Students Push to Protect Cal Grant Program at Private Colleges

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SACRAMENTO -- Several dozen representatives of private nonprofit colleges and student recipients of Cal Grants came to the state Capitol building to lobby for a bill that would retain Cal Grant levels for students at private colleges.

Under Governor Jerry Brown's proposed budget, the maximum Cal Grant would drop from around $9,000 to $8,000.

"That extra thousand dollars means I would not be able to attend Dominican anymore," said Dominican University student Carla Hernandez, who works two jobs to help pay for tuition.

She is the first in her family to attend college and comes from a low-income family.

Kristen Soares, president of the Association of Independent California Collages and Universities said giving college students choices is important, and for low-income students that means the availability of student aid.

"The average family income in our sector, a family of four, is $20,000 a year," said Soares.

Hernandez said the business program at Dominican suits her learning style, and she has an anxiety problem that makes large crowds a problem. Dominican has around 2,000 students.

Zach Hunter, a student at the 1,000-student Occidental College, says a loss of $1,000 in Cal Grants would be devastating for him. He says students need to find colleges where they can thrive. He also said private colleges, whether it be Standford, Cal Tech or the dozens of smaller faith-based or liberal arts colleges, don't necessarily cater to upper- and middle-class whites.

"(Occidental) is extremely diverse and a lot of small private schools around us are extremely diverse, so that's definitely a stereotype," said Hunter.

The group is also supporting a bill that would tie Cal Grant levels to public university tuition to give students the ability to better budget for school costs.