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Coronavirus update: University of California and California State University to ease graduation requirements for students impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

Responding to strong advocacy from CSBA and other education management organizations, the University of California and the California State University announced on Wednesday, April 1 that they would ease graduation requirements for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Although the details differed, both systems agreed to a series of accommodations designed to address the disruption caused by school closures and distance learning as well as public anxiety about grading, testing and college matriculation.

While both
UC and CSU posted separate guidance on their decisions, the announcement came in a joint statement from those two systems and the California State Board of Education, California Department of Education, California Community Colleges and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. In the letter, the parties said that, “California’s K-12 and higher education communities are committed to helping high school and community college students overcome university admissions and placement challenges presented by the suspension of in-person instruction.”

Specifically, UC and CSU said they would:
  • Suspend letter grade requirements for A-G courses completed in the winter, spring or summer of 2020 (instead accepting Pass or Credit ratings on the Pass/Fail system)
  • Relax timelines for the receipt of official transcripts and acceptance of admission offers
  • Reevaluate financial aid packages and eligibility 
  • Accept Credit/No Credit for certain core courses taken at community colleges
UC also stated it would waive the SAT or ACT requirement for students applying for the fall of 2021, a decision that CSU is also weighing.

CSBA advocated for many of these measures with UC and CSU leaders, the Governor’s Office and key officials, noting that because of recent developments, many students would be unable to complete classes required for graduation or college acceptance and would fall short of credit requirements. 

To address these concerns, CSBA suggested that UC and CSU:
  • Award credit to all students enrolled in graduation-related and A-G courses at the time of the school closures
  • Offer AP waivers
  • Exercise grading flexibility
  • Raise the dual enrollment cap
  • Implement a systemwide policy for UC/CSU
These recommendations were largely addressed in the April 1 guidance provided by the state’s institutions of higher education.

University of California (UC):
The University of California’s Response to COVID-19: Admissions and Financial Aid
California State University (CSU): COVID-19 Interim Impacts on CSU Undergraduate Admissions Policies and Practices
Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU): AICCU Institution Activities to Serve High School Juniors and Seniors
California Department of Education (CDE): FAQs on Grading and Graduation Requirements