The final 2014-2015 state budget signed by California Governor Jerry Brown repealed an 11.3 percent reduction in Cal Grants, the state's primary financial aid program for college and university students. The maximum Cal Grant will remain at $9,084 for incoming freshmen.
At FPU, 721 students, 30 percent of the undergraduate population, received Cal Grants in 2013-2014. "Many of our students who receive a Cal Grant are the first person in their family to go to college and have overcome significant odds to attend," said Jon Endicott, vice president for enrollment management and student services. "Cal Grants that go to students in private nonprofit colleges and universities have saved the state money and have proven to be successful in retaining and graduating students."
Students and education groups rallied to preserve Cal Grants. FPU students organized an effort that resulted in more than 500 letters to 40 state legislators and worked particularly with Assemblymember Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno). "We definitely put in a lot of hard work, but we are glad that it paid off. It wouldn't have been possible without the support of the university and the fact that we have a great assemblymember who supports FPU students," said Janet Salcedo, student organizer.
Statewide, the Association of Independent California Colleges & Universities (AICCU) was active on the issue. "Protecting our students in the upcoming budget would not have been possible without the relentless efforts made by students, alumni, faculty, campus administration and other communities—through letter-writing campaigns to the governor, visits to the Capitol and meetings with legislators to ‘tell our story' and the nearly 11,000 signed petitions that were sent over two months," according to an AICCU statement.
The budget included two other items relating to Cal Grants:
- $30 million to increase the Cal Grant B Living Stipend from $1,493 to $1,648, up 11.9 percent.
- $15.8 million to allow students previously denied a Cal Grant renewal award for financial reasons to reapply for the program no more than three academic years after receiving their original award, if their incomes fall below the income threshold in that timeframe.