The California State University (CSU) system is continuing to implement changes among all 23 universities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the latest including a $500 California College Student Emergency Support Fund for students in need, announced April 2 on the CSU website.
The CSU emergency funding announcement comes after President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law on March 28. The CARES Act is administered by Mission Asset Fund, which is a nonprofit organization “on a mission to create a fair financial marketplace for hardworking families,” according to its website. The CSU system will receive around $525 million from the CARES Act, with Cal Poly Pomona receiving roughly $31 million, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
“Each institution may develop its own system and process for determining how to allocate these funds, which may include distributing the funds to all students or only to students who demonstrate significant need,” according to an April 9 press release by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “The only statutory requirement is that the funds be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care),” the statement said.
As a rule for all higher education institutions receiving the emergency aid, half of the $30 million that CPP will receive (roughly $15.4 million) will go toward emergency financial aid grants for students. The distribution process for the CARES Act funds is still being finalized.
In an April 6 interview with CalMatters, a nonprofit and nonpartisan newsroom that focuses on explaining California policy and politics, CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White stated those who work for a private franchise on campus might be paid from the money distributed through the CARES Act, but the details are still unconfirmed.
As well, a letter from Evelyn Nazario, the CSU vice chancellor for human resources, that was sent April 1 to all CSU presidents, executive vice chancellors and vice chancellors, included information regarding university employees with a defined time base. Academic student employees and non-represented student assistants are all eligible to be paid for up to 256 hours of paid administrative leave.
Universities across the CSU system are also freezing all hiring procedures.
“The Chancellor, in consultation with each CSU campus president, has imposed a slowdown in CSU hiring practices,” said Kelly Hazel, public affairs manager at the CSU Office of the Chancellor. “As such, only campus presidents have the authority to initiate new candidate searches for vital, mission-critical positions.”
Faculty members in the tenure process have the option to request and receive a one-year extension on their tenure clock if they are concerned that their progress will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an email to faculty, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sylvia Alva stated that the year started with 53 new tenure-track faculty positions, and 13 of those searches in progress that have not resulted in offers or acceptances will be postponed. The tenure-track hiring will be revisited in fall 2020.
As changes to each CSU campus may differ, students at CPP can be refunded for different services including parking permits, meal plan options and on-campus housing.
“I was a resident on campus during this, and the relaxed ability to apply and get our refunds for our dorms (and) parking permits were nice to see, though I and a few others are still waiting on news for when (and) how we will be getting our money back from housing,” said Matthew Coniglio, a third-year technology and operations management student.
However, tuition will not be refunded for all campuses. Chancellor White stated April 6 that there are service fees that cannot be refunded.
Some of the services include campus instruction, health centers still open for students through appointment and the recreational centers, which have mortgages that need to be paid.
Amid the pandemic, it is important to note that students are still working to finish their spring semester classes through virtual instruction. The CSU system is leaving it up to each campus to decide on the credit/no credit option, which would allow students to choose how they will be graded. CPP implemented an optional credit/no credit opt-in, giving students until May 8 to make a decision, according to an email from the Office of Student Success sent to students April 16.
“I’m glad (Chancellor White) is allowing the campuses to make their respective choices for (pass/no pass), though worry what this will entail for graduate school,” Coniglio said.
As for those studying abroad, international and nonessential travel was suspended March 9 until May 31. Universities with students who were studying abroad were encouraged by the CSU system to help students remain abroad if it was safe.
For the incoming freshmen of the 2021-22 academic year, the CSU system suspended its American College Testing/ Scholastic Aptitude Test exam requirement, according to a CSU press release on April 17.
“While every CSU campus maintains an emergency system, including critical emergency operations planning, much is still being learned about this unprecedented global health crisis. In the coming months, leadership will have more bandwidth to reflect and amend future planning,” Hazel said.
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