The state of California has good news for high school seniors who are looking for money to attend college next fall.
They can apply this month for Cal Grant scholarships that for the first time are guaranteed for all students who meet grade and family income requirements.
In previous years, the state limited the amount of money provided for Cal Grants and not all eligible students could get money. The Legislature last year passed a law promising that the state will pay for scholarships for all students who qualify.
“If you get good grades in high school, the state of California will help pay for your education. This is not a loan. This is an investment in our future,” Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said Thursday.
March 2 is the deadline for seniors to get their Cal Grant applications in and Bustamante and other state officials held a Capitol news conference to encourage as many students to apply as possible.
There are two different Cal Grant awards with different requirements.
One provides full tuition at a public or private college in the state for students with a B average and family income of up to $68,202 for a family of four.
The other provides $1,551 for one year of community college books and living expenses followed by tuition for a four-year college for students with a C average and family income up to $35,857.
Tuition is $3,429 a year at schools in the University of California system, $1,428 at schools in the California State University system and $330 at community colleges. Cal Grants will also pay up to $9,703 for tuition at a private California college.
No one knows exactly how many students are eligible and will apply for classes starting next fall.
The California Student Aid Commission, which runs the Cal Grant program, is expecting to give out about 100,000 awards costing $650 million for 2001-2002, said spokeswoman Sarah Tyson-Joshua.
That compares with 77,000 Cal Grant awards costing $500 million handed out this school year, she said. When the revised Cal Grant program is fully running in a few years, the annual cost is estimated to be $1.2 billion for more than 200,000 students.
Loretta Hultman, a counselor at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, says she has been telling her 700 seniors, 99 percent of them Hispanics from poor families, about the expanded Cal Grant program.
“At first, they’re amazed. They say they did not have the money to go to college. With this Cal Grant program, this wipes out that concern,” she said. “They can pursue the great education their parents want them to have.”
Bustamante and several lawmakers are also proposing new legislation this year to provide even more college help in future years.
One bill being carried by Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, would give a $1,500 state income tax credit for college expenses for families whose incomes are just over the Cal Grant limits, up to $95,000 for a family of four.
Another by Sen. Dede Alpert, D-Coronado, would give a new tax break to families putting money in the existing Golden State ScholarShare program. Parents can now deposit money in the fund run by the state treasurer, who invests it and pays interest that is tax-deferred until used to pay college expenses.
A third bill by Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, would create a statewide outreach program to inform middle-school students and their families about state and federal college opportunity programs.
On the Net: Bustamante’s new Cal Grant-related site is
The Student Aid Commission is http://www.csac.ca.gov or 1-888-224-7268.