The California State Senate Education Committee convened recently to gather input on legislation ensuring that students who attend independent colleges and universities qualify for the Cal Grant, State of California-provided need-based financial aid. Currently, 25 percent of undergraduates in the University of Redlands College of Arts and Sciences receive Cal Grant support.
Submitted by Assembly Member Blanca Rubio, bill AB 1307 was a response to proposals to disqualify students attending private institutions from receiving Cal Grant aid. On July 3, Andrea Zarate ’19 was among those who spoke to legislators. Here are excerpts from her remarks.
My name is Andrea Zarate and I am a 2019 first-generation University of Redlands graduate from San Bernardino. This April, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in communicative disorders and I hope to continue my studies through an educational graduate school program in learning and technology. Ultimately, I aspire to be the superintendent of public schools in the San Bernardino City Unified School District.
On behalf of myself and the 27,000 Cal Grant students attending independent nonprofit colleges and universities in the state, I would like to extend our gratitude for all the support the state has provided us with the Cal Grant award. While we are grateful for this support, we strongly believe financial aid reform must include a renewed commitment to Cal Grant students attending nonprofit independent colleges and universities. This is why today, we ask you to support Assembly Bill 1307 by Assembly Member Blanca Rubio, to reestablish a Cal Grant funding formula for students like me, who choose to attend institutions such as the University of Redlands.
As a former Cal Grant recipient, I can attest that the Cal Grant was an important investment in the pursuit of an education. Growing up, I knew that I wanted to pursue my post-secondary education at a private institution. I desired the smaller class sizes, an individualized education, vast campus resources, and a welcoming community. The University of Redlands had everything that I desired in a school and so much more. Unfortunately, this school had a seemingly expensive price tag and had me questioning if I could ever afford it. Thanks to the Cal Grant, my family and I could afford such a prestigious education without having to work excessive hours or even postpone my education due to financial hardship. I am forever thankful to the Cal Grant program, as it has provided me with the opportunity to develop my professional skillset, allowed me to graduate a year early, and has helped me become workforce ready.
Independent nonprofit colleges and universities are places of innovation, inspiration, and are pioneers of educational programs that go above and beyond traditional boundaries. These institutions provide students with an individualized education, provide one-on-one attention, financial resources, and guaranteed on-campus housing for all four years.
In conclusion, Assembly Bill 1307 is a bill that is necessary to provide nonprofit independent California college and university students like me with the opportunity to pursue a higher education that is financially equitable, predictable, and stable. As a future educator, I want to ensure that future generations of students like myself believe that schools like Redlands are accessible and possible pathways for them in their pursuit of a higher education.
Later that day, Bill AB 1307 passed the Senate Education Committee, chaired by State Senator Connie Leyva ’91, with a unanimous (7-0) vote. The bill continued on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
To learn more about financial aid at the University of Redlands, see Student Financial Services.