Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed drastic spending cuts to balance the state budget, including the elimination of the Cal Grant Program for all incoming freshman. This cut would affect 118,000 students statewide and 186 here at Saint Mary's College.
The Cal Grant program has been one of the most successful financial aid programs in the state's history. Established in 1954, it has allowed thousands of Californians to achieve their higher education goals and career aspirations.
On Friday, June 5, the Budget Conference Committee rejected this idea on a 6-4 vote. This is very good news, however, we are far away from a state budget. I anticipate serious negotiations and calls for reform of every state program, including Cal Grants, will occur over the next several days. I cannot overstate the negative impact the elimination or substantial reduction in funding of this program would have at Saint Mary's. I have already written the governor expressing my opposition to his proposal as well as a guest commentary in Saturday's Contra Costa Times. However we still need to do more.
The College and the 183 new students who have already been notified of their award need your help. Without Cal Grant funds, these students may not be able to afford to attend Saint Mary's this fall. Our efforts to make an academically superb Saint Mary's education available to needy students would also be severely harmed.
I ask you, as California taxpayers and residents, to exercise your civic responsibility and contact the governor and your state legislators to express your concerns about cuts to the Cal Grant Program. You can reach the governor at (916) 445-2841, and find how to contact your state senator and your state assemblymember.
If have questions about this request, please contact Tim Farley, Director of Community and Government Relations, at ext. 4830.
In St. LaSalle,
Brother Ronald Gallagher