September 15, 2000

Governor Davis Signs Legislation to Expand Cal Grants, Create Merit Scholarships

Sacramento — Governor Gray Davis today signed into law the most significant expansion of access to higher education since the passage of the Federal G.I. Bill.

"Nothing personifies the values of merit and accountability more than the two landmark bills I am signing today," Governor Davis said. "These bills say to California students, if you do your part by studying hard, we'll do our part to help you afford college."

Governor Davis signed SB 1688 by Senator Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles), which provides $118 million to establish and fund the governor's Merit Scholarship programs, and SB 1644 by Senator Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), which expands Cal Grants and will guarantee nearly one of three California high school graduates awards under the Cal Grant program.

"It is my hope that this historic expansion of the Cal Grant program, coupled with the new Governor's Scholars and Distinguished Mathematics and Science Scholars programs, will give all students the incentive to reach their full academic potential," Governor Davis added.

The Governor's Scholars and Distinguished mathematics and Science Scholars program established and funded by SB 1688 provide $1,000 scholarships to students with the highest scores on the STAR exam and $2,500 awards to students with the highest scores an Advances Placement exams in math and science.

Under the Cal Grant expansion bill (SB 1644), Cal Grant A scholarships will be awarded to financially eligible students with a B (3.0) grade average to be used at public or private four-year institutions. Cal Grant B (3.0) will go to students with a C(2.0) grade average to be used at a community college. Students admitted to California State University, University of California, or a private four-year college who meet financial aid requirements under the Cal Grant B program will also qualify for tuition or fees and subsistence aid.

Amounts of the awards range from full tuition at California Community Colleges, State Universities, and the University of California, to $9,700 for tuition support at private universities in California. For community college students, awards of $1,551 may be used for books and living expenses.

University of California President Richard Atkinson said, "The expansion in the Cal Grants programs created by the Governor and the Legislature will have a significant and lasting effect on California and its young people. We anticipate that it will make a University of California education possible for many students now in our community colleges who wish to transfer to UC. In addition, we expect that UC students will receive a high proportion of the scholarships that will be available under the separate Governor's Scholar program."

California State University chancellor Charles B. Reed added, "The Governor and Legislature should be applauded for greatly improving access to higher education for California students, and in turn, revving up California's economic engine. With the CSU fee among the nation's lowest, this historic financial aid program renews the California dream and will open university doors for many more students."

Cal Grants will also be extended to all students who complete community college within five years of high school graduation and whose academic records allow them to transfer to four-year universities.

"I see this remarkable achievement as the greatest public commitment to educational opportunity in a quarter century," said California Community Colleges Chancellor Thomas Nussbaum. "With this Cal Grant legislation, the Governor and Legislature have assured that every student with a promising future will see that promise fulfilled."

In addition to achieving the required grade point average, students must meet income eligibility requirements. These range from $23,500 annual income for recipients who are independent to $74,100 for students from families of six or more. The income ceiling for a family of four is $64,100 for students who get Cal Grant A awards and $33,700 for students who get Cal Grant B awards.

Students may apply for Cal Grant A (four-year) or Cal Grant B (community college) awards within one year of high school graduation. In addition, Governor Davis agreed to award 22,500 new Cal Grant A/B awards to "second chance" students —those who have returned to or are newly entering college as adults.

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