Cal Grant cuts may reduce college dreams

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College is without a doubt a huge financial undertaking. Many rely on either federal, state, or academic financial aid to even make a dent in education expenses. Without these sources of aid, many would not be able to attend college at all.

For students in serious financial need, the Cal Grant is a huge part of what allows us to pursue our dreams here at California Baptist University. The Cal Grant is a need based grant issued by the state of California, and it was a huge factor in my decision to stay in California for college, and to attend college in the first place.

I personally would not have been able to attend California Baptist University without the Cal Grant.

Now, however, those dreams might be threatened.

As part of his 2012 budget cuts, Governor Jerry Brown has proposed cutting the maximum grant of $9,708 to $5,472 for non-profit private colleges in the state of California for the 2012-2013 academic year. This is a cut of nearly half of the original award.

A decision will likely be made sometime this summer, which is especially detrimental for incoming freshman, who may have to decide on a school before knowing the full extent of their financial aid package.

Those of us who are already in school when this cut goes through will have a lot of questions. Can we still afford to attend CBU, or any university for that matter? Will we have to take out more loans, pushing ourselves further into debt? Is college a dream we may have to put on the shelf for a while?

But we don’t have to take this lying down. As a student body we can make our voices heard. CBU’s Financial Aid office recently organized a Valentine’s Day campaign to encourage students at CBU to inundate their senators with calls and emails voicing discontentment.

You might have noticed the heart- shaped pink and red stickers around campus, proudly claiming that students had called their representatives in office. Every call, every email from a concerned student, staff or faculty member is another chance that someone in California’s government may listen.

California might be in a bad financial situation, but cancelling the educational goals of thousands of college students is not the answer. As students, we will figure prominently in driving the economy out of the recession as we enter the workforce.

If you live in the Riverside area, contact Senator Robert Dutton at (909) 466-4180 or email him directly on his website. If you live elsewhere please contact your district representative by phone or by email as soon (and as often) as possible.

As you call and email those in our government, remember to go forth in love. We are examples of Christ’s love on earth and while the situation might be frustrating, that is no reason to lash out in anger. Be kind, be courteous, be Christ-like. We are far more likely to bring about change with a spirit of peaceful protest.

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