‘Day in the Capitol’ highlights potential cut to Cal Grant

[ Courtesy of Beth Baugher ]

The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, (AICCU) hosted its annual Day in the Capitol event Feb. 28 in Sacramento, where students who attend private, non-profit institutions advocated against an 11 percent cut to the California Grant in Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent budget.

The cut will see $1,028 less for each incoming freshman who chooses to attend a private institution. This cut is less than 1 percent of the state budget and will not affect currently enrolled students.

Students from California Baptist University, La Sierra University, Pepperdine University and other institutions attended the “Day in the Capitol” event and had the opportunity to speak with legislators, assemblymen, assemblywomen and senators about why California Grant should not be cut.

“Receiving Cal Grant at CBU has been an extraordinary relief, not having to take out a private loan or take a job to pay for tuition has allowed me to focus on other opportunities,” said Natalie Hollis, senior criminal justice major. “(Because of the Cal Grant) I have been able to compete for CBU’s Speech and Debate Team throughout the state and country.”

Hollis was also able to accept a non-paid internship with the Riverside County District Attorney.

A large percentange of students who receive Cal Grant come from low-income families and would not have the ability to make monthly payments if this budget is approved for the upcoming school year.

At the event, Sen. Mike Morell said he was torn on this issue but will probably vote against the cut. The proposal is controversial because of the debate about how much taxpayer dollars should go to financial aid at higher education institutions. Students who spoke with the legislators emphasized the effect the cut will have on future students who wish to pursue higher education at a private institution.

“This could play a role in determining students ability to attend CBU. The $1,028 cut would mean some students would need to either increase their payment plan ($257/month) or increase the amount of loans they or their parents take out,” said Joel Brown, special programs coordinator the CBU Financial Aid Office.

Sen. Anthony Portantino, a supporter of education, said polite persistence from students works.

“Cal Grant has enabled me to come to CBU because it’s 9,000 dollars that I don’t have to pay back every year. It really cuts my balance down to something I am able to afford,” said Vanessa Lopez, senior sociology major. “My little brother wants to come to CBU next year but if Cal Grant is cut, I don’t know if we will be able to afford it.”

The budget committee will vote on the proposal around May of this year.

If approved, it will save 7.4 million dollars the first year but will be detrimental to low-income students that do not have the $1,028 that will be cut from the Cal Grant to pay out of pocket.

The “Day in the Capitol event” is hosted annually in the hopes of the California Grant to stay at a fixed rate and maybe increase over the years.

The event being hosted depends on whether or not the budget committee cuts the California Grant for this upcoming year and whether or not Governor Brown’s budget for the 2018-2019 year includes cutting the California Grant amount once again for those in the future that chose to attend private institutions.

About Giovanna Berrocal

Opinion Editor

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