Standing on the steps of the state Capitol in front of a row of cameras and microphones, Saint Mary's sophomore Jessi Bailey told the gathered crowd that she and her family had done everything expected of them so that she could attend college. They saved money, she took college prep classes, and the path to college looked clear. Then her father's injury and a bad economy turned her plans upside down.
"If it were not for the Cal Grant I receive, I would not have been able to pursue my dream of a college education," she said. "Because I get a Cal Grant, I am able to go to the college of my choice, Saint Mary's."
Bailey was among a group of students who spoke during Cal Grant Lobby Day on March 13 in favor of AB 1318, a bill by Assemblymember Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) that would establish a new funding formula for the Cal Grant to keep up with the rate of inflation. Bailey returned later in the spring to testify before the California State Assembly Committee on Higher Education.
There are 642 SMC students receiving Cal Grants of as much as $9,223 a year, based on need, to help pay for their education. That figure is down from $9,708 last year and will drop to $9,084 next year and $8,056 in 2014-15. As a result, Saint Mary's could lose more than $800,000 in student aid.