Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed a plan eliminating Cal Grants for 118,000 freshmen and cancel increases promised for 82,255 other students.  This action would make California the first state in the nation to both eliminate student financial aid and increase college tuition.  Many states are cutting back on their grants but California's plan will eventually cancel all student aid by first phasing out freshmen grants, and prevent existing rewards from increasing.

The University of California, California State University, and many other schools have seen tuition hike between nine and ten per cent this month.  State officials have stated the plan would save California $623 million in the next two years.  These cuts would especially hurt low-income graduates wanting to attend colleges or career institutes.

The Cal Grant program was created in the 1950s and has expanded through the decades so that in 2001 it covered nearly all low-income graduates.  The program had previously been ranked among the best in the nation.  The cuts would affect nearly 281,000 students that had planned on receiving Cal Grants during the 2009-10 school year.

By wiping out these grants, young graduates will face difficult choices, such as not pursuing a higher education, being forced to work more, living at home, asking their families for help, or going deeper into debt.  Some students will still be able to go to college in the fall but some student’s dreams will be crushed.  They might be forced to postpone their education or forget it altogether. 

These actions will not help students improve their lives, and will end up costing California’s economy later on.  By eliminating Cal Grants, California will save millions now, but will eventually lose millions because the work force will  grow and require even more highly educated individuals, which may not be available because of the grant elimination.

If California ends up cutting this nationally ranked program, there might be a domino effect and other states might follow suit.  This action could cause thousands of students to rethink higher education.  Studies show that higher education enrollment increases during a recession and if students are not able to get grants and financial aid, enrollment might plummet.

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