Saint Mary's President, Brother Ronald Gallagher, Urges Governor to Save Cal Grant Program

Following is a letter sent by Saint Mary's College Brother President Ronald Gallagher to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger about his proposal to eliminate the Cal Grant program.

May 26, 2009

The Hon. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor, State of California
State Capitol
Sacramento, Ca 94518

RE: Cal Grant Program

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:

It has come to my attention that one of the programs your administration is exploring for elimination to balance the state budget is the Cal Grant program. While I agree that extraordinary times require extraordinary action, elimination of the Cal Grant program would be short-sighted, ill-advised and bad public policy.

The Cal Grant program has assisted countless Californians achieve their education goals. These Californians have gone on to become leaders in almost every field. Be they corporate leaders, CEOs teachers, nurses, or leaders in the entertainment field such as you, they have become responsible, productive citizens. The return on investment that we Californians receive from this program is tremendous and beyond measure.

Currently at Saint Mary's, more than 500 students receive Cal Grant assistance. This translates into more than 20 percent of our undergraduate enrollment. Our Cal Grant recipients come from diverse backgrounds. For example, junior Linda Smith of Concord is a nontraditional student. She is divorced from an Iraqi veteran and a single mother, and she is full-time student at Saint Mary's while raising her three-year-old daughter. Linda tells me that if it were not for Cal Grant, she would not be able to attend school at all. According to Linda, Cal Grant made the difference between going to college and going on welfare. Or consider freshman Robert Slaughter of Richmond, who is the first person in his family to attend a four-year college. If it were not for the Cal Grant, students like Linda Smith or Robert Slaughter would simply not be able to attend college.

Saint Mary's is committed to enrolling, educating and graduating a diverse future workforce for California. Our commitment to being a partner in solving California's growing need for an educated workforce remains strong. Cal Grant has played a strong role in the growth of the California economy. I cannot stress to you enough how the elimination of the Cal Grant program would impact our campus and countless California families. I write not only for the families of Saint Mary's, but also the countless residents of this state who have worked hard, played by the rules, raised their children in the hopes of achieving their dream of a college education. Governor Schwarzenegger, please do not turn your back on these families after they have spent 18 years preparing their children for higher education. Please continue to fund the Cal Grant program to ensure that California remains the Golden State of promise fulfilled and dreams realized.

Brother Ronald Gallagher FSC

Cc: Assemblymember Tom Torlakson
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner
Assemblymember Joan Buchanan
Senator Mark DeSaulnier
Senator Loni Hancock

Brother Ronald urges all people interested in preserving the Cal Grant program to help current and future students to call or write the governor and their representatives in the state Legislature: (find your assemblymember) and your state senator, (find your senator). Urge them to retain the Cal Grant program. If you were a Cal Grant recipient, tell them how much that program helped you personally. If you were not a Cal Grant recipient, tell them what a great investment in California it is and how it helps allow many deserving students to pursue higher education.