With speculation mounting, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal for California also raises the anxiety of thousands of students in the California State University system who rely on financial aid to fund their college education.
Many Californians who watched Schwarzenegger’s State of the State address will be affected by the harsh budget cuts expected for the next two years. The 140,000 students eligible to receive financial aid in California are no exception.
Either way, the SF State Office of Student Financial Aid says all we can do is sit tight.
“The CSU Board of Trustees will meet in March 2004 and determine what they are going to be,” director Barbara Hubler said of the effects of state budget cuts on financial aid. “We are expecting that they will reduce some of our funding, but until then we’ll just have to wait and see.”
According to information from the CSU's official Web site students on financial aid need not worry. They claim that as fees go up, so will grant levels.
Two kinds of grants issued by the state are university grants and Cal grants. State university grants typically go to the most needy students.
Cal grants have assisted students in paying for books, supplies and living expenses, but staff writer Bruce Kauffman reported in an article for North
County Times, officials at the California Student Aid Commission say requirements for Cal grants will tighten significantly.
Amy Garua, 29, in the teaching credential program at SF State, shudders at the prospect of reductions in financial aid, claiming the little she receives now is already spread thin.
“The thing about state school is that it was always an option for people who don’t have a lot of money,” she said. “Now because of the cuts the middle-class people are being pushed out of that option. There are so many intelligent people out there. Where are they supposed to go?”
As for Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal, Garua said, “I don’t really know what he’s planning, but it doesn’t seem like he’s making education a priority.”
Tri Nguyen, 26, a history major at SF State, has received grants and taken out loans to help pay for his college education.
"The financial aid I've qualified for has always been enough," Nguyen said, who is scheduled to graduate in May. "I just feel sorry for the freshman and sophomores who are going to have to deal with this."
In his address, Schwarzenegger promised the state that no matter how ominous the deficit, he would not raise taxes. Legislators, however, fear
that without raising taxes the state will compromise public services and education.
“All we can do is hope that grant money will be adequate in covering the
cost,” Hubler said. “Until March it’s going to be hard to determine what the fees will be.”