California Access & Success

After the pomp and pageantry of today’s inauguration, one of new California Governor Gavin Newsom’s first acts will be to release a proposed state budget for 2019-20. News accounts suggest that his first budget will embrace the fact that investing more in education – from preschool through adulthood – must be a priority for California to retain its economic strength and standing. Reclaiming the state’s mantle as a pioneer in affordable, quality higher education will require new investments in need-based financial aid to ensure that the cost of a degree is within reach for all Californians.

Currently, low-income students at the vast majority of public colleges in California would have to work more than 20 hours per week to afford college costs, after accounting for grants and scholarships. This is true even when tuition is free because other costs like living expenses, textbooks, and transportation make up the majority of students’ college costs.

While California has the largest state grant program in the country – the Cal Grant – most eligible grant applicants do not receive grants because too few are available. Many of those who do receive grants have seen their award amounts stagnate, though the 5 percent of community college students who receive Cal Grants can access supplemental programs that make up for some of the lost ground. 

Yet while the extent of the problem is substantial, there is reason to be optimistic. More than ever before, there is agreement about the existence of a problem, how it manifests, and how to solve it.

  • There is a strong consensus in California that college is unaffordable. The majority of Californians – including more than six in ten Democrats and Republicans alike – believe college affordability is a big problem.
  • Experts generally agree that the state’s affordability challenges contribute to equity gaps in who gets to and through college, hold students back from completing degrees, and can leave graduates with burdensome levels of student loan debt to repay. The experts’ near universal recommendation: to provide more support to students who need help paying for nontuition costs of college.
  • Since 2016, there have been several proposals, including two at the request of the Legislature, to reform California’s financial aid. Each of the proposals envisioned a new approach: taking students’ total college costs into account and expecting that students and families would make financial contributions that were reasonable given their own financial circumstances. Federal, college, and state grant aid would cover the rest.
  • While student groups and student-focused advocates have long called for increased investments in Cal Grants, colleges have now joined the charge. The California Community Colleges Board of Governors recently requested an additional $1.5 billion in financial aid support their students, “given evidence that additional financial aid improves the likelihood of retention and completion.” University of California president Janet Napolitano and California State University president Tim White recently said that financial aid reform “can be a cornerstone of further student achievement,” and called upon the state to “expand the reach of Cal Grants” and increase “the availability and size of what is currently known as the Cal Grant B Access Award [which helps students cover nontuition college costs].” And at its last meeting of 2018, the California Student Aid Commission voted to recommend reducing Cal Grant eligibility barriers and to focus more on students’ total college costs than has been done historically.

The level of attention paid to financial aid reform in recent years is unprecedented, as is the level of consensus around where new investments need to be made. Governor Newsom has also demonstrated a keen understanding of these issues, and he committed to ensuring that state financial aid expands to serve more students and to a greater extent. We look forward to working with the governor and Legislature as they chart a new course for California that restores its role as a national leader in quality, affordable higher education. 

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Much has already been written about higher education in the California budget agreement for 2018-19, the broad parameters of which have been public for days. Yet there are several important provisions for college affordability and financial aid in the budget trailer bill passed today that have flown under the radar and deserve to be elevated. They include the following:

  • Full-time Cal Grant recipients at community colleges will see an increase to their financial aid awards. In his January budget proposal, the Governor proposed consolidating two community college financial aid programs into one, and to increase funding for the consolidated program. We had some suggestions on how to do it in a way that better addressed both students’ and colleges’ needs. The proposal adopted by the Legislature reflects many of our recommendations, including making the grants easier for students to receive, making the program easier for colleges to administer (and providing some administrative funding as well), and better supporting students in summer terms. Importantly, under the final language, all full-time community college Cal Grant recipients will see an increase to their awards. These changes will enable many community college students to spend more time in class and studying, rather than working to cover total college costs, increasing their odds of graduating and graduating faster.
  • Foster youth will have an easier time getting a Cal Grant, as we have long recommended. Students who transition quickly from high school to college are entitled to receive a Cal Grant, but those who don’t face long odds to get one. For former foster youth, who face particularly challenging hurdles en route to college, insufficient support can lead to delayed enrollment which in turn affects how much financial aid they can receive. The budget agreement extends former foster youths’ entitlement to a Cal Grant by several years (until age 26), and gives those attending community college a longer window of time in which to apply.
  • A modest but important step towards greater institutional accountability for financial aid, by allowing students at nonprofit colleges to retain a larger Cal Grant award if their sector enrolls more students with Associate Degrees for Transfer from community colleges.
  • Through funding for the California College Promise (AB 19/Statutes of 2017), colleges will be able to provide even greater support to students whose financial struggles hold them back from graduating. How colleges use their California College Promise money is up to them, so long as it is used to support student success. After exploring what is holding students back, some colleges are choosing to spend their resources helping students overcome the financial barriers that non-tuition costs of college pose to student success. Whether used to provide childcare resources, transportation vouchers, or textbooks, helping financially needy students cover their non-tuition costs of college is an important way to support student success.

