The California Students First Alliance (CSFA) is a coalition comprised of college and university students, campus leaders, administrators and staff with the goal of protecting and Cal Grant program for deserving students. CSFA is a student-led campaign that seeks to educate the public and policymakers about the benefits of the Cal Grant, not only for the low-income students that access the grants, but also the long-term benefits for the state. The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) supports this coalition.
The Cal Grant award can be used at all segments of higher education and administered by the California Student Aid Commission (www.csac.ca.gov). Students attending a private, nonprofit higher education institution can receive up to $9,084 in 2015-16 and students at UC and CSU have their system wide fees covered. It’s important that all students work together to build a better understanding among policymakers of the significant benefits that the State gains from the Cal Grant investment. The Cal Grant program has made college possible for many students and families experiencing financial hardship.
The Cal Grant Story
The Cal Grant program (formerly the California State Scholarship Program) was originally created in 1955 to provide state grants to qualified California high school graduates attending private, nonprofit colleges. The partnership between California with AICCU colleges and universities sought to efficiently use the state's tax dollars by leveraging capacity in the private, nonprofit sector to educate California students. After UC and CSU campuses began charging fees, the Cal Grant program expanded to serve financially needy and meritorious students in all segments of California’s higher education.
AICCU’s 77 colleges and universities are able to educate more of California’s academically qualified, and diverse students with financial need as a result of the Cal Grant program. In 2012-13, AICCU members leveraged this financial assistance from the state and dedicated $1.5 billion in the form of institutional aid to support students. The Cal Grant program is a proven, powerful public-private partnership with the private, nonprofit sector that creates an educated workforce at a lower cost to taxpayers.
Since 2014, this important student financial aid program has been facing a 11.3% cut, which would lower the maximum amount from $9,084 to $8,056—over $1,000—for incoming students at a private, nonprofit college or university. For students that already face financial difficulties, this could mean the difference between taking a second job, graduating on time, or even attending college at all.
In June 2015, Governor Brown signed the 2015-16 budget, which included a delay to the cuts through the 2016-17 academic year. This means the Cal Grant award will remain at $9,084 for the incoming classes of 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Our success would not have been possible without the relentless efforts made by students, alumni, faculty, campus administration and other communities through letter writing campaigns to the Governor and visits to the Capitol to meet with legislators. AICCU continues to need this type of engaged advocacy to ensure that not only will the Cal Grant cut be repealed, but the amount is secure through a long-term funding formula, providing higher education opportunities for all Californians, no matter their background.
Thank your for all your efforts!