Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to cut $301.7 million from the Cal Grant system was rejected by a unanimous decision Wednesday. This decision came after thousands of students and faculty from the Golden State rallied at the capitol building in Sacramento. After listening to testimony from college students, an Assembly subcommittee voted 4-0 to reject the cuts to Cal Grants, a form of financial aid available to students enrolled in both public and private universities in California. Three Democrats and one Republican on the Assembly’s subcommittee on education finance rejected Brown’s proposals, according to the Chronicle for Higher Education.
Five Pepperdine students, two financial aid staff members and three senior administrators journeyed to Sacramento to attend the Lobby Day on March 7, and protest the governor’s proposal. Approximately 430 students at Seaver College and 26,000 students across California are Cal Grant recipients. One Pepperdine student in particular felt the need to be the voice of the student body, and fight for her financial aid.
Carmen Izquierdo Arguello, a freshman, relies on the Cal Grant to partially pay for her tuition. “I come from an immigrant family and as the youngest of my four siblings,” Arguello said. “I am the first to go to college. I am at Pepperdine because of the Cal-Grant.”
“When I first heard of the governor’s proposal, my heart sank. I cannot even grasp the thought of transferring to a community college or even dropping out of college because of a cut in student aid. It is just impossible in my mind. I know I deserve to be at Pepperdine and I will continue to do what it takes to remain here, even if it means going all the way to the Capitol once, twice or even three more times,” Arguello said.
While Wednesday’s vote was a victory, the fight for financial aid is still not over. “It is an encouraging first step,” said Michael Truschke, dean of admission and enrollment management at Seaver College. “But we are cautiously optimistic.”
The Senate is holding an additional hearing regarding Cal Grants on April 19. Furthermore, Brown will release a revised budget proposal in May, which will include his proposed cuts despite the subcommittee’s opposition.
In an effort to close the state’s growing deficit, Brown’s proposal seeks to reduce the Cal Grant maximum award of $9,708 to $5,472. In addition to the 44 percent reduction, Brown would like to raise the minimum GPA requirements for all applicants making it harder to obtain a Cal Grant, according to the Chronicle for High Education.
Students from both public and private universities united together for one common purpose. Petitions were gathered, letters were written and videos went viral all in an attempt to stave off the proposed cuts to higher education.
A final decision should be reached sometime this summer. In the meantime, students and universities will have to wait in anticipation until the final outcome is revealed.