Higher education experts throughout the state agree that greater and more targeted investments in financial aid are needed, and we are grateful for both Governor Jerry Brown’s and the Legislature’s continued leadership and commitment to improving college affordability. The financial aid provisions in this budget agreement mark yet another step in the right direction for our state’s underserved students. Nonetheless, the severity and scale of equity gaps demands that more be done. We look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature and the next Governor to ensure that all needy Californians can afford to get to and through college.  

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California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal for 2018-19, the first step in crafting the state’s budget, was packed with higher education proposals addressing a wide range of issues affecting both colleges and students. In particular, his proposals to create a new, fully online community college and to change the way community colleges are funded have captured national attention. But his proposal to reform community college student financial aid has gotten less attention despite its potential to better support students in their efforts to get to and through college.

Specifically, Governor Brown proposed streamlining two community college financial aid programs (the Full-Time Student Success Grant (FTSSG) and the Community College Completion Grant (CCCG)) and increasing their combined funding by $33 million. With both designed to increase the amount of financial aid available to full-time students who receive state Cal Grants, the Governor’s proposal rightly notes that these programs “target the same socioeconomic student cohort and encourage the timely completion of a degree or certificate,” yet have different requirements which add complexity for both students and schools. We commend the Governor for recommending consolidating these programs into a single grant that “encourages students to take a full course load while recognizing that is not feasible for all students.” However, we believe this goal would be better achieved through an alternate consolidation approach, outlined here, that would result in a simpler and more equitable financial aid program that better recognizes student realities.

Notably, these aren’t the only funds which hold promise for supporting community college affordability. The Governor’s budget also includes funding for AB 19 (chaptered in 2017), a bill that provided colleges that embrace student-focused reforms with additional resources to help students succeed and close equity gaps. Exactly how the funds are used is at colleges’ discretion: for example, the President and CEO of Mt. San Antonio College, Dr. William T. Scroggins, explored the needs of his students and plans to use his colleges’ allocation to help cover students’ unmet financial need, and provide emergency grants and loans to help students pay for food, housing, child care, and transportation.

Finally, while not referenced in the Governor’s budget proposal, it’s important to note that last year’s budget directed the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) to explore ways to “consolidate existing programs that serve similar student populations in order to lower students’ total cost of college attendance,” and that this work has been expected to inform budget conversations for the 2018-19 year. CSAC contracted with The Century Foundation (TCF) to consider options, which were presented to and considered by CSAC earlier this week. The full report -- which recommends the state provide increased support for students’ non-tuition costs of college, and community college students in particular -- underscores many of the same concerns we heard earlier this year from a diverse slate of higher education experts, and proposes a thoughtful path forward. While many of the details of TCF’s proposal require further discussion, CSAC will be asking that the Legislature use the 2018-19 budget process to build off of the TCF proposal by taking some immediate steps forward, including funding an increase to the Cal Grant B access award. This award, which helps low-income Californians pay for non-tuition costs of college, currently holds less than a quarter of its original purchasing power, and TICAS is joined by more than 20 organizations in supporting this recommendation.

The state has taken substantial steps to improve college affordability in recent budget years, speaking to the extent to which both the Legislature and Governor recognize the importance of this issue to Californians. We look forward to working together to ensure the 2018-19 budget moves us even closer to a California where the promise of an affordable college education is better, and more equitably, realized.

