Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Financial Aid Eligibility Requires Academic Progress

Satisfactory academic progress refers to a federal regulation requiring student to make progress toward the completion of a degree or certificate program in order to maintain eligibility for financial aid.

Each semester, Rio Salado College evaluates whether the Standards of Academic Progress (SAP) set forth by the Maricopa County Community College District have been met. The evaluation process determines financial aid eligibility based on three measures: Grade Point Average (GPA), Progress, and Maximum Time Frame.
  • GPA – Students must meet a minimum grade point average based on the total number of credits attempted. 
  • Progress – Students must successfully complete 2/3 of all courses attempted. Progress is calculated cumulatively and carries over from one term to the next.
  • Maximum Time Frame – Students who have already attempted more than 150% of the required credits for a program will no longer be able to pay for the program using federal financial aid. More information on the maximum time frame requirement is available in the Financial Aid Tips: Maximum Time Frame post. 
  • Attempted Credits -- If a student withdraws from class outside of the approved drop/add period, the credits are still considered attempted credits and will be considered in the SAP evaluation. 
Students who do not meet all three criteria for satisfactory academic progress are no longer eligible to receive financial aid and in some cases, may be required to return a portion of the aid they've already received.

Students who have lost their financial aid eligibility due to unsatisfactory academic progress or to the time frame requirement have the opportunity to appeal by completing the Appeal for Satisfactory Academic Progress and/or Appeal for Maximum Timeframe forms.

The full Maricopa County Community Colleges Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid Eligibility are available on the Rio Salado College Financial Aid website.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Clock Is Ticking For GED Students

This story can also be read in the November 23 edition of the Tempe Republic

Blair Liddicoat, Associate Dean
College Bridge Pathways
The GED test is changing! The Department of Education is releasing a new GED exam with stricter requirements and a much higher fee effective January 1.

Currently, students are allowed to take the five-part exam over time in their choice of paper-based or computer-based format. The new test has four sections and will only be available in a computer-based format. Students taking the new test will not receive credit for sections passed under the old testing process.

"As of January, the new 2014 GED tests will be required and at that time, test scores for the current GED tests will become invalid," said Blair Liddicoat, Rio Salado College Associate Dean of College Bridge Pathways. "This means students will have to start over with the new tests."

According to Liddicoat, students should not wait until the last minute if they want to finish their GED before the changes take effect.

"All students who are pursuing their GED diploma need to remember that they only have until the end of December to take the current GED tests," Liddicoat said. "Additionally, some test centers may be closed over Thanksgiving and during the holiday week in December, so it's important to plan ahead."

As the largest provider of adult basic education in Arizona, including GED classes and college pathway programs, Rio Salado College has noticed a significant increase in the number of students showing up to complete their GED tests.

“We’ve already seen an increase in the first two weeks of November and are expecting even higher demand as the holidays approach,” said Linda Lukey, director of testing and prior learning assessment at Rio Salado. “We want to make everyone aware that wait times may increase as we near the deadline. We also want to remind students that Rio Salado College testing centers will be closed during the college’s annual winter break.”

Rio Salado testing centers are available at the following locations:
  • RSC Tempe
  • RSC Northern
  • RSC Avondale
  • RSC Southern
  • RSC Thomas
  • RSC Luke
  • Communiversity at Surprise
Test centers at RSC Northern and RSC Tempe will remain open during the college’s winter break for online GED testing only.

Walk-in, paper-based testing is available only at the Northern location and only until November 26. All other locations require an appointment for paper-based testing. Wait times for walk-in testing can be significant, and students are encouraged to plan accordingly.

Computer-based testing is available at all test center locations. Students must register for the exam 24 hours before testing through www.GEDtestingservices.com

All Rio Salado College test centers are approved to offer the computer-based 2014 GED tests as of January. For more details about GED Testing services and hours of operation, visitriosalado.edu/testing or call 480-517-8000.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Recycle Turkey Frying Oil at the Cafe At Rio

Those who are planning to deep fry their turkey this Thanksgiving may recycle their used cooking oil at the Cafe at Rio. 

A 50 gallon drum will be located on the back dock of the Tower at Rio building and will be clearly marked as a receptacle for used cooking oil.

