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Friday, June 29, 2012

Cal Grant Awards to Be Cut

The California budget has been signed and includes several changes to the Cal Grant program.  The changes impact Californians attending private and for-profit colleges and universities. However, the proposed increase in qualifying grade point averages was not adopted.  The emphasis has been placed, rather, on the ability of the various educational instituions to produce graduates.

The average American takes 6 years to complete a bachelor's degree.  The graduation rates cited for colleges are six year rates, unless otherwise noted. In order for colleges to be eligible to award Cal Grants, the colleges must have a six-year graduation rate of at least 30 percent.  Additionally they must have a maximum three-year cohort default rate on students loans of 15.5 percent. If the alumni don't repay their loans, their alma mater can lose its ability to award Cal Grants. These new standards apply only to institutions where more than 40 percent of students take out federal loans.  Consequently, community colleges are excluded since they are so inexpensive that very few students take federal student loans to attend them.

Beyond the new eligibility rules, the budget imposes across-the-board cuts on maximum Cal Grant awards at private colleges and universities. Students at private, nonprofit colleges will see an immediate 5 percent cut, which will lower the maximum award to $9,223. Further cuts loom, and the Cal Grant for private colleges are set to be limited to $8,056 in 2014.  At this time, Cal Grants to public colleges, both the UC and CSU system, as well as the community colleges remain unchanged.

However, for-profit colleges will again absorb the biggest cuts, with a maximum Cal Grant award of $4,000 next fall, a significant reduction from the current $9,708.  The reason for the lowering of the amount students at for-profit colleges is, reportedly, because of their lower graduation rate.

The new rules will be phased in to minimize the impact on currently enrolled students. For example, only new students will be prohibited from receiving Cal Grants grants next year at for-profit colleges that do not meet the requirements. Students currently receiving Cal Grants will continue to qualify for the award for a year, but will have the amount reduced by 20 percent.

The new rules are complex, and will impact for-profit colleges in a range of ways.
For example, colleges that receive accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) will be partially exempt from the cuts, said Kent Jenkins, a spokesman for Corinthian Colleges Inc., which owns Heald College.

For detailed information, contact your school or intended school directly.

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