Governor signs bill to expand Cal Grant access

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that simplifies the application process for students seeking a Cal Grant, the largest source of state-funded student financial aid.

Assembly Bill 2160, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, requires all public high schools to electronically submit grade-point average information for graduating seniors to the California Student Aid Commission, which expands access for students, according to a statement from Ting's office.

Research by Education Trust-West, which sponsored AB 2160, found that schools already submitting GPAs electronically saw a 15 percent bump in the number of completed Cal Grant applications last year, Ting's office reported.

The bill will help approximately 4,000 more students receive a Cal Grant award offer and 2,800 more students to use Cal Grant in pursuit of higher education, the statement said.

The bill also establishes privacy protocols to protect student information, and allows parents to take their children out of the automated system.

Failure to submit a GPA is the second-most common reason why students don't receive a Cal Grant, after missing the application deadline, according to Ting's office.

“By making the program operate more efficiently, we can prevent thousands of students from falling through the cracks and take pride in positioning them for greater success in life,” Ting said in the statement.

Cal Grant is a financial aid program administrated by the California Student Aid Commission providing aid to California undergraduates, vocational training students and those in teacher-certification programs.

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