Cal Grant Reform Act removes barriers to debt-free college

Bryan Vo, Staff Reporter

California assembly members introduced Assembly Bill 1314 to promote debt-free college.

The bill, known as the Cal Grant Reform Act, would revise Cal Grants to cover summer tuition and remove or reduce access barriers such as age restrictions, time out of high school and documentation status.

Grants would cover tuition, books, food, housing and transportation.

Compared to Senate Bill 291 which only gives financial aid specifically to community college students, AB 1314 grants will be open to students attending community college, UCs and CSUs.

Both bills attempt to expand coverage to include expenses besides tuition, as state legislatures looked to help college students deal with the high cost of living in California.

Timothy Shively, faculty association president of the Foothill-De Anza District, said he wondered about how the bill addresses barriers.

“I’m worried with the word ‘barriers,’” Shively said. “What it means is that they’re redefining these grants and that they are completely need-based and not necessarily merit-based.”

Gilbert Gonzalez, 19, graphic design major, said he would like to focus more on school rather than dealing with costs of food, rent and textbooks.

“I saw my brother have to get a loan just to pay for his tuition and I don’t want to do that,” said Gonzalez.

Don Nguyen, 19, biochemistry major, said if this bill goes through, it would help him and others focus on their career path, rather than having to pay off their debts.

“I depend a lot on financial aid to pay for my classes along with books,” Nguyen said. “If that bill were to be passed, it would get some of the weight off my shoulders and my parents.”

Joseph Nguyen, 19, psychology major, said this would be helpful for students living on their own.

“You could focus more on school than work,” said Nguyen.