The oil will be recycled through a partnership with the Green Dining Network for use as bio-diesel fuel and other environmentally friendly products. 

A much larger receptacle will also be available at Green Dining Network's location at 3654 S. 16th street in Phoenix. There will be a padlock on the receptacle, but users can simply lift the lid and pour the oil through the grates.
Contact Sustainable Food Systems Director Michael Hodgins at the Cafe at Rio for details.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spring Financial Aid Deadlines Approaching

It's important for students to submit all financial aid documents on or before the Priority Filing Deadline. This includes the Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as required documentation that may be needed to authenticate identity, residency or prior education.

Meeting the Priority Filing Deadline will help qualified students avoid processing delays and ensure that:
  • Tuition payments are deferred.
  • The student will not be dropped from class for non-payment
  • Book Advance funds are not delayed
  • Financial Aid Funds are released in a timely manner
Deadlines for Spring 2014 semester blocks begin December 7, 2013. Students will find the Priority Filing Deadline for their chosen semester block by visiting the Priority Filing Deadline Chart.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Library New Titles - Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath Is Here!

Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants is now available at the Rio Salado Library. It uncovers the hidden rules that shape the balance between the weak and the mighty and the powerful and the dispossessed. Check out the complete list of new titles below:
For a complete list of all new titles visit the Library Website.


Abominable: A Novel by Dan Simmons

The Accused: A Rosato & Associates Novel by Lisa Scottoline

The Caretaker: A Novel by A.X. Ahmad

A Dangerous Deceit by Marjorie Eccles

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Longbourn: A Novel by Jo Baker

The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls: A Novel by Anton Disclafani

Always Watching by Chevy Stevens

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Dual Inheritance: A Novel by Joanna Hershon

Identical by Scott Turow

Norwegian By Night: A Novel by Derek B. Miller

Police by Jo Nesbo

Quiet Dell: A Novel by Jayne Ann Phillips

Red Moon: A Novel by Benjamin Percy

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion: A Novel by Fannie Flagg

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith

Murder by Sunlight by Barbara Graham

No Man's Nightingale by Ruth Rendell

The Spanish Queen by Carolly Erickson

Sycamore Row: A Novel by John Grisham

Top Down by Jim Lehrer

Valley of Amazement of Amy Tan

Winners: A Novel by Danielle Steel


The Bound-for-College Guidebook: A Step-byStep Guide to Finding and Applying to Collegesby Frank Burtnett

Coffee: A Comprehensive Guide to the Bean, the Beverage, and the Industry by Robert W. Thurston, Jonathan Morris and Shawn Steiman

The Complete Fibromyalgia Health, Diet Guide & Cookbook by Louise S. McCrindle and Alison C. Bested

History of American Cooking by Merrill D. Smith

How to Write a Business Plan by Mike P. McKeever

The Little Book of Stress Relief by David B. Posen

Motivating and Retaining Online Students: Research Based Strategies That Work by Rosemary Lehman and Simone C. O. Conciecao

The Prepper's Complete Book of Disaster Readiness: Life-Saving Skills, Supplies, Tactics and Plans by Jim Cobb

UContent: The Information Professional's Guide to User-Generated Content by Nicholas G. Tomaiuolo

Your Credit Score: How to Improve the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future by Liz Pulliam Weston

Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina by Raquel Cepeda

Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by Paul A. Offit, M.D.

The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America by Gregg Easterbrook

Managing Across Cultures: The Seven Keys of Doing Business With a Global Mindset by Charlene M. Solomon and Michael S. Schell

Matthew Brady: Portraits of a Nation by Robert Wilson

The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement by Carrie Rosefsky Wickham

Podcasting for Dummies by Tee Morris

Say Anything to Anyone, Anywhere: 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication by Gayle Cotton

Small Time Operator: How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes, and Stay Out of Trouble by Bernard B. Kamoroff

Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre by Ethan Mordden

Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet by Sarah Elton

David and Goliath: Underdog's, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater by Michael Y. Sokolove

The Dynamics of Disaster by Susan W. Kieffer

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

Jack London: An American Life by Earle Labor

Miss Manners Minds Your Business by Judith Martin and Nicholas Ivor Martin

The New Senior Woman: Reinventing the Years Beyond Mid-Life by Barbara Fleisher and Thelma Reese

Lord Jim

Tortilla Flat

The March: The Story of the Greatest March in History

Treasures of New York

Saturday, November 16, 2013

RSC Southern Location Now Open

Rio Salado College has opened a new location in Tempe to better serve students and residents in the East Valley. The location, RSC Southern, located at Southern Avenue and the 101, officially opened its doors at this week during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

“What was once an empty shopping plaza now stands as a beacon to residents to improve their lives through the power of education,” said Dr. Jo Jorgenson, Rio Salado College’s dean of instruction and community development.

