A bill to increase the maximum Cal Grant award for students attending private universities was up for discussion at the State Assembly’s Higher Education Committee this week.
Assembly Bill 1085, proposed by Assemblymembers Beth Gaines and Mike Morrell, is a proposed amendment of the current Cal Grant Program. If passed by legislation, it would overturn an upcoming financial aid cut scheduled for the end of the 2013 – 2014 school year. The amendment would restore what the endorsing policymakers call vital Cal Grant awards for students attending private post secondary educational institutions and would take effect immediately upon approval.
“As a mother of six, I know just how expensive it can be to send a child to college,” said Gaines (R-Rocklin), joint author of the proposal. “That’s why I was so dismayed to see the Legislature make it harder for students to receive a higher education. By passing our legislation, we can provide relief to thousands of students struggling to make ends meet, while affording the high costs of a college education, giving them the strong foundation they need to get a job and succeed in life.”
Private schools are partners with public institutions, said a spokesperson from Gaines’s office.
If Cal Grants are cut for private school students, students may choose to attend public, state-subsidized schools, collecting financial aid, and possibly costing California more money in the long-run.
Since voters approved Proposition 30 in November’s election, California has an influx of money intended for education, and this is an appropriate educational purpose, said the spokesperson.
According to a press release from the Assembly Republican Caucus, it costs $38,832 to provide a private school student the maximum financial aid over four years, versus a public school student who receives $94,176 over four years from the UC Cal Grant and state subsidies.
Senior Leanne Blackwell receives financial aid and believes students, especially those at private schools, should be entitled to more money.
“Basically, I want to be able to afford a private education and have a hands-on, educational experience,” said Blackwell. “People should be entitled to that.”
AB 1085 would increase the tuition award to a $9,708 maximum for for-profit and nonprofit educational institutions. The current program has a $4,000 cap for new recipients enrolled at private for-profit institutions and a $9,085 cap for new recipients enrolled at private nonprofit institutions during the 2013 – 2014 school year, which will decrease to $8,056 in subsequent years.
“It is all going through government, and it is hard to get what you need because there are such limited resources,” said Blackwell. “It is hard because I have three other family members and a single parent, so [the award] is not enough.”
CLU is a private, nonprofit institution, so this bill would allow California Lutheran University students qualified for the maximum financial aid award to receive the same amount they currently receive plus an additional $623 per year after 2014.
The Assembly Higher Education Committee was scheduled to hear AB 1085 on Tuesday, April 9 and, if approved by them and the Appropriations Committee, it must win a two-thirds vote on the Assembly floor, all of which will occur before the end of May. If approved by the Assembly, the bill will then go to the Senate.
To find out more information about the bill, or to join the effort to maintain financial aid for private school students, visit www.cabudgetfactcheck.com or contact your local assembly representative.
Published April 10, 2013