BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                              Senator Carol Liu, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:             AB 1721            
          |Author:    |Medina                                               |
          |Version:   |June 22, 2016                            Hearing     |
          |           |Date:    June 29, 2016                               |
          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
          |Consultant:|Kathleen Chavira                                     |
          |           |                                                     |
          Subject:  Student financial aid:  Cal Grant Program

          This bill increases the total number of competitive Cal Grant  
          awards authorized from 25,750 to 34,000, and expands the number  
          of these awards available to, and reserved for, community  
          college students.  

          Existing law authorizes the Cal Grant Program, administered by  
          the California Student Aid Commission, to provide grants to  
          financially needy students to attend college. The Cal Grant  
          programs include both the entitlement and the competitive Cal  
          Grant awards. The program consists of the Cal Grant A, Cal Grant  
          B, and Cal Grant C programs, and eligibility is based upon  
          financial need, grade point average, California residency, and  
          other eligibility criteria, as specified in Education Code   
          (Education Code  69430-69433.9)

          Current law provides for the Cal Grant A and B Entitlement  
          programs.  The
          Cal Grant A High School Entitlement Program provides tuition fee  
          funding for the equivalent of four full-time years at qualifying  
          postsecondary institutions to eligible lower and middle income  
          high school graduates who have at least a 3.0 grade point  
          average (GPA) on a four-point scale and apply within one year of  


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          (Education Code  69434)

          The Cal Grant B High School Entitlement Program provides funds  
          to eligible low-income high school graduates who have at least a  
          2.0 GPA on a four-point scale and apply within one year of  
          graduation. The award provides up to $1,551 for books and living  
          expenses for the first year and each year following for up to  
          four years (or equivalent of four full-time years). After the  
          first year, the award also provides tuition fee funding at  
          qualifying postsecondary institutions. Current law authorizes up  
          to 2 percent of new Cal Grant B recipients to be eligible for  
          payment of tuition or fees or both in their first academic year  
          of attendance. (Education Code  69435.3)

          Current law also establishes the Cal Grant Competitive Award  
          Program and, beginning in 2015-16, provides 25,750 Cal Grant A  
          and B awards to applicants who meet financial, academic, and  
          general program eligibility requirements. Half of these awards  
          are reserved for students enrolled at a community college and  
          who met the September 2 application deadline. (Education Code   
          69437- 69437.7)

          This bill:

          1)   Beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, increases the  
               number of Competitive Cal Grant awards from 25,750 to  

          2)   Reserves 19,000 Competitive Cal Grant awards for California  
               Community Colleges (CCC) students with the remaining 15,000  
               available to all students, including community college  
          1)   Need for the bill.  According to the author, despite  
               comprising about 2/3 of the undergraduate higher education  
               population in California, community college students only  
               receive 6 percent of the resources distributed by Cal  
               Grants.  At the same time, community college students are  
               more likely to be socio-economically disadvantaged,  


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               undocumented, retraining adults, or the first in their  
               family to attend college.  In addition, once the total cost  
               of attendance and all available financial aid is taken into  
               account, it is often more expensive for a financially needy  
               student to attend a community college than a University of  
               California (UC) or California State University (CSU)  
               campus.  This bill increases the number of competitive Cal  
               Grants and ensures access for the neediest students by  
               reserving 19,000 of these awards for CCC students.  

          2)   Net effect?  Existing law reserves half of the 25,750  
               authorized competitive Cal Grant awards for community  
               college students (12,875).  Existing law also makes the  
               remaining awards eligible to all students, including  
               community college students.  This bill would authorize an  
               additional 8,250 of these awards, 6,125 of which would be  
               reserved for community college students for a total of  
               19,000 awards.  Community college students would also be  
               eligible for the additional 2,125 awards available to all  
           3)   Competitive Cal Grant program.  According to an April 2013  
               report by The  
                Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS),  
               Strengthening Cal Grants to Better Serve Today's Students,  
               in 2010-11 the majority of Cal Grant recipients (72%)  
               received grants as a high school entitlement award, 5%  
               received transfer entitlement awards, and competitive  
               awards went to 18% of all Cal Grant recipients. According  
               to the TICAS report, many otherwise eligible applicants  
               miss the application deadline or enroll well after they  
               have graduated from high school, and these are particular  
               concerns for the lowest income students who miss timely  
               application because they are unaware of the financial aid  
               that is available. For these students the alternative would  
               be a Competitive Cal Grant.  
          Prior to the 2015-16 academic year, only 22,500 Competitive Cal  
          Grants were statutorily authorized annually. California Student  
          Aid Commission reports that in the 2014-15 award year, more than  
          300,000 qualified students applied for the Competitive Cal  
          Grant. The average GPA of these applicants was 2.92. 

          According to the California Student Aid Commission, Competitive  


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          Cal Grant applicants have an average family income of about  
          $21,666, a family size of three, and an average age of 27.  
           4)   Funding?  The 2015 Budget Act increased the number of  
               competitive Cal Grants that would d be funded from 22,500  
               to 25,750 beginning in the 2015-16 academic year.  The 2016  
               Budget Act did not provide any funding for the increase in  
               competitive Cal Grants proposed by this bill. 

          Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges
          California Chamber of Commerce
          California Immigrant Policy Center
          California Student Aid Commission
          Foothill-De Anza Community College District
          Kern Community College District
          Los Rios Community College District
          San Diego Community College District
          South Orange County Community College District
          The Institute for College Access & Success
          Western Association for College Admission Counseling

           None received. 

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