Alina DeBellis, a CalArts financial aid counselor, traveled to Sacramento on March 7 with a student contingent to prevent the state legislature from reducing the Cal Grant maximum award to students at California’s private, nonprofit colleges from $9,708 to $5,472—a 44 percent reduction.
The CalArts lobbying effort was part of a concerted effort by a number of California’s private colleges to inform lawmakers about what the
drastic cuts could mean for the future of California’s independent colleges.
DeBellis, herself a Cal Grant recipient in college, lobbied with CalArts students Walter Vargas (Film/Video BFA 1), Yomy Lopez (Theater BFA
2), Spencer Ludwig (Music BFA 3) and Michelle Sagarminaga (Dance BFA 4), who are all full Cal Grant recipients.
The students met with seven staffers in five different meetings for Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, Senator Tony Strickland, Assemblyman
Bob Blumenfield, Senator Curren Price and Senator Kevin De Leon and told their own stories about their lives, work and impact that drastic cuts would have on their education.
The organized lobby efforts, headed by the Students First Alliance, worked because an Assembly subcommittee on Wednesday rejected Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to slash the Cal Grants budget.
However, the fight is not yet over. On April 19, the same vote will take place in the State Senate. The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities urges constituencies to take action again, keeping our students and administration aware of the effects that this vote may have on students and schools.
After the April 19 Senate vote, there will be a revised budget released in May.
The following letter, signed by three Southern California arts college presidents, was written in response to Governor Jerry Brown's and the California State Legislature's proposed cuts of 44 percent to Cal Grant recipients at California's private colleges.