New Bill will Boost College Financial Aid Access

For immediate release:

Report Shows Bill could Boost Applications for State Aid by 15 Percent

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – With the deadline for college financial aid applications just days away, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, announced new legislation that is expected to expand access to financial aid for thousands of students by helping them complete their applications.

“Education is the greatest gift we can give to our children,” said Ting. “California is providing more help than ever to help families pay for college but too many students leave aid on the table. Students who apply for aid are twice as likely to enroll in college and more likely to graduate. This simple solution will ensure more students get help getting ahead.”

“Applying for college can be tough but figuring out how to pay for it is even tougher,” said Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), who is co-authoring the bill with Ting. “This reform will streamline aid applications and help more California students pursue their dream of higher education."

Assembly Bill (AB) 2160 will require all high schools to electronically submit grade point average (GPA) verification for every graduating 12th grade student to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). GPA verification, along with a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form or Dream Act Application, is required for students to be considered for a Cal Grant and the new Middle Class Scholarship, which is now cycling through its first year of applications. Unfortunately, this information is not always sent, rendering the application incomplete and the student ineligible for aid.

A new report released today by Ed Trust-West, sponsor of the bill, found that GPA verification is a huge obstacle for many students. Among a sample of nearly 400,000 students statewide, an average of 71 percent of 12th grade students in school districts – such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles – piloting electronic GPA verification had completed Cal Grant applications, compared to 56 percent in other districts.

“California is making tremendous progress in improving the number of seniors who apply for aid,” said Dr. Orville Jackson, who conducted the research for Ed Trust-West. “Nearly 30,000 more students applied for aid last year than the year before. We can really improve upon our progress with this legislation.”

Cal Grants help students from low-income families cover fees at the University of California and California State University systems as well as other expenses. They can also assist with tuition at private colleges and technical schools. When fully implemented in 2017, the Middle Class Scholarship will offset up to 40 percent of tuition costs for students attending a UC or CSU school for students from families making up to $150,000.

CONTACT: Anthony Matthews (Ting), tel. (916) 319-2019, anthony.matthews@asm.ca.gov