Photo Courtesy of Deborah Armstrong
Five Pepperdine students and staff members headed to Sacramento on March 11 to protest a proposed cut to Cal Grant awards for students who attend private schools like Pepperdine. Their trip was part of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities’ “Day in the Capitol.”
The California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown are proposing an 11.3 percent reduction to the Cal Grant maximum award for students attending private, nonprofit universities.
“I come from a low-income background, and I grew up in a neighborhood where teenagers aren’t expected to graduate from high school, let alone attend college… the Cal Grant has played a significant role in allowing me to attend Pepperdine,” junior Carmen Izquierdo wrote in an email to the Graphic.
The pending reduction would reduce the need-based financial aid grant maximum from $9,084 to $8,056, and would apply to incoming students at AICCU schools. Of the approximately 76 percent of Pepperdine students who receive financial aid, about 470 students rely on the Cal Grant to help pay for tuition and fees, said Director of Financial Assistance Janet Lockhart.
To put a face to just one of the more than 32,500 California students who rely on the Cal Grant to help pay for college, Izquierdo ventured to the Capitol for her third consecutive year to lobby against the reduction. She is a first-generation college student.
On Lobby Day, Izquierdo met with several member of the California Congress and shared with them how the Cal Grant has made her education possible.
Office of Financial Assistance intern and junior Jacob Gonzalez showed his support by working the Cal Grant table in the cafeteria where students were asked to sign the AICCU Cal Grant petition. Over a four-day period, the Pepperdine petition received more than 450 signatures and 19 handwritten letters, according to Lockhart.
Although Gonzalez does not receive a Cal Grant, he felt it was important to show his support. An online version of the petition has garnered more than 3,000 signatures as of Thursday, March 13. It needs nearly 7,000 more to reach its goal.
“We should know during the summer around June/July if the cut is approved or not,” Lockhart said.
If approved, this would be the third consecutive cut to the program, bringing the maximum amount to the lowest in 16 years.
Follow Whitney Irick on Twitter: @Whit_Ashton