On January 5, Governor Jerry Brown released his proposed 2012/2013 California budget. As you may know, it included substantial cuts to the Cal Grant student aid program. It proposes to cut the maximum award from $9,708 to $5,472 for eligible students attending nonprofit, independent California colleges and universities, such as Santa Clara University. The proposed cut would affect both new recipients for fall 2012 and continuing students with Cal Grants who are eligible for renewal in the fall. This 44 percent reduction represents an annual $2.4 million loss in financial aid support for SCU students.
Currently, more than 11 percent of Santa Clara University's undergraduate students receive as much as $9,708 a year in Cal Grants, a maximum that has remained flat since 2000. They represent some of our neediest, underrepresented, first-generation college students who have beaten great odds to meet our tough admissions standards. They are among our most dedicated students, with a first-year retention rate of 96 percent. It is often a combination of grants, scholarships, loans and family savings that makes their education possible. This proposed change to the program would seriously limit access for students with great need and great potential.
I am writing to encourage you to join trustees, students, faculty and staff at other California nonprofit, independent institutions in urging California legislators to maintain the current Cal Grant awards. The University has created a dedicated web page to assist the SCU community in taking action. Please visit the web page for updated information and instructions on how you can make your support known through one or all of these important steps:
1. Call, email or write your legislators and the Governor. Let them know what the Cal Grant program means to SCU’s students and let them know that you oppose any cuts to the program for students at nonprofit, independent universities. Use this online tool to find your legislators.
2. Join the Students First Alliance to Save our Cal Grant. The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) has formed a Students First Alliance and is inviting the participation of students, Cal Grant alumni, student organizations, faculty and staff, institutional presidents, trustees and regents. Its mission is to save Cal Grants for all students and for the future of California. You can find the Students First Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
3. Sign the Save Our Cal Grant: Statement of Support and send it to AICCU.
I strongly encourage you to support this effort on behalf of SCU students and other deserving college students across the State.
Michael E. Engh, S.J.