Publication | March 9, 2016

How and Why to Improve Cal Grants: Key Facts and Recommendations

In Spring 2016, TICAS and twenty members of Californians for College Affordability, a broad coalition of student, civil rights, college access, business, and workforce organizations, released a new analysis of how to strengthen Cal Grants for California’s low-income students. The Cal Grant program provides $2 billion in need-based grant aid that each year helps hundreds of thousands of Californians pay for college.  However, the report finds that many needy college students continue to not receive Cal Grants or receive less than others with more resources.

The report includes three recommendations designed to build on the strengths of the Cal Grant program and better serve California’s students going forward:

1. Increase the Cal Grant B access award, which is worth just one quarter of its original value. Cal Grant B access awards go to the lowest income recipients, and help them limit their work hours and focus on their studies by covering non-tuition costs such as books, transportation, and living expenses.

2. Serve more of the state’s Cal Grant eligible students. Most eligible applicants are shut out of the entitlement guarantee, and too few competitive grants are authorized and awarded.

3. Include tuition awards for first-year Cal Grant B recipients at universities. Currently, most of these very low-income students receive just $1,656 in Cal Grants as freshman and must find other ways to pay for tuition and fees.

The following members of Californians for College Affordability joined together to release the report and support its recommendations:

Bay Area Council
California Community College Association of Student Trustees
California Competes
California EDGE Coalition
California Homeless Youth Project
California State Conference of the NAACP
California State Student Association
The Campaign for College Opportunity
The Education Trust–West
The Institute for College Access & Success
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
NAACP Los Angeles
Public Advocates Inc.
Southern California College Access Network
Student Senate for California Community Colleges
University of California Student Association
Young Invincibles