Advocates of major changes to Cal Grant look to Newsom

Source: Michael Burke: EdSource

“Never before have we seen so many people applying to UC and CSU. And the reality is college is ever expensive, and it’s not just the tuition, it’s the nontuition costs. So that’s what our bill is getting at,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, an author of the bill and chair of the Assembly’s subcommittee on education finance. “And we hope the governor has something in his May revise. If not, we’ll negotiate. This is a top priority for the Assembly.”

For the second consecutive year, a major overhaul to California’s main financial aid program is being proposed by lawmakers who say the current system is overly complex and excludes too many students from getting aid.

And for the second consecutive year, whether that proposal becomes state law is largely up to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Last fall, the governor vetoed Assembly Bill 1456 after it received unanimous support in the Legislature. Newsom said at the time that while he agreed changes were needed to the Cal Grant, the proposal was too costly and needed to be dealt with during the state’s annual budget process.

This year, the same lawmakers that were behind AB 1456 have introduced AB 1746, which would similarly expand access to the awards by eliminating GPA requirements for community college students and guaranteeing awards to students eligible for a federal Pell Grant. It would also simplify the Cal Grant program.

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