In summary

Expanding and streamlining the Cal Grant program would help college students who are unable to meet basic needs.

By Michelle Lee, Berkeley

Michelle Lee is working on her master’s in public health / public health nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley.

Re: “Cal Grant expansion: Newsom vetoes game-changer for 150,000 college students”; Higher Education, Oct. 11, 2021

Though the state Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1456 unanimously, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill that would increase Cal Grant eligibility, citing financial constraints despite a $76 billion budget windfall this past year.

The pandemic has highlighted some of the greatest inequities, including those faced by college students. Universities did not lower the cost of attendance, although classes and resources were offered remotely. An ever-increasing cost of living continued to ravish the state even while individuals were out of work.

Housing and food insecurity is a persistent issue across all three Californian public university systems, and expanding state financial aid would help mitigate that. Students are relying on mutual aid funds, college food pantries and basic needs centers to provide for themselves. The onus should not be on the students to find ways to navigate the system. We need critical investments into efforts to reduce the overall cost of attending college.

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