The Cal Grant, a quiet hero that has enabled generations of East Bay students to go to college for nearly 60 years, is in jeopardy. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed cutting the Cal Grant maximum award almost in half, from $9,708 to $5,472. Thousands of East Bay college students stand to lose millions in state aid. For families barely able to scratch together a small part of college costs, this will be devastating.
At Holy Names University, with one of the most diverse student bodies in the United States and with 50 percent of HNU students being the first generation in their families to attend college, this will have a severely disabling effect.
Ten percent of our students will lose $500,000 in state aid. We know just how slender are the financial resources of our students and their families.
This loss of state aid will be very difficult, if not impossible, for these families to offset.
HNU is already giving financial aid to offset half of the cost of tuition.
Maintaining Cal Grants for students at independent colleges particularly boosts the economy.
Cal Grant students in private, nonprofit institutions graduate at a faster rate (71 percent) than students in the University of California system (54 percent) or the California State University system (18 percent).
Thus, they are able to enter the job market more quickly and become productive contributors to the economy.
In addition, educating students at independent, nonprofit institutions saves money for the California taxpayer. California pays $9,200 a year for a student at an independent, nonprofit college, $11,750 for a year at a CSU school, and $24,000 at a UC institution.
Why would Gov. Brown, a resident and proud booster of Oakland, propose such a devastating undermining of the Cal Grant?
Many of us believe that he got bad advice on this proposal and that if he understood the true impact, he would change his mind.
Will you join Cal Grant students and their families in giving better advice to Gov. Brown?
You can reach Gov. Brown by either sending a fax to 916-558-3160 or by leaving a message on his Web page: www.gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php.
William J. Hynes, Ph.D., is president of Holy Names University in Oakland.