As reported today in the Sacramento Bee, many of California’s college students are once again starting the school year without the grant funds they were promised would help cover their costs. Until the Governor signs a budget for 2010-11 no state funds can be distributed, including those going to the over 335,000 low-income students who have qualified for Cal Grants – the state’s need-based student financial aid program.
Some institutions, such as those in the public and private four-year sectors, are able to front the funds or allow students to enroll before they receive their grants, but most California community college (CCC) students do not have a similar safety net. While the majority of Cal Grant dollars received by students who attend four-year institutions go towards tuition and fees, CCC students’ grants help pay for education-related expenses like books, rent, and food. Without this critical source of funding, students may no longer be able to attend, be forced to incur more debt to stay in school, or have to find additional work to cover their basic needs.