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California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation today (AB 19 from Assemblymember Santiago) that is widely reported to make community college tuition free for Californians. If fully funded by the legislature, the bill would provide dollars sufficient to cover tuition for first-time, full-time students who do not qualify for the California College Promise Grant (known until last month as the Board of Governors Fee Waiver), which has long fully covered community college tuition for students with demonstrated financial need.

But the bill actually provides much broader and more meaningful flexibility to colleges than is widely understood. The bill does not require colleges to eliminate tuition for these additional students, but instead allocates money to colleges to spend in ways that will increase college access and success and decrease inequities in which students get to and through college. Community colleges “may” use funds to cover tuition for those students who don’t already benefit from the fee waiver, but they don’t have to, and that is a good thing.

To qualify for the new funds, colleges must agree to implement certain student-oriented reforms, such as partnering with local school districts to foster college awareness among students before they leave high school, using evidence-based practices to assess students’ academic readiness, creating guided pathways to help students complete programs and degrees without getting lost, and ensuring students’ access to all the need-based financial resources available to them. 

These details are important, because a meaningful promise to increase college access, affordability, and success for California’s students has to address more than just tuition. College enrollment means little if students don’t know which courses to take or can’t get into them, if they’re stuck in unnecessary developmental coursework, or if they can’t afford their textbooks or transportation to campus. These are very real obstacles that hold students back from succeeding in college even when tuition is free. And the structure of AB 19 allows future funding to be used to help students overcome these hurdles. Here are just some of the important ways that colleges could choose to spend funds appropriated for the bill:

  • For low-income students with children, the lack of affordable childcare can be a tremendous obstacle to persisting in college. Money provided under AB 19 could be used to support childcare centers on campuses, or direct aid to low-income parents to help them cover childcare costs.

  • The new funds could be used to provide transportation passes or textbook vouchers for low-income students, better positioning them to get to campus and pass their courses.

  • More than 20 community colleges in California do not offer federal student loans, in part because they don’t feel they have the resources they need to administer the loan program responsibly. Offering federal loans is a requirement for receiving AB 19 funds; these colleges could use these funds to support loan counseling and other efforts that would enable them to reenter the loan program.

With the lowest community college tuition in the country, and an existing financial aid program that covers tuition for low- and middle-income students, challenges outside of tuition are almost certainly bigger determinants of student success at most community colleges in California. Thankfully, the bill Governor Brown signed today allows colleges the choice for how best to support the enrollment and completion of their students.

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The Institute for College Access & Success and ACCT, in collaboration with the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office examine the effect financial aid and assessment policy have on graduation and transfer rates.

This post originally appeared on the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) blog

By Debbie Cochrane, The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS)

Earlier this year, The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) and ACCT, in collaboration with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO), set out to explore community college students’ rates of transfer and graduation, and how those rates differed by students’ financial status (both their own ability to pay for college and the amount of financial aid they receive).  This effort was an attempt to expand upon the CCCCO’s Student Success Scorecard efforts, which track first-time students’ success at reaching particular academic milestones but have not included factors related to students’ financial status.  In line with other work on student success and financial status, we found that students with less ability to pay graduated and transferred at lower rates than those with more financial cushion, but that financial aid helped to close the gap.

Our findings also shed interesting light on the importance of college assessment policy, and its particular significance to financial aid recipients. Three out of four California community college students in our sample attempted math or English coursework below transfer level at a CCC, signaling that they had been assessed as being unprepared for college-level coursework. The same is true for 81 percent of students who received a financial aid package that included a institutional fee waiver, Pell Grant, and state Cal Grant, which is particularly surprising given the academic merit standards students must meet to be eligible for a Cal Grant. Eligibility for Cal Grants, the primary state grant aid program in California, requires having a minimum high school grade point average (GPA) of 2.0. Most students’ grades far exceed this threshold: data from the California Student Aid Commission show that the average Cal Grant recipient at a community college has a GPA of 3.0.

The fact that developmental coursework was so prevalent among a group of students who have demonstrated academic merit raises questions. Is the alignment between high school and college curricula so disjointed that students who leave high school with a B average are truly not capable of succeeding in college-level work? Or is it the colleges’ assessment of students’ capabilities that is the issue, such that college-ready students are being placed into developmental coursework unnecessarily?

