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  • Writer's pictureAICCU

Private College Students and Leaders Advocate for State Investments to the Cal Grant Program

Updated: Mar 8

The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) held its 2024 Day in the Capitol student advocacy day on Feb. 27 at the California State Capitol to advocate for increased state investments to the Cal Grant program.


Eighty-six students and campus leaders from 28 AICCU member institutions attended 53 meetings with legislators and their staff to share their stories of how the Cal Grant was instrumental in their pursuit of higher education. Cal Grant funds do not have to be paid back and can be used towards paying off the costs of tuition, textbooks, housing, food, and other student needs.


California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D., and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin shared inspiring words with the student advocates before they headed to their legislative meetings. Dr. Weber spoke about the value of education and how important it was to her and her family, having received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees by the age of 26.


“I am a product of all the grants you could imagine,” Dr. Weber said. “That’s why I fight so hard for [students] to have grants. Because when you’re saddled with the loans, it can totally impact your life. So, it’s hard for me to even imagine the kind of loan situation I would have been in, had it not been for this kind activity and this kind of program and grants offered to students who were struggling.”


AICCU students advocated for the Cal Grant award amount to be restored to $9,708, the highest amount it had been before budget cuts. They also pushed for funding needed to enact an approved policy that would allow transfer students to use their remaining entitlement eligibility at an independent institution. Students voiced these matters at an open mic rally at the steps of the State Capitol, as well as in their meetings.

As outlined in AICCU’s 2024 Impact Report, over 25,000 students attending AICCU member institutions receive the Cal Grant award. Forty-eight percent are the first in their families to pursue a college degree, and 57% are from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds.


Monzerrad Fierro, a fourth-year student at the University of San Francisco, met with the legislative assistant for Assemblymember Phil Ting. She shared her background as a first-generation, low-income student who relies on the Cal Grant to pursue an economics degree.

“I grew up in a very low-income household, and although we strived for higher education, the likelihood of that happening was very slim,” Fierro said. “Hopefully, with funding like Cal Grant, I can foresee my future of getting my master's degree and also pursuing a Ph.D. candidacy and continuing my education like that.”



View more news coverage of the event from KCRA 3 and Univision 19.


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