff members are in favor of some of this legislation, other bills are not as popular.

Currently, the UC and CSU systems each have a different pathway for transfer students. Assembly Bill No. 928 requires the schools to create one joint pathway by May 2023.

Advocates of the bill say that the dual transfer system makes transferring more difficult for students, and a system that is easier to navigate will help more community college students transfer to universities. However, OCC Transfer Center Coordinator Linda Bagatourian said that this joint process would not fix the problems in the current system.

“Even though they will be working on a single general education [GE] pattern, that doesn’t address the issue of access to the CSU,” she said. “We already have the IGETC [Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum] GE pattern which works for UC, CSU and some private and out-of-state universities.”

AB 928 also requires community colleges to put future transfer students on an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) track. Although students can opt out of this track, problems remain with the ADT being the default educational plan, according to Bagatourian.

“It doesn’t work for every student,” she said. “The ADT does not work for all majors at all campuses.”

Meanwhile, another new bill doubles the number of community college students who can receive state financial aid, according to CalMatters.

Assembly Bill No. 1456, also called the Cal Grant Reform Act, removes some of the restrictions that had prevented students from getting the financial support they needed. A media statement from California Community Colleges says that the bill “would guarantee a CalGrant award to all California college students regardless of their age, time since high school graduation or high school GPA.”

OCC Financial Aid Director Tanisha Bradfield expressed her support for the new grant system, saying that more students who need financial aid will be able to receive it.

“Even with the emergency aid that is coming our way right now, you rarely see a student fully packaged, where their costs are fully met,” she said. “Emergency funds are not going to stay forever.”

The relaxed restrictions help meet costs for many students, allowing more of them to pursue and stay in higher education.

“I think this reform is excellent for students in meeting their basic needs,” Bradfield said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

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