Indeed, research suggests that many students placed into developmental coursework could succeed in college-level courses, rendering the developmental coursework unnecessary. Importantly, students who take developmental coursework have lower odds of success, and those who do succeed take more time to graduate. In other words, overly aggressive placement of students into developmental coursework isn’t simply duplicative; it has the potential to derail students from reaching their academic goals.

These are particularly problematic issues for financial aid recipients, given strict limits on the number of years students can receive federal Pell Grants (six years) or state Cal Grants (four years).  And it isn’t just grant aid: in our study, 91 percent of students receiving an aid package including a federal student loan had taken developmental coursework. Given these students’ need to repay loans after they leave college, it is particularly important that unnecessary barriers, such as overly aggressive placement into developmental coursework, are removed to increase students’ odds of graduating or transferring.

Within California, developmental placement policies have undergone reforms in recent years, but more remains to be done. A bill currently working its way through the Legislature, AB 705 (Irwin), would require that colleges consider high school performance when determining whether students need remediation. However, whether driven by state policy or not, college leaders must ensure that their own institutional policies do not place students into developmental coursework unnecessarily, causing undue hardship for their most vulnerable students. TICAS and ACCT strongly encourage colleges to use multiple measures – including high school transcripts and test scores – to assess students in order to reduce the likelihood of placing students into developmental coursework unnecessarily. Colleges can also ensure that students receive the targeted support and counseling they need after being placed into developmental coursework, so they understand their progression out of remediation and into – and through – a program of study. These steps will help all students to succeed, and particularly the financial aid recipients for whom the stakes are particularly high.

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After a budget season with unprecedented focus on financial aid, the 2017-18 California State budget agreement now on Governor Brown’s desk includes several important policy gains.

Most critically, the budget includes welcome and long-overdue increases to financial aid for full-time community college students to help cover total college costs that can exceed $20,000 a year.  Due to an increase to the Full-Time Student Success Grant (FTSSG), a program championed by the Assembly two years ago, Cal Grant recipients taking 12 or more credits per term will see an increase of up to $400 per year (for a maximum award size of $1,000). Since its creation, the FTSSG program has received broad support with even the Brown Administration proposing to increase student eligibility and the maximum award size.  And the creation of a new financial aid program, the Community College Completion Grant championed by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, will provide eligible students who take additional credits (at least 30 in total per year) during the fall, spring, and/or summer terms with up to $2,000 more per year. While both of these programs are only available to students who receive Cal Grant awards, and hundreds of thousands of community college students who are eligible for Cal Grants are turned away each year due to insufficient funding, these increases add up to substantial new aid availability for those who can access it.  The additional aid will enable students to spend more time in class and studying, rather than working to cover total college costs, increasing their odds of graduating and graduating faster. (Critically, the budget also includes $150 million to support community colleges’ development of ‘guided pathways,’ so that students who want to take 15 or more credits per term can be assured that the specific credits they need for their program are available to them.) 

The budget also includes other key financial aid improvements: 

  • As proposed by the Brown Administration, the California Student Aid Commission will get greater authority to make competitive Cal Grant award offers to students at the time students are making decisions about whether and where to enroll in college. There are only 25,750 competitive Cal Grants (i.e., grants for students who are not recent high school graduates) available each year for more than 300,000 eligible applicants, and the need to stay under that strict cap leads to long delays before many of the awards are received by students. The budget agreement will allow CSAC to make more offers early on, without risking exceeding their authority.
  • Community college students who receive Cal Grant C awards (designated for students in certain career technical programs) will see their grant double, from $547 to $1,094.
  • The maximum Cal Grant B access award, which helps low-income students cover non-tuition college costs, will see a small increase (thanks to 2014 legislation, SB 174 and SB 798, from Senator De León), from $1,670 to $1,672.

In addition to these changes, the budget once again postpones the scheduled reduction to the Cal Grant received by students at private WASC-accredited colleges, and maintains the Middle Class Scholarship program that Governor Brown had proposed phasing out.

We are grateful for the Legislature’s actions to strengthen financial aid and enable more California community college students – whose out-of-pocket costs, despite low tuition and fees, can exceed those of their peers at public four-year schools – to attend full time.  Yet even while recognizing the importance of these budget gains, in a recent op-ed Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon acknowledged “we haven’t done everything we can for students in need.” We concur, and look forward to continuing to work together with the Legislature and Administration to bring college costs within reach for low-income Californians. 

