Sacramento, CA – The Cal State Student Association (CSSA), the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC), and the University of California Student Association (UCSA) have come together for the third year in a row to advocate as the Fix Financial Aid Coalition for financial aid reform on behalf of all California students.
We appreciate greatly that financial aid reform is receiving attention from the legislature and from the governor, including the proposal to make summer financial aid resources permanent. Students have been clear that we are in need of comprehensive reform and funding of a Cal Grant system that will expand opportunities for students and support our lowest-income students who have disproportionately taken on more and more debt while working multiple jobs and struggling to graduate.
As policymakers move into the final phase of the 2021-22 budget deliberations we urge them to retain their commitment to equitable access and affordability for all students who are in fact the workforce infrastructure for our state. We request that a final financial aid agreement adopt reform and invest in our Cal Grant program based on the following student-centered issues:
The current system does not address the total cost of attendance such as housing, food, transportation, textbooks and other related expenses leaving CCC, CSU, and UC students with 95%, 80% and 65%, respectively, of total cost not covered forcing students to work more, slowing time to degree and/or incurring greater debt.
The current system is complicated with various eligibility criteria across a myriad of programs that not only confuse students and families but school and college counselors as well.
A comprehensive plan leverages federal, state and institutional programs.
Over 290,000 eligible students are denied grant aid each year because of artificial barriers such as age, time out of high school and GPA restrictions.
While students are encouraged to take advantage of lower-tuition, high quality community college programs, these students are denied the same entitlement to Cal Grant offered to CSU and UC students.
Access awards are a critical component of our Cal Grant system and should be adjusted regularly to reflect growth in non-tuition costs.
The Middle Class Scholarship (MCS) should remain a tool for families and proposed expansion should be considered as part of a final solution for all; however, we ask that such expansion should not come at the cost of serving the lowest income students.
Lastly, the Fix Financial Aid Coalition looks forward to working with the Governor, the legislature, and our partners to ensure that any reform proposed is one that will benefit its constituents, us students.