Blog Post | October 28, 2010

Diminishing Returns: Fewer and Fewer Served by Competitive Cal Grants

Every year, all recent high school graduates who meet income and GPA criteria, and who apply by the March 2nd deadline, receive an Entitlement Cal Grant to help cover college costs. But those who aren’t recent high school graduates or missed the deadline aren’t so lucky – only a limited number of Competitive Cal Grants is available, no matter how many eligible applicants there are.

The Competitive Cal Grant Program serves an incredibly important role, but unfortunately the number of eligible applicants far exceeds the number of grants available. And the data clearly show that demand for the program is higher than ever. Over the past five years, the number of eligible applicants has nearly doubled – for every new grant available there were 13 qualified applicants in 2010-11, compared to seven qualified applicants per new available grant in 2006-07. Most of the eligible applicants who don’t receive a grant attend community colleges.

Financial aid is critical to college success, and without enough of it students may work too much while trying to achieve their academic goals. Research shows that working more than 15 – 20 hours per week has a detrimental effect on student achievement, yet over half of California’s full-time community college students with financial need work that much or more hurting their chances of success.


– Laura Szabo-Kubitz Policy Associate The Institute for College Access & Success