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SUA Fights to Protect Cal Grants

blog_slug2UCSC students look to preserve long term state aid

The Student Union Assembly (SUA) has begun a campaign to protect Cal Grants, a form of financial aid available for California college students that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed eliminating last spring.

Their campaign to protect the grant began last week as part of their “week of action” as SUA members gathered in the Baytree Plaza. They encouraged people to fill out yellow slips of paper to show their support.  Members called the week “a success” and are now going into classrooms, asking people to fill out more of the paper slips.  So far, they have accumulated 1,400.

Victor Sanchez, external vice chair for the Student Union Assembly, says that one third of UCSC’s student body is first generation college students.  Many of these are students of color or from low-income backgrounds, but Sanchez believes that the state aid benefits everyone at the university.

“It really robs everyone of a quality education, if you don't have people who come from very diverse perspectives and backgrounds,” says Sanchez. “It really affects your learning experience.”

The SUA plans to send the yellow postcards to California State Senator Denise Ducheney to encourage her to author and propose a constitutional amendment to save the grant. Members of SUA express relief that the Cal Grant was not cut last spring but worry that it may not sustain funding into the future.

According to a university press release, 28 percent of UCSC undergrads receive and quality for the grant. The Cal Grant pays up $9,700 in student fees depending on the price of the college and the student’s need.  The SUA worries that if it is eliminated, the demand for all other loans will go up, making all aid and loans harder to receive and prompting their interest rates to rise. Half of UCSC students could be affected.

Sanchez believes college affordability is as important as ever, especially considering the 32 percent fee increase for students awaiting approval in the coming weeks.
“The main reason for the importance of this program is that it's money that students don't have to pay back at the end of the day,” Sanchez says.  “That's kind of what the whole point of a public institution is. The grant really exists as an avenue for students to achieve a degree in higher education.”

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