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It’s clear we need more student aid in California, and $1.5 billion could go a long way to reduce our state’s gaping inequities in college affordability and completion if spent right. However, the California Assembly’s $1.5 billion “Degrees Not Debt Scholarship” proposal unveiled today is unlikely to achieve those goals. While we applaud the desire to dedicate substantial new resources towards financial aid, and the proposal’s recognition that the cost of college extends well beyond the cost of tuition, the Assembly plan would provide generous awards to students with little or no need, and far less help to those with the biggest affordability barriers and most burdensome debt.

Here are our top questions and concerns:

  • How will the scholarships reduce debt burdens, as the program name suggests? We estimate that a low-income UC student would receive about $2,000 more in aid than they currently do, while a student with a six-figure income could get more than $15,000 more per year.  Yet half of all UC graduates who leave school with debt have family incomes under $52,000. Further, UC students who graduate with loans have average debt around $21,000. From the perspective of debt reduction, giving higher income students $15,000 per year is excessive, especially when most don’t borrow, and giving lower income students an additional $2,000 per year is not nearly enough.
  • What will the impact be on students of color? Cal Grant recipients at public colleges are more likely to be Latino, Black, Native American, or Pacific Islander, and more than half of UC and CSU students in these groups have family incomes of $50,000 or less.[1] Yet while low-income students’ disproportionate debt burden shows that their Cal Grants are not sufficient to address their needs, Cal Grant recipients would get smaller “Degrees Not Debt” scholarships than those with six-figure incomes. Many of the higher income students, who are disproportionately white, don’t even need the aid as defined under federal and state law.
  • Why does the plan leave out students at the schools where affordability challenges are often most severe? In many regions across the state, low-income community college students face higher college costs than UC or CSU students, yet community college students aren’t eligible for the scholarships. The Assembly’s separate proposal to increase Cal Grants for full-time community college students will help the small proportion of students who get a Cal Grant. But hundreds of thousands of students at the community colleges – as well as other colleges – can’t get Cal Grants because the program isn’t sufficiently funded, and half of them are living in poverty. Those students would get no additional support under the Assembly plan. Why should UC students with six-figure incomes get scholarships of $15,000 when high-achieving community college students living in poverty can’t get a Cal Grant worth a small fraction of that? For perspective, for a billion dollars, the state could give every eligible Cal Grant applicant an award.
  • Why does the Assembly plan diverge so sharply from the plan developed by the LAO, at the Assembly’s request? Last year, the Legislature, championed by the Assembly, tasked the Legislative Analyst’s Office with developing a proposal to create debt-free college options for California. Fully two-thirds of the LAO’s $3.3 billion proposal was slated to support community college students, so that students at all public colleges had a viable, full-time, debt-free path to graduation. The high share of estimated LAO program costs needed to help community college students underscores how important community college students are to the state, and how far the state is from supporting them sufficiently. Yet the Assembly “Degrees Not Debt Scholarship” proposal leaves them out. Why don’t students at community colleges, where most of the state’s low-income students and students of color enroll, deserve the option to enroll full time, too, when full-time enrollment greatly increases students’ odds of completion? Wouldn’t giving community college students a true full-time option help more of them transfer to UC and CSU?

California has major problems with college affordability and completion, but neither will be solved by the “Degrees Not Debt Scholarship” proposal. We hope that legislators will commit to retooling the proposal so that it addresses the realities facing California’s low- and truly middle-income college students.

[1] Author’s analysis of  the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, 2007-08, the most recent publicly available data on California segments’ enrollment by race/ethnicity and income.

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Debbie Cochrane, TICAS vice president, provided expert testimony on college affordability before a joint hearing of the California Assembly’s Higher Education Committee and Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance on Monday, February 27. Her testimony described which students face the greatest affordability barriers, and included new TICAS research showing the severity of the affordability problem for California’s low-income students, and why free tuition is not the solution. (Debbie Cochrane's testimony starts at the 20:35 mark.)

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A new report released last month provides some staggering figures on an incredibly important topic – state disinvestment from higher education in California – and rightly makes the case that shortchanging public colleges shortchanges our future. Unfortunately, the report makes the erroneous claim that eliminating tuition at public colleges will eliminate student debt for the students who attend them. This is simply not the case. In California, state and institutional financial aid programs are among the most generous in the nation in helping students pay for tuition charges at all three public systems. In fact, most Californians who leave public colleges with debt already attended college tuition-free. The real affordability challenges for California’s public college students are paying for non-tuition college costs including room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.

