As the state budget deadlock remains unresolved, UC President Mark Yudof plans to advance University of California funds for Cal Grants to cover spring quarter.
Cal Grants, a financial aid award issued by the state through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), are currently issued to 46,000 students in some form, said UC spokesperson Ricardo Vasquez.
Cal Grants are facing cuts of $86 million to all UCs, $17 million alone which will be affecting UC Davis students, said Katy Maloney, interim director of UC Davis Financial Aid Office.
“What [UC] is planning to do is advance the money to the students because of the state delay in payments,” Vasquez said. “We expect once the state has resolved the budget to be reimbursed.“
This is not the first time UC has been in this situation, Vasquez said. In August 2008 UC advanced funds for Cal Grants due to the state budget being late. Once the budget was resolved, UC was repaid.
“I don’t know when they will finalize the budget, but we don’t want students to feel the impact of this,” Maloney said. “Because students will be receiving less, they are expected to contribute $200 more.”
If not for UC loaning out this money on behalf of the state, the state would be issuing IOUs to students in place of financial aid. This would result in many students not being able to pay their tuition fees, which is why Yudof took action.
“We wanted to keep [students] from being dropped,” Vasquez said. “We wanted to prevent any disruption in students‘ ability to pay for fees.“
Compounding financial difficulty for students, tuition fees will likely increase by 9.3 percent next year, Maloney said.
The financial aid office at UC Davis is working on a proposal that would have Cal Grants cover two-thirds of annual registration fees, instead of usually covering all of them. With this “decoupling,“ students are expected to pay the difference.
“It’s unfortunate that they cut Cal Grants, but during tough economic times the cut has to come from somewhere,” said Carlos Romero, a current freshman who received a Cal Grant for the year.
The University of California Student Association opposes this decoupling along with the removal of competitive Cal Grant awards. ASUCD members at the regents‘ meeting last week discussed these issues during public comment.
“We do what we can in public comment, but it’s not that effective,” said Talia MacMath, ASUCD Lobby Corps director.
ASUCD has also been pushing their own agenda in order to offset the budget cuts. They have pushed to have bill AB53 passed, which freezes the income of state employees already making over $100,000 for two years.
“We can’t tell the regents what to do, but it emphasizes for them to do the same,” MacMath said.
ASUCD lobbied to pass the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan at the UC regents meeting last week. According to MacMath, the plan is designed to have students with incomes under $60,000 have all tuition fees paid for, with those making between $60,000 and $100,000 receiving 50 percent coverage of fees.
Maloney says for the most part this has already been occurring, and that this is more of a public announcement to make everyone aware of what UC has been doing for a while now.
“It is a marketing thing to let people know that UC can be affordable,” Maloney said. “It’s more of a message.“
The state budget however has yet to be finalized by the legislature. Everything remains uncertain, Maloney said.
CORY BULLIS can be reached at email@example.com.