California Senate votes to expand grants for university students

California Senate votes to expand grants for university students
A bicyclist passes the California State University headquarters building in Long Beach. (Photo For the Los Angeles Times /)

The state Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that would increase the number of university students getting financial aid and provide special grants to those attending the California State University system who stay on track to graduate in four years.

Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego) said he introduced the bill to make higher education more affordable despite tuition increases in recent years and out of concern that the average CSU student takes six years to graduate.

When others have provided incentive grants, "it has been shown in other states to provide additional motivation to students to get out of school in four years," Block said before the 35-0 vote to send SB 15 to the Assembly.

His measure would provide CSU students with grants of $1,000 if they finish 30 units the first year, another $1,500 if they finish 60 units the second year and $2,000 more if they complete 90 units by the end of the third year.

The measure also would increase the number of Cal Grant awards from 22,500 to 30,000. In addition, it would set the Cal Grant award at $9,084 for recipients attending private postsecondary schools and delete the scheduled reduction to $8,056 for new recipients.

Students who graduate in four years instead of six would gain $150,000 by not having to pay two extra years of tuition and by receiving two extra years of job income, he said.

"To the employers, the benefit is they will get students out of college more quickly," Block said. "They will have a larger, more effective workforce to hire from."

The measure was supported by Republican members, including Sen. Ted Gaines of Rocklin, who said he had two children who went through the CSU system. “They did struggle to get their classes and graduate in four years,” he said.