The financial aid office at Long Beach State will conduct its semesterly census next week, and for those on financial aid, a change in class units can affect more than just their schedule.
Every fourth week of a new semester, CSULB performs a university census, where the school gathers information on students’ enrollment statuses. The school then uses the unit enrollment numbers to adjust financial aid packages.
Nick Valdivia, the director of the financial aid office, said CSULB financial aid packages are designed for students to have a full-time course load.
A full-time course load is 12 units. Pell grants, state grants and CSULB grants all require recipients to be enrolled in a certain amount of units to receive different levels of aid. If students drop a class, their financial aid can be reduced. Students that receive Pell grants may even lose their award money if their expected family contribution is on the higher end and they are no longer a full-time student.
The financial aid office has a chart that shows how the units students are enrolled in correlate with the amount of aid they receive.
At CSULB, 71% of students utilize financial aid in some form. Fifth-year accounting major Juan Henriquez said he receives financial aid in the form of the Cal grant and other loans.
“They give me about $10,000 a year,” Henriquez said.
The financial aid office provides information about the census on their website and in emails sent to financial aid recipients. However, Valdivia said that due to the technological age we are living in, students seem to miss important details.
“We’ve recognized in the last year or two the lack of knowledge,” he said.
First-year Bethany Perez currently does not rely on financial aid, but she said she might need it in the future.
According to Valdivia, many students, particularly first-year students like Perez, are unaware of what the census is. Once the census passes, students are surprised to see that their financial aid awards are adjusted, sometimes not to their benefit.
Valdivia added that students who receive financial aid and are unaware of how enrollment factors into their award amounts tend to do one of two things.
The first being that students assume that the more classes they take, the more money they have to pay. However, CSULB’s costs of attendance are two different flat rates for both full-time and part-time students.
In the other instance, some students will take any class to retain their financial aid awards, regardless of whether the class is within their field of interest. Students who do this run the risk of enrolling in too many units which can disqualify them for financial aid.
Valdivia said this is a common occurrence that is only revealed to students in their fourth or fifth year, leaving them with no other choice but to pay for their education by themselves.
In an effort to better inform students on the census, the Office of Financial Aid created multiple workshops students can RSVP for online.
The next financial aid workshop will be held at E. James Brotman Hall in room 201 Sept. 10