In early October, California Governor Gavin Newsom had a chance to make college more affordable for hundreds of thousands of students, but he chose not to.
He signed 21 bills in the beginning of October, but one of the bills he did not sign was the California Grant Reform Act. This bill would have guaranteed every community college student in California a CalGrant award, regardless of their age, high school GPA or time since their high school graduation. For four-year universities, the student’s high school GPA would have needed to be above 2.0.
“The Cal Grant Reform Act would become operative for students to apply for aid beginning Oct. 1, 2023 and to receive aid for the 2024-2025 academic year,” says the California State Legislature in bill AB-1456. This means that students would have been able to apply for financial aid starting in October 2023 and would have received that same financial aid before classes start for their 2024-2025 academic school year.
In California, this bill would have helped a little bit over 200,000 more students, a huge jump from the 133,000 that is in effect. It is estimated that 38,000 of those 200,000 students attend a four-year university, while the rest of the newly eligible students would be attending community colleges around the state.
For LPC students and many other students at different colleges, this would mean that it would be much easier to pay for tuition, mainly at four-year universities and classes. With the bill, every college student would have been guaranteed to get a CalGrant award.
This bill would have helped all students in California, especially those who are in less fortunate conditions. However, since Governor Newsom thinks otherwise, those students will continue having a tough time paying for college.
Even though the California State Legislature passed the bill unanimously, Governor Newsom didn’t sign the bill. One of the biggest and most important reasons he didn’t sign it, was because of how costly it would be for the state.
In his veto message to the Legislation, Newsom wrote, “I agree with the author that making the Cal Grant program simpler to navigate would benefit our students and their families. However, this bill results in significant cost pressures to the state, likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.”
Other reasons that the Newsom administration opposes this bill are that it may block aid for some students and more importantly, it could motivate California’s four-year universities to increase tuition.
Hopefully, in the future, if Newsom receives a similar bill, he will have a change of heart, which would be beneficial for all community college students in California.
Arnav Koul is a writer for The Express. Follow Him @ArnavKoul