Bill would increase state financial aid for students at private colleges in California

The five undergraduate Claremont Colleges provide financial aid with a combination of institutional, state, federal, and external funding. (Caelyn Smith • Student Life)

A pending California Senate bill would increase the amount of state financial aid available to California residents studying at 5Cs and other private colleges, though the amount of aid students receive may do not change in institutions that already meet one hundred percent of financial needs.

California’s A and B “Cal Grants” are the state’s primary form of financial aid for low- and middle-income students, providing competitive grants to students in community colleges, state schools (the system of l California State University and the University of California System) and private schools that meet student loan default rate and graduation rate requirements.

the Cal Grant A helps with tuition and fees for educational programs that last at least two academic years, while the Cal Grant B acts as a living and education related expense allowance for educational programs of at least one year.

Currently, Cal Grant funding for private schools depends on the number of community college transfer students the school accepts.

According to Vice President of Enrollment Victoria Romero, 53 eligible Scripps College students received an average of about $9,245 per student in combined Cal A and B grants for the 2021-2022 academic year. The college aims to accept 10 to 15 community college transfer students per year, Romero said by email.

At Pitzer College, eligible students can receive up to $9,084 per year in Cal Grant A funding and $1,656 in Cal Grant B funding. At Pomona College, Cal Grant A funding is the same, at $9,084 per student per year, while Cal Grant B funding is $1,672. At Harvey Mudd College, the maximum combined Cal Grant funding received per student in recent years was $9,220.

Senate Bill 851introduced in January by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-25), proposed three main changes to Cal Grant’s funding.

First, the bill would eliminate the dependence of funding available to private school students on the number of transfer students the school accepts.

Second, the bill would require grants to adjust for inflation, halting the roughly 50% decline in the value of grants due to inflation since 2001, according to a fact sheet published by Portantino.

Finally, the bill would provide additional assistance to eligible students with dependents at private institutions.

Because all 5Cs already meet one hundred percent of demonstrated financial need, an increase in Cal Grant funding would not necessarily affect the total amount of financial aid available to individual 5C students.

The five undergraduate Claremont Colleges provide financial aid with a combination of institutional, state, federal, and external funding. State funding represents less than 5% of need-based financial aid at all 5C schools, and as little as 1.32% at Pomona.

Compared to the roughly $490,000 Scripps students received through Cal Grant aid in 2021-22, Scripps provided $2.9 million in institutional aid, Romero said via email.

At CMC, Cal Grant aid accounts for 11 to 18 percent of need-based aid for eligible students, CMC spokesperson Gilien Silsby said via email.

“With the Cal grant covering a higher portion of need-based financial aid, it would increase the pool of institutional funding available to us to meet the needs of our students,” Silsby said via email.

While the bill may not have a significant impact on total financial aid for 5C students, it will likely increase financial aid for students at private institutions who cannot guarantee full needs are met. financial.

At nearby Redlands University, for example, state funding contributed 10.36% of the financial aidwhile at the University of La Verne, state funding contributed 17.63 percentaccording to the latest available common datasets from schools.

Opponents of SB 851 are concerned that the elimination of transfer targets will negatively impact the rates at which private institutions admit community college students as transfers.

“Changes to the Cal Grant program will not negatively impact candidates who apply [to Scripps] as a community college transfer student,” Romero said via email. Silsby added that “we believe an increase in the Cal grant amount for private institutions will expand our freshman applicants and transfer from California.”

SB 851 was unanimously adopted by the Senate Committee on Education March 9. On April 4, the bill was tabled on “open case” by the Senate Appropriations Committee, indicating that the bill will be considered alongside other substantive budget matters once the 2022-23 state budget prepared in June. If passed, the bill could come into force as early as July.