Consider the University of California (UC), where tuition charges are highest among the state’s public institutions: UC’s Blue and Gold plan promises that no student with family income under $80,000 will need to pay tuition, and in fact UC also gives aid to many students above that threshold to at least partially cover tuition. If tuition charges equated to student debt, then only students with family incomes above $80,000 would leave school with debt. Yet data from UC show that is not the case: we estimate that half of the UC graduates who leave school with debt have family incomes under $54,000 – students whose tuition UC guarantees it will cover.[1]  Graduates’ likelihood of leaving school with debt decreases with income – students from the lowest income bracket are three times as likely as students from the highest income bracket to graduate with debt – because higher income students are more likely to be able to afford what they are asked to pay. Available data on debt loads by income for other public college graduates, in both California and across the nation, show this same trend. 

In fact, the majority of students’ costs for attending public colleges and universities are not tuition charges, but rather the living expenses students incur to buy their books, get to campus, and stay housed and fed. Yet, while tuition-focused aid programs in California have kept up with increases in tuition, the same cannot be said about the primary state grant that helps students with non-tuition college costs. If it had kept pace with costs, the Cal Grant B access award, $900 in 1969-70, would be more than $6,300 today. Instead, it is just $1,670.

State disinvestment from public higher education is a significant problem, and one that demands both federal and state policymakers’ attention. But eliminating students’ need to borrow requires more than just free tuition, because most Californians who leave school with debt already had free tuition. Policymakers interested in improving college affordability and reducing student debt should start by looking at who has debt and why, and increase grant aid for students struggling to pay for non-tuition college costs.

[1] Includes dependent students only as UC does not release information on independent student debt loads. Ninety-three percent of UC undergraduates are dependent.

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California Governor Jerry Brown last week released his proposed 2017-18 California state budget, which includes a proposal to phase out the Middle Class Scholarship (MCS) program. The MCS program, created in 2013, was designed to serve California students from families with incomes above typical Cal Grant income thresholds (above about $80,000 at the time) and up to $150,000 who don’t receive much other grant aid. For reference, median household income in California is just under $62,000 in 2015 dollars.

Since the program was created, we have raised questions about whether the money would be better spent on the lower income students who face the highest financial hurdles getting to and through college. We still believe this to be the right question. However, data from the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) show that some lower income students do receive MCS awards. During the 2015-16 academic year, about 6,300 students (13% of all MCS recipients) had incomes within the Cal Grant B income range (up to about $50,000 for a family of four), and an additional 12,700 students (26% of all MCS recipients) had incomes within the higher Cal Grant A range (up to about $90,000 for a family of four). We estimate that these 19,000 students – who represent 39% of all MCS recipients in 2015-16 – received up to 51% of MCS grant dollars.

Why is a program designed to help upper-middle-income students also helping lower income students? Because there are substantial gaps in the state Cal Grant program, which is designed to help lower income students pay for college. Most critically, there are not enough Cal Grants available for all students who apply and meet the financial and academic requirements. Whereas recent high school graduates are entitled to a Cal Grant, all other eligible Cal Grant applicants must compete for a very limited number (25,750) of awards. In 2015-16, there were 14 eligible applicants competing for every grant, with over 300,000 turned away. The CSAC data suggest that some of these students who qualify for but don’t get a Cal Grant end up getting an MCS grant instead.

The huge gap between the number of applicants eligible for competitive Cal Grants and the number of awards available contributes to the substantial affordability challenges facing low-income students. While not by design, the MCS program has helped to fill a narrow slice of that gap, and it is important that the Legislature protect this progress if the MCS does get phased out. Redirecting the $117 million annual MCS allocation to the better targeted Cal Grant program would result in over 18,000 more competitive awards per year, increasing qualified applicants’ chances of receiving a competitive grant from one in 14 to about one in eight. And redirecting $60 million – the 51% of annual MCS spending that we estimate goes to students with family incomes within Cal Grant thresholds – is the least that should be done, particularly if the goal of phasing out the MCS program is to protect financial aid for lower income students.

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