Statement by Kristen F. Soares, President of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities on California Assembly Democrats College Affordability Proposal
We applaud the Assembly Democrats for making college affordability a priority for students and the state. We agree that investing in students is an investment in our future. We look forward to working with Speaker Rendon and others to craft a final proposal that recognizes the role of public and private, nonprofit institutions in ensuring access for all students; specifically, to restore the state’s commitment to our students via the Cal Grant program.
Private, nonprofit colleges and universities educate over 340,000 students a year with a four-year graduation rate of 63% for our Cal Grant students. This is a significant number of students who would otherwise not be able to complete their degree given enrollment restrictions at the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC).
Given the role our colleges and universities play in the state’s commitment to higher education, we urge the Assembly leadership proposal also reverse the over $1,000 Cal grant award cut for 2017-18 for our students and re-establish the statutory formula for future grant levels as part of their effort to make college more affordable and accessible.
These students, and their families, have an average family income of approximately $42,000 for Cal Grant A recipients and $21,000 for Cal Grant B recipients. They are some of California’s lowest income families who are also struggling to achieve their college dream.
Our schools provide a cost-effective option for students through the long-standing public-private partnership between our students and the state through Cal Grant awards. The average Cal grant for our student’s averages $8,500; almost half the cost of attendance at the CSU, and one-fourth the cost of UC.
California needs to prepare more graduates not less in the future. The private, nonprofit colleges and universities graduate 22% of all baccalaureates each year thus are a significant resource to meet the state’s goals. As such we call on policymakers to support our students too.