California's Improved Financial Aid Program
State reverses national trend toward merit scholarships
By William TrombleySenior Editor
When California Governor Gray Davis recently signed a bill that will double the size of the state's student financial aid program over the next five years, there was no hint of the long struggle to bring the reluctant governor to this point.
Indeed, speaking at a bill-signing ceremony on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles, Davis bragged about the legislation, calling it the "most ambitious financial aid program in America."
The plan assures that students with good grades and financial need will be rewarded with "Cal Grants" that pay for tuition and fees at the state's public colleges and universities and up to $9,708 per year for California students attending private institutions.
In the past, many students who were eligible for Cal Grants did not receive them because the money ran out. In the current academic year, 136,022 high school graduates were eligible but only 57,254 received new awards.
Until now, the California Student Aid Commission has rationed the money by raising the grade point average for Cal Grant eligibility, a process that tended to favor the University of California and the more selective private schools over the California State University and the community colleges.
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