CSU Joins with Students to Call for New State Investments in Student Financial Aid

Contact: Claudia Keith, (562) 951-4813, ckeith@calstate.edu
Laura Kerr, (916) 441-4514, lkerr@csustduents.org

(April 14, 2006) – The California State University and the California State Students Association (CSSA) have joined together to co-sponsor Assembly Bill 2813 authored by Assemblymember Hector De la Torre (D-South Gate) to increase student financial aid for all eligible California students. Specifically, AB 2813:

  • Provides all Cal Grant B high school entitlement award recipients who enroll at four-year institutions with funds to cover tuition and fees during the initial year of their award (consistent with current law for Cal Grant A recipients);
  • Doubles the number of competitive grants – from 22,500 to 45,000 in recognition of the five-fold demand for these limited grants; and
  • Modifies the age cap limitation for Cal Grant Transfer Entitlement awards from 24 to 27 years to reflect the average age of students seeking a college degree in California.

California adopted reforms in 2000 to the state’s long-standing financial aid program known as Cal Grants. The reforms allow California high school graduates who attend college immediately after graduation with a 3.0 and 2.0 grade point average and are financially needy, to receive Cal Grant Entitlement A or B awards, respectively, to help them go to college.

“The Cal Grant program reforms of 2000 were an outstanding commitment by the state to support access to college,” said Jennifer Reimer, chair, California State Student Association board of directors who is co-sponsoring the bill with CSU. “However, six years later, it is clear that we can and must do better.”

The current program does not give eligible students grants to cover their fees/tuition in their freshman year while such funding is made available to Cal Grant A recipients. AB 2813 would make both Cal Grant A and B recipients eligible for grants to cover their first year of college, often the toughest hurdle for many students.

“Students have made reforming the Cal Grant program a high priority,” said Mark Weber, chair, California State Student Association. “We are excited about this bill and what it will mean for expanding access to underrepresented students in California’s colleges and universities.”

In addition to first year fees/tuition coverage for both A and B recipients, AB 2813 would double the number of competitive grants from 22,500 to 45,000. More than 135,000 eligible students applied for such grants last year. Many of the applicants are financially needy, generally working, older students who are denied entitlement awards because of the minimal awards available. This means less than 16% of fully eligible students did not get the financial aid promised them by the state.

Finally, AB 2813 would also raise the age cap limit for Cal Grant Transfer Entitlement awards from 24 to 27 years to better reflect the average age of students seeking a college degree in the state.

“Our average student is older, works at least part-time and many transfer from two-year community colleges,” said Charles B. Reed, chancellor of the California State University system. “More than half of our students receive some type of financial aid, and AB 2813 will ensure that the most financially needy students can still realize their dream of getting a college education.”

AB 2813 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Education Committee on April 18.

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 405,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded about 2 million degrees, about 84,000 annually. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See www.calstate.edu

About CSSA
It is the mission of the California State Student Association (CSSA) to maintain and enhance accessibility to quality education for the people of California at the California State University – the People’s University. As the single recognized voice for the 400,000-plus students of the CSU system, CSSA is the acknowledged statewide student organization representing, serving, and protecting the collective interests of students in the CSU system. For more information, please visit www.csustudents.org

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Last Updated: April 14, 2006

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