Reductions to Cal Grant awards rejected
The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education unanimously voted against proposed reductions in funding and dispersal of awards eligible under the Cal Grant program.
The decision came following the statewide “March in March” demonstrations, at which thousands of students and educators voiced their disapproval of further budget cuts to public education.
Financial aid director Regina Morrison applauded the legislators’ decision and will be in Sacramento to speak to assembly members and senators to advocate full funding for Cal Grants.
In an email, Morrison said. “We will be thanking the legislators for recognizing the importance of Cal Grants and rejecting the governor’s changes to eligibility and award amounts.” She added, “We want to make sure that our voices are heard and how Cal Grants are important to California’s economy and need to be fully funded.”
Brown’s plan, if approved, would have limited the number of students able to qualify for awards, as well as raise the minimum GPA requirement in order to qualify from 2.0 to 2.75 for Grant B and from 3.0 to 3.25 for Grant A. This is a change that would have affected students who were already receiving Cal Grant awards. This would have affected at least 26,000 students in the program.
Although most of the information available focuses on the changes in Cal Grants, the Board of Governor’s Fee Waiver (BOG Fee Waiver) is also an area legislators plan to revise. An estimated 21,000 students may lose their eligibility for a BOG Fee Waiver under the new criteria.
According to the Student Success Task Force, the new BOG Fee Waiver policies say students must:
· Identify a degree, certificate, transfer, or career advancement goal,
· Meet institutional satisfactory progress standards to be eligible for fee waiver renewal,
· Have a transcript that reflects to more than 110 units (not including basic skills and ESL courses). (Source: Student Success Task Force)
In data collected by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, Skyline College students receive over $8 Million in student aid. Skyline students are aware of the obstacles in the way of their education.
“It’s frustrating because I’m constantly re-evaluating my options,” said Edwin Morales regarding the education cuts. “If it wasn’t for my Cal Grant, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be in college right now. Some students probably won’t be able to finish because of all the (fee) increases.”
In data collected by the Chancellor’s Office, approximately 200 Skyline College students currently participate in the Cal Grant program.
Tuition fees at community colleges have increased by over 250% since the 2003-04 academic year, when fees were set at $18 per unit.
Since 2011, higher education in California has experienced $2 billion in cuts affecting all three state systems (UC, CSU, CCC) while fees have inversely increased. Ac- cording to the Chancellor’s Office, the fee increase to $46 per unit is equal to a 77% increase within a 1-year period.
ASSC senator and 2012 presidential candidate Mark Lipkin notes that although public schools sidestepped this particular cut in financial aid, students should prepare for the decisions that may be made in the future.
“Unfortunately education is one of the first places the state looks to when making decisions on budget,” said Lipkin. “We shouldn’t look at this as a victory because there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Sources report that Gov. Brown is not planning on revising his proposal despite the unanimous disapproval.