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Myth: Grants cover tuition increases; low-income students are not affected

Some people think that grants cover the cost of all tuition and fees, thus low-income students aren’t impacted when they rise. But the truth paints a far more different picture, especially in the CSU.

Let’s get the facts about that pervasive myth.

Fact: There are at least 160,000 resident undergraduate students in the CSU who don’t have grants that cover the tuition increase. What’s more, these grants don’t cover mandatory campus-based fees.

Fact: Only 23% of very low-income students in California who apply for aid receive a Cal Grant. 

Fact: Hundreds of thousands of eligible students who apply are denied Competitive Cal Grants. In 2014, approximately 280,000 otherwise eligible Competitive Cal Grant applicants did not receive one.

Fact: This issue is not only about cost for current students, but access for future students. Increasing tuition is a known barrier to entry for low-income students and their families, who are often unaware of aid available to them. 

  • States with the largest tuition increases during the 1980s and early 1990s experienced the largest growth in the gap in enrollment between low- and high-income students.
  • In 2012, only 52% of students from families with incomes below $18,300 enrolled in college, compared to 82% of graduates from families with incomes above $90,500.
  • Only 40% of students in college actually applied for a Cal Grant and only 30% were using grants to finance their college education. One national study found that a $100 increase in tuition and fees corresponds to a decline in enrollment by about .25%.

Fact: A recent PPIC survey found that, across parties, more than 70% of Californians feel that the price of a college education keeps students who are otherwise qualified and motivated from going to college.

  • 88% of likely voters feel that students are already borrowing too much to pay for college. 

The biggest issue facing higher education for likely voters in California? Student costs, affordability, and tuition and fees.

For more information about myths and facts surrounding the proposed fee increase, click here.

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