BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1721


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          Date of Hearing:  April 12, 2016 


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION


                                 Jose Medina, Chair


          AB 1721  
          (Medina) - As Introduced January 28, 2016


          SUBJECT:  Student financial aid:  Cal Grant Program


          SUMMARY:   Makes various changes to expand the Cal Grant Program  
          with the intent to provide additional financial aid resources to  
          California Community College (CCC) students. Specifically, this  
          bill:  


          1)Increases the Cal Grant B access award, which can be used by  
            students for tuition, student fees, and access costs from, as  
            authorized in statute, $1,551 to $3,000.  This amount would  
            continue to be authorized to be adjusted in the annual Budget  
            Act (currently established in the Budget Act at $1,648).


          2)Extends, for the California Community College (CCC) Transfer  
            Entitlement Program (Transfer Entitlement), the age limitation  
            for a qualified awardee from 28 to 31 years of age.


          3)Extends, for the CCC Transfer Entitlement, the required  
            transfer period from requiring that a qualifying awardee have  
            attended a CCC in the academic year immediately preceding the  
            award year to requiring attendance no more than three academic  
            years before the award year.








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          4)Increases the number of Competitive Cal Grant awards from  
            25,750 to 30,000.


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Establishes the Cal Grant program, administered by the  
            California Student Aid Commission (CSAC), to provide tuition  
            and access cost assistance to eligible students attending  
            qualified institutions:

             a)   Cal Grant A Entitlement Awards.  Students that meet  
               income, asset and other eligibility requirements, have at  
               least a 3.0 grade point average, and apply either the year  
               they graduate from high school or the following year are  
               entitled to an award that provides coverage for tuition and  
               fees.      

             b)   Cal Grant B Entitlement Awards.  Students that meet  
               income and asset (lower thresholds than Cal Grant A) and  
               other eligibility requirements, have at least a 2.0 GPA and  
               apply either the year they graduate from high school or the  
               following year are entitled to a living allowance and  
               tuition and fee assistance.  Awards for first-year students  
               are limited to an allowance for books and living expenses.   
               In the second and subsequent years, the award provides  
               tuition and fee support. 

             c)   CCC Transfer Entitlement Awards.  Cal Grant A and B  
               awards are guaranteed to every student who graduated from a  
               California high school after June 30, 2000, was a  
               California resident at the time of high school graduation,  
               transferred to a qualifying baccalaureate-degree granting  
               institution from a CCC during the award year, was under the  
               age of 28 at the time of the transfer, and had a minimum  
               CCC GPA of 2.4.








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             d)   Competitive Cal Grant A and B Awards.  Students who are  
               not eligible for entitlement awards may compete for a Cal  
               Grant A or B Competitive award.  The award benefits and  
               eligibility requirements are the same as the entitlement  
               program, but awards are not guaranteed. Annually, 25,750  
               Cal Grant Competitive awards are available. Of these, 50  
               percent are for students who do not qualify for a Cal Grant  
               Entitlement award, but who otherwise meet the Cal Grant  
               requirements.  The remaining awards are set aside for  
               eligible CCC students.

             e)   Cal Grant C Awards.  Students attending qualifying  
               occupational, technical, and vocational programs are  
               eligible for up to $547 for books and equipment and $2,462  
               for tuition and fees.  

          2)Maximum award amounts for CSU and UC are established in the  
            annual Budget Act and have traditionally covered all  
            systemwide tuition and fees.  The maximum tuition award for  
            Cal Grant A and B for students attending private for-profit  
            colleges is $4,000 (commencing 2013-14), and for students  
            attending non-profit or WASC-accredited for-profit  
            institutions is $8,056 (commencing 2015-16).  CCC students do  
            not receive a Cal Grant tuition award as the Board of  
            Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver program fully covers enrollment  
            fees (but not other costs of attendance) for financially needy  
            students.
          
          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.

          COMMENTS:  Purpose of this bill.  According to the author, "to  
          remain economically competitive, California will need to produce  
          2.4 million more degrees by 2025 than the state is currently on  
          track to produce.  Overall, only 32% of students at California  
          colleges and universities complete credentials on time, and  
          low-income students are much less likely than higher income  
          students to enroll in or complete college.  A major factor in a  
          student's enrollment and success in college is his or her  








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          ability to pay for fees and tuition, textbooks, transportation,  
          housing, food, and other access costs.  California has made an  
          important investment in need-based financial aid through the Cal  
          Grant Program and the BOG Fee Waiver program, but despite this  
          commitment, access grants for qualifying students are  
          insufficient to cover non-tuition college costs, and many  
          low-income students are left out of the program entirely.  The  
          author notes that, after taking into account the total cost of  
          attendance and all available financial aid, on average it is  
          more expensive for a needy student to go to a CCC than to attend  
          the UC or CSU.  This bill aims to renew California's commitment  
          to CCC affordability by making important changes to the Cal  
          Grant program to better assist CCC students."   

