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California's new Middle Class Scholarship awards delayed

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Delay expected in new scholarships aimed at middle-class UC and Cal State students

UC and Cal State students anticipating financial aid from the state’s new Middle Class Scholarship program are going to have to wait until September to learn how much they will receive, a top administrator said Tuesday.

As a result of the delays, most students will not be able to apply the grants to their fall-term tuition bills but will be able to use the entire year's amount for their winter and spring tabs.

Initially, officials said they had hoped to inform an estimated 156,000 students at the two public university systems about their awards in late July. However, delays in compiling enrollment statistics and some recent legislative changes in eligibility rules will delay notification until as late as Sept. 15, according to Diana Fuentes-Michel, executive director of the California Student Aid Commission, the state agency administering the new program.

The unusual tax-funded assistance is an attempt to help middle-class families that earn between $80,000 and $150,000 a year and aren't typically t eligible for the federal and state grants that cover much or all of the tuition for lower-income students.

The awards initially were intended to be as much as $1,706 for UC students and $766 for Cal State students for the coming school year, with smaller amounts for more affluent families in the eligible range.

However, officials say all those amounts are likely to be reduced somewhat since more students appear to be eligible than first thought and the Legislature rejected an effort to add to the $107 million it appropriated for the program.

Fuentes-Michel on Tuesday said it was too soon to project the size of this year’s individual awards since the universities aren't expected to turn over enrollment figures until mid-August. Only those UC and Cal State students who had filed the federal financial aid forms by March can be considered for the aid.

In addition, the commission and the universities need extra time to apply rule changes that potentially will allow more part-time students at Cal State to receive full grants and are likely to reduce aid to college athletes who already receive substantial sports scholarships, she said.

If promised state funding comes through, the grants could more than triple over the next three years and cover between 10% and 40% of UC and Cal State tuition, depending on income, by 2017. 

Twitter: @larrygordonlat

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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