Biola Students Lobby Against Cal Grant Proposed Cut

State of California to decrease private school entitlements

Apr. 1, 2014 By Lauren Frey

Two Biola students travelled to the California State Capitol in Sacramento to lobby against proposed Cal Grant funding cuts — an 11 percent decrease — during Cal Grant Awareness Day on March 11, 2014.

The Cal Grant is an entitlement guaranteed to California residents as free financial aid throughout their first four years of undergraduate studies. The cut will affect the 2014-15 incoming freshmen who desire to attend private universities and colleges such as Biola.

The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) coordinated this event, which Biola has been involved with for over ten years. Joining more than 100 other AICCU students and school administrators, freshman sociology major Katy Gutierrez and sophomore communications major Ekko Hendrix represented Biola and spoke personally with legislators, urging them to repeal the cut.

“Just because we attend a private school does not mean we are rich,” said Gutierrez. “By raising awareness with the legislators, we hope they remember our stories and do not cut the funds for incoming students that will be attending a private school and receiving the Cal Grant.”

Gutierrez and Hendrix also communicated that after graduation many California residents who have attended private institutions in the state will remain in California and therefore continue to pay taxes, benefitting the economy and public at large.

The cut would decrease the maximum award by 11 percent — more than $1,000 — in the 2014-15 year for Biola’s sector, which would put the Cal Grant in the $8,000 range.

“Our Cal Grant students are coming from low income families. An 11 percent cut is actually a lot of money,” said Biola admissions counselor Belinda Aleman.

“It may not seem like a lot when we’re talking about having thousands of dollars of tuition over all, but for a single-income parent, or for someone who is on disability, it’s something that our students would have a lot of trouble coming up with.”

Gutierrez and Hendrix met personally with legislators including state Sen. Richard Roth, Assemblyman Eric Linder and Assemblyman Ian Calderon.

“Our students go in there and share about … what it was like to be the first in their family to go to college, what struggles they’ve encountered, and what support they’ve received at their current institutions, and ask these legislators to reconsider their actions,” said Aleman.

Gutierrez is a first generation college student and hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement. Hendrix hopes to go to law school. Both students are from low-income households and rely heavily on financial aid such as the Cal Grant to pay for tuition costs at Biola University.

“Once they have a face to a problem, they are more than willing to help out,” said Gutierrez.

As a private institution, Biola is faced with the question of how it will spend funds in a way that is equitable, but also take students into consideration whose financial coverage will significantly drop year-by-year, according to Aleman.

“If the cuts continue, Biola will need to decide if it is able to use more institutional funds to cover that gap,” said Aleman.  

Biola’s admissions department will continue their lobbying efforts with letters from Biola President Barry Corey to several key legislators, and by having students sign an electronic petition in support of repealing the cut and restoring the 2014-15 Cal Grant to back to the 2013-14 financial aid level.

To sign the petition to restore Cal Grants for the private sector, visit http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-brown-ca-legislature-protect-our-cal-grant.

To read more on Gov. Brown’s proposed budget cuts, visit http://www.aiccu.edu/aiccu-statement-governor-browns-proposed-2014-15-budget/.

For more information about Cal Grant advocacy, visit http://www.studentsfirstalliance.org/.

Written by Media Relations Intern, Lauren Frey. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Specialist at 562.777.4061 or jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu.

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