UNITE-LA Today: AB 789 Signed into Law

On Oct. 8, Gov. Newsom signed UNITE-LA co-sponsored Assembly Bill 789 (Berman and Cervantes). Joined by eight other leading advocacy organizations in college affordability and student success, this legislative win comes after a year of working with organizations and institutions across the state to develop a student-centered policy.

AB 789 will enable students who are struggling academically due to numerous factors, often outside of their control, to maintain their financial aid. This policy shift comes with strategic and inclusive changes to Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements at higher education institutions across the state. AB 789 will create a common set of standards, thus simplifying restrictive requirements that are additional to those the federal Department of Education mandates, ensuring students have equitable and well-articulated pathways to maintain financial aid. Currently in California, there are no institutions that have the exact same SAP policy, creating uneven expectations and processes for students across the state.

Research conducted by lead AB 789 sponsor John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) in 2021 revealed that "nearly 1 in 4 first-year, low-income students attending a California community college did not meet SAP for their first two terms, jeopardizing their access to much-needed financial aid. According to the same study, African American students did not make SAP at a rate double that of white and Asian students. Of those who failed to meet SAP, just 13 percent remained enrolled and continued to receive aid."

In light of this shift, which will have lasting benefits for all students in the state, UNITE-LA thanks Gov. Newsom and the legislature for seeing that this bill becomes law. We also extend thanks to Assemblymember Marc Berman, who championed this bill among colleagues; his thoughtful and dedicated staff; the other co-sponsoring organizations who dedicated themselves to this initiative; and all organizations and individuals who advocated for AB 789 throughout the legislative process.

For more information or questions about AB 789, please contact Adam Gottlieb, Director of Postsecondary Policy & Strategy ([email protected]).

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