With today’s economic struggles, another cut to California’s higher education budget looms over Cal Grant holders and college students this year.
The California Student Aid Commission recently announced that Cal Grant awards have been reduced by 5 percent. The reduction was approved June 27 after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the 2012-13 Budget Act for the fiscal year’s spending plan. Other programs facing decreases based on the budget are kindergarten through 12th grade education, as well as child care and development.
Nearly 2,000 SF State Cal Grant holders will be affected by the $39 reduction per semester. Negative repercussions may follow the Cal Grant reduction as tuition continues to rise each semester, according to Hubler. Cal Grants may face further adjustments if tuition increases or decreases during the academic year.
“(SF State students will be impacted) negatively (and) $39 has to be covered somehow,” said Barbara Hubler, University director of the student financial aid office. “More loans, more work hours or doing with less.”
There are various Cal Grants available to California college students who qualify. Eligible students need a minimum 3.0 GPA, to be actively working toward their undergraduate degrees or certificates and be able to demonstrate financial need. Cal Grants are offered in three different categories ranging from A, B and C. All grants offered help fund student tuition and fees. The type of campus covered — public, private, occupational or career technical schools — depends on the Cal Grant the student holds.
The grants are important assets for many attending college because they help fund expenses like tuition, textbooks and living costs. SF State is one of many campuses that will be impacted by the reduction. All Universities of California, California State Universities, community colleges and numerous private universities are included under the new budget.
“I think there should be more benefits for students (such as) less costly books and tuition,” said Marian Haamdy, a business marketing major at SF State..
“Most of us are full-time students and full-time working,” said Haamdy. “It’s hard for us to pay.”
Since 2010, University tuition has continued to climb with percentage increases to students. In Fall 2010, a five percent increase was approved for undergraduate, graduate and credential students, raising tuition to $2,115 for students registered for 6.1 or more units. The tuition rose again in Fall 2011 with a 12 percent increase in tuition students registering for 6.1 or more units to pay $2,736. Students currently attending this semester are paying another increased tuition fee of $2,985 to register for 6.1 or more units.
“While we have reduced public support for higher education, student loan debt has been increasing,” said Beverly Voloshin, professor and chair of the English language and literature department. “Debt from student loans is often a considerable burden after college or graduate school, especially for people who take jobs that don’t come with high salaries.”
Despite Cal Grants being reduced by 5 percent, there are still other avenues students can pursue for financial assistance including scholarships, federal financial aid, various grants and student loans. For more information on financial aid and the Cal Grant reduction, students can visit the One Stop center in the Student Services Building.
“I believe that we should treat education as, at least in part, a public good rather than just a private good,” Voloshin said. “This also insures access to people from all walks of life.”