A recent proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to slash Cal
Grants could block access to students entering Mills and other
private schools next fall.
The proposal, which would cut grants by nearly half, is being
vigorously opposed and could affect 25 to 26 percent of new Mills
undergrads over time, according to David Gin, Mills financial aid
director. The 168 current Mills Cal Grant recipients will not be
Mills President Janet Holmgren emphasized a need to get the
message out that Mills will remain affordable by doing everything
it can to “close the gap” created by these proposed cuts.
“It is our hope to continue to admit all students who qualify
under the Cal Grant program,” said Holmgren. Cal Grant recipients
currently receive $9,708. If the proposed cuts go through, new
students entering Mills in the fall will receive only $5,482. Mills
plans to increase funding for new students, from $5,482 up to
$8,000, leaving the balance of the gap to be met by students and
According to Holmgren, this legislative session is not going to
make a decision on the proposed cuts until the summer and said,
“The Governor is listening.” The Association of Independent
Colleges and Universities is lobbying on behalf of Mills and there
are plans being made for a Mills delegation to go to Sacramento and
join the AICCU in its efforts to stop the proposed cuts.
Gin recalled the last time the California Student Aid Commission
gave notice of intended cuts in Cal Grant funds. It was in the
2002/2003 term, and the cuts were proposed by former Gov. Davis.
Because of the efforts of the AICCU, along with the student outcry,
Davis’ cuts were never implemented. “We can only hope that happens
again,” said Gin.
Holmgren said that Mills will do what they can to keep their
doors open to all new students who qualify for Cal Grant funds. She
pointed out that the proposed cuts would put increased pressure on
all independent and private college financial aid programs.
“In a budget analysis released Wednesday, the Legislative
Analyst’s Office strongly recommended against cutting the award to
students attending independent institutions. Instead, it suggested
the state actually link the private university Cal Grant to the
weighted average state subsidy that California provides needy
students who attend UC and CSU. That would raise private university
Cal Grant to $9,906,” reported the Contra Costa Times.
Joan Jaffe, associate dean of admissions expressed the
department’s disappointment over the impact the proposed cuts could
have on future admissions. She also questioned what Mills will be
able to make up in aid to students in need.
The increased worry is that new and transfer students, looking
to a private institution like Mills, will be forced to take on
greater debt and face stiffer competition for tight scholarship
monies. Tonianne Nemeth, executive assistant of the English dept.
recently attended her son’s high school College Night saying
afterwards, “California is becoming a nightmare. Our son wants to
go to school in California, but it might be better for us
financially if he didn’t – make sense of that!”
Both Jaffe and Gin expressed their wish that students would
write to their legislators and let them hear from those most
impacted by the proposed cutbacks. Gin issued a letter to all of
Mills Cal Grant recipients asking them to join in “this important
campaign to maintain choice for future California college