(a) The Student Opportunity and Access Program is administered by the Student Aid Commission.
(b) The Student Aid Commission may apportion funds on a progress payment schedule for the support of projects designed to increase the accessibility of postsecondary educational opportunities for any of the following elementary and secondary school pupils:
(1) Pupils who are from low-income families.
(2) Pupils who would be the first in their families to attend college.
(3) Pupils who are from schools or geographic regions with documented low-eligibility or college participation rates.
(c) These projects shall primarily do all of the following:
(1) Increase the availability of information for these pupils on the existence of postsecondary schooling and work opportunities.
(2) Raise the achievement levels of these pupils so as to increase the number of high school graduates eligible to pursue postsecondary learning opportunities.
(d) Projects may assist community college students in transferring to four-year institutions, to the extent that project resources are available.
(e) Projects may provide assistance to low-income fifth and sixth grade pupils and their parents in order to implement outreach efforts designed to use the future availability of financial assistance as a means of motivating pupils to stay in school and complete college preparatory courses.
(f) Projects may provide assistance to low-income middle and high school pupils and their parents in order to implement outreach efforts designed to use the future availability of financial assistance as a means of motivating pupils to stay in school by promoting career technical education public awareness. Projects shall promote the value of career technical education, available career programs in public schools and postsecondary segments with sequenced courses beginning in high school and continuing into postsecondary education, and the resulting career opportunities.
(g) Each project shall be proposed and operated through a consortium that involves at least one secondary school district office, at least one four-year college or university, at least one community college, and at least one of the following agencies:
(1) A nonprofit educational, counseling, or community agency.
(2) A private vocational or technical school accredited by a national, state, or regional accrediting association recognized by the United States Department of Education.
(h) The commission, in awarding initial project grants, shall give priority to proposals developed by more than three eligible agencies. Projects shall be located throughout the state in order to provide access to program services in rural, urban, and suburban areas.
(i) The governing board of each project, comprising at least one representative from each entity in the consortium, shall establish management policy, provide direction to the project director, set priorities for budgetary decisions that reflect the specific needs of the project, and assume responsibility for maintaining the required level of matching funds, including solicitations from the private sector and corporate sources.
(j) Prior to receiving a project grant, each consortium shall conduct a planning process and submit a comprehensive project proposal to include, but not be limited to, the following information:
(1) The agencies participating in the project.
(2) The pupils to be served by the project.
(3) The ways in which the project will reduce duplication and related costs.
(4) The methods for assessing the project's impact.
(k) Each project shall include the direct involvement of secondary school staff in the daily operations of the project, with preference in funding to those projects that effectively integrate the objectives of the Student Opportunity and Access Program with those of the school district in providing services that are essential to preparing pupils for postsecondary education.
(l) Each project shall maintain within the project headquarters a comprehensive pupil-specific information system on pupils receiving services through the program in grades 11 and 12 at secondary schools within the participating districts. This information shall be maintained in a manner consistent with the law relating to pupil records.
(m) At least 30 percent or the equivalent of each project grant shall be allocated for stipends to peer advisers and tutors who meet all of the following criteria:
(1) Work with secondary school pupils.
(2) Are currently enrolled in a college or other postsecondary school as an undergraduate or graduate student.
(3) Have demonstrated financial need for the stipend.
(n) Each project should work cooperatively with other projects in the program and with the commission to establish viable student services and sound administrative procedures and to ensure coordination of the activities of the project with existing educational opportunity programs. The Student Aid Commission may develop additional regulations regarding the awarding of project grants and criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of the individual projects.
(Amended by Stats. 2008, Ch. 757, Sec. 30.)