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Budget analyst questions tougher GPA requirement for college aid

February 8, 2012 |  2:51 pm

Students at UC BerkeleyThe state legislative analyst's office said in a report released Wednesday that Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal could curtail college financial aid for some of California's neediest students.

In his proposal, Brown said students should need a 3.25 grade point average to receive the most generous Cal Grant award, up from a 3.0. The GPA requirement for a smaller Cal Grant covering living expenses would increase to 2.75 from 2.4.

Brown’s administration estimates that 26,600 fewer students will make the cut, saving the state $131 million.

“This will focus limited financial aid resources on those students who are most likely to complete their degrees,” the proposal said.

But the legislative analyst’s office said Brown's proposal is too drastic, adding that it would have a "disproportionate impact on students with the greatest financial need." The report recommended a smaller increase in the GPA requirement.

In addition, the report said Brown is probably underestimating how much the state will need to spend on Cal Grants.

When calculating the budget proposal, Brown’s administration assumed that the University of California and California State University systems would not increase their tuition in the next school year. But CSU already has raised its tuition 9.1%, and UC has not announced its tuition yet.

The Cal Grant program has expanded dramatically in recent years, from 79,000 students and $915 million in the 2004-05 school year to an estimated 256,000 students and $1.6 billion in the 2012-13 school year.

Meanwhile, tuition and fees at California's state colleges and universities have exploded, rising 191% at CSU and 145% at UC.


Assembly speaker wants to trade tax breaks for scholarships

Budget plan would raise the bar for Cal Grant financial aid

UC Berkeley to offer financial aid to more middle-income families

Second round of tuition hikes likely at UC and Cal State systems

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Twitter: @chrismegerian

Photo: Students walk on campus at UC Berkeley in December.

Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press