By Joel Cruz |Staff Writer|
A new bill designed to increase graduation rates was introduced to California’s legislature by Sen. Steve Glazer.
SB-1450, or the “California Promise,” aims to provide a new pathway for incoming college freshmen students to graduate in four years.
“One thing that we fall short on is the issue of student success, being able to complete your degree in four years, and unfortunately California State University ranks near the bottom,” stated Glazer in a video of a press conference at Cal State Sacramento.
Only one out of five, or 19 percent of Cal State students, who enter college as full-time freshmen graduate within four years, according to calstate.edu.
That is far below the national average four-year graduation rate for public universities, which is at 34 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The bill, if passed, would require the trustees and the board of governors to establish a contract that authorizes CSU campuses and the California Community Colleges to enter into a pledge with a student who satisfies a specific set of criteria to support in obtaining an associate’s degree within two years and a bachelor’s degree within four years, according to the California Legislative Information.
Under this optional contract, there are requirements for both student and institution.
Students will be obligated to take a minimum of 30 units in an academic year and to maintain a “C” average.
The institution will be obligated to give students enhanced academic advising, priority registration for popular classes and a freeze in their tuition if the student met the terms of the contract.
“Whatever you paid in your first year, you would pay throughout your second year, third and fourth year as long as you remain under contract,” stated Glazer.
For one student, the perk of priority registration would be enough to sign the contract.
“As someone who left CSUSB after his freshmen year because I was unable to get the classes I needed to make any progress towards my major, I think this bill would go a long way toward helping students graduate on time and with less debt,” said student Kevin Miller.
“It’s something we really need considering CSUSB is one of the most affordable CSU campuses but our students graduate with the most debt,” concluded Miller.
Out of the 23 CSU campuses, there are only four that employ similar programs with the desired outcome as “California Promise.”
“The best example is at Cal State San Bernardino,” stated Glazer. “They started admitting kids under this optional contract in 2007, and since that time, their graduation rates in that program is twice that of the institution itself.”
CSUSB’s Four-Year Graduation Pledge Program requires students to enroll in at least 45 units per academic year, maintain a 2.7 CSUSB grade point average and meet regularly with their department academic advisor, according to the CSUSB Advising and Academic Services.
In turn, the students receive first priority registration.
In the program, 85 percent of students who have entered in the contract are considered to be under-represented minorities, according to Glazer.