Open since June, RSC Southern has served more than 400 students through its College Bridge Pathways programs that include adult basic education, GED prep and English Language Acquisition for Adults classes.

The location also offers a testing center, academic advising, counseling, tutoring and other college support services, and is the future home of the East Valley Veterans Education Center.

"The new RSC Southern location provides expanded access to student services for our online students as well as educational opportunities for College Bridge Pathways students,” said Dr. Chris Bustamante, president of Rio Salado College.

One of those College Bridge Pathway students is Tempe resident Vincent Smalley, a student who recently earned his GED after taking prep classes at RSC Southern.

“I was homeschooled for a majority of my life,” Smalley said. “If it weren’t for Rio Salado and its passionate commitment to the success of their students, I’d still be the same old me.”

Smalley credits Rio with more than just giving him an education.

“Everything I did in class not only improved my learning capabilities, but also changed the way I felt about myself,” Smalley said. “It gave me a sense of accomplishment and proved that I have what it takes to succeed.”

RSC Southern also benefits the East Valley by partnering with local community organizations.

“This location responds to a Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) initiative that calls for the creation of educational empowerment zones,” Bustamante said. “These regional zones bring together cities, social service agencies, businesses and educational institutions to strengthen the surrounding communities.”

MCCCD Chancellor Rufus Glasper echoed the importance of community involvement.

“Imagine an empowerment zone in your community – bringing all those minds together with inclusiveness, engagement and respect,” Glasper said. “When we think of our future, it will be through partnerships, not by operating in individual silos.”

Rio Salado College is the largest online public community college in the nation serving more than 65,000 students annually with more than 40,000 students on line. The college enrolls more than 2,300 Tempe residents annually.

RSC Southern is located at 3320 S. Price Rd., Tempe, AZ 85282. It is open Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday – Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This story can also be read in the November 15 edition of The Tempe Republic. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

2013-14 Creative Writing Competition Deadline Extended

Each year, the Maricopa County Community College District Center for Learning and Instruction sponsors a district-wide competition to encourage and recognize its student writers.The annual competition showcases originality in Poetry, Fiction, Essay, and One-Act Script writing. Winning contributions in each category are then published in the MCCCD annual publication, Passages. 

Students may submit their original works using the Call for Entry website. For complete instructions visit the Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction's Creative Writing Competition webpage.

Entries for the 2013-14 competition must be submitted to the Call for Entry  website by November 22, 2013.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Student Success Initiative

Submitted by Michael Murphy, Interim Assistant Director of Academic Advisement

President Barack Obama challenged America’s colleges and universities to increase the number of students completing degrees and other credentials that they can put to work. In response to the president’s completion agenda the Maricopa County Community College District and Rio Salado College have taken steps to better prepare students from the outset of their college careers.

The Student Success Initiative, or SSI, includes five success strategies designed to positively impact student retention, persistence and degree completion. Launched fall 2013, these steps are now required of all students who are new to college and seeking a degree or planning to transfer to a university.

These student success activities include:
  • Placement testing to determine the student's preparedness level for English, Mathematics and Critical Reading classes. These tests can be taken free of charge at any Rio Salado testing center and must be completed before registering for classes. 
  • Preparatory classes as a pre-requisite when indicated by placement testing results. Students who do not test into 100-level courses are required to take preparatory classes before registering for 100-level courses. 
  • College success courses are strongly encouraged for students who test into English, Math or Reading classes below the 100 level. These classes focus on orientation to college, personal growth, and study skills development as well as educational and career planning.
  • Academic advisement is strongly encouraged. Students who meet with an advisor will discuss their academic and career goals and plan their course load.
  • New Student Orientation (NSO101) Rio Salado's FREE, non-credit online orientation class introduces students to the RioLearn online learning environment and provides information about college programs and policies. It also offers guidance on financial planning and college success. 
“The purpose of the Student Success Initiative is to help every Rio Salado student be successful in their classes, but also to help them with the larger goal of completing their education,” says David Hall, Director of Academic Advisement at Rio Salado College.

