New bill aims to speed graduation

A new bill labeled “The California Promise” aims to help students graduate quicker from a four-year university.

The bill, unanimously approved by the State Senate on Aug. 30, will bring a glimpse of hope for some students, but places a promise of a degree in a timely manner out of reach. The goal of the new bill, which was first brought to the state assembly by District 7 Senator Steve Glazer in February 2015, is to create pathways to four-year graduation; if the student is transferring from a community college and has earned an associate degree, the bill will help that student obtain a bachelor’s degree within two academic years of the student’s first year of enrollment at the CSU.

“I chose a different major, because I didn’t want an impacted one and get stuck here over four years,” said creative writing major Magdalena Becerra. “I’ve seen people switch majors because they were discouraged.”

However, a student needs to meets certain requirements before they can receive the benefits like priority registration and academic advisement that will include monitoring of the student’s academic progress.

To qualify, entering freshmen or transfer students must meet rigorous standards, according to the new bill. Include but are not limited to: be a California resident and commit to completing at least 30 semester units per academic year.

According to the SF State website, the accumulated cost of going to the University will be $18,748 per academic year — not including tuition — which will add another $5,472 per academic year for undergraduate students enrolling in more than 6 units per semester and $3,174 for undergraduates enrolling in 6 or fewer units.

“I work 30 to 35 hours per week,” Becerra said. “Then I probably spend 8 hours or more on school work.”

Working a job plus a full-time school schedule and not counting other non-work and school activities, some students might not be able to commit to the 30 units per year, forcing them to stay extra time at a University.

“Students end up with extra units,” Jacob Jackson, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California said. “Students have many roadblocks, CSUs and campuses can use ‘Promise’ by staying attentive to who will benefit the most with this bill.”

According to a CSU analysis, only 19 percent of first time freshmen graduate in four years or less, up 3 percent from 2011 when the rate was at 16 percent, which according to the state Senate is well below the national rate of 26 percent among similar public institutions.

“There will be a gap of 1 million degrees by 2030,” Jackson said. “38.4 percent of jobs will require a college degree.”

Navigating the maze of selecting classes in an impacted major can be problems for students who are not used to the university system.

“It would have definitely been easier, if I had the benefits (of the bill),” Becerra said. “I only had one priority registration once my whole time here and that was because I was a resident advisor.”

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, if graduation rates stay the way they currently are, they predict California workers who have a bachelor’s degree will count for only 33 percent of the working population in 2030.

There is more work to be done to meet CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025 goals,” Elizabeth Chapin, manager of public affairs at CSU office of the chancellor, said. “But we must ensure that campuses are able to direct resources to the programs that are most effective for their students.”

 

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