Community College Faulted for Decrease in Cal Grants

Helen Galvin
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Several Community College financial aid offices were faulted for failing to procure Cal Grants for students in Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times, but fortunately GCC students were not affected.
According to the Times article, a recent report published by the Assembly Higher Education Committee said that some community college financial aid offices around the state failed to file student GPAs accurately and therefore students didn’t receive grants. The Times report called inefficiency on the part of the community college the main cause for students “missing the opportunity” for grants.

This didn’t happen at Glendale. To prevent a glitch in our system, the Financial Aid Office, under the direction of Pat Hurley, devised a plan that was not only simple but also unique. Larry Stafford, one of Hurley’s assistants, created the program to use in gathering GPA information. Nance Spray, the other assistant, uploaded and calculated the GPAs.

“The intention of this office was to send the entire GCC student body’s GPAs on a disk to the Federal Student Aid Program, so no one would get lost in the cracks,” Hurley said. “A student applying for any grant would automatically have the all-important GPA available for a Cal Grant if they applied for that one.”

Students needing transcripts from another college, were helped by GCC counselors who obtained these GPAs, hand calculated them, and placed them on the disk so that students would have complete GPAs available for grant applications.

The challenge of GCC’s Financial Aid Office was to accommodate as many students with as much financial aid information as they could for the 2001 school year. “Information packets are always available for students,” said Hurley.

Inside the packet are financial aid forms for federal and state grants, work-study and loans, as well as a student guide for financial aid. Also available is a workbook specifically for Cal Grants, which includes filing deadline dates, and all required forms. Some grants only need a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form; others require GPA verification as well.

Last year, the Cal Grant administrators earmarked 11,250 grants for community college students to use this fall. Because of the reporting problems, only 10,500 were awarded; 750 were unclaimed.
To receive a grant for the fall of 2002, they must file papers by March 2, 2002; for spring of 2003, the filing date is Sept. 2, 2002.