California Agrees to Grow Need-Based Student-Aid Program
California Gov. Gray Davis and state legislators have agreed to nearly double the size of the state’s need-based student-aid program, increasing spending on it to nearly $1.2 billion a year. The agreement came after lawmakers decided to support the governor’s proposal to put an additional $118 million toward new merit-based scholarships.
State Sen. Deborah V. Ortiz, D-Sacramento, a sponsor of the legislation, says denying grants to students who show financial need is not only unfair, it’s shortsighted.
The Cal Grants, as the need-based awards are known, have been a staple of the state’s financial-aid program for decades. However, the state budget never provided enough money for all the students eligible for the grants. Under the measure agreed to, the Cal Grants would be guaranteed to every student who is qualified.
Beginning in 2001, high-school graduates with financial need and at least a B average would be eligible for a full-tuition grant. Students wishing to attend an in-state private school could receive up to $9,700. Students with financial need who have at least a C average would be eligible for up to $1,550 to cover living expenses. In addition, the legislation provides 22,500 “second chance” Cal Grants for older students who are returning to college or enrolling for the first time.
“Financial aid is an investment that clearly is paying off,” Ortiz says. “At a time when we’re insisting on improved performance and accountability from our public schools, it makes sense to expand our commitment to financially needy students who are graduating from those schools so they can continue their education.”
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