To learn more about these success activities, and how to pursue them, visit www.startatrio.com. This portal for new students offers a step-by-step guide to the process of enrolling, choosing a program, testing, payment and more.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

RSC Southern Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Scheduled

RSC Southern
 TEMPE – November 6, 2013 – Rio Salado College invites the community to celebrate the opening of its new Tempe location, RSC Southern, at a grand opening event on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 8:30 a.m.

RSC Southern serves students, veterans and East Valley residents through College Bridge Pathways, including adult basic education, GED prep and English Language Acquisition for Adults classes.

RSC Southern also offers a testing center, academic advising, counseling, tutoring and other college support services, and is the future home of the East Valley Veterans Education Center.

"This new regional location provides expanded access to student services for our online students as well as educational opportunities for our College Bridge Pathways students,” said Dr. Chris Bustamante, president of Rio Salado College.

RSC Southern will also benefit the East Valley by partnering with local community organizations.

“It also responds to the Maricopa County Community College District’s initiative that calls for the creation of Educational Empowerment Zones to bring together cities, social service agencies, businesses and educational institutions to strengthen surrounding communities,” Bustamante said.

The grand opening event will include a welcome reception with refreshments, short program, ceremonial ribbon cutting and tours of the new facility.

RSC Southern is located at 3320 S. Price Rd., Tempe, AZ 85282. It is open Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday – Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

From the Garden to the Table

Rio Salado Gardening Instructor Josh Sundberg
College cafeterias are not typically a first choice for a healthy, organic lunch. Luckily, there is nothing typical about Tempe-based Rio Salado College. With seasonal menus, locally-sourced ingredients and produce fresh from the college’s backyard garden, the Café at Rio has become a local lunchtime hotspot. 
The secret to the Café’s success is its garden to table philosophy and the high quality organic produce that is grown less than a touchdown pass away from the kitchen. 
Vegetables and herbs planted in the Garden at Rio include rosemary, basil, mint, sage, zucchini, eggplant, okra, broccoli, chiles and cantaloupe. 
Rio Salado Gardening instructor Josh Sundberg uses the garden as a learning lab where students discover gardening practices like aquaponics, companion planting and trap crops.
One of the first things Sundberg teaches is a respect for bees.
“I invite bees in to the garden, and give them plenty of incentive to come,” Sundberg said. “We plant basil to use in the Café and to attract bees. Bees need flowers for their food supply, and I need food for the bees if I want my vegetables to pollinate.”
According to Sundberg, the Garden at Rio uses no fertilizer and doesn't require tilling.
“I really want people to reconnect with nature. Forests don’t need to be tilled or fertilized in order for plants to grow.”  Sundberg said.
“The inspiration for the Garden at Rio is nature. In nature, you would never see just a field of corn. There is always diversity in what is growing,” Sundberg said. “We try to display that diversity in all the planting beds. Some beds have more than 30 different plants in them. “
Sundberg said he uses natural methods to control unwanted pests.
“We use mint in the Café for our flavored waters. In the garden, mint is planted next to jalapenos to keep insects occupied. I’d rather have them eating mint than my cash crops.” Sundberg said.
As for weed control, Sundberg said he doesn't believe in it.
There’s no such thing as a weed,” Sundberg said. “Weeds grow for a purpose – they nourish the soil. People consider purslane a weed, but we grow it in the garden. It has the highest Omega-3 content of all land-based plants, and is pretty tasty. It tastes like spinach meets citrus!”
According to Rio Salado’s Chef Ben Leach, the focus on sustainability and local agriculture is about more than just environmental concerns.
“We want to cultivate a zero-waste and ecologically-responsible food system,” Leach said, “but our methods also make good business sense.  When we harvest our vegetables from the garden or buy them from a local farm, we don’t have to pay to preserve and transport them across the country. We’re also serving a higher quality, more flavorful meal that our customers can feel good about eating.”

This story can also be found in the Nov. 2 edition of the  Tempe Republic.