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Over the last week, we have provided you with a lot of analysis on the impact of the state budget directly on our colleges, but there are some nasty details in another part of the budget that will hurt our students.

The governor’s budget proposes to cut Cal Grants by $302 million, and proposes to use $736.4 million in federal welfare funds for the program, reducing the amount of funds available for the social safety net.

Specifically, the major changes include:

Increase minimum GPAs
- impact: $131.2 million; 26,600 students

  • Cal Grant A: raise GPA from 3.0 to 3.25
  • Cal Grant B: raise GPA from 2.0 to 2.75
  • Cal Grant Community College Transfers: raise GPA from 2.4 to 2.75

Reduce grants for students attending independent, non-profit institutions to the California State University maximum.
- impact: $111.5 million; 30,800 students

Reduce grants for students attending private, for-profit colleges to $4,000.
- impact: $59.1 million; 14,900 students

For community college students, we are most concerned about the changes to the GPA changes for Cal Grant B and Community College Transfers, and the cap on grants for independent, non-profit institutions. The reductions would eliminate about 30% of Cal Grant entitlement recipients. Most of these are community college students, with an average parental income of $19,184, who receive the grants to buy books and assist with living expenses. They are disproportionately African-American and Latino students.

The governor’s budget cites the increasing costs of the Cal Grant program for the need to dramatically change eligibility. Doesn’t that sound familiar? We have fought several battles to eviscerate Pell Grants at the federal level because record enrollments and skyrocketing fees are making students eligible for more aid.

Let’s be clear that this isn’t really about eligibility, but the consequence of a decade of disinvestment from higher education and a great recession that has citizens turning to education in place of non-existent jobs. And, the enrollment bubble was fully expected–this is the Tidal Wave 2 for which we were supposed to prepare.

Even under the rosiest budget scenario, the Cal Grant program will likely take some cuts. The proposed cuts, however, go too far and will eliminate access to many of our poorest students, both while they are studying in our colleges and after they transfer to a four-year institution. We will aggressively fight these cuts.

 

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