by callie radke
The California Grant (Cal Grant) offered to California residents attending universities may be in jeopardy. Governor Jerry Brown is considering reducing the grant by almost 44 percent, from a maximum of $9,708 a year to maximum of approximately $5,700.
The Cal Grant changes being considered affect students attending independent, nonprofit higher education institutions like PLNU. GPA requirements would also be raised for all applicants, from the current 3.0 to 3.25 for Cal Grant A, from 2.0 to 2.75 for Cal Grant B and from 2.4 to 2.75 for Califonia Community College Transfers.
In response to the governor’s idea, Megan Ekard Collins, the director of community outreach and governmental relations at PLNU, said students can take action against it now.
“While this is currently just a proposal,” Collins said via e-mail, “we must get out in front of the issue now to make sure the governor and the state legislators understand the effect this will have on California’s students and the state budget.”
More than 400 PLNU students would be affected by this cut, according to an e-mail sent by George Latter the vice president for finance and administrative services. Latter said the loss of the grant would be significant enough to make some students unable to return to the university next year.
“It could make it so that I wouldn’t be able to come back to Point Loma due to financial need,” sophomore Michael Freed said.
Students and faculty alike are rallying together to try to convince Brown to keep the Cal Grant the way it is. PLNU, in partnership with the statewide Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, is waging an advocacy campaign to help gain support for the Cal Grant by contacting state legislators. They have also created a Facebook page that anyone, even those who are out of state, can “like” to try and rally a following.
Long-term effects of these changes to the Cal Grant may be varied. According to Collins, Brown is hoping the cuts will save the state money, but Collins also said this will not be the case. Students who are forced to leave private institutions will most likely attend state schools, which are already reaching capacity, and could ultimately cost the state more money.
“This is because the state subsidy [the amount the state pays per student] for Cal Grant students attending institutions like PLNU is substantially lower than the total subsidy provided to the Cal Grant students in the UC and CSU systems,” Collins said.
Dr. Bettina Pedersen, professor of literature and chair of the LJML department, helped raise awareness.
“This is a tremendous loss for the students for sure,” Pedersen said via e-mail, “but also for society as a whole. Whether the Cal Grants go or stay, the issue of the cost of education and our society’s commitment to education should be of great concern to all students.”