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Expanding Cal Grants? Tight state budget makes it unlikely this year.

Expanding Cal Grants? Tight state budget makes it unlikely this year.


Michael Burke
February 2, 2024
A long-awaited expansion to financial aid in California, once expected to go into effect this year, is now facing uncertainty.
As part of California’s 2022 budget deal, lawmakers agreed to reform the Cal Grant, the state’s main financial aid program, to make it easier to understand, and expand eligibility by about 150,000 additional students, most of them low-income community college students.
But the 2022 agreement was contingent on sufficient state revenues to implement the reform, which would cost an estimated $365 million annually. And with California now facing at least a $38 billion deficit, Gov. Gavin Newsom has not committed to funding the reform, casting serious doubt on whether it will be included in this year’s budget.
That’s concerning to college access advocates and students who say the current Cal Grant program is too complicated and leaves out some of the state’s lowest-income students while the cost of attending college continues to rise.
Key lawmakers and other supporters say they plan to push for expanding the Cal Grant this year, even if they can’t get everything they initially hoped.
The Cal Grant, California’s key financial aid program, gives undergraduates grants of as much as $13,752 annually for tuition and fees, depending on the college. Students can also receive grants for living expenses. But the program is layered and confusing, awarding students different amounts depending on where they attend. Eligibility requirements also vary.
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