California Gov. Jerry Brown wants to raise the minimum grade point average to qualify for state-funded student aid, directing scarce resources to students who are the most likely to graduate. However, the state’s Legislative Analyst believes the change will hurt the neediest students.
The governor would raise the minimum GPA from 3.0 to 3.25 to qualify for Cal Grant A, which covers tuition. Students would need a 2.75 GPA, up from 2.0, to qualify for Cal Grant B, which gives low-income students $1,551 for books, living expenses and tuition assistance. Community college students often use Cal Grant B. In addition, community college transfers would need a 2.75, up from 2.4, to apply for Cal Grants.
More than a third of current Cal Grant recipients would be locked out, predicts The Institute for College Access and Success.
These are students who have worked hard and earned the grades that the state has long promised entitled them to participate in California’s primary student aid program. These are also the students, research shows, for whom financial aid may make the biggest difference in terms of helping them persist and succeed in college. As they finally reach the point where they are ready to go to college, many will find their dreams shattered.
Three out of four applicants cut out would be prospective Cal Grant B students, who on average have family incomes well below the poverty line. And the majority of these students go to community colleges, where students receive too little aid and are already less likely to receive state grants.
The legislative analyst’s report recommended a smaller increase in the GPA requirement. The report also said Gov. Brown is underestimating the cost of Cal Grants in the proposed budget.