A cut in Cal Grants could make going to a private university harder for low-income students, further limiting their options to get a college education, a local university administrator says.
In the budget he recently signed, Gov. Jerry Brown cut Cal Grants for students at private nonprofit and for-profit universities. Cal Grants are based primarily on family income.
The cut, which takes effect this coming school year, will affect students at schools such as California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, said Matthew Ward, CLU's vice president for enrollment management and marketing.
"The long-term implications of this are of great concern," Ward said. "State schools can't take more students, and these students are losing their funding to go to private schools. ... The worst case scenario — they don't get educated at all."
Students statewide already are finding going to college harder as the state's public universities trim enrollment, classes and services in response to state budget cuts. That means more are turning to private schools and out-of-state schools, which haven't been hit as hard.
"What does this mean for education in general?" Ward said. "Where are these students going to be able to go?"
Under the governor's budget, the maximum Cal Grant for students attending a private nonprofit university will decline to $9,223 from $9,708 this coming school year. Over the next two years, the grant will continue to drop, falling to $8,056 in 2014-15.
Magen Sanders, 19, a CLU sophomore who has a Cal Grant, thinks she may have to take out another loan to make up the difference. But she's worried about students who couldn't go to school without the full grant.
"For other students I've met, there's no way of making up that money," Sanders said. "If they didn't have that, there's no way they would have been able to go to college. This will have a larger impact than most people think."
CLU has about 400 students who receive Cal Grants, Ward said. The school's total enrollment is about 2,400.
The school is still deciding how it will handle the cuts, but it likely will cover the shortfall for students, he said.
Students at for-profit universities such as Brooks Institute will be harder hit. The maximum grant for students at those schools will also decrease to $9,223 from $9,708 next year — the same drop as at private schools. But for the next school year, the grant will drop to $4,000.
Seven percent of Brooks students receive Cal Grants, and the school does not expect the cuts to have a big impact, officials said.