Index of Updates
2009 CCCSFAAA President
Advocating for Financial Aid in California
Just when we thought’s California’s budget crisis could not get any worse;
it seems to have done just that. Each day we read the paper or read a new
email, we are confronted with more proposed cuts including some far
reaching ones in higher education and financial aid in particular.
As someone shared with me recently, they just want to throw the covers over
themselves as to somehow forget it is happening. We all know that will not
work. These assaults on the funding for the California Community Colleges
and statewide financial aid programs are serious and need the attention of
all of us who care about access to education.
As a volunteer professional association, CCCSFAAA plays a big role in
advocating for financial aid programs on behalf of our membership and
ultimately the students we serve. How does CCCSFAAA do this on a statewide level?
- We send letters to legislators in support or opposition to particular state bills.
- We speak at legislative hearings in support or opposition to bills or particular proposals
- We monitor the status and content of legislative bills to determine which ones
might affect our segment and/or our students.
- We educate our membership on how to be effective advocates
The most immediate issues of concern to the CCCSFAAA Board are of course the
state budget situation and proposals to either eliminate the Competitive Cal
Grant Program or even eliminate all new Cal Grant awards starting in 2009 –
2010. Community college fee increases are being discussed as our cuts to
categorical programs such as EOPS.
As financial aid professionals, I believe we can agree that access to higher
education for those without the financial resources is crucial. Proposals to
reduce and/or eliminate the Cal Grant Program would fundamentally change that access.
At a time when we are seeing more families applying for aid as parents lose
their jobs or encounter a reduction in hours, we should be talking about how
we increase opportunities for financial assistance not reduce them. While
some of these families with new circumstances will qualify for Pell Grants,
many do not. Cal Grants become an important funding source in those cases.
We all know that the state budget situation is serious and may require some
difficult and painful decisions. In bad budget times, is not an investment in
education, an investment in our state’s future? Would we not want an educated
population rather than one that is not? I know these may seem like rhetorical
questions to those of us who have devoted our profession to higher education
and financial aid in particular.
I am calling on all of you to help spread the message to your friends,
neighbors, and your local legislators what state financial aid programs mean
to your students at your college. If you need help in finding data or
understanding it in statewide context, CCCSFAAA is here to help. I personally
offer my services for that cause and look for calls to action on the CCCSFAAA
or CASFAA list serves.
Of course, getting students to speak up will be most important in advocacy
efforts for state financial aid programs and attempts to curtail access.
Anything you can do to help in those regards can only be beneficial.
We all know that better budget times will return in the future. Is
dismantling the Cal Grant Program the best approach to deal with current
budget shortfalls? I think not.
CCCSFAAA will continue to be the voice and be present with discussions about
financial aid programs. I feel that working together, our message will be
heard. Please join me in those efforts.