More Students to Get Cal Grants in Bill Headed to Gov. Brown

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – The California State Legislature passed a bill authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, that will help thousands of aspiring college students receive a Cal Grant by simplifying the aid application process.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2160 passed the State Assembly with a 75-0 vote following a 31-2 vote in the State Senate earlier this week.  It now heads to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature or veto.

“Education is the greatest gift that we can give to our children,” said Ting.  “Unfortunately, the cost of a college degree can be too great for some families.  That is why financial aid access profoundly shapes student success in college.  Students who apply are twice as likely to enroll and more likely to graduate.  By signing this bill, Governor Brown can help thousands of low income students get the best start in life by getting a college education.”

Assembly Bill (AB) 2160 would require all public high schools to electronically submit grade point average (GPA) information for all graduating 12th grade students to the California Student Aid Commission.  This single reform would help nearly 24,000 additional students apply for a Cal Grant and help nearly 2,400 students to receive an award.

“We know that access to financial aid dramatically increases a student’s chances of attending and completing college,” said Dr. Orville Jackson, Senior Research Analyst at The Education Trust—West, a statewide education policy, research and advocacy organization sponsoring Ting’s bill. “By removing a needless hurdle to California’s financial aid application process, this legislation will help thousands more students across the state—especially those with limited means—turn their college dreams into reality.”

Research conducted by The Education Trust-West found that GPA verification is a huge obstacle for many students.  Among a sample of nearly 400,000 students statewide, 71 percent of 12th grade students in school districts – such as San Francisco, Oakland, Fresno, and Los Angeles – piloting electronic GPA verification had completed Cal Grant applications, compared to 56 percent in other districts.  To compare aid application completion rates by school or school district, see this online tool created by Ed Trust-West http://financialaid.edtrustwest.org/.

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.  Unfortunately, this information is not always sent, rendering the application incomplete and the student ineligible for aid.  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.

AB 2160 is supported by a range of education leaders, including the University of California, the California State University, and California School Boards Association.  Further information available at www.leginfo.ca.gov.

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