Despite its importance, financial aid is associated with confusing paperwork and hard-to-navigate legislature. That could be changing soon, according to a press conference held April 23 by the California State Assembly Committee on Higher Education.
Assembly Bill (AB) 1314, the Cal Grant Reform Act, would amend the financial aid program that serves as the largest source of California state-funded student aid. If passed, AB 1314 would expand the pool of potential Cal Grant recipients and extend financial aid to cover more than five years of college and summer sessions.
The ineffective eligibility system for financial aid is a primary catalyst for the reform, said Kevin McCarty, chair of the Budget Subcommittee 2 on Education Finance during the press conference.
He listed examples of applicants who are barely above the income requirement or veterans who have to apply for competitive grants and are denied, despite their pressing need for financial aid.
“We’re going to make sure that we focus on everybody that wants to be able to go to college and not ration college access,” McCarty said during the press conference.
The average debt for a college graduate in California is $20,000-$30,000, which makes it difficult to buy a home or save for retirement. Tuition is only one of the many costs students currently face, said Caroline Siegel-Singh, president of the UC Student Association during the press conference. AB 1314 would introduce financial aid for basic needs like housing, transportation and textbooks.
“I know that as a recipient of Cal Grant, the state of California sees my future as an investment,” Siegel-Singh said during the press conference. “I hope that with this legislation, we can spread that opportunity to more students throughout California.”