Without traditional resources or financial security, students impacted by houselessness have a college experience much different than most. For some, financial aid is necessary to stay enrolled, but if they fail to meet university requirements, their aid may be revoked. 

On Sept. 29, California Governor Gavin Newson signed Assembly Bill 2416 which, beginning Jan. 2021, will make all universities factor in houselessness when evaluating student financial aid. Currently, some universities can revoke financial aid for not meeting Standard Academic Progress (SAP) requirements without considering the impacts of houselessness on meeting those requirements.

Once the bill goes into effect, a student experiencing houselessness who fails to meet their campus SAP requirements and is at risk for losing their financial aid can appeal to the financial aid office. Rojina Bozorgnia, the Student Union Assembly external vice president and UC Student Association (UCSA) chief financial officer supported the legislation, acknowledging how houselessness impacts ability to meet academic standards set by the university.

“Houselessness is something that really affects student success,” Bozorgnia said. “It affects your academics, your mental health, your physical health, and everything else.”

According to a Sept. 30 press release from Assembly Member Jesse Gabriel, author of AB2416, houselessness affects nearly 20 percent of students in the California Community College system, over 10 percent in the California State University system, and 5 percent in the UC system.  

In the press release, Gabriel announced that AB2416 will allow students who may be vulnerable to houselessness a better chance at keeping their financial aid, staying enrolled, and earning a degree. 

“It’s shameful how many college students in California are struggling with homelessness,” Gabriel said in a press release. “In these challenging times, we must ensure that California’s higher education system remains a pathway out of poverty and into the middle class, as it was for my family and millions of others across the Golden State.”

Animation of student on path to graduation.
Art by Willow Gelphman.

Director of UCSC Financial Aid and Scholarships Patrick Register said that students at UCSC are not currently at risk of losing their financial aid under UCSC’s financial aid appeal process.

Register says the UCSC Financial Aid Office takes into account unique circumstances and rarely denies an appeal due to a student’s housing status. 

He also notes that the bill will be helpful to students at other universities with different financial aid appeal protocols or SAP requirements. 

“The future is unpredictable. There may be some students in the future who would benefit from this,” Register said. “I support the fact that it was passed because it provides greater leeway, at least in the future for our population.”

For more information about the UCSC financial aid appeals process, visit their website here.