Newsom Vetoes Cal Grant Reform Bill

In an expected move, Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed legislation that would have made major changes to the state’s Cal Grant financial aid program.

AB 1456 was approved unanimously by both chambers of the Legislature and was supported by a number of major stakeholders, with endorsements from the California Student Aid Commission and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. It would have eliminated the minimum GPA requirement for community college students and lowered the GPA requirement for UC and CSU students from 3.0 to 2.0. This would have reduced barriers for older adults, according to proponents of the bill, and expanded Cal Grant eligibility by up to 200,000 additional students. Community college students would have also received a cost-of-living adjustment for the amount of aid they receive.

Additionally, the bill sought to streamline the process of awarding financial aid by reducing the program to only two awards: the Cal Grant 2 and the Cal Grant 4.

As CalSchoolNews reported last month, the state's Department of Finance opposed the overhaul. It estimated the cost at $174.4 million. Aside from the high price tag, Finance said the legislation could end up blocking aid for some students and could lead four-year universities to raise tuition.

Marlene Garcia, Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission, said she would work with lawmakers and the administration to address the program’s shortcomings in the future.

While commending the governor’s support for a $47 billion higher education package, acting CCC chancellor Daisy Gonzales expressed disappointment in the veto of AB 1456.

“…Without equitable access to financial aid programs, hundreds of thousands of low-income California community college students will be denied the aid they need to not only afford college but to excel,” she said.

Learn more about the education bills recently signed or vetoed by Gavin Newsom here