Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to cut $110 million from the Cal Grant budget would affect financial aid for approximately 430 students at Seaver College and more than 26,000 students in California in both public and private universities. The proposed changes would apply to both incoming and returning students and would be implemented as soon as the 2012-2013 school year.
These changes are part of Brown’s plan to close the state’s growing deficit. If approved, $131.2 million would be saved by reducing the Cal Grant maximum award of $9,708 to $5,472.
If Cal Grants are reduced, Pepperdine would attempt to compensate for the lack of government funding by giving additional institutional grants, loans or a combination of both. However, there is no guarantee that students will not carry any financial burden.
“There are things that students can do to stave off these cuts,” said Michael Truschke, dean of admission and enrollment management at Seaver College. Administrators are advocating on behalf of the Cal Grant program, but Truschke said that to create the strongest voice students must speak out.
On March 7, administrators and students will be attending the “Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities Student Day in the Capitol.” Those not able to attend can still take action through email, letters and phone calls to their local legislator.
A final decision on whether the cuts will be implemented will be made sometime this summer. However, this is problematic for incoming students because the financial aid deadline is March 2. Newcomers will have to decide which college they will be attending before they know how much financial aid they will be receiving.
“I am encouraging and hopeful that especially students that are receiving a Cal Grant will be active in this effort to really advocate for this program,” Truschke said. A petition will soon be available for students to sign in the financial aid office. Over the next few weeks, a Facebook page and website will be available to access regarding the Cal Grant cuts.
Brown released a statement defending his decision by saying, “The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts.”
In addition to the 44 percent reduction, Gov. Brown is seeking to raise the minimum GPA requirements for all applicants making it harder to obtain a Cal Grant. To receive a Cal Grant “A” award, used for tuition at public and private colleges, a student would be required to have a minimum GPA of 3.25. To receive a Cal Grant “B” award, used to aid first-year students with living expenses, a student would be required to have a minimum GPA of 2.75.
Cal Grants are awarded based on a student’s academic performance in combination with financial need. Unlike student loans, grants do not have to be paid back.