Amidst fee increases and enrollment slashes, California’s college students have been delivered even more bad news – the Cal Grant program may take a hit.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed budget cuts earlier this month eliminating the competitive Cal Grant and keeping need-based grants at their current amount (not adjusting for fee increases or inflation). The plan would limit about 22,500 competitive grants.
The cuts are coming at a time when it is evident that the state is not adequately funding higher education, which will certainly raise tuition at public colleges. Moreover, with the economy in turmoil, it is even harder for students to find employment to pay for their tuition. The situation is detrimental to both the university and its students.
When balancing the budget, the governor should only cut from financial aid funding as a last resort. The state needs to work harder to find an alternate solution.
Increasing tuition fees and cutting financial aid is a deadly combination that will end up hurting lower-to-middle income families. If the current trend continues, they will simply not be able to afford a higher education. Schwarzenegger’s proposal is just one more barrier that is preventing accomplished lower and even middle income students from receiving a quality education that they’ve earned.
The implications of such cuts must be seriously considered. Fewer people with college degrees would have significant impact on California’s economy and the quality of its workforce. It also creates a startling scenario in which only the wealthy would be able to afford college, further separating the gap between rich and poor. Is this the California that policymakers want?
The state of access to higher education funding in California is dismal, and the governor’s proposal is just adding to the dilemma.
It is alarming to see that the policymakers are so willing to slash financial aid funding.