Governor Considers Slashing Cal Grants
March 29, 2004 2:29 PM
Just when people thought the bad news couldn’t get any worse for California’s colleges and universities, a proposed $30 million cut in Cal Grants could make it even harder for many to afford higher education.
Weeks after the March 2 financial aid application deadline, students wait to hear if they qualify for grants, but limits set by Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget for the 2004-05 fiscal year could mean Cal Grants for California State University and University of California applicants will stay the same despite possible fee increases.
Applicants to private schools will be hit even harder if a proposed 44 percent cut in their maximum grant allowed passes, diverting many students to the overcrowded and less expensive CSU system.
“They would have to consider applying to public universities as an option,” said Susan Murphy, director of financial aid at the University of San Francisco. “I know the Cal State University system and the University of California already have to turn away qualified applicants.”
And with the federal government announcing caps on Pell Grants as well, students from low-income households may find that affording higher education has become more difficult.
Carole Solov, media director for the California Student Aid Comission (CSAC), said if the governor's proposal passes, it would be the first time Cal Grant amounts didn't compensate for rising student fees.
The maximum amount awarded to an SF State student for the 2003 - 2004 school year was $2,046. That amount would remain constant while student fees climb 10 percent.
But according to Vice President of Administration and Finance Leroy Morishita, much of the money allotted for Cal Grants in the last few years has gone unclaimed, leaving a surplus of money that Gov. Schwarzenegger wants to use to whittle down the state’s debt.
According to Solov, the CSAC reserves money for students who make changes in their college plans like taking time off, choosing community college or switching from public to a private school.
About $50 million of unclaimed grant money was returned to the state's general fund last November.
The general fund is a pool of money designed to compensate a variety of programs from MediCal to local governments. It is not necessarily designated for education purposes.
The CSAC also runs outreach programs for students who don't know about the oppurtunities available for low income families.
One program includes a workshop that helps parents and students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – necessary to receive state grants.
“There is no way to overstate the importance of the Cal Grant Program when you consider the importance of a college education. Our goal is to simply make sure every California parent and graduating high school senior is aware of Cal Grant as an option, and as a potential solution to the high cost of college,” the Commission’s Executive Director Diana Fuentes-Michel said in a press release.
Cal Grant A – designed to supplement middle income households – and Cal Grant B – awarded to the families with the most need – are both offered for undergraduate students, and the grants do not need to be paid back.
Students qualifying for Cal Grants must have at least a 2.0 grade point average and meet specific income requirements.
The latest numbers show that a family of four needs to earn less than $60,480 to qualify for a Cal Grant A. The most an independent student can earn and still receive an award is $22,320 and for married students the ceiling is $25,470.
Gov. Schwarzenegger’s current budget proposal, which will be deliberated until this April, would lower these income ceilings by 10 percent, resulting in approximately 5,000 students who would qualify under the current limits missing out on free money.
Supporters of the current Cal Grant Program are urging students to write their senators and the governor in the upcoming months protesting the possible cuts to this program. The final budget is due from the Legislature this July.
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University