Wednesday, September 23, 2009

 Sept. 23, 2009

More About Cal Grants

On the FA Blogspot ( , we posted an interview with Tom Campbell, who is running for Governor. He is a former state legislator, former congressman, with a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. He taught economics at Stanford U and was dean of the UC Berkeley business school. 

He proposes using Cal Grants to improve funding to UC.

Cal Grants are awarded by the State to high school seniors to cover the costs of fees, tuition, and living expenses. There are several different kinds ( , but the one of primary interest to Campbell covers the cost of tuition and fees and can go up to $7,788 at UC. Cal Grants do not need to be repaid. They are based on financial need and require minimum GPA requirements.

Campbell recommends allowing tuition to rise to market rate, but increase the Cal Grant program at the same time. UC would need to guarantee the minimum number of classes to recipients of Cal Grants because if they do not enroll in the minimum number, they lose their Cal Grant.

In this system, those who could afford to pay the tuition and fees would be paying for it. The tuition would go to the University and to the system to be a source of revenue. But it would not be unfair to low income students, who would receive Cal Grants. The Cal Grant is particularly beneficial because it doesn’t operate as “you qualify or you don’t” but on a sliding scale depending on your income.

There would be an additional cost to increase the Cal Grant program, but if tuition moved to market rates, then UC would have enough extra funds to offset the increased costs of the Cal Grant program. UC could either return some funds to the State Cal Grant program or devise a way of supplementing the State Cal Grant Program at UC.

This idea would improve access of poorer students by collecting market rate tuition and fees from those who can pay. Of course, the issue of raising UC tuition is highly political. In addition, Cal Grant funding is political, with legislative proposals to increase or decrease the income ceilings for Cal Grant programs, couple or decouple the UC award amount from the UC student fee levels, and reduce Cal Grants for students attending non public institutions.

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