          Increasing the Cal Grant B Access Award amount.  The Cal Grant B  
          program began as the "College Opportunity Grant" (COG) in the  
          late 1960s.  At that time policymakers acknowledged that the  
          lowest income students needed assistance with other college  
          costs, such as living expenses, textbooks, and supplies.  In  
          1969-70, the first stipend was set at $900.  The stipend was  
          approximately 20% of the indirect costs in 1989-90, as  
          determined by CSAC.  Since that time it has declined in relative  
          terms; for 2015-16 the Cal Grant B Access Award is $1,656, one  
          quarter of what the original award would be worth had it kept  
          pace with inflation.  This bill would increase the award amount  
          to $3,000.


          Expanding the Transfer Entitlement Program.  The Transfer  
          Entitlement provides financially needy California students whom  
          did not receive a Cal Grant A or B award after leaving high  
          school with a "second chance" to receive an award upon transfer  
          to a qualifying institution. According to information provided  
          by CSAC, an estimated 60,000 to 75,000 transfer students could  
          benefit from a Transfer Entitlement; approximately 17,800 award  
          offers are made annually.  CSAC indicates that the remaining  
          students may be disqualified for a variety of reasons.  This  
          bill addresses two possible causes of underutilization in the  
          Transfer Entitlement:








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          1)Age limitation. According to CSAC, increasing the age  
            limitation from 28 to 31, as is proposed in this bill, would  
            bring in an additional 23,600 students, and estimated 16,500  
            additional awards to the Transfer Entitlement. 



          2)Gap years.  In 2012, the education budget trailer bill added a  
            requirement to the Transfer Entitlement that students had to  
            attend a CCC in the academic year immediately preceding the  
            award year. This bill would provide for up to three "gap  
            years" for Transfer Entitlement students.  According to CSAC,  
            in 2013-14 a one-year gap-year was authorized, resulting in an  
            additional 2,280 award offers.  
                   


          Increasing the number of Competitive Cal Grant Awards. As  
          previously noted, the Cal Grant Entitlement Programs guarantee  
          awards to students who meet specified GPA and income-related  
          criteria and apply within deadlines.  The majority of Cal Grant  
          recipients (211,300 in 2013-14) receive this type of award.  The  
          majority of Cal Grant applicants, however, do not qualify for an  
          Entitlement award because they are more than a year out of high  
          school, decide to go to college after the Entitlement  
          application deadline, or do not meet age or other requirements  
          when they transfer.  Competitive Cal Grant A and B awards are  
          available to middle and low income applicants who did not  
          receive an entitlement award.  Over 300,000 applicants compete  
          for only 25,750 awards annually; Competitive Program award  
          recipients must significantly exceed minimum requirements.   
          According to The Institute for College Access and Success  
          (TICAS), denied Competitive Program applicants have an average  
          family income of less than $21,000, a family size of three, and  
          GPA of 2.9.  This bill proposes to increase the number of  
          Competitive Cal Grants from 25,750 to 30,000.  According to  
          supporters, this increase will help California's neediest  








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          students take more classes, go to school full-time, and complete  
          their college degree.

          Related legislation. This bill is part of a package of bills  
          introduced by Assembly Members to establish a CCC Promise  
          Program to ensure affordability and success for CCC students.   
          Other bills in the package include: AB 1583 (Medina), pending in  
          this Committee, which would expands the CCC Board of Governors  
          Fee Waiver Program to include specified categories of students,  
          and establish a need-based aid program to cover access costs for  
          CCC students; and, AB 1741 (Rodriguez), pending in this  
          Committee, to provide funds to CCC districts to implement  
          California Promise Partnerships between school districts,  
          California's public universities, and community stakeholders. 
          


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Board of Governors, California Community Colleges (Sponsor)


          Community College League of California (Sponsor)


          California Chamber of Commerce


          California Community College Association of Student Trustees 


          California Competes 









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          California EDGE Coalition


          California Immigrant Policy Center


          California State Student Association 


          California State University


          The Campaign for College Opportunity 


          Chabot-Las Positas Community College District


          EARN 


          The Education Trust-West 


          Foothill-De Anza Community College District


          The Institute for College Access & Success 


          Imperial Community College District


          Kern Community College District


          Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce









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          Los Rios Community College District


          MALDEF 


          NAACP Los Angeles 


          National Association of Social Workers-California Chapter


          North Orange County Community College District


          Peralta Community College District


          Public Advocates Inc. 


          San Diego Community College District


          Santa Barbara City College


          Santa Monica College


          South Orange County Community College District


          Southern California College Access Network 


          Student Senate for California Community Colleges 









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          uAspire 


          Ventura County Community College District Board of Trustees


          Young Invincibles




          Opposition


          None on File




          Analysis Prepared by:Laura Metune / HIGHER ED. / (916) 319-3960