Financial aid is often the deciding factor in whether a student is able to attend their school of choice - or any school for that matter. In fact, at the R.J. Leonard Foundation, many of our scholarships go toward filling in where financial aid falls short. When students receive their financial aid package, it can come as a huge sigh of relief, but that sigh can be cut short by the expectations that come with the assistance.
A new report published by John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) sheds light on the requirement for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). SAP typically requires a student to maintain a specific GPA and course completion rate in order to retain their education grants. If a student does not meet SAP, their financial aid can be withdrawn. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “The JBAY report ... found that over a third of all youth in foster care and 42% of Black youth in foster care did not meet SAP requirements during their first year at community college. Black, Native American and Hispanic students represented in the study were more than twice as likely not to meet SAP than white and Asian students.”
When financial aid is withdrawn, the student is more likely to drop out of college. The JBAY report urged schools and states to adopt policies and practices that offer a greater level of support to students. By, for example, creating escalating GPA requirements that allow for a lower GPA in a student’s first year of college, schools may be able to help more students remain at college and graduate.
This report is a good reminder that getting to college is not the ultimate goal. Students must have the resources, tools and support they need to successfully complete their degrees once there.