Board of Governors passes new tuition grant

Lizette Chavez, Editor-in-Chief

The Board of Governors issued a press release on Sept. 19 announcing the approval of the California College Promise Grant, previously known as the “Board of Governors Fee Waiver program” a grant that would make community colleges in California tuition free for those with “financial need.”

Paige Marlatt Dorr, who sent out the press release shared some of the reactions to those present at the meeting including Board of Governors President Cecilia V. Estolano.

“California’s commitment to affordability focuses our resources on those students with the most financial need . . . this progressive approach to financial aid ensures that all California students, not just those from higher-income families, have the opportunity to attend and succeed in community college.”

The press release stated that the California College Promise Grant was made a “first dollar” plan which would allow the state to pay for a college’s tuition and allow any other financial aid awarded to be distributed at the students’ discretion. Other states like New York, Oregon, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee currently use a “last dollar” plan, which only pays a part of the tuition cost not covered by any other financial aid, making low income students the recipients of the least amount of financial benefits.

Another aspect in which the California College Promise Grant differs from other states’ plans, according to Dorr, is the set of eligibility requirements it presents. Other states eligibility requirements can, at times, establish time limits or require full-time attendance, reject students with basic skill needs, require students to study in specific fields or remain in the state upon graduation for a certain length of time.

Vice President of the Institute for College Access and Success Debbie Cochrane commented on the importance of the California Community College program and its refusal to use arbitrary eligibility limitations based on age, academic merit or attendance, which can often leave out the very students the program was meant to help.

One of the main concern and goals of the Board of Governors in adding changes to the fee waiver was to increase the amount of students that could afford and attain a college education, specifically recently graduated high school students, as well as keep California’s role as a nationally-leading state in offering free tuition to students requiring economic help.

“California has long been a leader in college opportunity,” Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said. “By rebranding our fee waiver program as the College Promise, we are aligning our historical commitment to affordability with the successful Promise partnership model to send the message that college is within reach to young Californians who otherwise may not see higher education as an option.”

The Board of Governors approved the “2018-19 Budget and Legislative Request” and proceeded to urge Californian Governor Jerry Brown to make increases to the Cal Grant and “access grant” funding and a $25 million ongoing funding for community colleges to “help establish stronger regional” California College Promise Grant partnerships.