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Expansion of college financial aid in California may be at risk

Expansion of college financial aid in California may be at risk

Ed Source

Michael Burke
March 15, 2023
As Cal Grant reform faces budget problems, students may face uncertainty about aid
A major expansion of financial aid for California’s college and university students, set to go into effect next year, could now be in jeopardy.
That uncertainty is causing alarm on campuses around the state that hoped the changes would help more students as it also streamlines the current complicated grant system.
As part of last year’s budget agreement, lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom agreed to overhaul the state’s main financial aid program, the Cal Grant beginning in 2024. The changes would simplify the program and expand eligibility, especially to community college students, by eliminating high school grade requirements and guaranteeing awards to all low-income students eligible for federal Pell Grants.
But those changes are set to take effect only if there is enough revenue available in 2024 to support the reforms. That is estimated to cost an additional $365 million annually on top of the current $3.4 billion budget for the California Student Aid Commission, which administers the Cal Grant program.
And with the state now facing potential deficits in future years, that additional funding and the linked changes are threatened, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan office of the Legislature that provides fiscal and policy advice. “Cal Grant reform is very unlikely to be triggered” in 2024, the LAO told lawmakers in a memo prepared for an Assembly hearing Tuesday.
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