Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed putting the 50-year-old Cal Grant program on the chopping block. This would be a disaster for more than 200,000 students. According to The Institute for College Access & Success, these students would lose anywhere from $576 to $9,708 a head this fall.
To save roughly $250 million, the governor would eliminate all Cal Grants, which students can use at public and private schools within the state, for all new students. (Students coming from families with adjusted incomes of just shy of $80,000 have been eligible for a piece of this pie.)
What’s more, the value of the renewable Cal Grants for returning students at the University of California and California State University campuses will be reduced.
The potential dismantling of the Cal Grant system would be a disaster for low and middle-income families. I suspect their disappearance will prompt more students to turn to cheaper community colleges.
I’d argue, however, that a loss of state aid should spur more students to look beyond their borders for academic opportunities. About 84% of California kids attend college in their own state, but ironically, the best deals in education can often be found elsewhere in this country for above average students. The key is looking beyond the most obvious choices.